Hawaii is establishing a regulatory sandbox for digital currency issuers

The government of Hawaii unveiled a regulatory sandbox for digital currency firms on Tuesday.

The state announced the establishment of its "Digital Currency Innovation Lab" a two-year initiative that allows digital currency issuers to do business in Hawaii without a state money transmitter license. The governor's statement said it hopes to gain more perspective on digital currency and its activities through the two-year period, with an eye towards crafting legislation.

"The insights attained will be used to guide legislation and determine the future of digital currency in Hawaii," said the statement.

Companies are now able to apply for the Digital Currency Innovation Lab through May 1, 2020. However, selected participants will have to demonstrate financial and technical expertise, as well as hold the necessary capital, according to the statement.

The program stems from a partnership between state agencies, namely the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) and Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC). 

DFI has also issued a "no action message," according to Commissioner Iris Ikeda. This means companies conducting unlicensed money transmission in Hawaii are off the hook if they're part of the program. DFI won't take action against participants under the scheme.

Ultimately, the two-year program is an effort to guide future policy. Insights from the program could also open the door to further steps towards crypto, according to HTDC's acting executive director Len Higashi. The pilot program has the potential to position Hawaii as an early adopter of cryptocurrency, according to Higashi.