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New York proposes making it easier to use cryptocurrency

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New York’s financial regulator on Wednesday proposed new licensing rules that would make it easier for companies to engage in cryptocurrency business — using such digital currencies as bitcoin — in the state.

The New York State Department of Financial Services is asking for the public’s input about the plan by Aug. 10. The initiative stems from the “actual or perceived hurdles” that firms may face in obtaining the state’s “BitLicense,” unveiled in 2015, the regulator said.

New York’s proposed framework would allow companies that want to engage in virtual currency business activity in the state to obtain a conditional license, through which they would collaborate with fully licensed companies, NYDFS said.

New York introduced its BitLicense and initial framework in 2015, when other regulators were still skeptical of virtual currencies. Those currencies are now part of a broader, rapidly growing industry that blends finance and technology, and which leading financial centers are keen to attract.

But obtaining New York’s current BitLicense can be a years-long process, virtual currency companies have said.

The state has granted 25 virtual currency licenses and charters since 2015, NYDFS said.

The regulator on Wednesday also made it easier for companies to offer and use new coins. The regulator will provide a list of pre-approved coins from which licensees can select and then self-certify they are using without having to get additional approval.

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