Carlos Manzano


The emergence of virtual currencies has revolutionized the financial industry by creating an alternative form of payment that seeks to insulate individuals from government and bank influence. Yet, federal regulation of virtual currency has remained limited. Many state legislators have rushed to fill the gap by enacting laws regulating virtual currency use and transmission. This state-by-state approach has led to significant variation between state regulatory regimes, creating a regulatory spectrum of lenient to strict regulatory approaches. In March 2017, Alaska House Representatives Zach Fansler and Sam Kito proposed the Alaska Money Services Act to require licensing for virtual currency activity. The bill’s proposed requirements lean towards the strict side of the regulatory spectrum, bringing the potential to drive virtual currency businesses away from Alaska. This Note proposes that Alaska legislators enact virtual currency legislation that adequately balances technological innovation with consumer protection through several recommendations, including: (1) enacting virtual currency-specific legislation rather than importing regulation into existing and outdated laws, (2) clearly defining the legislation’s scope, (3) collaborating with stakeholders in enacting legislation, (4) including an on-ramp to ensure emerging startups are not overly burdened, (5) tailoring the level of regulation to the level of risk a virtual currency business poses to Alaska consumers by tiering requirements to transmission volume, (6) requiring only relevant information in the application, and (7) reducing agency discretion to revoke licenses.

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