One year ago, we published an article regarding a bill that passed under everyone's nose, including the Free Staters themselves, which prohibited the sales of bitcoin without a money transmitting license from the state. 

Needless to say, everyone was pissed. Even at us for even discovering the law.

Some redemption may be on the way. New Hampshire legislators have filed a new bill, HB-436 that would provide new virtual currency related startup companies (and P2P traders) an exemption from it's current money transmitters laws.

For a complete virtual currency United States regulatory landscape, check our regulation tracker.

USA Regulatory Map

The 2015 Shock and How we Got here

Back in 2015, many focused on the headlines which stated "Bitcoin sales prohibited" which was exactly the fact, but it was misread thinking it meant "selling anything and accepting payment in bitcoin was prohibited". Simply reading the article would have cleared that up in 10 seconds. Seriously, if one navigates the world going on nothing but article headlines, schizophrenia is sure to shortly follow.

What the headline meant was the act of selling a bitcoin to a resident of New Hampshire was prohibited as of January 1st, 2016. Which was the case.

The first reaction was that the article was a joke, fake, false, or some other fallacy they need not pay attention to. It was a bit surprising coming from the New Hampshire bitcoin community considering the article was completely focused on helping them and others conducting business in the state so someone could light a fire under the asses that can do something about it.  

Reality Slapped Back 

Fortunately once people got passed a "misleading headline" as it was called (just google it, you'll see) they realized there really was a problem and that we were brutally serious, asses were lit on fire and what happened next was  exactly the goal. 

In the end what we did was blow up an issue that nobody realized was an issue and within 24 hours even the assistant attorney general of whom we contacted before ever publishing the article, chimed in trying to patch things up between residents and the state. 

She tried to say the article misread a notice sent to money services business and that they didn't care if someone spends a bitcoin. Of course they didn't care if someone spent a bitcoin and that's not what the article said. It clearly deciphered the law exactly as it went into effect on January 1st, 2016. What that said is that selling a bitcoin in New Hampshire required a money transmitting license, an intrusive and expensive license to conduct activity such as this. To top it off it also required federal MSB registration which also costs money to put together the tools required for compliance.

Again, folks were focused on the headline and not the content at first, but later that day a few folks actually read the damn thing and then all hell broke loose.  Nobody could fathom how this was slipped under their nose. 

Slip it in is exactly what New Hampshire did. Instead of inserting virtual currency into the money transmitting laws everyone keeps an eye on, they slipped it in under the definition of monetary value and since monetary value is included in money transmission laws, suddenly bitcoin was prohibited from being sold from one person or business to another without a license.

Within 48 hours it went from disbelief (literally) to being "not good" and in another 48 hours it was a "serious problem" and one that should have never happened to begin with. The bill was buried back in June of 2016 and so re-written that "supposedly" it was merely overlooked since its original form was unrecognizable. At least that was one explanation. Three months later the rest of the world seemed to catch on as major exchanges such as Poleneix and bitcoin sellers in general began to pull out of New Hampshire while media outlets finally seemed to snap to the fact that there really was a problem. It was the exact problem we disclosed here in December.

Look, we said it a year ago and we'll say it again. Someone in New Hampshire did this intentionally, this wasn't an accident and they didn't "accidentally" send thousands of warnings to bitcoin companies in December (2015) either. 

Sadly, back in December and a handful of others after-the-fact (mostly talking about the headline) were the only media outlets that even gave any clue or warning at all of the then upcoming January 1st effective date. By March 2016, the mainstream media finally decided it was a topic. The same topic we began back in December and only after the controversy over the headline did enough people actually start to take notice of the issue outlined in the actual article itself.

Whatever works I guess.

Regardless of how, who, what, where, when, or why and regardless of how the article was initially received, it spread like wildfire and by the time most major media outlets caught wind of the new law, in September of 2016 mind you, another bill was already proposed to fund resources for a discovery on the regulations necessity and in October of 2016, New Hampshire held a hearing to review testimony in support of a pro-bitcoin regulatory approach. In short, the word got out soon enough to do something about it and something indeed got done. 

Enter HB-436: Here Comes Redemption 

Well one year later (and a few minutes, the original article was published in December of 2015), New Hampshire has a shiny new article here on again and this time its much better news. HB-436 would add "maintaining control of virtual currency on behalf of others" to its definition of a money transmitter and further defines virtual currency as:

"'Virtual currency' means a digital representation of value that can be digitally traded and functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, or a store of value but does not have legal tender status as recognized by the United States government."

The best amendment the bill proposes is the following exemption:

3  Money Transmitters; Licenses; Exemptions.  Amend RSA 399-G:3, VII to read as follows:
VII.  Persons conducting business using transactions conducted in whole or in part in virtual currency.

New Hampshire may soon go from a bitcoin hostile state back to a bitcoin friendly state and many, including those outside of New Hampshire who do business with the state, should take notice because this may aide the effort in 2017 sales to residents with state requests to get a temporary pass to conduct business while the new laws are worked out and hopefully passed.

This is a positive for New Hampshire and we'll be monitoring the bill as it moves through the Legislative process.

You can track the status here:

Proposed amendments by HB-436 can be reviewed here:

Report by dinbits
Image by staff

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