Skip to Main Content

Hawaiʻi Launches First Sandbox for Digital Currency

March 17, 2020
Press Release

State of Hawaiʻi’s “Digital Currency Innovation Lab” Seeks Applicants for First Pilot Program

Source: Governor of Hawaiʻi, David Ige

March 17, 2020 marked the launch of Hawaiʻi’s first pilot program for digital currency, driven by a partnership between the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) and Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation (HTDC). This joint effort by the State of Hawaiʻi, termed the “Digital Currency Innovation Lab” is a two-year initiative that aims to achieve a more in-depth perspective of digital currency and allows digital currency issuers to do business in Hawaiʻi without obtaining a state money transmitter license during the effective period of the pilot program. The insights attained will be used to guide legislation and determine the future of digital currency activity in Hawaiʻi.

Companies who are selected will be carefully reviewed to ensure that Hawaiʻi’s consumers are protected, with participating companies demonstrating that they have the essential capital, financial and technical expertise to conduct business in the State.

Iris Ikeda, Commissioner of Financial Institutions, commented that DFI has issued a “no action message”, meaning that no action will be taken against a company conducting what DFI would consider unlicensed money transmission activity, if the company is successfully admitted into the pilot program.

“DFI is leveraging its statutory authority to provide an innovative way to introduce digital currency issuers into the State of Hawaiʻi, while ensuring the safety of our consumers. By acknowledging digital currencies as a transmission vehicle of the future, we will be able to craft legislation that is conducive to its development in Hawaiʻi,” says Ikeda.

Len Higashi, acting executive director of HTDC believes that lessons learned through the pilot program can assist the State in developing expertise in and becoming an early adopter of digital currency. “By spearheading the Digital Currency Innovation Lab, Hawaiʻi can position itself on the forefront of financial technology and potentially, reap the economic benefits that accompany the leadership stance taken.”

The Digital Currency Innovation Lab will start accepting applications from March 17, 2020 to May 1, 2020 online. For more details on the pilot program and application process, visit the HTDC website.

Media Contact

William Nhieu
Communications Officer
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
o: (808) 586-7582
m: (808) 389-2788

Charlene Chan
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
o: (808) 587-9006
m: (808) 824-0134