Hawaii doesn’t give crypto much aloha, but some lawmakers want to change that

State officials say Hawaii is one of the hardest states to trade cryptocurrency.
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 10:05 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2022 at 10:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is one of the hardest states to trade cryptocurrency ― and some state lawmakers want to change that.

A measure moving through the state Legislature would establish new rules for regulating and licensing digital currency companies in Hawaii.

State Sen. Bennette Misalucha is among those pushing for Hawaii to become more cryto-friendly.

“If you look at the worst cryptocurrency environment, one of which would be Hawaii,” Misalucha said. “For instance, there is a rule that says for every dollar that’s invested, you have to have reserves. And so for many companies, they may not want to bother with Hawaii, right? Because it’s a small market.”

According to Misalucha, the state’s pilot program allows for only 15 cryptocurrency companies to operate in Hawaii, which limits choices for investors.

She said unless licensing legislation is enacted, the pilot program will end in June.

Tech expert Ryan Ozawa says there have been many failed attempts to adjust laws.

“We interpreted existing laws in such a way that companies that allow you to exchange American dollars or U.S. dollars to crypto cannot operate in the state or at least choose not to operate in the state,” Ozawa said.

He is the community engagement specialist for the state Digital Currency Innovation Lab, which is running a pilot program that allows a handful of cryptocurrency companies to operate in the state.

“We’ve seen during this pilot, over 60 to 70,000 Hawaii residents participate over a billion dollars in transactions,” Ozawa said. “So clearly, this is not a fringe thing. It’s not just your geeky neighbor’s basement that’s doing this.”

But at the moment, there are some financial experts that think the average person shouldn’t venture into the world of cryptocurrency.

“The stability that typically people need in a currency like the dollar or the yen, or the euro, just isn’t there in cryptocurrency,” said investment adviser Kaleialoha Cadhina-Puaa. “The volatility is just too great. So I’m not recommending it yet. It needs to get a little bit more widely adopted.”

But many hope that day comes.

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