Representatives of Coinbase, Ripple Labs, Circle, Bitstamp, Xapo, BitPay and other cryptocurrency groups signed a petition aimed at freeing a part of bitcoin startups from BitLicense requirements 

Many industry leaders signed the petition submitted on March 24th, 2015 to addressed to Benjamin Lawsky and Dana Syracuse of the New York State Department of Financial Services. The petition, submitted few days before the end of the one-month public comment period, looks for a ‘balance’ between regulation and innovation and asks New York financial authorities to provide ‘a safe harbor for the BitLicense’.

The idea is to free small startups, micropayments providers, security intermediaries and open-source protocols from the obligations to apply for a BitLicense. Authors of the proposal argue that small startups must be given time (a two-year period, renewed if necessary) to grow without being burdened by compliance fees. The same applies to the firms enabling people to send micropayments – they won’t have the necessary money. Security intermediaries such as multisig providers should be encouraged because they protect consumers, say the authors. Besides, they do not control any virtual funds themselves, and therefore cannot lose them. The same applies to those who create bitcoin 2.0 applications. However, even in the safe harbor those four groups of startups will be obliged to follow best practices in security and comply with relevant AML laws.

The authors express hope that New York financial authorities, providing consumer protection, would still “support commerce and innovation” and point to the fact that bitcoin technology with its “tremendous amount of potential” can provide solutions for “93 million Americans that are un- or underbanked”, help remittances and provide jobs for the state of New York. Seventy-seven signatories of the document include representatives of many major bitcoin businesses.  

Original BitLicense proposal, published by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) in July 2014, was heavily criticized by the bitcoin community who felt that regulations were too strict. One of the largest bitcoin companies, Circle, even claimed that if the proposal is adopted, “Circle will have no choice but to block New York customers from accessing our services”. In February 2015, a revised BitLicense draft was published. It took into consideration some of the comments submitted by bitcoin proponents. Nevertheless, it is still negatively seen by many cryptocurrency activists. Robert Kuhne, analyst at the Chinese bitcoin exchange Huobi, told that BitLicense is “an example of an oppressive regulatory regime that will stifle innovation and ensure that New York does not become a major bitcoin center”.

Chinese authorities maintain a “wait and see” approach, not giving any comment on bitcoin regulation. The government of Hong Kong explicitly stated that it “does not consider it necessary to introduce at the moment new legislation to regulate trading in such virtual commodities”.

Russian financial authorities hope to ban bitcoin before 2016.