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Posted on Mar 17, 2020 in Latest Department News

State of Hawaii’s “Digital Currency Innovation Lab” seeks applicants for first pilot program

HONOLULU – March 17 marked the launch of Hawaii’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 Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC). This joint effort by the State of Hawaii, 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii.

Companies who are selected will be carefully reviewed to ensure that Hawaii’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 Hawaii, 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 Hawaii,” 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, Hawaii 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 at:



Media Contact:

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


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