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Benjamin Lawsky: ‘I’m Doing No Work in the Digital Currency Space’


The former superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) and the creator of the much maligned BitLicense revealed today that he’s not working in the digital currency space.

“I’m doing no work in the digital currency space,” said Benjamin Lawsky at the America Banker Conference in New York City.

“The rules are clear,” Lawsky explained. “I can’t work in the Bitcoin space on anything related to my work at NYDFS or BitLicense.”

When Lawsky announced in May that he was stepping down, he revealed that he would be launching his own legal consultancy. The New York Post had reported that Lawsky “plans to advise companies on financial matters such as cybersecurity and digital currencies like bitcoin, a new sphere of regulation he helped spearhead in New York.”

The final version of BitLicense was released on June 3 as a way to regulate the businesses. The arguments against it were that it put too high a financial burden on young startups in the city.

Many opined that Bitcoin businesses might simply leave New York rather than deal with the hassle. ShapeShift, the company founded by Erik Vorhees, announced on CNBC that the business would be leaving New York entirely.

While Lawsky was clear on not working in the digital currency space, he did leave himself a small opening when he said that if he ever does have clients in that space, he won’t be able to do anything with regard to BitLicense. According to him, there is a lifetime ban on his ability to work with companies on BitLicense.

The leadup to the BitLicense had many parties interested, but it was revealed at the conference that the largest audience watching the BitLicense announcement was from China and Russia.

Photo New America Foundation / Flickr