Bill Summary for H 624 (2021-2022)

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Summary date: 

Apr 20 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 624 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Intro. by Saine, Turner, Lofton, Szoka.

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Bill summary

Identical to S 470, filed 4/1/21.

Enacts new GS Chapter 169, to be known as the North Carolina Regulatory Sandbox Act of 2021. Sets out and defines terms as they are used in the Chapter, including defining regulatory sandbox, sandbox, or sandbox program as the program established by this Chapter that permits a person or entity to temporarily test an innovative financial or insurance product or service (as defined in the act) and make it available to consumers on a limited basis without being subject to certain licensing or other regulatory obligations imposed under applicable State law. Includes numerous NCGA findings related to the banking and insurance  industry as well as emerging technology.

Allows a person who makes an innovative product or service available to consumers in the regulatory sandbox to be granted a waiver of specified requirements imposed by statute or rule, if these statutes or rules do not currently allow the product or service to be made available to consumers. Specifies that the waiver is to be no broader than necessary to accomplish the purposes set forth in this Act. Sets the duration of the wavier as the duration of participation in the regulatory sandbox, not to exceed 24 months from the date of admission into the regulatory sandbox program unless granted an extension.

Establishes the 11-member North Carolina Innovation Council (Council) to support innovation, investment, and job creation within the state by encouraging participation in the regulatory sandbox. Gives the Council the power to set standards, principles, guidelines, and policy priorities for the types of innovations that the regulatory sandbox program will support. Makes the Council responsible for admission into the regulatory sandbox program and for assigning selected participants to the applicable State agency. Sets out membership on the Council, including expertise requirements for the public members; prohibits paying members compensation except reasonable travel expenses.

Allows a designated nonprofit organization that has been authorized by the Office of the Secretary of State to be recognized as partners that may help sandbox applicants navigate the application process. Also allows certain participating nonprofit organizations to assist sandbox participants with the design and implementation of products and services during the regulatory sandbox program period. Sets out the application process for nonprofits. Also allows those nonprofit partners to explore, provide input, analyze, and make recommendations with respect to innovations and the application of innovative technologies that would benefit the state, its consumers, and its industry.

Allows entities to apply to participate in the regulatory sandbox by submitting an application to the Council. Sets a $50 application fee and a $450 fee to participate in the 24-mnth sandbox period. Allows for additional participation fees. Require applicants to be a corporation or other organized entity with a physical presence in North Carolina. Sets out six items the Council is to consider when determining admission, including the nature of the innovation product or service proposed, including the potential risk to consumers; whether the entity's management has the necessary expertise to conduct a pilot of the innovative product or service during the sandbox period; and whether any person substantially involved in the development, operation, or management of the innovative product or service has been convicted of or is currently under investigation for fraud or State or federal securities violations. Allows the Council to deny an application in its discretion, but requires defined reasons to be given. Sets out the process by which an applicant may resolve the denial; denies judicial review.

Upon approval, gives an applicant 24 months to test the innovative product or service; allows the period to be extended by agreement of the applicable State agency. Requires innovations to be offered only to customers who are state residents, with a qualified exception for products or services associated with money transmitters; allows the applicable State agency to cap the number of participants, which may be increased by agreement. Allows the Council or State agency to publish a list of participants or innovation waivers. Allows requiring participants to post a consumer protection bond, or alternatively, a deposit of cash or marketable securities. Require a final report at the end of the sandbox period. Provides that if the sandbox participant cannot obtain regulatory compliance within 90 days following the expiration of the sandbox period, the participant must wind down operations with existing consumers within 90 days after the conclusion of the sandbox period; sets out actions that may be taken after that period. Sets out notice requirements to be met when a participant's business objectives fail before the end of the testing period.

Require a participant to make four specified disclosures to consumers before offering an innovative product or service, including that the innovative product or service is authorized under the regulatory sandbox for a temporary testing period and that neither the State nor any of the State agencies endorse or recommend the innovative product or service and is not subject to any liability for losses or damages caused by the product or service. Requires specified records, documents, and data to be kept for five years. Allows the applicable State agency to set reporting requirements.

Sets out provisions governing the confidentiality of various personal information and documents and materials; provides for when certain information may be disclosed.

Allows the Council to explore, receive input, analyze, and make recommendations, with respect to blockchain initiatives and their application. Defines blockchain technology as an electronic method for storing cryptographically secure data in a database or distributed ledger technology that is decentralized, consensus-based, mathematically verified, and distributed across multiple locations.

Deems a participant to possess an appropriate license under the State's laws for purposes of any provision of federal law that requires State licensure or authorization. Allows the Council to enter into agreements with other State, federal, or foreign regulators to advance the purpose of the regulatory sandbox. Specifies that this Chapter allows persons, applicants, or entities authorized in other jurisdictions or that hold a license in other jurisdictions to be recognized as sandbox participants in this state.

Effective October 1, 2021.