Nebraska senator introduces bills to allow state banks to custody crypto


A Nebraska state senator has proposed new crypto-friendly legislation which could see his state become the next regulatory safe haven for FinTech firms.

Sworn in just two weeks ago, Republican Mike Flood today introduced the Transactions in Digital Assets Act and Adopt the Nebraska Financial Innovation Act to the state’s 107th Legislature.

The two bills lay out guidelines for state banks to be able to custody digital assets in addition to creating financial institutions dealing in digital assets for which Nebraska would provide “charter, operation, supervision, and regulation”. The measures would also give local courts the jurisdiction to hear claims “in both law and equity relating to digital assets.”

The proposed legislation will likely move to committee before a general file in the state legislature, where Republican lawmakers currently outnumber Democrats almost two-to-one, 32 to 17.

The proposed bills also aim to address the problem of major banks in the United States discriminating against businesses and individual customers using crypto.

“The rapid innovation of blockchain and digital ledger technology, including the growing use of virtual currency and other digital assets, has resulted in many blockchain innovators and consumers being unable to access secure and reliable banking services, hampering development of blockchain services and products in the marketplace,” states the second bill.

“Many financial institutions in Nebraska and across the United States [refuse] to provide banking services to blockchain innovators and customers and also [refuse] to accept deposits in United States currency obtained from the sale of virtual currency or other digital assets.”

Flood, who previously served as a member and speaker of the Nebraska Legislature until 2013, said he planned to introduce bills intended to make his district a FinTech hub. In a meeting of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee last Wednesday, the state senator described cryptocurrency as a market with “great opportunity” for Nebraska.

“This is the future,” said Flood. “To be on the cutting edge of [crypto], I think, is good for us. We need to be a leader in FinTech. We in Norfolk have as much right to this new market as any other place in America.”

Under the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, state laws can often be independent of, or even contradictory to federal laws. One example of this in the crypto space is exchanges such as Binance U.S. having to go state by state to legally make its services available to U.S. residents.

Last July, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced that federally chartered banks would be allowed to provide custody services for cryptocurrency. Though the measures Flood proposed would not be needed for federally chartered banks in Nebraska, the proposals seemingly attempt to extend this benefit to state-chartered banks.