Several states exempt from their money transmission law, either through statute or regulatory guidance, an “agent of the payee.” California is one such state. In general, the exemption applies to a party that a payor has appointed as its agent for purposes of receiving payment from a payee. The Department of Business Oversight (“DBO”), the agency that enforces California’s money transmitter law, has invited comments on a proposed rule making regarding the scope of the exemption. Comments are due by April 9, 2019.

In the Invitation for Comments, the DBO noted that the statutory exemption “operates, at a minimum, to exempt online marketplace platforms like Amazon and Airbnb.” As Internet-based commerce has expanded, the document explains, “payment chain shave become longer and more convoluted.” The DBO has received numerous inquiries about the scope of the exemption, such as who qualifies as a payor or payee.

The DBO outlines three key topics for potential commenters to address, although it welcomes comments on any potential area for rule making. The topics (each of which have numerous subtopics) are:

  1. The exemption makes the agent-of-payee exemption available for transactions in“goods or services.” What items do and do not fall within the term “goods or services”?
  2. The exemption defines “payor” as a “recipient” of “goods.” What does it mean to“receive” goods?
  3. The exemption also defines “payor” as a “recipient” of “services.” What does it mean to “receive” services?