Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, D-Middlesex, is sponsoring legislation to create consumer protections and regulations in the virtual currency industry.

Lopez says she is a big advocate for consumer rights. But she has come to realize that many consumers do not know much about the virtual currency market.

"I wonder if people really understand what that even means," she said.

Lopez said her proposed Digital Asset and Blockchain Technology Act would regulate the virtual currency industry without hindering its growth.

Lopez wants to establish a set of protections for consumers who delve into virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

"It provides that applicants disclose their business information and any information that could actually be a signal to impropriety," she said.

Under the bill, digital asset businesses must be licensed by Department of Banking and Insurance in order to operate in New Jersey, or be licensed in another state in which New Jersey has a reciprocity agreement.

In the application process, a cryptocurrency business would be required to disclose its legal name and any name the applicant uses to conduct business.

It also must provide a list of any disciplinary actions against the applicant in another state; a list of criminal convictions and criminal proceedings against the applicant; and anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing policies.

But she says her legislation also would allow the sector to continue to develop and expand in New Jersey.

"Regulating the virtual currency industry would not only make New Jersey stand out as an innovation arm, but also send a message that innovation must work in concert with individuals it impacts," she said.

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5