STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BANKING REGULATORS SURVEY PUBLIC ON VIRTUAL CURRENCY

Sixty-five percent of respondents to a national survey in May said they were unlikely to ever purchase or use virtual currency, according to survey results released Wednesday by the Massachusetts Division of Banks. The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, found that 51 percent of respondents had heard of virtual currency, but only 3 percent reported having purchased it. Younger respondents were most likely to have purchased Bitcoin or another virtual currency, according to the survey. The conference in March launched a task force to examine "developments and regulatory issues in the area of emerging payments" with the goal of developing coordinated regulatory approaches. "State regulators welcome innovations that lead to greater choice and lower costs, but we also want to understand any consumer and marketplace risks as we evaluate the overall benefits of virtual currencies," Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks David Cotney said in a statement. Cotney chairs the task force. The survey, conducted by ICF International, found consumers mostly learned about virtual currencies from the television or internet, rather than the traditional method of obtaining information about financial products from banks and credit unions. - M. Norton/SHNS

BOSTON APPEALS FEMA FLOOD MAPS

The City of Boston on Tuesday filed an appeal of federal maps that added more than 13,000 housing units to the 100-year floodplain in Boston, asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to publish new maps and to hold a new 90-day appeal and public comment period.


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The city hired an independent consultant, the Woods Hole Group, who conducted a study that found "inconsistencies and potential errors" in FEMA's mapping and flood study approach, according to Mayor Martin Walsh's office. The mayor's office estimates the new maps added 1,585 acres of land to the 100-year floodplain, including 13,709 housing units and 4,202 businesses. Properties with federally backed mortgages or loans in that floodplain are required to carry flood insurance. "These maps have significant implications for Bostonians," Walsh said in a statement Wednesday. "We are doing our due diligence to make sure they are established with the best available data and appropriate modeling methodology." The Woods Hole Group's study concluded 507 acres of land should be removed from the 100-year floodplain and 33 acres should be added. The official comment period on the Suffolk County maps, which were released last November, ended on Wednesday. - M. Norton/SHNS

BIALECKI TO TOUT ENGINEERING REG REFORMS

State officials plan to visit an engineering center in Boston on Thursday to highlight reforms to regulations governing engineers and land surveyors. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki, state Professional Licensure Director Mark Kmetz, and Dennis Drumm, chair of the Mass. Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors, plan to gather with industry officials for a 9 a.m. event at The Engineering Center on One Walnut Street, Beacon Hill. - M. Norton/SHNS