Complying with state law is now a point-and-click experience for crafted precious metal dealers in Texas.
The state created an online registration tool enabling those buying and selling gold, silver and other precious metals — jewelry, but not coins or medallions — to register their permanent and temporary business locations with the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC). The law requiring that registration went into effect Jan. 1.
Dealers must now register and pay fees prior to engaging in regulated business transactions and display a registration certificate at their locations. The law is an attempt to assist law enforcement agencies to track, investigate and monitor whether stolen property is involved in cash-for-gold-type transactions. Previously there was no legal requirement that the dealers be registered for regulatory or consumer assistance/investigation purposes with the OCCC.
Sue Jevning, communications specialist for the OCCC, said once the Texas Legislature passed the registration mandate, the department went looking for the easiest and most efficient way to provide online registration processing. The search led the department to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which was using a module through the state’s Web portal for its metal recycling program.
Instead of reinventing the wheel with a new proprietary application, the OCCC modified the DPS’ online service for the purpose of registering crafted precious metals dealers. Development took approximately two months and was handled by Texas NICUSA, a subsidiary of e-government company NIC. Texas NICUSA operates and maintains Texas.gov, the state’s official website.
Jevning said that from an agency perspective the efficiency and speed in which someone can register are the key benefits of the application.
“They can go online, enter the information, pay online, hit print and life is good,” Jevning said of business owners using the online service. “They’re not waiting six weeks for a piece of paper to come back to them and for us to deposit checks.”
The online registration is but one of multiple Web applications Texas has rolled out to improve convenience for citizens in the last year. The Lone Star State debuted a Web-based Driver License Eligibility program in June 2011, and various local governments in Texas have created other useful tech tools for wildfire preparation and park reservations.
Jevning didn’t recall many technical challenges in developing the crafted precious metals dealers’ registration system. She did, however, have concerns that there were many businesses taking part in the buying and selling of precious metals in Texas that still have not registered and are unaccounted for.
As of Aug. 15, approximately 2,900 permanent and 360 temporary dealer locations were registered with the online system.
Looking ahead, Jevning said a second phase of the online service would be complete by early December. Once complete, the application will enable crafted precious metal dealers to renew their existing registration, as opposed to registering for the first time. Registration renewals are due by Jan. 1, 2013.
While the registration system is available via mobile browsers, Brian Stevenson, general manager and director of core services for Texas.gov, which worked on the project, said no plans are currently in the works to make the tool a native app.
“The agency itself is looking at a revamp of its Web design to make its Web presence mobile and then we may or may not consider apps from that point,” Jevning added.
Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology magazine from 2011 to mid-2015.