New York-based bitcoin exchange services provider Atlas ATS has announced the launch of its latest international offering, Atlas ATS Europe.
The product of a partnership with Spain-based bitcoin ATM network and exchange specialist Recol Pro S.A., the launch follows the announcement of Atlas ATS's Asian market entrance this July. That initiative found Atlas ATS partnering with China-based bitcoin ATM manufacturer BitOcean for a new, yet-to-be launched venture called BitOcean Japan.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Atlas ATS CEO Shawn Sloves and chief marketing and communications officer Rafi Reguer indicated that the European expansion is simply the latest example of the 'global-local model' that the exchange is seeking to leverage to expand internationally.
Reguer explained that Atlas has been seeking to partner with experienced local operators in a number of high-interest markets in a bid to ensure regulatory compliance for consumers, saying:
"One of the things that distinguishes Atlas is the idea of embracing regulation and trying to get regulated. For the vast majority of individual investors and institutions out there, if digital currency is going to be a real thing that they invest in, it's got to be on a platform that's similar to the existing equities and futures exchanges, all of the bells and whistles that come with that, with all the audit-ability and technology."
It's this commitment to the design of its offering and its unique plan for scaling its business that has won praise from top industry analysts such as Wedbush partner Gil Luria.
Luria told Institutional Investor in June that he believes Atlas to be the frontrunner at creating a world-class trading platform, ahead of even existing market heavyweights such as SecondMarket and Kraken.
Three-pronged market approach
Atlas ATS Europe will offer three key components that the firm believes will make it initially attractive to local bitcoin traders – a trading platform, a multi-signature digital wallet, and a bitcoin ATM network.
Ignacio Ozcariz, CEO of Recol, said that the partnership also represents a deeper commitment to the space on behalf of his firm, which has historically specialized in telecommunications and IT offerings, saying:
“Recol is positioning itself to be a global operator in the bitcoin ecosystem and Atlas ATS Europe is a key part of that strategy."
ATM access will be limited to Spain at launch. However, Recol has promised to expand its network dramatically following the partnership.
Atlas ATS Europe will link to the company's US order book in order to provide a deeper pool of initial liquidity, and European and US customers will now be able to buy and sell bitcoin in either US dollars or euros.
Global expansion continues
Speaking to CoinDesk, Sloves indicated that Atlas is currently seeking to expand its exchange through more partnerships around the globe, and that a new offering in Dubai could be the next to launch.
Sloves said that, by working with local operators, Atlas is able to expand its offerings in a legally compliant way, a practice that he feels best positions Atlas for long-term market impact. He explained that in Asia, for instance, it sought to work in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling on Japan, highlighting some of the unique considerations his firm made in this market.
"In Singapore, we were developing local registration for AML and KYC, but the one thing that we look for in a country is partnerships. In Singapore, you need a local operator, someone who has a national ID card and can file a corporation. [...] In other countries, we set up banking relationships. We're going to have local operators to handle local law and local compliance."
By building strong relationships on each continent, Atlas ATS aims to bring all the pieces together for a global bitcoin exchange with enough liquidity to attract institutional investors.
Hinting at future plans, Sloves further said: "We're also launching Africa, where we're working with another partner firm, and eventually South America."
Drinking the Kool-Aid
Having worked in the financial industry since the early 1990s, Sloves held positions as a capital markets specialist and co-founded multi-asset trading technology firm Fundamental Interactions in 2011.
After developing an interest in bitcoin, Sloves attended the Bitcoin2013 conference in San Jose and decided to leverage Fundamental Interactions' technology to launch a digital currency exchange:
"We had a built matching engine for Wall Street firms, so we figured, we're trading bitcoin, we're spending millions of dollars on this, why don't we apply it to digital currency?"
The move was more than savvy business, however, as Sloves also stressed the passion that his firm has for the project:
"One thing that makes us a little different, we believe in digital currency, we want to support it, increase usership, price stability, that's our main objective. First and foremost, we drank the Kool-Aid, we believe the whole protocol and how it's going to change everything. That's what gets us up everyday in doing this stuff."
Atlas ATS officially launched in March of this year, but has been offering private markets trading since late 2013.
Europe visualization via Shutterstock