- Crypto exchange Bitstamp is in talks with several big European banks about offering cryptocurrency services.
- This suggests the European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA, regime is helping TradFi banks get comfortable with digital assets.
- In the U.S., the opposite seems to be true as regulators go after crypto.
Bitstamp, the longest-running cryptocurrency exchange, says it’s in talks to help three large European banks begin offering crypto services around the first quarter of next year.
The news, revealed by a senior executive during an interview with CoinDesk, suggests the European Union’s major crypto regulatory effort, called Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA, is easing the way for conventional financial firms to get into digital assets.
That’s a stark contrast with the U.S., where regulators are cracking down, thus keeping old-school firms hesitant and forcing crypto companies to consider moving elsewhere.
Bitstamp has gotten a lot of interest in Europe for the exchange’s relatively new Bitstamp-as-a-service offering, a white-label licensing and technology combo designed to help banks and fintech firms offer crypto buying and selling, said Robert Zagotta, the Luxembourg-based company’s global chief commercial officer and CEO of its U.S. division.
“In the last six to nine months, we’ve had quite an increase in inbound inquiries about this offering from large European banks,” Zagotta said in an interview. “We are in advanced conversations with three such banks, household name banks in Europe. I think first quarter-ish we will be able to announce.” He didn’t identify the firms.
Unfortunately, the reverse is happening in the U.S., Zagotta said. There, some large, regulated firms are moving their crypto operations elsewhere, to places like Singapore.
Not another FTX
Zagotta believes Bitstamp’s buttoned-up approach to regulation and governance is now reaping rewards in the wake of FTX’s collapse and some of the regulatory challenges faced by crypto exchange giant Binance.
Bitstamp onboarded about 36% more corporations in the first half of 2023 versus the second half of 2022, partly a result of FTX evaporating in November and its market share being redistributed, Zagotta said.
But the crypto industry can ill afford another blow-up like FTX, Zagotta added, pointing to the possibility of another large player such as Binance being brought down in some way or other.
“If Binance were to go down, the disruption in the marketplace would be just enormous,” Zagotta said. “So we don’t wish for them to literally go down in flames like FTX. We just are hopeful that there’s a level playing field across all of us. I think we’ll get there.”
CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.