Bitstamp Courts European Banks as Region's Incoming Crypto Rules Boost Confidence

The longest-running crypto exchange says three European banks are in talks about offering crypto services – a stark contrast to the U.S., where firms are wary amid a regulatory crackdown.

AccessTimeIconOct 9, 2023 at 3:27 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 8, 2024 at 9:49 p.m. UTC
  • 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.
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  • 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.

    While the U.S. clamps down on crypto, places like Europe have been busy getting rules in place and traditional financial institutions are now partnering and formulating strategies, with big players like Deutsche Bank and HSBC in the news.

    Bitstamp, which was granted a BitLicense from the New York Department of Financial Services in 2019 and is audited by EY, has also seen demand for a fully regulated perpetual swap product in Europe, and the exchange has been working on this, Zagotta said.

    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.”

    Edited by Nick Baker.


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    Ian Allison

    Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.