Bitstamp, one of Europe's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, is looking to expand its U.S. operations, having just been issued New York's latest virtual currency license.
The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) awarded Bitstamp the 19th BitLicense Tuesday, allowing the exchange to offer bitcoin, litecoin, bitcoin cash, ether and XRP trading pairs to the state's residents. Bitstamp first applied for the license in June 2015, when NYDFS created the state's landmark law.
The exchange was among the first set of 22 applicants for the license, CEO Nejc Kodrič told CoinDesk.
While the regulator only issued a handful of licenses in its first few years, awarding BitLicenses – which NYDFS has recently taken to calling "virtual currency licenses" instead – appears to be "becoming more routine to them," Kodrič said. "This year we are the [fifth] that was granted so I guess the pace is picking up."
So far in 2019, prime brokerage Tagomi, stock trading app Robinhood and bitcoin ATM operators Cottonwood Vending and LibertyX have received the coveted license.
To get to this point, Bitstamp and NYDFS have discussed various aspects of the exchange's operation, Kodrič said, explaining:
The CEO likened the approval process to Europe's standards: the exchange already has a payment institution license in the EU, allowing it to operate across all 28 member countries.
"The [BitLicense] is not that much different than our financial services license that we have in Europe," he said. "We didn't reinvent the wheel."
Now the exchange, which already offers some services within the U.S., is looking to expand its operations. Kodrič explained that the company primarily operated in European markets to date, but has been "passive" so far in America.
However, he noted, Bitstamp's U.S. operations began before the BitLicense was finalized (the exchange was first founded in 2011), and as such, did have a presence in the country.
"We were providing services in the [US] including New York before there were any licenses out there," he said. "We have many customers from the States, but we plan on going more active."
While right now the license only allows Bitstamp to offer the five listed cryptocurrencies to U.S. customers, he hinted that this is not a firm limitation.
The exchange is primarily a crypto-to-fiat platform, though it does offer crypto-to-crypto services. At present, though, the majority of its volume comes from its fiat on and off ramps.
Nejc Kodrič image courtesy Bitstamp
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.