BitLicense at 5: A Timeline of New York's Landmark Cryptocurrency Regulation

The BitLicense was first proposed in 2013, but wasn't implemented until mid-2015. CoinDesk outlines the major events in its history.

AccessTimeIconJun 24, 2020 at 2:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 10, 2022 at 8:09 p.m. UTC

New York’s BitLicense debuted in 2015 to mixed reviews. Many found the regulation to be too cumbersome and felt that crypto startups were being subjected to more onerous regulations than regular financial institutions. Others defended it on the grounds that it was necessary to protect consumers and help the crypto industry mature.

In action, the BitLicense was quick to change the landscape of New York’s crypto world. While the NYDFS received 22 applications in its first round, 15 companies also ceased operations in the state after the regulation was implemented. Five years later, only 25 entities carry the NYDFS stamp of approval. 

CoinDesk has been following the journey of New York’s crypto regulation since the state began considering it seven years ago. What follows is a detailed timeline of events surrounding the infamous regulation, from the first signs of New York’s desire to regulate virtual currencies to the latest developments and license recipients.


  • Nov. 14, 2013: New York State considers issuing BitLicenses to bitcoin businesses and plans to hold public hearings on virtual currency regulations in New York City. (link


  • March 11, 2014: New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) issues public order that it will begin considering proposals for regulating virtual currency exchanges. (See also: NYDFS)
  • July 17, 2014: NYDFS releases list of proposed rules and regulations for New York-based bitcoin businesses. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

May 2015

  • May 7, 2015: Paxos, formerly known as itBit, receives the first trust charter certified by NYDFS. (link) (See also: NYDFS).
  • May 20, 2015: NYDFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, who created the BitLicense, steps down. (link

June 2015

  • June 3, 2015: NYDFS introduces final version of regulatory framework to mixed reviews. (link)  
  • June 24, 2015: The BitLicense goes into effect. Companies and individuals that offer digital currency services have 45 days to apply for a license. (link)

August 2015

  • Aug. 13, 2015: NYDFS reveals it received 22 license applications in its initial round. (link)

September 2015

  • Sept. 22, 2015: NYDFS grants its first BitLicense to bitcoin wallet Circle. (link) (See also: NYDFS

October 2015

  • Oct. 1, 2015: Gemini Trust company receives a trust charter from NYDFS (link) (See also: NYDFS) (NYDFS)
  • Oct. 16, 2015: Theo Chino files a lawsuit against the NYDFS  in the New York State Supreme Court. (link)
  • Oct. 28, 2015: The Wall Street Journal reports acting NYDFS Superintendent Anthony Albanese will resign over tensions with the governor's office. (link)

March 2016

  • March 16, 2016: Up to 21 bitcoin startups await formal NYDFS confirmation as processing drags on. (link)

June 2016

  • June, 13 2016: Nine months after the first license was issued, distributed ledger company Ripple (XRP II) is granted the second BitLicense. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

November 2016

  • Nov. 2, 2016: Theo Chino continues his fight against New York’s regulation around bitcoin, announcing plans to help the city’s bodegas accept the cryptocurrency. (link)

January 2017

  • Jan. 17, 2017: Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is awarded the third BitLicense. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

June 2017

  • June 20, 2017: NYDFS starts inspecting the operations of bitcoin startups serving customers in the state. (link

November 2017

  • Nov. 21, 2017: Ex-NYDFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky joins the board of Ripple Labs. (link)
  • Nov. 28, 2017: NYDFS grants a BitLicense to the U.S. affiliate of Japan-based bitFlyer. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

February 2018

  • Feb. 7, 2018: NYDFS pushes crypto firms to strengthen fraud controls. (link)
  • Feb. 21, 2018: New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim proposes a bill to replace the BitLicense regulation. (link)
  • Feb. 23, 2018: New York senators hold a roundtable to revisit BitLicense and later announce an upcoming bill to reform the licensing framework. (link)

March 2018

  • March 13, 2018: Digital payments company Square applies for a BitLicense. (link)

April 2018

  • April 12, 2018: NYDFS Superintendent Maria Vullo defends the BitLicense at the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. (link)

May 2018

  • May 17, 2018: NYDFS grants its fifth bitcoin license to Genesis Global Trading. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

June 2018

  • June 14, 2018: Hong-Kong based XAPO Holdings is granted a BitLicense. ( link (See also: NYDFS)
  • June 18, 2018: Digital payments startup Square receives the seventh BitLicense. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

July 2018

  • July 16, 2018: Atlanta-based bitPay is granted a BitLicense. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

September 2018

  • Sept. 10, 2018: NYDFS approves Paxos and Gemini to issue dollar-pegged stablecoins. (link) (link) (See also: NYDFS)

October 2018

  • Oct. 23, 2018: DFS authorizes Coinbase Global, Inc. to form the Coinbase Trust Company LLC. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

November 2018

  • Nov. 1, 2018: The first BitLicense to a bitcoin ATM goes to Coinsource, three years after the company first applied. (link) (See also: NYDFS)
  • Nov. 14, 2018: New York’s 10th BitLicense is awarded to digital investment group NYDIG. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

January 2019

  • Jan. 24, 2019: Bitcoin ATM provider LibertyX and trading startup Robinhood are granted BitLicenses (link) (See also: NYDFS)
  • Jan. 31, 2019: Cottonwood Vending LLC becomes the third bitcoin ATM operator to receive a BitLicense. (link)

March 2019

  • March 27, 2019: New York grants the 18th BitLicense to prime brokerage startup Tagomi Trading. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

April 2019

  • April 9, 2019: Europe-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp receives the 19th BitLicense, allowing it to expand operations to the U.S. (link) (See also: NYDFS)
  • April 10, 2019: Seattle-based crypto exchange Bittrex’s application for a license is rejected by NYDFS. The regulator cites the exchange’s insufficient anti-money laundering measures as one of the reasons. (link) (See Also: NYDFS)
    See also: NYDFS: Why We Rejected Bittrex’s Application for a BitLicense

June 2019

  • June 21, 2019: The New York Senate confirms acting NYDFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell to the role. (link)

July 2019

  • July 1, 2019: Facebook applies for a BitLicense. (link)
  • July 15, 2019: NYDFS grants two licenses to SEED CX subsidiaries Zero Hash and SCXM (link) (See also: NYDFS)

September 2019

  • Sept. 5, 2019: NYDFS approves the first gold-backed digital currency. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

October 2019

  • Oct. 22, 2019: NYDFS says it will be reviewing the BitLicense framework. (link) (See also: NYDFS)
  • Oct. 24, 2019: NYDFS announces it will be hiring a new Deputy Superintendent for Virtual Currency to create and maintain compliance measures. (link)
  • Oct. 25, 2019: NYDFS extends the deadline for Bittrex customers in New York to withdraw funds after the firm was denied a BitLicense. (link)

November 2019

  • Nov. 11, 2019: NYDFS grants a trust charter to Fidelity Digital Assets. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

December 2019

  • Dec. 6, 2019: Online lender SoFi is granted a BitLicense. (link) (See also: NYDFS)
  • Dec. 11, 2019: NYDFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell outlines proposed changes to the BitLicense. (link) (See also: NYDFS)

May 2020

  • May 6, 2020: ErisX becomes the 25th company to receive a BitLicense. (link) (See also: NYDFS)
  • May 13, 2020: A CoinDesk report finds NYDIG was awarded the BitLicense 11 months after hiring former NYDFS superintendent and BitLicense architect Benjamin Lawsky. (link)

June 2020

  • June 24, 2020: NYDFS announces it is finalizing its proposed guidance from December, streamlining the coin listing process for licensed exchanges. The regulator is also releasing new guidance and documentation to assist applicants; letting applicants receive conditional BitLicenses if they partner with already-licensed entities; and signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the State University of New York, allowing crypto startups to visit any of the university’s 64 campuses to seek assistance. (link)


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