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New York Encounters Bitcoin Backlog

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New York Encounters Bitcoin Backlog

New York has enforced digital currency companies doing business there to get a BitLicense to hold clients reserves and exchange crypto coins for dollars and other regular currencies since 2015.  The Department of Financial Services (DFS) was managed by Benjamin Lawsky when it developed those regulations, acting as an campaigner of virtual currencies when other regulators were still in doubt.  Even though it stays vague whether such currencies will ever gain dominant approval, they are now part of a broader, promptly-increasing business that combines finance and technology, and which leading financial centers are keen to draw attention.  For Corporations, a trademark of approval from a tough regulator cited a chance to win over clients who stayed reluctant about the product.  With New York, it was an opportunity to get ahead of rivals around the world that were also trying to charm fintech industries.

After the regulations came into charge, Lawsky quit the agency.  Few leading personnel with BitLicense expertise soon followed him.  DFS has released just two BitLicenses.  Another 15 operations are still pending, with four others retreated and four refused.  Two virtual currency companies have received trust charters, which treat them more like traditional financial institutions.  Patrick Murck, a lawyer and fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said “by putting the managements together and having key staff members leaving almost thereafter, they really put the business behind the eight-ball in terms of competing with traditional service  providers”.  Nearly all firms that were operating in New York when the regulations took effect can still do business there while waiting for a license. However, start-ups may face trouble raising money or expanding their business.

The digital-currency business is very small compared to traditional finance, but it has grown rapidly since bitcoin’s launch in 2009.  There are now other virtual currencies, and broader uses for underlying technologies that create and distribute them.  The bitcoin market is now worth about $10.7 billion, compared to less than $1 billion just three years ago, according to the information site CoinDesk.  Financial markets all over the globe have competed vigorously to entice new business, as the market has developed while some have depend on light-touch regulation, the appeal of New York’s BitLicense was that it offered a clear permissible foundation.  Nevertheless, the slow licensing process and strict requirements are driving some companies away.  Application worth $5,000 to file, and once completed, can run 500 pages including everything from compliance manuals to executives’ fingerprints. Regulators then drill deeper, asking for details of business models, organizational charts or ownership information.  Washington State, has issued seven licenses to virtual currency companies since 2013 under its longstanding law for money transfer industries.  North Carolina has licensed two.  A uniform virtual currency law that any state can opt into is also in the works, and there has been talk of a possible federal charter

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