European bitcoin exchange Bitstamp has become the first fully licensed bitcoin exchange in Europe. The license will go into effect on July 1st and marks the first time that a bitcoin exchange acquires the license as a fully regulated payment institution, in the world.
Bitcoin exchange Bitstamp has gained the license to operate as a payment institution across the European Union, all 28 countries of it. The license, which begins July 1st means that Bitstamp will officially be the first nationally licensed Bitcoin exchange in the world.
The license was signed and granted by Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna.
Notably, financial service providers that are legally established in one member- state, are legally allowed to operate in every other member state of the European Union, as per the EU’s passport program.
In addition to the announcement of the license, Bitstamp has also launched BTC/EUR trading for consumers in the European Union. The crytpto exchange joins the likes of Kraken and Coinbase to offer Bitcoin-Euro trading, although consumers will now be able to exchange Euros for the cryptocurrency from a fully licensed bitcoin exchange.
Talking up the significance of the license, Gramegna stated:
I believe this announcement marks a milestone for bitcoin and digital finance in Europe. Bitstamp is a most welcome addition to Luxembourg’s Fintech ecosystem.
— Pierre Gramegna (@pierregramegna) April 25, 2016
The license was acquired following a “rigorous application process” that lasted nearly two years with the Luxembourg Financial Industry Supervisory Commission (CSSF), the EU state’s financial regulator. Beyond security reviews, an external audit by Ernst & Young was also performed before Luxembourg’s CSSF saw fit to grant the license to Bitstamp.
The successful license following the strenuous application process marks a remarkable turnaround for a bitcoin exchange that previously lost 18,866 BTC (approx. $5 million USD at the time) from a hack that compromised a server belonging to the exchange. The hack was later revealed to be a phishing attack.
Nejc Kodric, co-founder of Slovenia-based Bitstamp stated:
We have put a lot of time and resources in to the regulatory process with the goal of ensuring customers feel more confident in using Bitstamp’s exchange and products across the European Union.
He further added:
We are proud to have taken this important step for our customers and the digital currency/blockchain industry, globally.
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