BEN LAWSKY, NEW York’s superintendent of financial services, trumpeted the news with a tweet. “Big day. New York issues first charter to a virtual currency company,” the tweet read, just above an image of the charter, complete with Lawsky’s signature and an official New York seal.
Lawsky and New York’s Department of Financial Services granted the charter on Thursday to itBit, officially approving the company’s bitcoin exchange for use in the state, and on the same day, itBit opened the exchange to people nationwide, saying the charter provided the legal framework needed to operate in all fifty states. As The New York Times put it, itBit appeared to be “the winner in a race among bitcoin exchanges to become the first to be fully regulated in the United States.”
Certainly, the charter is a turning point for bitcoin, the digital currency that has found an audience online and has operated with government approval in many other countries but has been slow to win approval from US regulators. Carol Van Cleef, a partner with the national law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips who co-chairs the firm’s global payments practices and closely follows digital currencies, says the charter is, “a validation that digital currencies are here to stay.”
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