Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bitcoin exchanges: "Flying Under the Regulators Radar"

Regulators searching for Bitcoin exchanges
I think some of the most exciting advances in BTC Trading Technology and Exchanges are doing their best to remain "under the radar" due to intense fears about their "legal status" as money-service's businesses, etc. 

Read an interesting piece today about the 'rent vs. own' aspect of becoming a MSB and how CoinX (July's winner of best start-up pitch at Light Squared Ventures Bitcoin Night, which I attended) is obtaining their own MSB license in every-state they want to operate, instead of going the 'rent' route. 

So that explains why they're so quiet...don't splash the pool well your trying to swim across. At the same time are they sacrificing 'first mover advantage'? 

Some foreign exchanges like HK based Bitfinex (full disclosure: I'm a user there) - have gained volume and the financial strength to push forward with licensing in the US. The unanswered question is: are they doomed to go the MtGox route and have accounts shuttered at the slightest sign of indiscretion

At the same time, those chasing 'First to Market' with professional market features like NYC based Coinsetter are in private-beta, and paper-trading mode, presumably why they wait to clear regulatory hurdles. 

There's also Atlanta, based CampBX, whose live market is begging to show signs of life inspite of a rather uncertain regulatory environment, they maybe the most active real-money BTC exchange in the US...

Others maybe just going for it, like Australian(?) based BTCSX 

So I want to propose a question: Are all Bitcoin Related Businesses the same?

The recent New York State financial regulation probe not withstanding. Should regulators consider separating "Exchanges" into a separate category than "Broker/Dealers" or "Payment transmitters" based on the types of financial services they offer? 

Early exchanges (MtGox for example) offer payment processing APIs and other features that more closely resemble a blended service like a traditional banking institution, but we've seen the last days of the "Non-banking Entity" fade on Wall St. and if history is any mean, I think Bitcoin's history is like the 200 years of western banking compressed into a few short years! 

It certainly still seems like the Bitcoin Exchange Game is one of a 'baby deer' lost in the regulators 'woods', and for those hard-core Bitcoiners' it's easy to forget: Bitcoin itself maybe pretty resilient, but, as one of the speakers at Bitcoin 2013 pointed out, it could be regulated until it becomes inconsequential.  

Mentioned Exchanges: CoinX (, Bitfinex (, Coinsetter (, MtGox (, ( and CampBX (

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