Blockchain and the City: New York State as a “Tough” Model of Crypto Regulation

ANALYSIS

Reasons to comply

For any company somehow related to finance, the benefits of doing business in New York and with New York residents are obvious. The number of powerful financial institutions per square foot is staggering, the Wall Street money is just a glance away, and a consumer market of almost 20 million people is no small deal, either. This is especially true if you are a prominent player in the nascent fintech industry longing for mainstream adoption.

Backlash

Hardly surprisingly, not everyone took the news well. During the summer of 2015, big names such as BitFinex and ShapeShift pulled out of the New York market; crypto exchange Kraken announced cessation of services to New York residents in a blog post that called BitLicense “a creature so foul, so cruel that not even Kraken possesses the courage or strength to face its nasty, big, pointy teeth.” Erik Voorhees and Jesse Powell, the bosses of ShapeShift and Kraken, respectively, remained BitLicense’s staunch critics, calling for the regulation’s repeal ever since.

Maybe it’s not that bad?

Those who are on board with the New York authorities’ rigorous policies toward cryptocurrency usually speak in the language of benefits to institutional and mainstream adoption. The idea is that the robust, large-scale crypto enterprises that prove capable of complying with the licensing requirements could draw the whole ecosystem closer to the core of the incumbent financial system that New York embodies. Robinhood, the recent addition to the pool of BitLicense holders, could definitely play this role. As Sky Guo, CEO of smart contract platform Cypherium, put it:

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