Bitstamp, the third largest Bitcoin exchange in the world and located in Luxembourg, announced on April 25, 2016, that it has obtained a payment institution license from Luxembourg, which means it is the first nationally licensed Bitcoin exchange in the world.
The license was obtained through the European Union’s passport program, which gives reciprocity for companies that obtain a license in one European state to operate in others. Therefore, with the Luxembourg license, Bitstamp will be licensed in all 28 European countries starting on July 1, 2016.
Simultaneously, Bitstamp announced that it is launching euro-Bitcoin trading, so customers can exchange euros for Bitcoin on a fully licensed exchange, which many believe will expand relationships with banks so Bitcoin will become mainstream in the financial services industry and not associated with hackers only.
Bitstamp is required to undergo annual audits, and has implemented procedures to meet regulatory requirements, including anti-money laundering and know your customer rules required of financial institutions. It took two years to prepare and obtain the license.
The licensure of Bistamp has been hailed as making “blockchain history,” and is spurring conversations about worldwide policy on blockchain technology, including in the United States.