New York Financial Regulator Lawksy Promises Bitcoin Rules

New York will become the first US state to propose regulation later this year for the oversight of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, said its financial regulator.

“Serious people – in the technological and investment community – are taking virtual currencies seriously,” said Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the New York department of financial services, at a hearing held in its main city. “They are putting significant amounts of time, attention, and capital behind them. We, as a regulator, cannot turn a blind eye.”

Lawsky expects his department to “put forward, during the course of 2014, a proposed regulatory framework for virtual currency firms operating in New York.” This would make the state first in creating such a framework, and given New York’s stature in the financial world, this would be a key development for Bitcoin.

He added in an interview that the complexity of the emerging virtual currency business suggests his department needs to do more than simply adjust New York’s existing rules on money transmitters. “It’s feeling more like little tweaks around the edges are not enough,” he added.

Among others attending the hearing were brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are seeking regulatory approval for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund. They pointed out that federal regulators have said their legal tools are enough to address Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. “We agree,” they said in a joint statement. “We also believe the same is true of state law.”

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