After a long period on the rumour mill, something significant finally happened yesterday:
Bitstamp, a bitcoin exchange start-up got its license to operate as a fully regulated payment institution (PI) in Luxemburg.
This is significant for three reasons:
- This will make Bitcoin a more accepted financial instrument in Europe
- Since Luxemburg is part of the EU, Bitstamp’s license is passportable into the 28 EU member states. This means that Bitstamp may need to undergo some minor country-specific vetting to gain access to the other european member states, but this will be minor compared to the 2-year vetting they just underwent with Luxemburg.
- Europe is taking the lead in this arena thanks to the passportability (in the US licenses have to be obtained separately for each state separately). This means that we can expect to see a lot of start-ups and competition in the EU first.
This could have an important impact on banks (payments and trading spring to mind).
An interesting article on the subject: http://www.coindesk.com/bitstamp-license-europe/