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A BitLicense is the common term used for a business license of virtual currency activities, issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) under regulations designed for companies.[1][2][3] The regulations are limited to activities involving the state of New York or a New York resident. People residing in, located in, having a place of business in, or conducting business in the State of New York count as New York Residents under these regulations.[4] The license was introduced and designed by Benjamin Lawsky, New York's first Superintendent of Financial Services, in July 2014.[5]


The regulations define virtual currency business activity as any one of the following types of activities:

  • receiving virtual currency for Transmission or Transmitting virtual Currency, except where the transaction is undertaken for non-financial purposes and does not involve the transfer of more than a nominal amount of virtual currency;
  • storing, holding, or maintaining custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of others;
  • buying and selling virtual currency as a customer business;
  • performing Exchange Services as a customer business, or;
  • controlling, administering, or issuing a virtual currency.

The two following activities are excluded from the definition of virtual currency business activity:

  • development and dissemination of software in and of itself;
  • merchants and consumers that utilize virtual currency solely for the purchase or sale of goods or services or for investment purposes.[4]


On July 17, 2014, the department released details on a proposed "BitLicense", which places regulations on any company or person that uses cryptocurrencies residing in New York.[6][7] The proposed regulations were officially published in the New York State Register on July 23, beginning a 45-day comment period.[8][6] On February 25, 2015, a revised proposal notice was published, beginning another 30-day comment period.[9]

It came into effect on August 8, 2015. At least ten[10] bitcoin companies announced they were stopping all business in New York State because of the new regulations.[11][12] The New York Business Journal called this the "Great Bitcoin Exodus".[11]

In September 2015, Boston-based Circle was granted the first BitLicense, although in December 2016 the company had pivoted away from its bitcoin exchange to focus more on payments.[13][14][15][16][17]

In October 2015, an article 78 was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York challenging the authority of the New York State Department of Financial Services to define virtual currency.[18] Justice St George heard the case on October 10, 2017[19] and dismissed the case on December 27, 2017[20] The case is currently on appeal.[21]

In July 2016, San Francisco-based Ripple was awarded the second BitLicense.[17]

In January 2017, San Francisco-based Coinbase, one of the most heavily funded startups in the Bitcoin industry, was awarded the third BitLicense.[17]

In November 2017, Tokyo based bitFlyer was awarded the fourth BitLicense and Genesis Global Trading was awarded the fifth BitLicense in May 2018.

In June 2018, Hong Kong based Xapo was awarded the sixth BitLicense[22] and Square Inc. was awarded the ninth BitLicense[23].


[24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37]

  1. ^ Michael J. Casey (3 June 2015). "NY Financial Regulator Lawsky Releases Final BitLicense Rules for Bitcoin Firms". WSJ. 
  2. ^ "New York lays out requirements for a 'BitLicense'". Fast FT. 
  3. ^ Kaja Whitehouse, USAToday (3 June 2015). "'Bitlicense' rules regulating bitcoin released". USA TODAY. 
  4. ^ a b "Regulations of the Superintendent of Financial Services, part 200: virtual currencies" (PDF). Department of Financial Services. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  5. ^ Jose Pagliery, CNN (18 July 2014). "'New York unveils Bitcoin license rules'". CNN. 
  6. ^ a b New York State Department of Financial Services (July 17, 2014). "NYDFS Releases Proposed BitLicense Regulatory Framework for Virtual Currency Firms" (Press release). Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ Santori, Marco (July 18, 2014). "What New York's Proposed Regulations Mean for Bitcoin Businesses". CoinDesk. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  8. ^ New York State Register, Vol. XXXVI, Issue 23 (July 23, 2014), pp. 14-16. Rulemaking I.D. No. DFS-29-14-00015-P.
  9. ^ New York State Register, Vol. XXXVII, Issue 8 (February 25, 2015), pp. 17-18. Rulemaking I.D. No. DFS-29-14-00015-RP.
  10. ^ Roberts, Daniel. "Behind the "exodus" of bitcoin startups from New York". Fortune. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Michael del Castillo (August 12, 2015). "The 'Great Bitcoin Exodus' has totally changed New York's bitcoin ecosystem". New York Business Journal. 
  12. ^ "Bitcoin company ditches New York, blaming new regulations". Fortune. June 11, 2015. 
  13. ^ Paul Vigna (Sep 22, 2015). "Circle Gets First 'BitLicense,' Releases CirclePay, New Service". WSJ. 
  14. ^ Karen Freifeld (September 22, 2015). "NY regulator issues first license for bitcoin company". Reuters. 
  15. ^ Curt Woodward (September 22, 2015). "Circle gets first bitcoin license from New York regulators". 
  16. ^ NYDFS (September 22, 2015). "Press Release - NYDFS Announces Approval of first BitLicense application from a virtual currency firm". 
  17. ^ a b c "Bitcoin Exchange Coinbase Receives New York BitLicense - CoinDesk". CoinDesk. 2017-01-17. Retrieved 2017-02-02. 
  18. ^ "Article 78 against NYDFS". 
  19. ^ "New York State Supreme Court Hearing Transcript" (PDF). 
  20. ^ "Judge Dismisses Long-Shot Bid to Overturn New York Bitcoin Regulation". Coindesk. 3 January 2018. 
  21. ^ "Theo Chino's Fight to Overturn the Controversial BitLicense". Bitsonline. 14 May 2018. 
  22. ^ "June 14, 2018: DFS Continues to Advance Responsible Growth in New York'S Fintech Industry with New Virtual Currency Approvals". Retrieved 2018-06-18. 
  23. ^ "June 18, 2018: DFS Grants Virtual Currency License to Square, Inc". Retrieved 2018-06-18. 
  24. ^ Cameron Fuller (31 January 2014). "Bit Licenses: How Will New York Regulate Bitcoins?". International Business Times. 
  25. ^ "Benjamin Lawsky unveils New York's historic BitLicense framework - New York Business Journal". New York Business Journal. 3 June 2015. 
  26. ^ "Fmr New York bitcoin watchdog can't help bitcoin startups get license - Fortune". Fortune. June 11, 2015. 
  27. ^ Ian McKendry (3 June 2015). "After N.Y. Makes 'BitLicense' Official, Focus Moves to Who's Next". American Banker. 
  28. ^ "New York Releases Final BitLicense". CoinDesk. 
  29. ^ Michael Bobelian (8 June 2015). "NY's BitLicense Reveals The Difficult Trade-offs Of Regulating Bitcoin". Forbes. 
  30. ^ "NYDFS BitLicense Draft - Business Insider". Business Insider. 17 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "What BitLicense Regulations Mean for Bitcoin". 10 June 2015. 
  32. ^ "New York Outs Final BitLicense For Bitcoin And Other Digital Currency Companies". Tech Times. 
  33. ^ "New York Regulator Finalizes First-Of-Its-Kind Plan To Govern Virtual Currency With "BitLicense"". Consumerist. 
  34. ^ "UPDATE 2-New York regulator issues final virtual currency rules". Reuters. 
  35. ^ Mariella Moon. "New York sets rules for running Bitcoin exchange businesses". Engadget. AOL. 
  36. ^ "Companies burdened by BitLicenses real cost - EconoTimes". EconoTimes. 
  37. ^ "NYDFS Receives 22 Initial BitLicense Applications". CoinDesk. 

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