The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) today granted virtual currency licenses (better known as BitLicenses) to Robinhood Crypto LLC and LibertyX. Robinhood will also receive a money transmission license.
With a few exceptions, businesses involved in the transmission, storage, buying, selling, exchange, or issuance of virtual currency in the state of New York are required to have a BitLicense.
Robinhood, a stock trading app, made news this time last year when it introduced trading for cryptocurrencies. That service was initially only available to citizens in five states, New York not among them. For its part, LibertyX, a bitcoin ATM operator with locations across the Hudson River in New Jersey as well as across the country, claims to have put up the first bitcoin ATM in the US in 2014.
Vlad Tenev, co-founder of Robinhood Markets Inc, said the company was "delighted" and that New York Robinhood users would now have access to more services. LibertyX co-founder and CEO Chris Yim was also "delighted." He said the company will "offer the first debit card Bitcoin purchasing options to New York State residents."
Robinhood and LibertyX represent the fifteenth and sixteenth "charters or licenses for companies in the virtual currency marketplace" since the regulations went into effect in 2015, says the DFS.
The recent uptick of charters and licenses granted – as of November 2018, there were only 12 – isn't necessarily a sign that the controversial regulation is here to stay. The Digital Currency Study Bill, signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this month, garnered support from several New York assemblymembers looking to revamp the BitLicense, among them Ron Kim and Ed Ra. The former writes on his LinkedIn profile: "Currently, he is working to replace the BitLicense that has sidelined hundreds of blockchain related startups and entrepreneurs from doing business in New York."
The task force's members have yet to be named, but regardless of its composition, it can be expected to scrutinize the BitLicense closely. A statement released by Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, who sponsored the bill, states: "It has been  years since the advent of cryptocurrency. It has been nearly four years since the implementation of the BitLicense. In the cryptocurrency space and technology in general, a few months is equivalent to years."
Those that are already doing business with a BitLicense include BitPay, bitFlyer USA, Circle Internet Financial, Coinbase, bitcoin ATM operator Coinsource, Genesis Global Trading, Moon Inc., NYDIG Trust, payment processing company Square, Xapo, and XRP II. Additionally, Gemini Trust Company and Paxos have charters from the DFS to operate in the state, as does itBit Trust Company.