Regulations, especially not well thought out might be a hindrance to innovation in any form. Such constricting regulations are hindering the development of fintech companies currently in US. The latest state to join this list is the State of Washington where regulations on digital currency startups have made significant impact on businesses. Owing to these regulations many companies have ceased to serve the residents of the respective region and Washington is no different. The latest to join the list of exchanges pulling out of the state would be the Honk Kong based exchange Bitfinex. After suffering a massive hack in August, Bitfinex has managed to reimburse the stolen money to their clients through redemption tokens and was able to re-establish client’s faith in the exchange. Though the strong reason behind this move is still unclear, let’s look into the details of the exit:
The Regulatory debacle:
A Washington based user has revealed on Reddit that Bitfinex has withdrawn from the State owing to a regulatory debacle which it eventually lost. The statement released by the exchange read as follows:-
“Over the past few months, we have been in discussion with representatives of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions(DFI) about Bitfinex’s business and specifically to provide Washington customers with service. DFI representatives have made it clear that for offering the services, Bitfinex has to acquire a state money transmitter license.”
The exchange underwent a massive hack attack in August 2016, losing more than $70 Million after which there have been facing consistent trouble. The exchange issued blockchain debt tokens to its users in August as a way to pay them back for losses it incurred in a debilitating hack. The exchange announced that it would purchase the tokens at an above-market value of $1 each. This is roughly double the market value when the redemption took place. The exchange has been good on its promise so far but they have experienced a DDOS attack pretty recently which has been fended off.
Regulations and Bitcoin businesses:
Bitfinex notified that it wouldn’t be obtaining the money transmitter license in Washington and, accordingly, will no longer be doing business with verified Washington customers, effective immediately. Washington-based traders have only until Wednesday to withdraw their funds, Bitfinex added. Earlier last week Coinbase suspended its services for customers in Hawaii owing to authorities intervention. Early December last year, Bitstamp also left Washington State citing regulatory reasons. The problems with regulation for cryptocurrency startups started with BitLicense NewYork which saw the mass exodus of the startups from the state. Whether regulations and business would be able to find a middle ground in US where the innovation would get a push rather than hampering is to be seen.