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European crypto exchange Bitstamp snags BitLicense as it eyes US expansion

Bitstamp, the Europe-based cryptocurrency exchange, announced Tuesday it has secured a much-coveted BitLicense; authorization that will allow the firm to conduct crypto business in the Big Apple. 

Founded in 2011, Bitstamp is one of the oldest firms operating in the nascent market for digital assets. Its CEO Nejc Kodric told The Block that the stamp of approval from the New York Department of Financial Services will allow it to further expand into the U.S. after almost exclusively serving European clients. 

“By nature, we are a European company and have been European-centric throughout our history,” Kodric said. “Having a BitLicense is a key element in ramping up our presence in the United States.”

Bitstamp is the 19th firm to clinch a BitLicence, after crypto brokerage Tagomi Holdings became the 18th earlier this year. Kodric said his firm has its sights set on institutional investors. Still, the firm, which purports to serve over 3 million users, is entering the market as new institutional marketplaces for cryptocurrencies are set to go online, such as ErisX and Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt. 

Despite its humble genesis out of a garage with two laptops, the firm has been able to weather numerous bear market cycles, an advantage its CEO says will allow it to compete with potential rivals. 

“We didn’t over-expand, we maintain very lean operations with over 200 employees, we haven’t laid off thousands of employees,” Kodric said. “We have been in the space since 2011 and have seen this cycle before and we took that into account. With that experience, we have the advantage.”

Furthermore, the firm is in the process of making several improvements to its product offering, including upgrading its matching engine. The firm announced in November that it would replace its proprietary matching engine technology with Cinnober’s TRADexpress Trading System, which will enable it to execute orders up to 1,250 times faster. 

“Our matching engine will be on par with traditional exchanges in both speed and throughput,” Kodric said at the time of the announcement

In October, the firm announced that it was acquired by a European-based investment firm for an undisclosed amount in an all-cash deal.