Famous Pair Gives Alternative Payment Currency Another Confidence Boost

More widespread business acceptance of tech-based alternative payment methods, notably the controversial currency known as Bitcoin, in consumer and B2B spheres will continue to depend on some level of regulation and reliability. This week, another stride was taken thanks to a pair best known for botching their quest to change the direction of social media.

The Gemini Bitcoin exchange was slated to open today after the New York Department of Financial Services this week approved an application for a trust charter submitted in July by operators Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. The Winklevoss brothers became pseudo-celebrities about a decade ago when they sued and eventually settled with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg amid allegations that the latter stole their idea for the now wildly successful social media site. Gemini becomes just the third licensed and regulated Bitcoin exchange based in the United States.

New York became the first state to officially regulate and try to guide Bitcoin practices in any way, with rules it believes address issues like security and money laundering compliance. Other states reportedly are working to model similar efforts after New York’s program, dubbed “BitLicense.”

Continuing moves toward increased regulation are "inevitable” to achieve greater use and trust first in consumer payment transaction and, inevitably, B2B ones, NACM Executive Vice President Rudet Fountain has said. Fountain and a number of Bitcoin market-watchers have repeatedly noted that, despite the rebellious roots of alternative currencies, efforts to legitimize digital payment means would be needed well into the future for platforms like Bitcoin to be able to reach their potential as payment options.

- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM managing editor

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