As the local governments across the U.S. begin taking the first steps to embrace bitcoin, startups like itBit are working feverishly to stake their claims.
The company, which raised $3.25 million last November to launch a bitcoin exchange for institutional investors, is relocating from its current base in Singapore to New York in order to get in on the ground floor of one of the potential hubs for bitcoin trading in the U.S.
New York’s regulator Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of financial services, has come out in favor of the cryptocurrency, and the city and state are in the process of finalizing their position on how best to regulate it. It is with that backdrop that itBit moves to the U.S. and has named one of the founding partners of its backer Liberty City Ventures, Charles Cascarilla, as the company’s new chief executive.
In a blog post on the company’s site, Cascarilla writes that former chief executive Rich Teo will remain with the company to keep developing its Asian presence. The company has also hired Andrew Chang, another of Liberty City Ventures’ founding partners, as chief operating officer.
“Bitcoin has become mainstream, the volume of bitcoin trading has grown exponentially, and the majority of bitcoin trading now takes place in the U.S.,” Cascarilla writes. “Regulators are getting clearer about their policies and we’re hopeful that we will be able to serve U.S. investors soon.”
The company had waited until a clearer picture of the U.S. regulatory framework emerged before it launched its services in the States, in part because it wanted to make sure it could adhere to all regulations before it began servicing clients.
And what a difference a year makes. When Liberty City Ventures launched its digital currency fund, the price of bitcoin was around $120; now that figure is nearly $620. Startups like Xapo, Circle and Bitpay have raised significant rounds of funding to help take bitcoin mainstream.
It almost seems like itBit is coming a bit late to this party, but perhaps the company’s slow and steady approach actually will win this race.