| WASHINGTON, March 3
WASHINGTON, March 3 The collapse of the bitcoin
exchange Mt. Gox is part of a struggle for survival that could
ultimately strengthen the virtual currency industry, New York's
banking regulator said on Monday.
"It's on the one hand a setback, on the other hand it will
cause further improvements in this industry and some more
regulatory involvement," Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New
York's Department of Financial Services, told Reuters.
"It's part of (a) shaking out," he said on the sidelines of
a banking conference in the nation's capital.
Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, filed
for bankruptcy protection in Japan on Friday, saying it may have
lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the virtual coins
after hackers gained access to its systems.
The collapse was another setback for the virtual currency,
which started circulating in 2009 and is accepted by some online
retailers. Proponents of the electronic currency like the fact
that its value relies on a network of computers and is not tied
to any government or central bank.
Lawsky wants to attract healthy bitcoin operators to the
state, and has floated the idea of launching a "BitLicense" to
regulate operators in the industry, and to align any new rules
with existing financial regulation.
The agency hoped to have more to say this week about how it
was writing the new rules and considering how to allow bitcoin
business in the state, Lawsky said.
Lawsky identified one bitcoin exchange the agency is talking
to: Barry Silbert's SecondMarket Holdings, modeled after the New
York Stock Exchange.
"We've had several applications, I wouldn't say they're on
hold but they're being worked on, on a parallel path ... to
moving the regs," Lawsky told reporters. "Ask me later this
week, we are working on that."
(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by David Gregorio)