When Benjamin Lawsky announced in May that he would step down as New York State’s chief of digital-currency regulation to go into private practice, some people in the bitcoin world rejoiced. Others cried foul.
Overseeing the regulation of digital-currency businesses was just one part of Lawsky’s job as the first superintendent of the state’s Department of Financial Services, created in 2011. But that task became, in the past year, the bulk of the story for Lawsky as he proposed, revised, and finally introduced the first state regulatory policy on digital-currency companies deemed “money-transmitters.” He called it the BitLicense.
The final product did not go over well. Many bitcoin policy pundits and bitcoin startup executives took issue with what they felt was an overreaching set of requirements to get the necessary license. Companies reacted in different ways: Coinbase launched a bitcoin exchange in January that had investment from the New York Stock Exchange, but it is not licensed under BitLicense; Gemini, a forthcoming bitcoin exchange from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has not yet launched because, as the brothers have said, they are waiting until they obtain a license; ShapeShift.io, a site for converting bitcoin to other currencies, shut down service in New York in protest to BitLicense.
At the end of June, with the controversial set of rules as his most recent legacy, Lawsky left office. (His chief of staff Anthony Albanese will serve as acting superintendent for the time being.) The New York Times reported that Lawsky planned to lecture at Stanford University and open his own firm in New York: “He will provide compliance and risk management advice to a range of companies grappling with data breaches and other technological challenges. His clients are likely to include technology companies.”
That sounded, to some, as though Lawsky was
Originally appeared at: http://fortune.com/2015/08/03/benjamin-lawsky-bitcoin/