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Winklevoss twins want to make bitcoin legit with US-based exchange

Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
January 23, 2015
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One of the biggest draws of using bitcoin as a method of exchange is the lack of any form of regulation. Unfortunately, that's left the cryptocurrency with a reputation problem, which is why countries like India, China and Russia are trying to shut it down. The Winklevoss twins, however, feel that embracing the warm hand of government regulations may be enough to take bitcoin into the mainstream. That's why the pair are about to launch Gemini, a US-based bitcoin exchange that, crucially, has the backing of both a New York-based bank and is likely to get the blessing of governmental types, too.

The Winklevosses have been building a team of engineers and compliance experts over the last year, pulled from various successful hedge funds and other existing financial institutions. In an attempt to ensure legitimacy for Gemini, the outfit has also managed to team up with a proper, albeit unnamed, New York bank. In addition to the obvious promotional gains, the partnership means that your money won't leave the country and is also eligible for federal deposit insurance -- so users can trust their cash is safe. Gemini won't launch until Ben Lawsky, the figure in charge of NYC's financial services market, gives his blessing, but users can sign up from today to register their interest.

For the twins, however, a lot of this is personal, since they invested a reported $11 million into the currency back in 2012. By the end of 2013, the stake would have been worth significantly more, but bitcoin's value has fallen from as much as $1,200 at that time down to $226 today. By bringing the digital money out from the wilderness, it's easy to assume that they hope to see the value begin to climb once again. The pair has flip-flopped on the subject of regulations before, however, claiming to be for them in 2013, before testifying that the "existing federal regulations are sufficient" at a hearing in 2014. Funny how things change, eh?

[Image Credit: Craig Ruttle / AP]

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