TheStreet
New York state regulators say they've taken the lead nationally in regulating the virtual-currency market, with a new license approved for London-based exchange Bitstamp.

Another month, another new bitcoin-trading exchange.

The New York State Department of Financial Services said in a press release that it had approved a new virtual-currency license -- known as a BitLicense -- for the U.S. unit of London-based Bitstamp.

Bitstamp USA Inc. is authorized to offer buying and selling of bitcoin and other virtual currencies, for U.S. dollars and vice versa, according to the press release. 

The approval comes less than two weeks after the state regulator approved a license for another operator, Tagomi Trading LLC, and shows that bitcoin exchanges aren't waiting for a rebound in prices for the cryptocurrency to rebound before investing in the growing market.  

Bitcoin prices surged to more than $17,000 each in late 2017 before tumbling last year to the current price of about $5,000, according to the website CoinDesk

According to the press release, New York is "taking the lead nationally" in overseeing the virtual-currency market, and it has already granted license approvals to 19 companies.   

"We are pleased to welcome Bitstamp to New York's growing virtual-currency marketplace," Acting Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell said in the press release.

Federal regulators have done little to interfere in the nascent market, with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week publishing a "framework" that mostly exempted cryptocurrencies like bitcoin from the harshest regulations, instead focusing on digital "securities" that imply an interest in the future profits of the company that issues them. 

Industry professionals say that since bitcoin is widely traded and doesn't bear the key characteristics of stocks and bonds, it isn't considered a security by the SEC. 

"We appreciate New York's solid regulatory framework, the nation's first," Nejc Kodric, Bitstamp's CEO, said in the state's press release.