Congrats to Bitcoin-Central.net for this major step. Now Europeans will have easier access to Bitcoins. I hope they can bring this service to Malaysia and Asia soon.
BBC news below:
A currency exchange that specialises in virtual cash has won the right to operate as a bank.
Bitcoin-Central got the go-ahead thanks to a deal with French financial firms Aqoba and Credit Mutuel.
The exchange is one of many that swaps bitcoins, computer generated cash, for real world currencies.
The change in status makes it easier to use bitcoins and bestows national protections on balances held at the exchange.
Bitcoins, and the global network of computers that supports them, first appeared in 2009 and since then it has become a very widely used alternative payments system. Many people “mine” the coins by participating in that network and a growing number of web stores and online firms accept bitcoins as payment. One bitcoin is currently worth about £8 ($13).
Under European laws, the deal means Bitcoin-Central becomes a Payment Services Provider (PSP) that has an International Bank ID number. This puts it on an equal footing with other payment networks such as PayPal and WorldPay. As a PSP it will be able to issue debit cards, carry out real-time transfers to other banks and accept transfers into its own coffers.
The deal was a “significant” step towards legitimacy for Bitcoin, said Vitalik Buterin, technical editor of Bitcoin magazine.
Before now, he told the BBC, it had been hard for novices to get started with bitcoins. The links that Bitcoin-Central, and other exchanges who have also applied to be PSPs, will have to the global banking system will make that much easier as it will become possible to transact with a bitcoin account just like any other bank account.
It also means, he said, that deposits held at Bitcoin-Central would be backed by the same compensation laws and schemes that apply to cash held in other bank accounts. However, he said, this protection only applied to balances held in euros rather than bitcoins.
The move could convince many organisations and businesses to start accepting bitcoins as payment, he said.
“The more we see governments and banks being willing to deal with Bitcoin, the more comfortable a lot of organisations are going to be making the step forward themselves,” he said.
More info from the forums:
We’re announcing today that Bitcoin-Central.net is getting, through a partnership with Aqoba and the Credit Mutuel, allowed to operate as a bank, (or more precisely a PSP which is basically the same as a bank, just without the debt-money issuing part).
Some people might argue that regulation is a bad thing. We respect this opinion, but we’ll have to agree to disagree.
But this is not only some regulatory detail, it has dramatic implications for us, our users, and… our competition
Let’s go over a couple of them:
- Our user’s funds will actually be held at the Credit Mutuel under the user’s name, they will be separate from Paymium’s funds (on the other hand, all of other exchanges funds for example sit in the same account, and are considered by their bank to be their corporate property)
- Our user’s accounts will be protected by the “Garantie des dépôts” which is the French equivalent of the American FDIC (the insurance cap applies to each account individually, and not to the sum of all user balances, so unless your EUR balance exceeds 100kEUR your fiat is 100% insured by the French taxpayer)
- Each account will in a few months get its very own IBAN number, users will be able to use it as any other bank account, have their salaries and pensions sent there and have them automatically converted to Bitcoin if they so wish)
- Each user will soon be able to order its own debit card that will use their EUR and BTC balance to honor purchases and cash withdrawals
- We’ll have direct access to the banking networks which will let us 100% automate all incoming and outgoing transfers
- Corporations will have an actual financial institution talking with them if they wish to start accepting Bitcoin and be safe from a regulatory point of view
- Paymium will have a much better legal standing and a much higher attractivity for second and third-round investors
- Paymium will be in a much better position to make its vision become true : make all our transactions, be they denominated in crypto or fiat currency, flow through the pipes of the Bitcoin network