NY greenlights ether currency exchange

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.

The New York State Department of Financial Services has approved trading of the ether digital currency.

The currency will begin trading on May 9 via NYC’s Gemini Trust Co., founded by investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, although customers can buy and hold their ethers immediately.

The platform uses ether to execute peer-to-peer contracts automatically through the Ethereum platform, a public blockchain – sometimes called a “distributed ledger” – that records all transactions made in perpetuity.

“This action continues New York’s long tradition of pioneering new innovations and emerging industries,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in announcing the regulatory approval. “With robust regulatory oversight, we are maintaining our status at the forefront of this technological revolution and ensuring that users have a safe and secure experience.”

Cameron Winklevoss, Gemini’s co-founder and president, said the brothers’ investment firm Winklevoss Capital is a “significant” holder of the ether currency.

“We started buying ether at the beginning of the year,” Winklevoss told Reuters. “Ethereum Foundation has a set number of ether that they have set aside over a period of time, then the proceeds from that will go to the funding of the foundation and the developers to further the protocol.”

Ether was trading at $9.90 on Thursday, with a market capitalization of about $789 million, the second largest behind bitcoin, which has a market cap of $6.9 billion.

Ether trades on other exchanges also, but Winklevoss said those exchanges are unregulated or unlicensed.

“It’s pretty clear that in the U.S. if you’re an exchange, you are required, at the minimum a money transmission license in each state,” Winklevoss said. “Anybody who’s operating an ether exchange doesn’t have a license and is on borrowed time.”