While bitcoin is by far the biggest and most widely known digital currency, another is quickly establishing itself as a serious player.
With a market capitalization of close to $800 million, Ethereum, with its ether digital currency, is considered the “next big thing” in cryptocurrency. And now, with new regulatory guidance from the state of New York, it’ll be easier for users to trade ether, addressing one of the biggest complaints about the currency to date.
The New York Department of Financial Services announced today that it had granted Gemini Trust Company, founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, permission to list and trade ether on its exchange. In a blog post, Gemini said that ether trading will start at 9:30AM on Monday, May 9th.
Gemini did not immediately respond to Quartz’s request for comment.
Bitcoin is primarily used for transactions between two people. And while ether serves that function as well, it also supports smart contracts, which execute automatically once pre-determined conditions are met by the involved parties. That particular feature has attracted the attention of big names like IBM, which is experimenting with how smart contracts could be used to control objects in the Internet of Things.
As interest has grown, so has the value of Ethereum—as recently as mid-October 2015, its market cap was only around $40 million. Cameron Winklevoss told Quartz that “continued developer adoption and the building of native Ethereum applications” would push the price higher. (Winklevoss said: “We own a significant amount of ether but are choosing not disclose the amount at this time.”)
Today’s news is a step toward broader acceptance of ether, as New York State has been at the forefront of regulating digital currencies. In July 2014, the NYDFS announced a “bitlicense” regulatory framework to regulate startups and companies in the virtual currency industry. However, many in the bitcoin industry criticized the bitlicense for being too vague as to what qualifies as a virtual currency.
“This action continues New York’s long tradition of pioneering new innovations and emerging industries. 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,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press release.