New York Just Issued Another BitLicense. The Recipient Is Jack Dorsey’s Square
One month ago, Jack Dorsey predicted that the Internet “will have a native currency” during a keynote session at Consensus, the world’s largest cryptocurrency conference, held in New York City. “I hope it will be Bitcoin. I’m a huge fan,” he said.
Now Dorsey has won approval to advance his dream in New York, a state known for imposing heavy regulatory requirements on cryptocurrency businesses. On Monday, the Twitter cofounder and CEO’s going fintech concern, Square, received approval from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) for a BitLicense, which clears the company to offer customers who reside in the state the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin through its Cash app.
This is the seventh such BitLicense awarded by NYDFS, and the second in less than a week. That’s in addition to two cryptocurrency-related charters NYDFS has issued since adopting the new regulatory framework for virtual currency businesses three years ago.
Square is best known for selling point-of-sale hardware devices to merchants. The San Francisco-based company added the Bitcoin feature on Cash, its payments app, in January, following a brief pilot program in the fall. (New York residents were barred from participating until Monday.)
Sometime within the past year, Square applied for the BitLicense, as Fortune first reported. The company brought in $34 million in revenue on the Bitcoin feature in the first quarter of 2018, according to the company’s most recent earnings report, a sum that translated, after costs, to a meager $223,000 in profit.
After New York instituted the BitLicense in mid-2015, crypto-entrepreneurs have groused about the policy as a barrier to entry ever since. NYDFS has received dozens of applications in the intervening years, but the agency has been slow in granting approvals.
Dorsey remains one of the most prominent supporters of Bitcoin within the business community. He is a frequent speaker on the subject of virtual currencies, and his company earlier this year published a children’s book titled “My First Bitcoin and the Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto.”
In his interview at Consensus, Dorsey noted that Square’s decision to add Bitcoin was a “pretty contentious move” internally.
NYDFS has been clearing out a backlog of BitLicense applications in recent weeks, granting approvals at a suddenly brisker clip. Other recipients of the BitLicense have included Coinbase, Circle, Xapo, Genesis, bitFlyer, and Ripple affiliate XRP II, while other cryptocurrency firms, like Gemini and Paxos, have received broader banking charters from the agency.
Square’s stock price jumped more than 2%, from near $64 to more than $65, following the news.