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The Winklevoss twins aren’t done with bitcoin yet. Since 2012, the pair so far has invested millions in the cryptocurrency, launched the WinkDex bitcoin price monitor and are still trying to clear regulatory hurdles for their bitcoin ETF, the Bitcoin Trust.
Today, the Winklevosses unveiled their latest bitcoin endeavor: Gemini, a New York-based bitcoin exchange that aims to be the first “fully-regulated” exchange on U.S. soil.
According to their blog post, the twins have been working closely with the New York State Department of Financial Services to build their “next-generation” exchange that is fully regulated and fits within the proposed regulatory framework of the state. As part of that, Gemini will be insured by a New York State-chartered bank, as the blog post explains:
[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]We are also thrilled to announce that we have secured a banking relationship with a New York State-chartered bank. This means that your money will never leave the country. It also means that US dollars on Gemini will be eligible for FDIC insurance and held by a US-regulated bank. Your US dollars on Gemini will be as safe and secure as they are in your bank account today.[/blockquote]
And just to make it clear that it is in fact a Winklevoss joint production (and not Mark Zuckerberg’s or anyone else’s), the name Gemini comes from the Latin word for “twins”, although the pair attributed it to some duality of money idea or Project Gemini laying the groundwork for the Apollo missions.
To be clear, Gemini is not the first U.S.-based bitcoin exchange, but it may have a leg up on the others if it launches “fully compliant” with whatever regulation comes out of the BitLicense debate while the rest scramble to catch up. Exchanges like Coinsetter and Payward have been conducting U.S. business, along with Kraken who can operate in a few states and even merchant/wallet hybrid Coinbase. But the largest exchanges all host the majority of their operations overseas in China, London or Eastern Europe, which doesn’t help instill confidence in users, especially in the post-MtGox era of bitcoin.
Bitcoin has had a bit of a rocky start to 2015 after a security breach in an exchange and a rapidly fluctuating price. And while some big names — cough, Bill Gates, cough — don’t see a future for it, that hasn’t deterred investors or the Winklevii from continuing to pour money and energy into the infant cryptocurrency technology.
Now we just have to wait and see how long it will take this Winkle-venture to get up and running.