The virtual currency Bitcoin has taken a big step towards global legitimacy having now been granted its own exchange in the US.

A New York City bitcoin exchange – itBit, now has the legal right to trade its currency throughout all US states. The US now joins China and other nations around the world in recognising the virtual currency.

Bitcoin has a shady history. It emerged in 2009 as an unregulated online currency. Initially it was seen as a haven for money launderers and speculative traders. But the idea behind it was an ease of use I the online economy.

The attraction of Bitcoin was its flexibility. Bitcoins could be trade for goods without attracting transaction fees or banking middlemen; the owners of Bitcoins didn’t even have to supply their real names.

Microsoft was one of the first to see the writing on the wall. Regardless of the dubious nature of the currency, Bitcoin was certainly the way of the future. So in December of 2009 Microsoft recognised Bitcoin as a legitimate payment option in its online stores.

Financial markets nnd regulatory bodies took a keen interest, but remained wary.

Today New York’s superintendent of  financial services believes the charter of itbit will improve the regulation of uS currency.

“The technology behind Bitcoin and other virtual currencies could ultimately hod real promise,” said Mr Lawsky, the superintendent. “And it’s critical that we set up appropriate rules of the road to help safeguard customer funds.

“We believe that regulation will ultimately be important to the long-term health and development of the virtual currency industry.”

In an interview with CNBC News CEO of itBit, Chad Cascarilla, said he was  thrilled that bitcoin had been welcomed into the fold. “It moves us to a standard of care and allows us to operate with customers – that is totally different from where (other international bitcoin exchanges) are currently.

Questions are being asked about Australia’s reluctance to recognise the online currency. Last month Aussie banks rejected the overtures of bitcoin traders. They believed federal money-laundering laws interfere with their using the currency.

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