The BitLicense: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research July 14, 2023

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  • The BitLicense governs Bitcoin activity in New York, offering consumer protection and regulatory clarity
  • It gives virtual currency firms in New York credibility by providing consumer protection measures and explicit regulatory rules
  • Some have objections to the BitLicense for charging exorbitant compliance fees, which may burden Bitcoin businesses and stifle innovation
  • The BitLicense's authority only covers New York, implying that enterprises outside the state are not subject to its regulatory obligations


The BitLicense is a stringent regulatory system that addresses many facets of cryptocurrency enterprises in the state of New York. The standards for know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) policies, cybersecurity and data protection measures, financial reporting requirements and consumer protection measures are all included in this.

By establishing a framework for regulation that keeps track of cryptocurrency-related activity, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) sought to assume control. In 2015, the BitLicense regulatory framework came into existence. The license intends to control companies engaged in activities linked to virtual currencies, such as mining, buying, selling, and offering clients services. Any business that wants to conduct a digital currency business in New York must get a BitLicense.

A Brief History

The explosion in the use of cryptocurrencies and the perceived need for industry regulation led to the introduction of BitLicense. In the past, it was common for cryptocurrency transactions to operate with some degree of impunity. However, the impact of cryptocurrencies continues to garner some level of wanted and unwanted attention, bringing them into the spotlight. A watchful eye became necessary in the New York area after BitLicense's launch.

After the launch, the community of crypto users had a range of opinions about BitLicense. One group saw it as a necessary step for boosting industry legitimacy and regulation, and another group found it unduly burdensome and restrictive for firms.

Since its debut in 2015, BitLicense has continuously taken a stand despite these accusations. The framework has, though, undergone several modifications over time, including revisions to the specifications for financial reporting and the addition of a temporary BitLicense for new businesses.

What is the New York BitLicense?

The BitLicense is a stringent regulatory framework that addresses many facets of cryptocurrency enterprises. Businesses must have strong AML and KYC practices as a primary requirement for having a BitLicense. As a result, companies must confirm the identity of their clients and keep an eye on their transactions for unusual behavior.

The BitLicense mandates that organizations have robust cybersecurity and data protection procedures in place in addition to AML and KYC standards. Cybersecurity and data protection cover the demands for data encryption, multi-factor authentication and frequent security audits.

Another significant feature of the BitLicense is financial reporting. The NYDFS must receive regular financial reports from companies that hold licenses under the framework, including details on their assets, liabilities and capital reserves. With this, it will be possible for companies to run responsibly from a financial standpoint and fulfill their contractual commitments to clients.

Consumer safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to BitLicense. Companies granted licenses under the framework must have definite procedures for dealing with consumer complaints and keep enough insurance to compensate for any damages that clients may suffer from their operations.

Getting Started

Businesses using virtual currencies must apply to the NYDFS to receive a BitLicense. To start, companies must submit all relevant information about their activities throughout the application process, including financial statements, anti-money laundering procedures and cybersecurity measures. The $5,000 registration fee and lengthy application process are both factors.

An organization must adhere to several legal obligations after obtaining a BitLicense. These obligations cover upholding certain capitalization levels, robust cybersecurity measures and frequent audits. Fines, license revocation, or criminal charges may follow noncompliance with these rules.

Unique Aspects

Being limited to companies that conduct business in the state of New York is one of BitLicense's most distinctive features. Enterprises that deal in digital currencies based outside of New York are exempt from the BitLicense requirement. Any company outside the jurisdiction of the NYDFS that decides to get a BitLicense does so of its own volition.

BitLicense criticism by some members of the crypto ecosystem is another distinctive feature. Some contend that the regulatory standards are oppressive and impede industry innovation. Others argue that BitLicense is superfluous and that the current regulatory frameworks are adequate to control enterprises dealing in virtual currencies.


  • Consumer Protection. The BitLicense mandates businesses using digital currencies uphold particular consumer protection criteria, ensuring standards are maintained with a specified degree of cybersecurity and reporting risks to customers. With these parameters in place, consumers have some defense against fraudulent or nefarious actions of virtual currency companies.
  • Regulatory Clarity. The BitLicense offers firms using digital currencies a clear regulatory framework to adhere to. Businesses use it to understand their compliance responsibilities and lower non-compliance risk.
  • Legitimacy. Virtual currency enterprises with a BitLicense might have increased credibility in the eyes of investors and customers. Businesses can demonstrate that they conduct their operations according to legal standards by getting a license from the NYDFS.
  • Enhanced trust. A BitLicense can help lower the possibility of fraud and other nefarious acts since it requires enterprises to follow particular cybersecurity and consumer protection criteria. When such requirements are in place, the confidence of customers increases.


  • Compliance Fees. With the BitLicense, virtual currency enterprises are charged a high compliance fee. These expenses include installing cybersecurity, consumer protection measures and legal and regulatory capital.
  • Decreased Innovation. Regulation may potentially decelerate new developments in the world of cryptocurrencies. When deceleration happens, smaller firms may find it challenging to enter the market and compete with more established companies due to compliance requirements. The consequence of this is innovation limitation and impediment.
  • Regulatory Burden. The BitLicense may place a considerable regulatory burden on enterprises that deal in virtual currencies. The complicated and time-consuming compliance procedures may take resources away from other corporate operations.
  • Limited Applicability. New York is only one of the various digital currency hubs. Consequently, cryptocurrency businesses outside New York are not subject to complying with the regulations of BitLicense.