New York financial regulators have approved Stellar Lumens, a cryptocurrency created by the founder of rival blockchain company Ripple, to trade on the itBit exchange—the first time the state’s authorities have given Lumens the green light.
ItBit, a cryptocurrency trading platform designed for institutional investors that previously only offered Bitcoin trading, also received approval from New York’s Department of Financial Services Thursday to add Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin to its exchange. The virtual currency company was also the first in the industry to be granted a banking law charter from NYDFS three years ago—an authorization similar to, but broader than, New York’s famed BitLicense, required for companies wishing to offer trading of, or hold on to, cryptocurrencies for customers in the state.
NYDFS simultaneously announced that it had awarded a BitLicense to Xapo, a Bitcoin storage company with an underground vault in the Swiss Alps—only the sixth BitLicense granted since the certification was invented three years ago.
The approval of Stellar Lumens—now the seventh or eighth most valuable cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of more than $4.3 billion—is significant, because it signals that regulators don’t view the virtual currency as a security (akin to a stock or bond), a dreaded designation which would require registration as a broker-dealer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“That’s why we’ve added them to the exchange,” Chad Cascarilla, co-founder and CEO of itBit’s parent company Paxos, told Fortune. “If they were a security, you’d have to go through a different process.”
The move potentially clears the way for more exchanges to list Lumens, a factor that could help boost the cryptocurrency’s price. Coinbase, the leading U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, which currently offers trading in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin, announced this week it would add Ethereum Classic to its offerings, sending the price of that digital currency soaring 20%.
Lumens were created by a company called Stellar, founded in 2014 by Jed McCaleb, who also started Ripple and the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. With funding from payments company Stripe, Stellar’s blockchain (or distributed ledger) technology is now used by companies from messaging startup Kik to IBM, which uses Lumens to send payments between countries in the South Pacific region.
The Stellar Lumens price rose more than 5% ahead of itBit’s news to about 24 cents, amid a bounce-back rally in the wider cryptocurrency market after a selloff earlier this week.