Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The world’s first bank dedicated to handling digital assets will open in Wyoming with state approval of an application to open a “Special Purpose Depository Institution.”
Kraken, a company that specializes in the purchase, sale and trade of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, won unanimous approval from the Wyoming State Banking Board on Wednesday to open a bank for the holding and trading of digital currencies.
The SPDI, to tentatively be called Kraken Financial, is the first of its kind to win bank charter recognition from both state and federal regulators, the company said in a news release.
The bank will be headquartered in Cheyenne and will provide comprehensive services for holders of digital assets, the company said, such as accepting deposits and allowing its customers to use their digital assets to pay bills, trade for other currencies or make investments.
Kraken described the bank as a bridge between “cryptocurrencies” and traditional economic systems.
In announcing the Banking Board’s approval, David Kinitsky, Kraken Financial’s CEO, praised Wyoming’s Legislature for making the changes to state banking laws needed to allow the handling of digital assets.
“We’re thrilled to work in a state so aligned with our philosophy and values,” he said. “Wyoming is a rare and shining example of how thoughtful regulation can drive innovation for (financial technology) companies.”
The company also said that Wyoming is the only place where such a bank could open and be successful.
“Though many regulators talk about fostering innovation, Wyoming is the only state to actually build out this vision in a concrete, commercially viable way,” its news release said.
The news was welcomed by legislators who worked to adjust Wyoming’s banking laws to allow such operations.
“Big news Wyoming!” Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, one of the legislators to work on the law, wrote on his Facebook page. “We just made history this morning. While I know this may seem a little geeky, it is huge news that Wyoming can and has expanded its economy and can now officially be considered a tech State.”
“And we’re off…. Wyoming people asked for economic diversity and THEY HAVE IT,” another advocate of the banking bill, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, wrote on his Facebook page. “The first of many tech jobs and dollars for the state.”
Caitlin Long, a Wyoming native recognized as an expert in cryptocurrency and “blockchain banking,” also expressed excitement over the approval in a post on her Facebook page.
“As a (Kraken) shareholder, I’m thrilled, but even more thrilled for Wyoming,” she wrote. “True economic diversification and a big building block for attracting a new tech and financial services industry here.”