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Kraken Becomes First Crypto Exchange to Become a US Bank

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  • Kraken Becomes First Crypto Exchange to Become a US Bank

    Kraken is the first cryptocurrency firm to become a bank.

    On Wednesday, the Wyoming Banking Board voted to approve the San Francisco-based crypto exchange’s application for a special purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter. Kraken is now the first SPDI bank in Wyoming. According to the Wyoming Division of Banking’s general counsel, Chris Land, Kraken will also be the first newly chartered (de novo) bank in the state since 2006.

    “By becoming a bank we get direct access to federal payments infrastructure, and we can more seamlessly integrate banking and funding options for customers,” said David Kinitsky, a managing director at Kraken and the CEO of the newly formed Kraken Financial. (Kinitsky has run Grayscale Investments, was the first digital assets hire at Fidelity and was most recently head of business development at payments startup Circle.)

    In the wake of a July letter from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency giving national banks the go-ahead to custody crypto, the Division of Banking also announced it has been working with Promontory Financial Group, a prominent Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm made up of lawyers and former government regulators. In October, the division along with Promontory will publish the first manual for banks regarding procedures and policies for handling digital assets, Land said.

    In addition to more products, Kraken Financial will give Kraken the ability to operate in more jurisdictions, Kinitsky said. As a state-chartered bank, Kraken now has a regulatory passport into other states without having to deal with a patchwork state-by-state compliance plan.

    Kraken has been silent about its application until now. The first hint the exchange was interested in the Wyoming charter was in December when it opened a position for the job Kinitsky has now.

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