The UK is set to become the first country to offer virtual currency exchange and remittance services.
The launch of the exchange, called BitMEX, has been welcomed by some as a step in the right direction.
But others, including the UK government, are worried about the potential for the cryptocurrency to be used as a tool to steal money.
Image copyright Getty ImagesThe exchange, which was created by BitMex, offers virtual currency trading and remittances to people around the world and is part of the BitMint exchange, a bitcoin exchange and wallet service.
The BitMEx exchange has been operating for just over a year, with some users even trading in bitcoin.
But the UK has seen a spike in activity in recent weeks as people have started using virtual currencies such as bitcoin.
The UK government has called for more clarity on the use of virtual currencies by criminals and other criminals.
The exchange is also offering remittance services to overseas residents, including people living in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The government said that the service would help people in areas such as “high-risk” regions, such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East, to transfer money from their home countries to those in the UK.
“BitMEX is the first UK-based virtual currency exchanger to offer remittance to the UK,” a spokesperson for the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said.
“We are looking to support the continued growth of this market and continue to work closely with the industry to provide services and guidance to ensure that we can continue to provide the best service for customers.”
The UK was one of the first countries to introduce the use in the 2014 budget, when the government said it was working to “reduce the risks associated with financial crime”.
“We’re working closely with our international partners and regulators to ensure we can build a secure and trustworthy system, so that criminals can’t access money for financial purposes,” the department said at the time.
The move was applauded by Bitcoin Magazine, which described it as a “great step forward”.
“The new exchange will be a boon for UK businesses and individuals,” the magazine said.
“We welcome the introduction of a UK-focused virtual currency and remit system, which should help the UK become more attractive to overseas customers looking to buy and sell their goods and services.”
What are bitcoin and bitcoin trading firms up to?
Image copyright PAImage caption Bitcoin trading firm Coinbase says its service has been a “huge success” and is now expanding into the US, Canada and MexicoIt is one of a number of firms offering services to the financial services sector, including bitcoin exchange Coinbase, which said it had “been a huge success” in the US.
“The bitcoin market has exploded over the past year, and Coinbase has seen record growth in both volume and price,” Coinbase’s founder and chief executive, Brian Armstrong, said in a statement.
“With our team of traders, we have been able to make great profits, and we are thrilled to be expanding to more countries in the future.”
Coinbase is a US-based bitcoin exchange, but it is currently expanding into Canada and the US in partnership with Coinbase, BitPay, Bitstamp and other companies.
Image caption Coinbase says it has been “hugely successful” in recent years in the market for bitcoin trading servicesMr Armstrong said the exchange was also expanding into other markets, with plans to expand to Canada and Australia in the coming weeks.
“Canada and Australia are important markets to us because they are the places that have seen the most activity in the bitcoin market,” he said.
Bitcoin exchanges are a popular form of remittance service, especially for people in countries where the internet is limited or unreliable.
But they are not regulated in the same way as traditional remittters, and many people have said that they are often scams.
“In order to facilitate the transfer of money, there needs to be a physical location and a physical signature,” Mr Armstrong said.
BitPay said that its service was “fantastic”, and that it was already seeing interest from other countries.
“There’s no one that’s more likely to say, ‘I’m ready to go’ than me,” the company’s chief technology officer, Matt Gurney, told the BBC.
“But what’s great about BitPay is that they’re the only bitcoin exchange that can actually handle that.”
It’s the first time that you can actually transfer money using bitcoin in the whole world.
“What is Bitcoin?
Image caption The virtual currency Bitcoin is the most widely used form of digital currency