May 14, 2018 / 4:11 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 2-Winklevoss bitcoin exchange wins NY approval to expand, offer Zcash

(Adds details, byline)

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters) - New York state on Monday authorized the Gemini Trust Co exchange founded by internet entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to offer trading of the privacy-focused cryptocurrency Zcash, making it the world's first licensed Zcash exchange.

The state's Department of Financial Services said it also approved Gemini to offer custody services and trading of Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin in the future.

Zcash's market value was roughly $1.3 billion on Monday, according to CoinMarketCap.com, while Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin's respective values were $25 billion and $8.3 billion. Bitcoin's market value was about $150.1 billion.

"With smart and thorough regulatory oversight, the development and long-term growth of the industry will remain thriving," Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said in a statement.

Cryptocurrencies are digital tokens that use encryption techniques to secure transactions. Industry critics say the market is opaque and vulnerable to risks such as money laundering.

Last month, then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked Gemini and 12 other cryptocurrency trading platforms to provide details about their operations and safety measures.

Zcash incorporates the technology "zk-snark," short for zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge, which lets people trade with each other in anonymity.

Gemini said it expects to begin accepting Zcash deposits on Saturday, May 19, with trading to begin three days later.

"We are proud be the first licensed exchange in the world to offer Zcash trading and custody services and look forward to providing customers with a safe, secure, and regulated place to buy, sell, and store Zcash," Gemini Chief Executive Tyler Winklevoss said in a statement provided by Vullo's office.

The Winklevosses, who are 36-year-old twins, in 2008 reached a $65 million settlement with Facebook Inc and founder Mark Zuckerberg over who had the idea for the social media website.

They also competed in the men's rowing competition at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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