Bitstamp is a UK-based platform for the exchange of Bitcoins. It was co-founded in 2011 by its current CEO Nejc Kodric, an already prominent member of the Bitcoin community, along with Damijan Merlak. Bitstamp is among the largest non-Chinese venues for Bitcoin only trading, and carved itself a dominant position in Europe as the regions leading exchange in part due to accepting SEPA payments. Although it was originally founded in Slovenia, operations were moved to the UK in April of 2013.
Bitstamp was launched as a European-focused alternative to what was then the dominant Bitcoin exchange platform, Mt. Gox. When Bitstamp began operations in the UK, they turned to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority for registration and guidance. They were told that since Bitcoin was not a recognized currency, it was not subject to regulation. Nevertheless, Bitstamp took upon itself the stated goal of self-regulation and works to authenticate customers and deter money laundering.
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Bitstamp was recently the subject of some off-the-beaten-track news. In February 2014, there was a blackout on withdrawals that lasted for several days. This was the result of a “distributed denial-of-service” cyber attack. Those behind the attack demanded a ransom of 75 Bitcoins. Kodric refused to comply with the demand saying that their company has a policy of not negotiating with “terrorists”. Service was eventually restored though there was a second interruption in service shortly thereafter as a security precaution due to renewed phishing attempts.