Spring 2013 is remembered as the period that bitcoin hit the forefront of mainstream public knowledge. Due to prices skyrocketing from the teens to over $250, coverage emerged from niche technology and financial news sites to the pages of Forbes, the New York Times and the Financial Times.
With this newfound fame appeared a new group of investors and traders that became interested in the cryptocurrency and were introduced to the likes of MtGox, Bitfinex, BTC-e and Bitstamp. Operating with crude interfaces and facing DDoS attacks on a daily basis, demand grew for more professional platforms that resembled the systems used by traders of traditional assets.
Emerging from that era with a goal of introducing modern, Wall Street like trading platforms and matching engines to power bitcoin exchanges were an array of startups. Among them included Coinsetter whose founders left Wall Street jobs to build a modern ECN for digital currencies, and Kraken, a San Francisco upstart with European connections.
After arriving on the bitcoin scene at around the same time to bring innovation into the market, the two firms are once again connected as Kraken has announced that they are acquiring Coinsetter. Included in the deal is also Canadian Cavirtex, which Coinsetter had acquired in April 2015. In addition, Kraken announced a partnership with SynapsePay to low-fee domestic USD deposits and withdrawals to individual and institutional clients in 37 US states and Washington DC.
With the acquisition, Kraken finally arrives in the US, which it had planned to enter when it launched its beta platform in 2013, but was held back due to regulatory requirements on US firms. The interim period however appears to have been a blessing in disguise for Kraken, as the firm focused on the European market and has become the market leader in euro to Bitcoin (XBT/EUR) trading.
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Beginning of a new era for Kraken
In regard to the deal’s potential, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell referred to the acquisition as marking “the beginning of a new era for Kraken”. Powell added: “The consolidation of these three veteran giants is the largest exchange deal to date. Combined, we represent over thirteen years of bitcoin exchange experience in an industry that is only seven years old. Kraken has big, exciting plans for 2016.”
For their part, Coinsetter has been successful with its plans to build a high-end platform for trading digital currencies. This includes integration of FIX API to meet the standards of the financial industry including high frequency traders, and opening its platform to professional market makers.
Nonetheless, despite focusing on technology, trading on Coinsetter never really took off, with the exchange underperforming against its rivals. With the acquisition, Kraken will be able to leverage Coinsetter’s technology to their existing customer base.
For the larger cryptocurrency industry, the deal represents tough conditions to create profitable companies in sector. As a result, many startups that emerged in 2013 have either closed down, consolidated, or pivoted to other businesses including focusing on blockchain technology.
As he exits the company that he helped found, Coinsetter CEO Jaron Lukasiewicz stated: “I’m excited what our acquisition by Kraken means for Coinsetter and Cavirtex customers, who will all benefit from Kraken’s leading platform, global team and unparalleled customer service. For years, the teams at Coinsetter and Cavirtex have worked closely with traders, bitcoin companies and investors to advance the burgeoning bitcoin space in North America. We are confident that Kraken is the right world-class company with the resources, vision and drive to successfully carry our torch far into the future.”