Bitpanda Goes to London for Cryptocurrency's High Rollers

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(Bloomberg) -- An Austrian cryptocurrency platform raised its trading limits and is opening a London office, pushing to broaden the market for high-rollers even as monetary policy makers across Europe demand tighter regulation.

Bitpanda GmbH recorded 600 million euros ($736 million) of transactions through its venue last year, according a statement late Thursday. The four-year-old firm has been raising credit and transfer limits just as mainstream lenders move to restrict the flow of funds into cryptocurrencies through channels such as credit cards.

The London opening is a strategic expansion where Bitpanda can show “digital currencies are more than a speculative object,” the Vienna-based company said. The office will be managed by Sara Rita, a former account manager at Paysafe Group Plc with experience in blockchain technologies.

Bitpanda rose in notoriety in July when it entered into an agreement with Austria’s state-owned postal service, Oesterreichische Post AG, to sell bitcoin vouchers in 1,800 branches. The prepaid paper vouchers are sold in denominations as large as 500 euros and come with codes linked to Bitpanda’s website. The company said its platform has 600,000 users.

Austrian Central Bank Governor Ewald Nowotny has been an outspoken critic of cryptocurrencies, equating their purchase to gambling and calling for restrictions. The European Central Bank has also woken to possible contagion that could be enabled by digital assets bridged between the virtual world and the real world, Executive Board member Yves Mersch said in an interview earlier this week.

Bitpanda’s timing for the London opening is auspicious. As stocks and commodities sold off in much of the world, Bitcoin headed for its fourth successive day of gains, something it hasn’t mustered since early December.

The company raised purchase and withdrawal limits on credit cards to 10,000 euros from 2,500 euros on Feb. 1, according to a statement. Limits on bank transfers were raised to 500,000 euros from 10,000 euros. The company offers over-the-counter services for trades of 1 million euros and above.

“This is a highly specialized and exclusive service and is tailored to individual customers,” Bitpanda co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Eric Demuth wrote in a statement announcing the higher limits.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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