The New York Attorney General has launched an investigation into 13 major cryptocurrency exchanges trading bitcoin and other digital currencies.

The office of General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to Coinbase, Gemini, Bit Trust and other exchanges, requesting more facts for investors and traders in this emerging market.

The Virtual Markets Integrity initiative could bring about tighter regulation for cryptocurrency exchanges.

“With cryptocurrency on the rise, consumers in New York and across the country have a right to transparency and accountability when they invest their money,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

“Yet too often, consumers don’t have the basic facts they need to assess the fairness, integrity, and security of these trading platforms. 

“Our Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative sets out to change that, promoting the accountability and transparency in the virtual currency marketplace that investors and consumers deserve.”

A questionnaire sent to each exchange requests information about trading policies and procedures, basic operation and fees, as well as controls to prevent money laundering and hacks.

Although the initiative is designed to protect the interests of New York residents who trade cryptocurrency with these exchanges, the international nature of the businesses means the outcome of the probe could have wide-reaching consequences.

The investigation comes just a day after International Monetary Fund (IMF) boss Christine Lagarde called for an even-handed approach to regulation in the cryptocurrency space

Ms Lagarde explained the global benefits of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency in an official blog on the IMF’s website, saying that sensible regulatory measures could help realise the potential of digital currencies and their underlying technology.

 “Just as a few technologies that emerged from the dot-com era have transformed our lives, the crypto assets that survive could have a significant impact on how we save, invest and pay our bills,” Ms Lagarde wrote.

“An important initial step will be to reach a consensus within the global regulatory community on the role crypto-assets should play. Because crypto-assets know no boundaries, international cooperation will be essential.”

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