Coinbase Expands to U.K. With Broader European Penetration Eyed

Popular digital currency exchange Coinbase has made significant inroads into Europe after the United Kingdom’s financial regulator approved the company’s e-money license. As CCN reports, this puts Coinbase one step closer to launching a euro-wide expansion.

U.K. Approves Coinbase Expansion

The United kingdom’s Financail Conduct Authority (FCA) has granted Coinbase an e-money license to provide exchange services domestically and across 23 European countries. Under the new mandate, the company will be required to comply with the U.K.’s strict guidelines governing payment and exchange services, according to Zeeshan Feroz, Coinbase’s top U.K. executive.

In addition to the e-money license, Coinbase is seeking to become the first crypto exchange to obtain a bank account in the U.K. for the purpose of joining the Faster Payments Scheme. This program would allow Coinbase’s U.K. customers to send and receive money from the exchange at a much faster rate than current systems allow.

The company currently uses an Estonian bank to process local deposits and withdrawals.

“We are committed to making sure customer funds are always secure and this update means that our e-money operations have safeguards and operational standards at par with other regulated financial institutions,” Feroz said in a statement that appeared in a Wednesday blog post. “An example of this is segregation of client funds, where all customer fiat balances will be separated from Coinbase’s funds and kept in separate bank accounts.”

The San Francisco-based exchange has quickly emerged as one of North America’s most trusted platforms for buying and selling digital assets. At last check, Coinbase had more than 13 million active user accounts.

Regulatory Outlook

The Coinbase announcement comes as more regulatory scrutiny is being directed toward cryptocurrencies. Lacking a clear historical precedent, lawmakers have struggled to formulate best practices for the burgeoning asset class.

On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives facilitated a hearing on cryptocurrency. According to a memorandum released last week, four industry experts were invited to testify on matters ranging from intiail coin offerings to regulation.

The evolution of crypto laws in the United States is seen as an important bellwether for other jurisdictions still struggling to formulate an effective response. Christine Lagarde, who heads the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) posted a blog on Wednesday urging new regulatory action on cryptocurrency.

Later this month, lawmakers from France and Germany are expected to table a proposal on regulating digital currencies. The proposal is expected to be received at the Group of 20 Summit in Buenos Aires on Mar. 19-20.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi