coinbase logoCoinbase recently announced an expansion into 13 European countries and has added an additional five last week. To celebrate their launch, Coinbase is hosting a free meetup on October 20 at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in London. The planned meetup in London is part of a larger European Bitcoin tour by the Coinbase team, presumably to drum up interest in their service. While their official website says that UK Buys and Sells are still disabled, Coinbase Tech support and emails to UK customers suggest that functionality (with SEPA) is just around the corner.

Also read: Coinbase Expands to 5 European Countries

The event will include a presentation by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, the founders of Coinbase, followed by a Q&A from the audience. Afterwards there will be a time for networking over drinks. Beer and wine will be provided free of charge. Coinbase is a Bitcoin wallet and exchange that links to your bank account, making it easy to buy and sell Bitcoin. Merchants can use Coinbase to accept Bitcoin payments, and individuals can buy Bitcoins or sell them for fiat currency. Over 1.6 million individuals, 36,000 merchants and 6,000 developers have signed up to use Coinbase.

For those of you wondering why Coinbase isn’t available everywhere, it’s largely because not all countries handle bank transfers the same way. While the US uses ACH, the EU is working on another system, the SEPA. Users in the UK only have limited access to both, and as such, do not have simple Coinbase buying and selling functionality like the US and some countries in the EU do.

SEPA vs. ACH

The Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA is a payment-integration initiative of the European Union for simplification of bank transfers denominated in euro. The aim of the project is to improve the efficiency of cross-border payments and allow customers to make cashless payments to anyone located in the area using a single bank account. Since the UK is not a part of the European Union, SEPA transfers are usually expensive, and are not available at the same speeds and fees as ACH in the US.

On the other hand, the United States uses an automated clearing house (ACH) electronic network for financial transactions. These transactions can range from direct deposit, payments on loans or insurance premiums, etc. Credit cards are handled by a separate network. Rather than one network running the whole show, the FEDACH processes 60% of all commercial interbank ACH transactions, and the remaining 40% is handled by the EPN.

Images from Shutterstock.