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Coinbase Enters France: Another Move Away From the U.S.?

Last Updated December 22, 2023 12:49 PM
Josh Adams
Last Updated December 22, 2023 12:49 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Coinbase has received a regulatory thumbs-up in France.
  • It comes just weeks after Binance, its biggest global competitor, admitted serious wrongdoing in the U.S..
  • In the United States, Coinbase is continuing to argue for clearer regulations for digital assets.

The world’s second biggest cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has received a key regulatory approval  allowing it to offer a full range of digital asset services in France. 

The approval is a key milestone in Coinbase’s ongoing international expansion, just as it battles with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about rules for crypto on its home turf.

Coinbase Receives a Thumbs Up from France

The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), France’s financial regulator, has registered Coinbase as a Virtual Asset Services Provider (VASP). Armed with this designation, Coinbase can now provide custody of cryptocurrencies, facilitate buying and selling of digital assets for fiat currency, and enable crypto-to-crypto trading in compliance with French regulations.

“We’re focused on bringing the benefits of crypto to the world. Achieving VASP status in France allows us to continue to grow globally in the best possible way,” said Daniel Seifert, Vice President and Regional Managing Director for EMEA at Coinbase.

The move comes on the heels of a September 2023 survey  showing that 10% of French adults currently own crypto assets, with another 24% planning to start trading digital currencies within the next year. Sixty percent believe the global financial system unfairly favors the powerful.

Coinbase is betting it can capture some of this simmering demand in the French market, which it describes as an “important” one in Europe.

France has emerged as a relatively welcoming jurisdiction for cryptocurrency companies thanks to supportive government initiatives, a burgeoning web3 startup scene, and advanced infrastructure. The recent adoption of the landmark Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA ) regulation at the EU level has also lent regulatory clarity on how digital assets can operate across the bloc.

“The regulatory clarity MiCA provides to the industry is hugely welcome, and shows that the region is recognizing the potential that emerging technology can provide,” said Seifert.

By setting up a regulated foothold in France, the exchange is executing its “Go Deep, Go Broad” growth strategy targeting key markets around the world. It likely also hopes to avoid the regulatory uncertainty presently surrounding digital assets in its home base, the United States. 

A Welcome New Market 

For France, Coinbase’s arrival promises to expand access to cryptocurrencies for both consumers and institutions in what it hopes could become a thriving web3 hub in Europe. 

The company has previously called for bespoke crypto rules Stateside, even as the SEC continues to apply existing securities laws on the industry. This week, the SEC denied Coinbase’s petition for cleaerer rules on digital assets.

In his December 15 statement, Gensler’s SEC stated that current laws and Supreme Court precedents adequately protect investors by defining securities based on the economic reality of transactions. Of course, the majority of the crypto world still disagrees and is still asking America’s chief financial regulators to design bespoke regulations for their industry.

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