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Coinbase Launches Institutional Spot Crypto Trading on Offshore Exchange, Targeting non-US Businesses

Last Updated December 14, 2023 11:13 AM
James Morales
Last Updated December 14, 2023 11:13 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Coinbase launched an international exchange for non-US customers in May.
  • Initially launched as a crypto futures exchange, the platform has now expanded into spot markets.
  • The American crypto exchange has sought to expand its global business, especially targeting European markets.
  • The firm has welcomed the advance of crypto regulation in the EU and UK.

While Coinbase is known as an American crypto exchange, in 2023 the company has doubled down on offshore expansion. The platform has been targeting non-US markets, with a new international exchange launched in May. 

Having initially focused on crypto futures, Coinbase International Exchange made its first foray into spot markets on Thursday, December 14. It listed the BTC-USDC and ETH-USDC trading pairs for institutional clients outside of the US.

Coinbase International vs. Coinbase US

When it launched as a perpetual futures exchange earlier this year, Coinbase International was only available to institutional clients. It didn’t start onboarding retail users until October.

As it expands to include spot crypto trading services, Coinbase is following a similar strategy.

In a statement, the company  said: “Our primary focus at the outset will be to build liquidity and create a robust foundation. In the coming months, we plan to expand the product to include retail users.” 

In recent times, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has become increasingly vocal in his criticism of the US regulatory environment. Warning  that the current situation is stifling growth and innovation, Armstrong has pledged $1 million to support pro-crypto candidates in next year’s presidential election. 

While Coinbase has emerged as a leading advocate for change at home, spinning off its international exchange is part of a concerted effort to grow the firm’s footprint abroad. The move puts a particular emphasis on the European market. 

Regulatory Clarity Draws Crypto Sector to Europe

With Ireland acting as its primary license hub  under the EU’s Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation, Coinbase also holds multiple registrations with authorities in other EU member states. Lauding the EU for its “crypto-forward approach,” the firm said  MiCA gives the industry confidence to invest in the region.

Meanwhile, the exchange is also prioritizing growth in the UK, where the crypto sector is covered by an increasingly sophisticated regulatory framework spanning digital securities, stablecoins and various other token types.

In a recent blog post , Coinbase’s Vice President of International Policy, Tom Duff Gordon, observed that the UK has a “tremendous opportunity” to capitalize on the ongoing migration of Web3 firms from the US. 

He pointed to the recent announcement  that Andreessen Horowitz  (a16z) plans to open its first office outside of the US in London. A16z said the UK is “strongly positioned to lead in Web3″. This was, he suggested, thanks to its deep talent pools, academic institutions, entrepreneurial culture and “world-class regulators.”

Citing research  by the British think-tank Policy Exchange, Duff Gordon said the UK could capture additional business worth £29 billion from crypto firms fleeing US regulatory uncertainty.

Coinbase and its peers have accused the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of hurting American employment. Meanwhile, Policy Exchange estimates relocating Web3 businesses from the US will create more than 36,000 new jobs in the UK.

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