Coinbase picks Ireland as its main EU regulatory hub as U.S. authorities go on the offensive

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Financial

In this articleCOINFollow your favorite stocksCREATE FREE ACCOUNTChesnot | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesCryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has chosen Ireland as its main operational and regulatory hub in the European Union, the company told CNBC in an exclusive interview.Coinbase submitted its application for a license under the EU’s new Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, which is set to come into force by December 2024, with the Central Bank of Ireland.Coinbase has had an office in Dublin since 2018. The company employs about 100 people in Ireland.If and when it is approved, Coinbase will have a universal “MiCA license” in Ireland, which it can then use to “passport” its services into Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and other EU countries.That makes it easier for Coinbase to launch new products in those markets without having to apply for individual licenses in each country. Coinbase says it’s confident it will be able to win this license.The company is planning to be operational with its MiCA license from “day one,” Nana Murugesan, Coinbase’s vice president of international, told CNBC in an interview earlier this week.What is MiCA?MiCA is the EU’s attempt at introducing a pan-European regulatory framework for crypto companies. It seeks to introduce protections for investors buying and selling crypto assets, like bitcoin and ethereum.The rules will allow crypto companies to use one license in one country to operate across all 27 EU member states.The regulation imposes a number of requirements on crypto firms, particularly exchanges, including the requirement that they don’t commingle client funds with their own assets.”As soon as MiCA was passed into law, and even before that, we’ve been considering a number of member states,” Murugesan said. “It was a long decision making process and we’ve been very impressed with the engagement from Ireland throughout.””It was really important for us to choose a member state that is not only a sophisticated regulator with significant experience in regulating financial services, but also recognises the importance of a globally integrated business model, the way we are structured as a company, and also the potential of this innovative new technology.”Currently, Coinbase has an electronic money institution license and virtual asset service provider registration in Ireland; a crypto license in Germany; and national registrations in other EU member states including Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.U.S. lawsuitThe company, which is headquartered in San Francisco, is one of the largest crypto trading venues globally.The expansion move comes at a difficult time for the crypto industry. Crypto companies have been seeing their volumes decline, while fundraising has slowed, as macroeconomic conditions have gotten tougher and regulatory scrutiny has mounted.Coinbase is banking on growth in the European Union, a continent with a total population of 450 million, and other international hubs, as it faces regulatory pressure back home — not least from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commiss …

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