Coinbase announced the expansion of Coinbase services to the United Kingdom, including the ability to trade bitcoin on the Coinbase Exchange and to buy/sell bitcoin with British pounds (GBP) using the Coinbase Wallet, and the addition of BTC/GBP and BTC/EUR currency pairs on Coinbase Exchange for U.K. users.
Besides the United Kingdom, Coinbase services are also available to other European Union residents.
The move brings Coinbase into the competitive British market, which co-founder Fred Ehrsam argues is buoyed by the forward-looking attitude of U.K. regulators toward Bitcoin, as well as other financial technology innovations, The Guardianreports.
“The payments regulators and the Treasury are taking a very balanced view of bitcoin,” said Ehrsam. “They’re really taking their time to understand the core technology prior to regulating.”
“I’d definitely say that regulation is more favorable in the U.K. right now,” CEO Brian Armstrong toldTechCrunch. “I have to give a lot of credit to U.K. regulators. They’ve actually been very forward-thinking about bitcoin.”
Armstrong hinted that the exchange might be the most revenue-rich part of the business in Great Britain for a while to come. Coinbase is divided into three pillars between a consumer wallet, a platform with APIs for developers and an exchange where investors can trade bitcoin against the major currencies.
The Guardiannotes that Coinbase is one of a small group of companies attempting to “sanitize” bitcoin, ridding it of many of the negative connotations. In January, investors, including three of the world’s most respected financial institutions – The New York Stock Exchange, a subsidiary of USAA, and BBVA (NYSE:BBVA) Ventures – invested $75 million in Coinbase, bringing its total capital to $106 million.
“With this investment, we are tapping into a new asset class by teaming up with a leading platform that is bringing transparency, security and confidence to an important growth market,” said NYSE President Tom Farley. “We look forward to supporting Coinbase’s growth utilizing our global distribution capabilities and market expertise.”
The Coinbase exchange launched in January in the United States, and according to Ehrsam, “quickly rose to be the most liquid Bitcoin exchange in the U.S.”
The Financial Timesnotes that the Coinbase launch in Great Britain is a boost to plans to transform the U.K. into a global hub for bitcoin and digital currencies, with both the government and Bank of England having made recent moves designed to stimulate the development of digital fintech in the United Kingdom.
For European users, it’s good to have a solid alternative to Bistamp – not because Bistamp’s service is not satisfying, but because having more options to choose from is always good. A test revealed that opening and using a new Coinbase account is quick and easy for European Union residents in Great Britain.
After completing email verification, identity verification and phone verification (for two-factor authentication), new customers can start using their Coinbase wallet for bitcoin and euro, and buy or sell bitcoin using the integrated Coinbase exchange.
The Coinbase wallet can be funded with bitcoin deposits, or with euro deposits sent via Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) transfer from any E.U. bank. According to Coinbase customer service, European users can withdraw funds from their Coinbase euro wallet to their SEPA bank account, with a delay of one or two business days.
At a first glance, the Coinbase European service seems solid and professional, with a simple and intuitive web interface, a community forum for common questions and answers, and responsive customer service. Coinbase also offers a secure vault for long-term bitcoin storage offline, and is fully insured against hacking, theft or loss of customer funds.