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Coinbase Expands its European Footprint with French VASP License

Walter Swift

ByWalter Swift

Dec 26, 2023

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange, has obtained approval from the French market regulator, as confirmed by a company representative on Thursday, December 21. This milestone clears the path for the firm to extend its services into another significant European market.

 France’s AMF watchdog granted Coinbase a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) approval. Essentially, this approval signifies the company’s authorization to provide digital currency services within France. Coinbase can now offer custody services for digital assets, facilitate their purchase and sale via fiat currencies, engage in trading activities against other digital assets, and operate a complete ecosystem. 

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About Europe’s Evolving Cryptocurrency Regulations

The regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies in Europe is undergoing significant shifts. French regulators and their counterparts across the continent are actively adapting to the emergence of new technologies like crypto and blockchain. 

From a broad perspective, the European Union crafted and passed the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation on May, 16th 2023. The endeavor aims to establish a unified framework, providing a platform for crypto companies to function under regulated conditions across the EU.  Enforcement is due on December 30th, 2024.

Additionally, MiCA introduces a novel concept wherein crypto firms, equipped with a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license from one country, can operate seamlessly across borders, allowing for streamlined services throughout the region.  The VASP registration signifies a significant step for the US-based Coinbase to expand its European operations. This expansion is critical for the exchange, especially as it faces a more uncertain regulatory landscape in its home country.

American Regulators Take Tough Measures Against Crypto Firms 

Recently, U.S. regulators have taken stringent measures against cryptocurrency companies. In November, the U.S. Department of Justice finalized an agreement with the crypto giant Binance, resulting in the company paying over $4 billion while its CEO resigned. The CEO admitted guilt to a felony charge, acknowledging the failure to take preventive measures against money laundering within the firm.

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Simultaneously, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched an assertive campaign against the crypto industry, aggressively pursuing enforcement actions. It involved lawsuits against Coinbase and its rival Binance, alleging their involvement in unlawful securities trading.

The SEC considers various crypto tokens as securities, a classification that necessitates these tokens to undergo registration with the watchdog. Strict guidelines govern firms and token issuer transparency, including investment disclosure obligations. 

Coinbase has defended itself, stating it has actively worked to ensure compliance with financial regulations. Consequently, the company advocates for new cryptocurrency regulations in the United States. Also, Coinbase aims to end what it calls “regulation by enforcement,” urging the regulator to establish clear guidelines rather than imposing penalties on companies on a case-by-case basis.

France’s Tech Drive Leads Europe in Crypto and Emerging Tech

France has embarked on a strategic journey to position itself at the forefront of technological advancements, spotlighting its prowess in artificial intelligence and cloud computing. This concerted effort follows President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious vision of transforming the nation into a preeminent global tech hub, aiming for sustained technological leadership.

In line with the ambitious “France 2030” plan, the country has committed a substantial investment of 34 billion euros ($36.5 billion) over five years. This considerable financial commitment encompasses subsidies and state funding strategically allocated to bolster technological supremacy and carve a definitive space in the Web 3 domain and beyond.

Within France’s tech landscape, Ledger stands out as a player, offering comprehensive crypto custody services and boasting a valuation of $1.4 billion.  

Additionally, Paris is the E.U. headquarters of several crypto giants.  Highlighting the city’s growing significance in the global tech ecosystem. Circle, recognized for issuing the widely-used stablecoin USD Coin, recently obtained its own French VASP license from the AMF, cementing its presence in the French market.

Despite previous market volatility that led to bankruptcies and collapses, France is experiencing a notable upsurge in crypto adoption. 

Coinbase also cited data from Toluna, a reputable analytics firm, which indicates that 10% of French adults currently hold crypto assets, with an additional 24% expressing intentions to buy, sell, or trade crypto within 12 months. This growing interest signifies a significant embrace of digital assets within the country’s financial landscape.

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Walter Swift

Walter Swift

Walter Swift is an adept crypto writer, known for his deep insights into the decentralized world. His pieces artfully break down complex blockchain topics, making them accessible to a broad audience. With a passion for emerging technologies, Walter's articles are a beacon for crypto enthusiasts and novices alike.

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