Leading digital asset exchange Coinbase has successfully registered with the Bank of Spain, gaining authorization as both a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian wallet provider. This significant development is part of Coinbase’s ongoing effort to expand its global presence beyond the United States.
Coinbase detailed its expansion into the Spanish market as part of Phase II of its international growth strategy, known as “Go Broad, Go Deep.” The company notably acquired an anti-money laundering (AML) license from the Spanish central bank, allowing it to serve as a crypto asset custodian for Spanish citizens and a cryptocurrency trading platform for assets denominated in Spain’s legal tender or other cryptocurrencies.
Spain, as a member of the European Union, is expected to adhere to the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulations when they become effective in 2024. Coinbase’s entry into the Spanish crypto market is influenced, in part, by the forthcoming MiCA framework. MiCA offers much-needed regulatory clarity for cryptocurrency operations within the European Union, recognizing the substantial potential of digital assets.
Spain has also emerged as a burgeoning crypto hub, with approximately 29% of Spanish adults expressing confidence in cryptocurrencies as the future of finance. According to a report by Bitnovo, digital assets have gained considerable adoption in the country, making cryptocurrencies the second most popular payment method ahead of traditional bank transfers.
Nana Murugesan, who holds the position of Vice President for International and Business Development at Coinbase, expressed appreciation for the worldwide proliferation of cryptocurrency regulations, which have paved the way for Coinbase to establish its presence in numerous countries beyond the borders of the United States.
Coinbase has been actively pursuing regulatory approvals in various jurisdictions. In addition to Spain, the exchange has obtained Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) licenses in Italy, Ireland, and the Netherlands, along with in-principle approval in Singapore. Upcoming launches are also planned for Brazil and Canada.
Recent reports indicated that Coinbase had expressed interest in acquiring the European branch of the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, with the most recent attempt occurring in September 2023. However, the plans were abandoned as FTX Europe became embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings.
In the midst of these developments, Coinbase remains engaged in a legal dispute with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC filed a lawsuit against Coinbase in June, accusing the exchange of “operating an unregistered securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency.” This legal battle continues to unfold.