Coinbase's services are already varyingly available in 24
countries, with 2.1 million wallet holders and 39,000 merchants.
But the exchange has yet to expand outside of its native America,
making the British launch a first.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in London, 2014. Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
A CoinDesk chart showing the declining price of Bitcoin over the last year. CoinDesk
Decentralised digital currency Bitcoin has had a tumultuous 2015, kicking off the year with a price drop of 30% in a matter of days. But there has also been an influx of venture capital cash into the space, with Coinbase being one of the key beneficiaries.
Silicon Valley funds are pouring into Bitcoin with the promise of taking it "mainstream," but it's clear there's a way to go yet. There's the issue of price instability for one, and the community has also been recently criticised for being overwhelmingly male. Surveys suggest that the majority of people don't know what Bitcoin is — or don't trust it if they do.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
The UK is preparing to regulate Bitcoin using anti-money laundering frameworks, with the government aiming to position the country "at the forefront of the development of digital currencies," making it "the location of choice for digital currency and related tech firms." London is also the world capital for fintech startups, with more workers in fintech than either New York or Silicon Valley.
It's a stance that has been lauded by the community.
I spoke to Marco Santori, the global policy counsel for rival Bitcoin startup Blockchain. He didn't comment on comparisons between the US and the UK's approach, but said British regulators are "learning from the successes and failures of other jurisdictions," and that their "wait and see approach is paying off." British regulators are apparently "eager and interested to learn more."
Coinbase then went on to launch a Bitcoin exchange, and is now opening its doors in Britain.
Some 40,000 Brits already make use of Coinbase's wallets in the UK, CEO Brian Armstrong told us, but there has previously been no functionality to convert into fiat currency. So consumers looking to send Bitcoin to other digital currency enthusiasts were fine, but there was no way for Brits to convert it into real world cash on the platform.
Armstrong says the company doesn't have specific targets for the launch, but that it is part of a broader expansion, bringing the company to 40 countries by the end of the year. Britain is a "financial leader in the world" and Coinbase can't hope to be "a global movement without liquidity in the UK," he adds.
Amid price volatility and impending regulation, Bitcoin startup Coinbase is launching in the UK.
The director of advocacy group Coin Center told Reuters that Britain has "a different attitude" to the US, and New York's planned "BitLicense" for digital currency startups. "It's a very positive attitude, one of: this is an amazing innovation, we're going to have some kind of regulation in terms of money laundering, but let's do this in a constructive way, in partnership with technologists and the industry."
So what exactly does Coinbase do? It has a number of products, include "wallets" which allow Bitcoin users to store and make transactions in Bitcoin, merchant solutions for businesses, and its new exchange for trading Bitcoin.
In January it raised $75 million — then a new record for the industry. Investors included the New York Stock Exchange and respected VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. (It was subsequently overtaken by the secretive "21", which raised $116 million in March.)
Analysis: What 2019 Could Bring for Bitcoin
Trading in altcoins was a big part of what made Bitcoin price spike towards the end of 2017. A section of the crypto space argues that while altcoins helped Bitcoin’s market cap swell, they also bro
Bitcoin Cash Going Down as Stellar Warms up
Bitcoin Cash’s market cap has been cut in half since the Nov. 15 hardfork which birthed the Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV chains. Now at a mere $3.5 bln and a unit price of ~$201 as at the time of writ
300k User Data from Chinese Auto Finance Platform Sold For One Bitcoin on Dark Web
It is revealed that 300,000 pieces of user data from a Chinese auto finance platform Jiurong were compromised and priced at one bitcoin on the dark web.
According to the leaked data posted, persona
Heyday of Bitcoin Mining Rigs Business at China’s Huaqiangbei is Over Amid Crypto Market Carnage
Bitcoin price slumped to a 13-month low of about $4,300 on Wednesday, making mining the world’s leading digital currency an unprofitable business. A lot of mall miners, mining rigs dealers and minin
Dialogue with Bitcoin Evangelist in Latin America: RSK Labs CEO Diego on Crypto Industry
Diego Gutierrez is the CEO at Koibanx and president of Bitcoin Argentina NGO. In addition, Diego also serves as the CEO of Rootstock/RSK Labs, a smart contract platform built on top of bitcoin.
China’s Bitcoin Billionaire Zhao Dong : Bitcoin Price to Hit $50,000 in Three Years—Now Is the Time to Buy the Dip
Despite Bitcoin’s latest crash and a real chance that its price will go much lower, Zhao Dong, prominent Chinese OTC trader and founder of Dfund, remains bullish on the the world’s biggest cryptoc
Bitcoin Miners Sold by Kilo in China Amid Cryptocurrency Crash
The leading cryptocurrency bitcoin once fell below $4,300 on the afternoon of November 20 – down more than 17% on a 24-hour basis and hitting a 13-month low since October 2017. Great losses are seen
Xiao Lei: 3 Main Reasons of the “Unreasonable” Bitcoin Price Crash
Cryptocurrency markets experienced a havoc in the past few days. Bitcoin, the uncrowned king in the crypto world, has fell as much as 30% over the past two weeks, while other major tokens are all suff