Coinbase Secures Approval to Launch Regulated US Bitcoin Exchange
UPDATE (27th January 19:07 BST): An earlier version of this article stated that Coinbase Exchange had received regulatory approval in California. The California Department of Business Oversight has since released a statement denying that Coinbase Exchange received licensure.
Bitcoin services provider Coinbase is set to launch a US exchange on Monday – one reportedly already approved by regulators in 24 jurisdictions.
Coinbase has until now acted largely as a brokerage for bitcoin users. By expanding into this new vertical the company will be able to "offer greater security for individuals and institutions to trade bitcoin and monitor real-time pricing of the cryptocurrency", the company told the Wall Street Journal.
“Our goal is to become the world’s largest exchange,” said Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong. He further explained that Coinbase ultimately plans to expand the exchange to users overseas, although it will be limited to the US for the time being.
Armstrong told CoinDesk the exchange will have a full order book and limit orders. A list of states whose residents have access to USD wallets and may use the exchange can be found here.
Coinbase hopes to have regulatory approval in all states in the next six months, he said.
The company will offer users two initial months of fee-free trades, and will take a 0.25% commission fee on all transactions thereafter.
Countdown to launch
The launch comes hot on the heels of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss' announcement of their plans for a US exchange, called Gemini, which was also touted as the first to operate with full regulatory approval, but is not yet open to the public.
It also coincides with the launch of the Coinbase exchange teaser website – a webpage otherwise unmarked except for the title "To The Moon!", an animation of a rocket heading towards the moon and a clock counting down to Monday in centiseconds – that has incited speculation amongst the community about the forthcoming news.
T-minus 17 hours https://t.co/eB0on92NRJ
— Coinbase (@coinbase) January 25, 2015
The launch timing was not influenced by the Winklevoss' announcement, Armstrong said. Coinbase is launching the exchange simply because it is ready.
Coinbase now has $106m in VC funding behind it from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, the Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) Growth Fund, Union Square Ventures, Ribbit Capital and, as of last week's announced series C funding round, BBVA, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Fortune 500 financial services group USAA and Japanese telcom giant DoCoMo.
Road to regulation
In the autumn, Coinbase expanded its services to 18 European markets in- and outside the eurozone and European Union, with varying degrees of bitcoin exchange limits.
It has since hired former Senate aide John Collins as an in-house liaison to US policy makers, a move that many industry observers deemed significant in maintaining and progressing the bitcoin dialogue in Washington.
The company began maintaining balances in USD with instant bitcoin purchases for customers in select US jurisdictions in December. Previously, US customers had to either wait days to acquire bitcoin or enable the 'instant buy' feature by linking a credit card to their accounts.
CoinDesk will continue to monitor this developing story.
Tanaya Macheel contributed reporting.
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