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Coinbase Receives Crypto Custody License From German Regulator BaFin

The license will allow Coinbase to continue operating in Germany.

Jun 28, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:17 p.m. UTC

Coinbase has received a crypto custody license from Germany’s Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), allowing Coinbase to continue serving the German market. BaFin announced the news Monday.

Coinbase is the first company to receive the license, BaFin said in a press release.

In November 2019, Germany’s parliament – the Bundestag – passed a law that required firms custodying crypto for Germans to apply for a crypto custody license or leave Germany. Companies that were already operating in the country on Jan. 1, 2020, were required to announce their intent to apply by March 31 of that year and apply by Nov. 30. 

Coinbase applied for the license in the late spring of 2020, said Carola Rathke, partner at Eversheds Sutherland, a German law firm that advised Coinbase on the project.

There are other crypto custody applications that are also in the "advanced stage" of the review process and will probably receive decisions from BaFin in the coming months, Rathke added. BaFin has no hard deadline for responding to questions and may ask applicants questions or request more documents from them over time.

In response to receiving the license, Coinbase plans to localize its services and expand its product offering in the country, according to a blog post published by the company.

“Being awarded the licence is the culmination of many months of hard work from the Coinbase team, in close collaboration with the BaFin," Marcus Hughes, Coinbase’s managing director for Europe, said in the post. "We look forward to bringing a best-in-class crypto product offering coupled with a secure, localized experience to our German customers.”

The approval comes at a time in which Coinbase is trying to prove itself to be an exchange that embraces regulation after having gone public in the U.S. via a direct listing in April.

At the same time, Coinbase rival Binance has been warned by regulators to stop operating in the U.K. and Japan, and has pulled out of Canada’s Ontario province to avoid scrutiny from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).

UPDATE (June 28, 20:04 UTC): Adds comments from Coinbase and a German lawyer who worked on the exchange's BaFin application.

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