Hong Kong Lawmaker Invites Coinbase to Apply to Operate in Region Amid U.S. SEC Crackdown

The company is excited to expand globally and wants to build in Abu Dhabi, Canada and Singapore, Coinbase's Vice President of International Policy said.

AccessTimeIconJun 12, 2023 at 5:08 p.m. UTC
Updated Jun 13, 2023 at 8:47 a.m. UTC

A Hong Kong lawmaker invited global virtual asset trading operators, including crypto exchange Coinbase, to come and register in the region.

Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) began accepting applications for crypto trading platform licenses on June 1. Crypto firms which get registered under this license will be able to serve retail customers in the country and will need to comply with rules that prohibit crypto incentives like airdrops.

“I hereby offer an invitation to welcome all global virtual asset trading operators including @coinbase to come to HK for application of official trading platforms and further development plans,” Hong Kong legislative council member Johnny Ng said in a tweet on Saturday.

“Coinbase is dedicated to partnering with high-bar regulators across U.S. and non-U.S. jurisdictions,” a Coinbase spokesperson told CoinDesk, responding to the tweet.

Ng’s invite comes amid a U.S. crackdown on crypto exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, which have both been sued recently by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly violating federal securities laws.

Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s CEO, said in April that his company would consider moving out of the U.S. if there continues to be no regulatory clarity around how crypto is treated, something which the company has been pushing for.

Coinbase is now looking to expand globally, Tom Duff-Gordon, Vice President of International Policy at Coinbase, said in an interview.

“Coinbase is really excited to be expanding overseas,” Duff-Gordon said.

The company is trying to build in Abu Dhabi, Canada and is waiting for a full license in Singapore, where it already has in-principle approval, Duff-Gordon added.

While the company has been operating in the U.K. through CB Payments Limited, which has been authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as an electronic money institution, the company hopes to apply for authorization under the U.K.’s new crypto regime once that is finalized, Duff-Gordon said.

While international expansion is a key focus, Coinbase is not ready to give up on the U.S., according to Duff-Gordon.

“The easiest thing for us to do would be to cut and run but that's not what we're doing,” Duff-Gordon said. “We want to represent the industry to stand up and to fight for regulatory clarity in the U.S.”

UPDATE (June 13, 8:47 UTC): Adds Coinbase has approval in principle in Singapore in ninth paragraph.

Edited by Toby Leah Bochan.


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Camomile Shumba

Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk regulatory reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.