Coinbase Exchange Remains Inactive in India, While Other Operations Are Still Active

The question of the extent of Coinbase's operations in India was triggered after it sent emails to some customers asking them to withdraw their funds by September 25.

AccessTimeIconSep 11, 2023 at 9:49 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2023 at 4:02 p.m. UTC
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  • Coinbase clarified that while its exchange remains inactive in India, its wallet services and tech hub remain active.
  • There was some confusion around the status of Coinbase's India operations after the exchange sent emails to some customers asking them to withdraw funds by Sept. 25.

Is Coinbase operating in India or not?

The exchange has clarified that its exchange operations were suspended many months ago, as CoinDesk reported at the time, but its other products like the Coinbase Wallet continue to be available as a service for Indian customers, and its tech hub remains active.

The question was triggered after the exchange sent an email to some customers on Sept. 9 as a "friendly reminder" to an email from June 26. CoinDesk has seen copies of both emails after a user shared them. Most of them were friendly reminders but fresh emails to some customers may have also been sent out.

The June 26 and Sept. 9 emails were sent to some Indian users using its exchange product in non-Indian jurisdictions. It was also sent to some non-Indian users. It asked customers to withdraw their funds by Sept. 25, 2023.

The emails said "we will be discontinuing all services" to the account because they "no longer meet our updated standards for these services." It further said, "your funds remain secure with us, and you are able to send funds to other crypto wallets or services (subject to standard network and transaction fees), including Coinbase Wallet."

A Coinbase spokesperson said that "during the course of a recent routine review of our systems, some accounts may have been identified that no longer meet our updated standards" but that they will "allow customers to update their information at a later date."

Coinbase had suspended trading operations within three days of its India launch in April 2022. It had touted India's local digital payment service, Unified Payments Services or UPI, as central to its operations. Within hours of the launch, the authority behind the UPI service said it was "not aware of any crypto exchange" using UPI. Shortly after, Coinbase's app said UPI services were "temporarily unavailable." Several days later some payment processors cut off local crypto exchanges. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong later took note of "informal pressure" from India's central bank as the reason.

"We stopped allowing new user sign-ups on our exchange product in India back in June of this year," a Coinbase spokesperson told CoinDesk. "We maintain a robust tech hub in the country and offer live products, including our Coinbase Wallet. We are committed to India over the long term and continue to explore ways to strengthen our presence in this important market."

Some of the Coinbase senior leadership in India has left the organization in the last few months, including Arnab Kumar who was Director, India Market Expansion.

Coinbase's plans in India are centered around its Wallet services and its tech hub which builds for the APAC region and the world. On April 4, 2022, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said the company planned to add 1,000 people to the existing 300 staff at its Indian tech hub. But after Coinbase's trading launch in India hit a snag on April 7, and then cryptocurrency prices crashed, the exchange cut 8% of its 400 employees in India in June.

CORRECTION (Sept. 11, 11:10 UTC): Corrects the name of Brian Armstrong in the last paragraph.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is CoinDesk's regulatory reporter covering India. He holds BTC and ETH below CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.

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