While a lot of the recent news surrounding regulators and cryptocurrencies has been pretty bleak, something good has popped up that's bound to please crypto fans across the UK and Europe. Coinbase, a popular cryptocurrency exchange known for its accessibility, has just been granted an e-money licence by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Not only does that mean Coinbase is able to issue e-money and offer payment services within the UK, it also means that should it go bust or close down the money its holding on behalf of clients are pre-segregated and won't be absorbed or lost forever. It's not the same as having a proper banking licence, which would offer extra regulator protection to stored funds, but it is a big step that makes it easier for the exchange to operate and deal with customers in the UK and, by default, the rest of the EU.
Coinbase has used the opportunity to also announce that it will be supporting the UK's Faster Payment Scheme (FPS) for customers in the UK, rather than using the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) method. Because FPS is supported by the UK's major banks, Coinbase promises that transferring funds will be a familiar experience with the added benefits of being faster and more secure. That's starting off as a pilot trial, but the plan is to roll is out to all of Coinbase's UK customers over the next several weeks.
According to a blog post by CEO Zeeshan Feroz, the EU was the fastest growing crypto market in 2017 with the largest constituent market in the UK. So it's hardly a surprise that the company is expanding here to help meet demand. He said:
“The license requires Coinbase’s e-money operations to meet the strict rules enforced by the FCA and the Payment Services Directive. For our customers, this will ultimately help us deliver a better experience through new partnerships and an easier to use product”.
How things will play out after Brexit aren't clear, but for now the company seems content with expanding its UK operations - with plans to increase the size of its London team by eight times. [Coinbase via TechCrunch]