Coinbase considering a move to the UK

Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms, may consider moving its headquarters from San Francisco to London in the future, according to its CEO Brian Armstrong.

Armstrong said that the lack of regulatory clarity in the US was a major factor that could drive the company to relocate to its second-largest market by revenue. He made the remarks at the Innovate Finance Global Summit in London on Tuesday, where he also met with UK Economic Secretary Andrew Griffith to discuss crypto regulation.

“The UK is moving fast on sensible crypto regulation to both drive economic growth and consumer protection. Excited to keep investing in the UK,” Armstrong tweeted after the meeting.

He added that if the US did not improve its regulatory regime for crypto assets within a few years, Coinbase may have to invest more elsewhere and move wherever is necessary.

“We were founded in the US, [and] I think the US has the potential to be an important market in crypto, but right now we are not seeing the regulatory clarity that we need,” he said.

Coinbase has faced several challenges from US regulators in recent months, including a threat of legal action from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over its proposed lending product. The company also faced criticism from lawmakers and customers over its handling of service outages and customer complaints.

In contrast, the UK has been more supportive of crypto innovation and has announced plans to bring the sector within the remit of City watchdogs. Griffith said yesterday that crypto rules were expected in the next 12 months and that Brexit had given the UK more control over its rule book.

“Wherever possible we want to see the same asset regulated in the same way [as other financial services], but there are some additional opportunities in the crypto asset or distributed ledger space and we want to take advantage of that,” he said.

Coinbase is currently listed on the Nasdaq in New York and has a market capitalization of over $60 billion. It has over 68 million verified users and supports more than 100 cryptocurrencies. It also has offices in Dublin, Tokyo, Singapore and other locations.

Armstrong said that he would consider listing his company on the London Stock Exchange if he could relist it today, given the UK’s favourable stance on crypto.

“In a different world, going back, we may have considered it to be honest at this point,” he said.

However, he also acknowledged that there were still some challenges and uncertainties in the UK market, such as banks blocking customers from investing in crypto and rules around financial promotion that could hamper real-world use cases and consumer choice.

He said that Coinbase was working with regulators and policymakers to address these issues and to educate them about the benefits of crypto for society and the economy.

“We want to be part of the solution here. We want to work with regulators. We want to help create sensible regulation for this industry,” he said.

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