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Coinbase to expand crypto derivatives in EU with license acquisition


LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 09: In this photo illustration, a flipped version of the Coinbase logo is reflected in a mobile phone screen on November 09, 2021 in London, England. The cryptocurrency exchange platform is to release its quarterly earnings today. (Photo illustration by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Coinbase plans to offer crypto-linked derivatives in the European Union, and it’s planning to acquire a company with a license to do so.

The U.S. cryptocurrency exchange told CNBC exclusively that it entered into an agreement to buy an unnamed holding company which owns a MiFID II license.

MiFID II refers to the EU’s updated rules governing financial instruments. The EU updated the legislation in 2017 to address criticism that it was too focused on stocks and didn’t consider other asset classes, like fixed income, derivatives and currencies.

It’s part of a long-standing ambition by Coinbase to serve professional and institutional customers.

The company, which began 12 years ago, has been seeking to expand its offering to institutions such as hedge funds and high-frequency trading firms over the last several years, looking to benefit from the much higher sizes of transactions done by these kinds of traders.

If and when Coinbase completes the deal, the move would mark the first launch of derivatives trading by the company in the EU.

With a MiFID II license, Coinbase will be able to begin offering regulated derivatives, like futures and options, in the EU. The company already offers spot trading in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and Coinbase expects it will close later in 2024.

“This license would help expand access to our derivatives products by allowing Coinbase to offer them to eligible European customers in select countries across the EU,” Coinbase said in a blog post, which was shared exclusively with CNBC on Friday.

“As the industry leader in trusted, compliant products and services, we aim for the highest standards for regulatory compliance, and before operationalizing any license or serving any users, this entity must achieve our Five-point Global Compliance Standard.”

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Coinbase said it would look to adhere to rigorous compliance standards that are upheld in the EU, including requirements related to combating money laundering, customer transparency and sanctions.

The company said it is committed to ensuring a five-point global compliance standard, supported by a team of more than 400 professionals with experience at agencies including the FBI and Department of Justice.

“We have a long road ahead before finalizing the acquisition and operationalizing the EU MiFID licensed entity, but this is an exciting step forward in our efforts to expand access to our international derivatives offerings and bring a more global and open financial system to 1 billion people around the world,” Coinbase said in its blog post.

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Coinbase to expand crypto derivatives in EU with license acquisition

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