Coinbase expands global reach with spot crypto trading

Major crypto exchange Coinbase is expanding its international offerings by launching spot trading for institutional investors on Wednesday.

Institutional clients outside the U.S. can trade Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) directly against the USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin on the Coinbase International Exchange. It marks a shift for the platform, which initially focused on derivatives upon its launch in May this year.

In a blog post, Coinbase wrote that it sees the expansion as a dual approach to benefit spot and derivatives markets by creating a deeper and more liquid environment. It also offers global users a trusted non-U.S. spot exchange option, enhancing their trading experience.

“We envision a future where Coinbase International Exchange becomes a cornerstone of the global crypto ecosystem, offering capabilities that redefine the standards of the industry while staying true to our roots: trust, safety, and ease of use,” the company wrote.

The phased launch begins on Wednesday, initially via API access. Over time, Coinbase will expand access to more assets and user types. The company’s international push follows its registrations in Spain and Singapore. It has also seen the success of its Bermuda-based derivatives exchange, which has $10 billion in quarterly trading volume.

Domestic challenges

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has previously expressed a preference for international expansion due to the unclear regulatory landscape in his home country. He has commended the European Union and the U.K. for their more “thoughtful” and “comprehensive” approach to crypto regulation.

It follows Coinbase’s expansion of its perpetual futures service to retail traders outside the U.S. in October, a service initially available only to institutional clients at the exchange’s launch. The company’s decision to venture into international spot markets comes in the wake of legal challenges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In June, the SEC accused Coinbase of operating as an unregistered exchange and selling unregistered securities. Coinbase maintains its innocence and has filed a lawsuit against the SEC seeking regulatory clarity. The agency, however, has pushed back against Coinbase’s demands.

The SEC has also sued other major exchanges like Kraken and Binance for allegedly failing to register, but both exchanges rejected the claims. The U.S. regulatory environment remains uncertain, with slow progress on crypto-related legislation further complicating matters.

Meanwhile, the crypto market has seen a partial recovery from 2022’s struggles, with investors anticipating the approval of the first spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the U.S. in the coming weeks.

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