This marks the first time Coinbase has taken a legitimate crack at business beyond U.S. borders. Coinbase is one of the largest Bitcoin wallets in the world. They serve nearly two million customers and 36,000 merchants like Wikipedia and Overstock, and they have 6,000 developers at their disposal. Coinbase is expanding to serve Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia.
Coinbase has taken their time to expand to other countries because the legal process in doing so is complex. Many European countries have ever-evolving guidelines and regulations on how to handle crypto-currencies. Multiple bank partners are a requirement, and thankfully for their clients, Coinbase has filled that need.
Brian Armstrong, Coinbase CEO, said,
“A lot of the regulatory environment is still unclear. Some countries have posted guidance on it, while others have been totally silent about it. We went through a process with each of these countries. We interpreted their guidance, told regulators about our plans and our goals of what we wanted to do. We had a bit of a dialogue, and some countries got comfortable. I will say we certainly have taken a more proactive reaching out to regulators.”
Although consumers in these countries can buy and sell Bitcoin through Coinbase, during the beta, clients will be limited to 500 euro per day. That amount is meant to cover transactions between Coinbase and the euro, in addition to European bank accounts.
A series of Bitcoin thefts took place in late 2013 and early 2014, but Armstrong attributed them to phishing, and pointed out that there are risks associated with using the web at any moment. In a verge interview, he said, “It happens on every major site on the Internet.” In many cases, Coinbase issued refunds for those that lost significant amounts of money and Bitcoins due to theft.