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Coinbase Expands Into France With Acquisition of VASP License Ahead of MiCA

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Coinbase has received regulatory approval from France’s Financial Markets Authority to conduct business as a digital asset trading venue.

According to a CNBC report published on Tuesday, Coinbase has secured a virtual asset service provider (VASP) license from the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) to offer services such as crypto trading, crypto-fiat pairs, and crypto custodial services in France.

The development comes at a crucial time in European crypto regulation, as the European Union’s Market in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) directive is set to take effect starting December 30, 2024, with the directive’s stablecoin provisions coming into force starting from June 30 next year.

The MiCA regulatory framework is set to supersede individual digital asset regulations within EU member states, enabling approved MiCA companies to provide services across all nations within the bloc.

Coinbase’s VASP registration also comes amidst an uncertain regulatory environment in the United States. In June, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Coinbase and rival crypto exchange Binance for operating as an unregistered securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency.

Circle also revealed that it secured a conditional registration with the French AMF. However, to complete the process, Circle needs approval as a payment services provider (PSP) or registration as an agent of a PSP. This requirement will be fulfilled upon obtaining an Electronic Money Institution license which Circle has applied for.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has conveyed a rigorous examination of crypto assets and digital asset service providers, categorizing most tokens as securities. He maintains that virtual currencies should be subject to existing financial regulations, but Coinbase, along with numerous other crypto entities and advocates, disagrees with that categorization.

Additionally, last week, the SEC declined Coinbase’s petition which sought to prompt the SEC towards establishing a framework of customized regulations for digital assets.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong took to X in the wake of the SEC’s decision, calling it a “nice small win” as it forced the SEC to formally respond to them.

“We went to court to challenge the SEC’s refusal to create clear rules for the industry – and it worked (a court compelled them to respond),” Armstrong wrote on X. “Now that they’ve formally responded (with a no!) we can challenge their response in court, which helps us get one step closer to regulatory clarity. The question is why doesn’t the SEC want to clarify outstanding regulatory questions for the crypto industry?”


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