It is official: Coinbase has obtained VASP registration in France.
Specifically, it has obtained registration as a PSAN, the French acronym for VASP, which stands for Prestataire de Services sur Actifs Numériques, meaning provider of services for digital assets.
Now, therefore, it has a license issued by the AMF (Autorité des Marchés Financiers) that allows the exchange to offer its suite of crypto products and services to retail, institutional, and ecosystem users in France.
What are VASPs?
The so-called VASP are Virtual Asset Service Providers, also known as CASP (Crypto Asset Service Providers).
In other words, they are intermediaries that provide services related to digital assets, namely cryptocurrencies, tokens, and NFT.
In many countries, it is now necessary to be registered in order to legally offer these services, and in the EU, the new regulation, MiCA, which specifically requires the registration of operators, is about to come into effect.
The original definition of VASP, however, was developed by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), which is the global watchdog of the G7 on money laundering and terrorist financing.
Technically, the definition of FAFT is not legally binding, but it has been taken as a reference by many countries.
In France, for example, it has served as a basis for the definition of PSANs.
The crypto exchange Coinbase
Coinbase is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, so much so that it is the only one listed on the stock exchange.
For global trading volume, it is far behind the leader Binance, but in the USA it now reigns almost unchallenged.
It made its debut on the stock market in April 2021, during a bubble, at a price of about $380. Since then, it has dropped significantly, so much so that by the end of 2021, the price was $250.
The black year was 2022, with a drop down to $31 and the year closing at $35, but it recovered during 2023.
Already in February it had risen above $80, and in July it managed to rise above $110 as well.
During the ongoing small bull run, it managed to reach a new annual high at $170, just a few days ago, suggesting that it may eventually recover the levels of late 2021.
The importance of France for Coinbase
France is one of the main European markets, along with Germany and the United Kingdom. However, the United Kingdom is not part of the European Union.
The European Union has this year adopted a clear and specific regulatory framework regarding cryptocurrencies, which effectively greatly benefits any subject or institution that wants to operate in the sector in compliance with the law.
It is not clear why Coinbase has chosen France, despite stating that it is an important market for the exchange, but perhaps it is simply trying to obtain the necessary authorizations to operate in all European countries.
Also because France, in many respects, is certainly not the best European country to establish the European headquarters of an American company.
Often, in fact, American companies choose Ireland as the European country in which to open their overseas headquarters, and this has also been the choice of Coinbase.
According to a recent survey, however, 10% of French adults own cryptocurrencies and 24% plan to buy, sell, or trade them in the next 12 months.
Coinbase lands in France
In the official statement, Coinbase states that by registering as a PSAN in France, they are adding a milestone to their international expansion journey.
It should be remembered that this year they have launched an international platform separate from the original one, and aimed only at non-US users.
Coinbase, in fact, has growth plans throughout Europe, and with registration as a PSAN, it will be able to offer the French completely regulated services such as custody of digital assets, buying and selling, and trading.
According to the exchange, France has the reputation of being a country that innovates and attracts technological advancements. Additionally, it is equipped with a thriving ecosystem of technological and web3 startups, such as Ledger.
In the official statement, Coinbase writes:
“The regulatory clarity that MiCA provides to the sector is extremely welcome and demonstrates that the region is recognizing the potential that emerging technology can offer.”
In fact, they admit that the new European regulation finally makes it possible to do business seriously and comply with crypto within EU countries.