Bitcoin platform Coinbase expands out of U.S. into Europe

Coinbase, the well-funded bitcoin exchange and wallet service, has opened shop in 13 European countries.

It’s the first time [company]Coinbase[/company] has officially expanded outside the U.S., allowing people to buy and sell bitcoins on the platform using a euro rather than dollar bank account – an important step if you want to cash out locally. The countries are: Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, and Slovakia.

[company]BitPay[/company], one of Coinbase’s biggest rivals in giving merchants a way to accept bitcoin, is actually way ahead of it on that front, having even opened up European headquarters in Amsterdam earlier this year. That said, the [company]eBay[/company]-owned payments outfit [company]Braintree[/company], which has been established in Europe for a couple of years, announced a (predicted) partnership with Coinbase earlier this week that will help online merchants accept bitcoin payments from those with Coinbase wallets.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told CoinDesk that he didn’t see his firm as having any direct competitors in Europe. He also said countries had been chosen based on how amenable their regulators were when approached.

In a blog post, Coinbase said it already had 1.6 million consumers, 36,000 merchants and 6,000 developers on its platform. It said non-U.S. markets were relatively slow growers for it, due to the lack of integration with the local banking systems – hence the expansion.

However, it’s a cautious expansion at first. From the post:

It’s important to note that this is a beta launch in Europe. During our beta, we will have a fairly low daily limit: €500 [$646] per day on buys and sells. We hope to continue raising this limit in the near future as we move out of beta. This €500 per day limit is available to 100% of customers in those countries today, however, and it is not a closed beta.

The post predicted that the expansion would spur on greater merchant adoption of bitcoin in Europe due to encouraging more local consumer adoption, and would also “accelerate the use case of cross border payments for bitcoin” – which, after all, is the major use case for many of the cryptocurrency’s devotees.