US-based Coinbase, a global Bitcoin major, and one of the largest US-based bitcoin ventures, has launched retail buy-and-sell operations in Singapore and Canada as part of its business expansion and strategic objective of growing the usage of the digital currency globally.
Unlike conventional fiat currencies, Bitcoin is digital commodity money traded on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network independent of centralised control. Bitcoin is not backed by a government or central bank, with its value floating freely and subject to much fluctuation according to market sentiment.
In this particular industry, Coinbase is considered the market leader, alongside its other major firms like BitPay and Coinsetter. Singapore-based firms that will face increased competition are ItBit, Coin Republic, BitX and Find Your Bitcoin (FYB) Singapore, which also maintains a Swedish branch. To date, Coinbase has raised US$106.7 million across three funding rounds.
Singapore is San-Francisco-based Coinbase’s first foray into Asia, according to Brian Armstrong, the company’s CEO and co-founder. In an official release, the company commented: “Our mission at Coinbase is to make payments more open and efficient around the world. Expanding to Singapore is an important step towards that goal and will make it easier to access bitcoin in one of the financial capitals of the world.”
In Singapore, the money transfer service will permit consumers to trade bitcoin with Singapore dollars. Currently, the city-state does not regulate the cryptocurrency, with Armstrong of the view that due to this there are no requirements for any permission from the authorities.
At present, Coinbase operates in 28 countries. Germany recognises bitcoin as a “unit of account” that can be used for the purposes of tax and trading within Germany, while Singapore’s financial regulators prefer to regulate virtual currency intermediaries, citing public security as their leading concern.
David Farmer, the international expansion lead at Coinbase, considers Singapore as an important market for the company. Farmer said, “As one of the fastest-growing financial capitals in the world, Singapore represents an important market for us.”
Farmer added, “To date, more than 15,000 people in Singapore have signed up for a Coinbase Wallet, and by extending our buy and sell service to the country, we’re helping to make their on-ramp to the bitcoin world as simple and as safe as possible moving forward”
Currently, Coinbase claims that it maintains more than 3.9 million consumer wallets, with 40,000 merchants using its payment mechanism and 7000 software developers using it s a platform for creating new digital products and services. In addition to expanding into the Asia Pacific (APAC) via its establishment of a Singapore office, Coinbase also launched retail and professional trading services through its Canadian exchange.
Armstrong told Reuters: “About a year ago, we made a decision to offer bitcoin services to as many countries in the world, That would be an aggressive goal. So we may end up 2015 with 30-40 countries.”
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