BY Leighton Cosseboom, Terence Lee and Nadine Freischlad
Coinbase, one of the world’s most popular bitcoin exchanges and wallet services, announced today it has expanded into Southeast Asia, and now offers its services in Singapore. The San Francisco-headquartered firm says the push into the region is part of an effort to make the bitcoin cryptocurrency more accessible around the world. By 8am local time today, customers in Singapore will be able to buy and sell bitcoin using Singapore dollars through Coinbase.
Singapore is one of the financial capitals of the world. In Southeast Asia, it serves as a safe haven for global investors and conglomerates to squirrel away funds or reinvest them safely.
“Singapore represents an important market for us,” explains David Farmer, international expansion lead at Coinbase. “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.”
Credit Suisse says Singapore has a strong, efficient, and transparent legal and judicial framework. This makes it favorable in terms of the regulatory and business climate. The Lion City has a high degree of banking confidentiality, and is also well placed to serve many of the fast-growing emerging markets like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
“Our mission at Coinbase is to make payments more open and efficient around the world,” says Farmer. “Expanding to places like North America and Europe has been a solid foundation for us to fulfill that mission, but this move into Asia [is] especially exciting for us, as it marks the first time that Coinbase has been able to fully service consumers in this massive market.”
In Southeast Asia, Coinbase will likely be used often for remittance purposes, as the region’s fragmented markets inherently see more cross-border currency transfers. Moreover, Coinbase may likely see a difference in user behavior in Asia — as opposed to the way the product is used in the West — due to the gargantuan unbanked population in Asia Pacific.
In Singapore, it will compete, or perhaps partner with startups like CoinPip, Bitcoin Exchange Singapore, itBit, and Coin Republic. To date, the company has received four funding rounds from 21 investors, totalling US$107 million. Earlier this year, the media speculated Coinbase was valued at more than US$400 million.
Advocates believe bitcoin and the tech behind it have potential to shake up the financial status quo, not just in Asia, but around the world.