Coinbase wants to make it easier for global institutional clients to store their crypto

  • Coinbase’s custody unit has set up a new entity based in Dublin, in a bid to further expand its institutional efforts abroad.
  • The company has over $7 billion in assets under custody, holding just under $1 billion of that sum on behalf of non-U.S. clients.
  • Custody services are crucial to securing investors’ assets, especially for large financial institutions with much more to lose.

Cryptocurrency exchange operator Coinbase has opened new custody operations in Dublin to help its non-U.S. institutional clients store their assets.

Mostly known for its retail investment platform, Coinbase has been making an institutional push over the years, selling professional trading and custody services to institutional investors with deeper pockets. Financial custodians are responsible for holding securities on behalf of their clients.

The company on Wednesday announced that it would set up Coinbase Custody International, a new entity based in the Irish capital, to further expand its institutional efforts abroad. While it already acts as a custodian for clients based in Europe, Coinbase claims the new unit will be more localized to suit their needs.

“In the absence of clear regulation anywhere around the world, I think folks want to be as close to home as they can be,” Sam McIngvale, CEO of Coinbase Custody, told CNBC in an interview. “That’s the regime that they understand and are tracking to.”

Europe is Coinbase Custody’s “biggest geographic segment of growth,” McIngvale said, adding the continent would be its “jumping-off point” for further international expansion. “We think we can service most of Asia and other international markets out of Custody International.”

The firm currently has over $7 billion worth of assets under custody, with just under $1 billion accounting for holdings across its European and international clients.

Digital currencies have proven a difficult asset class for banks and hedge funds to swallow, primarily due to their notoriety for volatility and the legal uncertainty surrounding them. While ownership of traditional assets like stocks and bonds is well-documented and highly-regulated, cryptocurrencies aren’t afforded the same privilege.

Regulators around the world have been looking at how best to approach such assets, and the U.S. in particular has been racking its brains over how to bring certain digital assets under securities laws. Coinbase last year set up a ratings system with rival exchange operators Kraken and Circle to judge digital currencies on how similar they are to securities.

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