Coinbase: the Parisian temptation

Still very much in evidence at Paris Blockchain Week (21-23 March), the American giant continues to make inroads in the French capital.

It's 12.30pm on Wednesday when we arrive at 34 rue Greneta in central Paris. The gate is as unremarkable as can be, except perhaps for the sign hanging carelessly on its right-hand wing: "Welcome to the home of Coinbase".

This is where the American exchange platform has set up its base camp for Paris Blockchain Week, which officially ends tonight (March 23), although other events will continue until the end of the weekend.

A dozen members of the Coinbase team, which has no offices in Paris, are on site. "This year, we preferred to take a separate venue to organise our own events and not be in the middle of the crowd," says a manager from London.

Today, Coinbase will be presenting new features for its wallet. But many of those present were also wondering, and above all, whether the American company would be making any announcements about its future location in Paris. Missed again!

The announcement of Circle's arrival in France has, according to our information, prompted the Californian giant to postpone its communication.

"We have no immediate plans to set up in France," sweeps aside the group's head of European communications. "We will make announcements later", she adds.

While nothing has actually been confirmed, the Exchange, which blew out its tenth candle last year, is working hard on its arrival in Paris, where it has already filed its application with the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) to be registered as a digital asset service provider (PSAN). The application is due to be validated in the coming weeks.

According to our information, Coinbase is also working with several law firms to see which European activities would be based in France, bearing in mind that the group has offices in Dublin, London and Berlin. Paris could host the sales team.

Another concordant indication is that Coinbase has signed up a Parisian communications agency.

Beyond a simple location, Paris even holds the rope to become the European headquarters of Coinbase, which does not yet officially have one in this region of the world. "Paris has a very good ecosystem and clear regulation," explains a person close to the company.

The French capital also has the advantage of having already managed to attract a number of heavyweights in the sector. Binance was the first in 2022 to set up its European headquarters in Paris, followed by and then Circle.

Tougher US regulation

The issue is all the more burning for Coinbase as the US regulator has been quite offensive with the crypto sector for several months and the fall of the FTX platform. Last night, Brian Armstrong announced on Twitter that the group had received a document from the US stock exchange regulator (SEC) indicating that legal action could be taken against it very soon.

According to Bloomberg, Coinbase is considering moving some of its business out of the US, particularly those with institutional investors. Europe, and Paris, could be the land of welcome.

On the side of the French authorities, they are pleased with the attractiveness of Paris. "We are more convinced than ever that France has all the assets it needs to become a global benchmark for innovation and the digital economy based on blockchain," explains Minister Delegate for the Digital Economy Jean-Noël Barrot.

The tone of voice is broadly the same on the side of French players, where they welcome the interest of international giants. "It's a very good thing," explains Coinhouse boss Nicolas Louvet. "We'll just have to see if there isn't also a marketing dimension to this kind of announcement", he adds.

Others, especially smaller players, are worried about a possible stranglehold by these giants on the French market. "It's all very well attracting foreign giants to France, but we shouldn't be surprised if there aren't any heavyweight French or even European players," stresses the boss of a small French platform.

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