'

Bitcoin platform Coinbase dives in to European markets

San Francisco-based firm Coinbase is pushing beyond US borders and is launching itself in over a dozen European countries.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 09.11.38
Credit: CNET

Coinbase is expanding operations beyond US borders and is now offering its Bitcoin wallet and platform across Europe.

On Wednesday, the Coinbase team said in a blog post that as part of the beta launch in Europe, 13 additional countries have been selected for Coinbase services: Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, and Slovakia.

Traders in virtual currency within these countries will be able to buy or sell Bitcoin using a European bank account, and during the beta phase, will be able to trade on a value limit of €500 per day. The team expects this rate to rise once the beta phase is complete.

Until now, Coinbase has only operated in the United States, where there are 1.6 million consumers, 36,000 merchants and 6,000 developers using the company's system. While Coinbase has grown quickly in the US, the firm says this is mainly due to "our integration with the US banking system which makes it easy for people to buy and sell Bitcoin."

However, Coinbase hopes that by launching in additional countries, this will encourage the growth and acceptance of cryptocurrency as legal tender, and will also accelerate the use case of cross border payments for Bitcoin.

Speaking to CoinDesk, CEO and co-founder of Coinbase Brian Armstrong commented:

"We looked at what markets to move into next, and Europe seemed like the next biggest economy. It’s developed, there are people there who want to get Bitcoin, there’s a lot of demand for it, but they really don’t have an easy way to do it.

I want there to be 100 entrepreneurs in each of these countries, someone there with local relationships who will get a bank deal done and launch some version of it that will help the whole ecosystem grow."

Armstrong cited awareness as the company's major obstacle in tackling European markets. The CEO explained that while in the US there was a "saturation point" in which consumers heard about Bitcoin and started to dabble in trading, in Europe, the exposure has been the same -- but many European consumers have had little chance to purchase, due to a lack of bank-based deals.

The news marks the second major announcement this week relating to Coinbase. Coinbase has also revealed a partnership with eBay-owned PayPal subsidiary Braintree which will give EBay users the option to use Bitcoin on the online auction site in the coming months. The move potentially gives PayPal's 152 million account holders the power to trade using the digital currency -- and may spur on acceptance of Bitcoin as legitimate.

Read on: In the enterprise