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Europe is winning. Will the US catch up?

Tl;dr: The US has left a vacuum that other countries are eager to fill.

By Daniel Seifert

Policy

, March 23, 2023

, 3min read time

Coinbase Blog

This week, our team has been over in Paris for Blockchain Week. I spoke to one of my colleagues on the ground there. He had first attended this event with Coinbase in 2019. Back then it was held in Station F, at that time an already impressive tech ecosystem development on the edge of the city, but more up-and-coming than established. This year it’s being held in a private space at the Louvre, arguably the greatest national treasure in France and one of the world’s most respected museums. To me this is a clear signal: France is rapidly recognizing the opportunity that crypto presents and is offering it space to flourish. The broader EU, the UK, UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and Japan are all following suit.  

I’ll be back in London in a few weeks and going there with one fact top of mind: the UK has been one of our fastest growing markets over the last 12 months. You might ask, why is this? And for me that’s an easy answer: Political will and leadership. 

The UK has, this last year, been steadily following through on its ambition to become a leading crypto hub. This is being led from the highest levels of the UK Government, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Economic Secretary, to the newly created Department of Science, Innovation and Technology. 

Our CEO Brian Armstrong will be speaking at UK Fintech Week on 18 April. It’s an opportunity to congratulate UK policymakers and regulators for the vibrant ecosystem their good work has helped create, and to offer thoughts on how the UK can go even further in its adoption of crypto. Their constructive and regular engagement with industry means that the UK could not be better placed to capitalize on the next wave of innovation. 

Of course, the timing of this leadership visit is not coincidental -  the final vote on MiCA, the EU’s comprehensive regulatory framework for crypto-assets - will take place just across the Channel, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, that same week. This is a pivotal moment for crypto in the region and the work of European policymakers should be held up as an example. The region is recognizing the potential and societal promise that emerging technology can provide. Already we are seeing that Europe now matches the US in its share of crypto  developers (29% apiece globally). The US used to lead the charge with 40%. This level of growth does not happen by chance. Concerted efforts have to be made, such as developing a regulatory framework that will provide clarity and stability for businesses operating in the space.

At Coinbase our mission is to increase economic freedom globally. This means not leaving anyone behind as we chart this new course. We have observed how the US regulatory approach to crypto has been marked by regulation by enforcement, most recently the SEC issuing us a Wells notice after multiple requests for comprehensive crypto regulation. This approach has created an environment of uncertainty and instability in the crypto industry. 

Other countries are not afraid to pick up the slack and I am so impressed by what our international teams are shipping each week, and the encouragement they often get from local political leadership. We have seen other crypto companies this last week alone announce major international milestones and it increasingly feels like crypto is achieving global scale. But this is bittersweet. We are proudly an American company. It’s hard to sit by and watch the US squander the opportunity it has been given. 

*Electric Capital: US Share of Crypto Developers is Shrinking - March 2023

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