Coinbase launches in 11 countries with crypto-to-crypto conversions only

Coinbase has been available in 42 countries around the world before today — mostly in North America, Europe, Australia and Singapore. Today, the company is aggressively expanding by opening 11 countries at once in Latin America and South East Asia. But there’s a trick — there’s no crypto-to-fiat conversions.

Coinbase competitor Binance has taken the crypto world by storm by focusing on crypto-to-crypto conversions. You can only fund and withdraw cryptocurrencies from your Binance account. And if you want to buy some crypto assets, you need to convert crypto assets you already own. For instance, if you want to buy Litecoin, you need to convert Ethereum into Litecoin.

That strategy has paid off, as it is much easier to start accepting customers in new countries if you don’t need to connect the exchange with the traditional banking infrastructure.

So Coinbase is doing the same thing and opening crypto-to-crypto conversions and trading in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Chile, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Zealand.

Eventually, the company could add crypto-to-fiat conversions in some of those new markets. “We may add fiat to crypto support depending on the different demands and requirements of each of the countries,” a Coinbase spokesperson told me.

Both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro are now available in those new countries. Coinbase also says that crypto-to-crypto transactions now represent the majority of trades across the industry.

This is also a great way to get started with cryptocurrencies. If somebody wants to send you some Bitcoin, you can start accepting payments on your Coinbase account. This could be interesting for cross-border payments in particular.

Coinbase supports a stablecoin called USDC. This crypto asset is directly indexed on the value of USD. So if you think the cryptocurrency market is going down, you can convert your assets into USDC to make sure the value of your assets won’t fluctuate too much. But USDC might not be available from day one in today’s new markets.

“USDC is available in most of the recently supported countries through Coinbase Pro. As we continue to receive feedback from our customers, we’ll support USDC in more markets and platforms based on what will offer them the best trading experience,” a Coinbase spokesperson told me.

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.