Kraken, a cryptocurrency exchange, has received regulatory approvals in Spain and Ireland, allowing it to expand its services in both countries. Kraken has been granted an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) licence from the Central Bank of Ireland and a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) registration in Spain.
According to the September 26 2023 announcement, the expansion in Ireland and Spain was driven by regulatory authorisations from both countries. The company revealed that its subsidiary in Ireland has been granted an EMI licence that enables Kraken to extend its fiat services in partnership with European banks to clients across the 27 European Union (EU) member states and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Meanwhile, the VASP registration in Spain permits Kraken to offer cryptocurrency exchange and custodial wallet services to Spanish residents. It is marking a significant milestone in Kraken’s European expansion strategy.
The latest move by Kraken allows it to broaden its range of services related to the Euro (EUR) in collaboration with European financial institutions. The EMI licence empowers the company to expand its offering to clients in the 27 member states of the EU and EEA countries. This move will enhance Kraken’s ability to facilitate crypto transactions involving the EUR, providing a secure and regulated platform for its European customer base. In addition, the VASP registration further solidifies Kraken’s presence in the Spanish crypto market, allowing local users to access an extensive range of digital asset services confidently.
Kraken is also registered as a VASP in Italy and Ireland. The company’s achievement in obtaining VASP registration in Italy and Ireland underscores its commitment to regulatory compliance and expanding its services in key European markets. These registrations provide a strong foundation for Kraken to serve the growing demand for crypto services in Europe. Currently, the platform supports over 200 trading pairs across six fiat currencies, including the British pound, US dollar, Swiss franc, Australian dollar and EUR.
Kraken’s Expansion Strategy in Europe
Curtis Ting, Vice President of Global Operations at Kraken, emphasised the company’s dedication to expanding in Europe. He stated that their recent announcement signifies a significant step in their European expansion plan. Ting pointed out the strong foundation for cryptocurrency in Europe, supported by forward-thinking regulations that provide confidence for their growth. He also expressed excitement about becoming a part of the vibrant local financial sectors in Ireland and Spain, along with their commitment to further investments in Europe. Kraken’s strategic focus on Europe aligns with the region’s growing regulatory clarity and its status as a prominent hub for crypto innovation and adoption. Kraken’s recent expansion efforts in Europe include the introduction of support for PayPal deposits for users in the United Kingdom and several other European countries (excluding Croatia and Hungary), aimed at improving user convenience and accessibility to crypto services in the region.
European regulators have proactively provided clear guidelines for crypto-related business and digital payments, fostering a conducive environment for industry growth. The crypto exchange faces competition in Europe from other major players, such as Coinbase, which is also actively pursuing market penetration in the region. On September 25 2023, Coinbase received VASP registration from the Bank of Spain, allowing it to offer custodial wallet and exchange services.
A Business Development Executive at Coinbase, Nana Murugesan, stressed that the move would allow Coinbase to offer a full suite of services, citing the company’s VASP registration in Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands, plus the launches in Canada and Singapore. Murugesan said, “Most of the world is stepping up to the plate and providing clarity and guidance for the crypto industry”. On April 18, 2023, Kraken revealed that Ireland’s Central Bank registered its Irish subsidiary, Payward Europe Solutions Limited, as a VASP. Four months later, MoonPay announced its VASP registration in Ireland.
According to a report at Bitcoin Decode Kraken was sued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) over allegations that its Australian subsidiary, Bit Trade, failed to make mark determinations before offering margin trading services on September 21 2023. Managing Director of Kraken’s Australian Operations, Jonathon Miller, emphasised that ASIC’s move was a surprise, “as he believed Bit Trade was abiding by local regulation.”. A statement from ASIC alleged that Kraken failed to comply with design and distribution obligations for its trading products.
It also mentioned that Bit Trade could not determine a target before offering trading products to Australian users. On March 30 2023, Kraken filed for a pre-registration undertaking with the Ontario Securities Commission in Canada, seeking restricted dealer status and complying with new rules requiring VASP to register with securities administrators or face expulsion.
Exchanges OKX and Binance left Canada following the new rules. Outside of its European expansion, Kraken launched over 250 unique NFT collections in the marketplace in June 2023. In October 2022, the exchange launched a private beta version of the market.