Kraken Sets Sights on the European Market, Awaiting Regulatory Greenlight


Kraken has expanded its operations to become one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States and North America. Now, the San Francisco-based exchange is hoping to take its business into Europe.

Regulatory Approval Pending

Earlier this week, Kraken’s chief executive Jesse Powell spoke in an interview with German business news agency The Handelsblatt, where he confirmed that they are looking to enter into the European market. As he explained, the exchange has been in talks with financial regulators across several jurisdictions, including Malta, Luxembourg, and the Republic of Ireland.

Currently, Kraken operates in almost 190 countries across the world. The company has secured a license from the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A spokesperson for the company also told industry news sources that they comply with the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5).

But, the FCA approval remains limited. With Brexit still in full force, FCA approval will also not help Kraken expand to other countries in Europe. So, the mission to get these licenses from other regulators is now on.

Establishing a Presence

Kraken has been making plans to step into the European market for a while. Earlier this year, the company announced the launch of its app on the continent, giving people access to trading and transactions in over 50 cryptocurrencies. The app is now available in Europe and a few states in the United States – with the notable exception of names like New York and Washington State.

Even despite not fully operating in Europe, Kraken has been able to grow significantly. The company is ranked as the third-largest exchange in the world according to CoinMarketCap, behind just Binance and Coinbase. When the app launched, Kraken said that it had 7 million customers. Launching fully into Europe will help the company to grow its user base even more.

What Path to an IPO?

Besides a European expansion, Kraken has also looked into the possibility of listing on an exchange – moving in tandem with its biggest rival, Coinbase. In June, Powell told Bloomberg TV that a public listing seems to be the next logical step in Kraken’s mission to bring crypto to the world.

Powel claimed that the exchange is doing “prep work” towards going public in the next year to 18 months. He refrained from giving a target valuation for the raise, although the company will most likely list as a multi-unicorn.

Kraken had been looking towards a public debut since Coinbase went public. Speaking with Fortune Magazine in April, Powell explained that Kraken could go public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) – a la Coinbase. But, given the larger exchange’s relatively lackluster performance in its first few weeks, Kraken had decided not to move in that direction.

Besides Coinbase’s early problems, Kraken has also pointed out that a SPAC deal will not do its valuation any justice.

For now, the path towards a public debut is unclear. Powell and Kraken are still keen on a listing sometime next year, with the CEO himself stating that they would like to see the market conditions in the second quarter of 2021. The market is rallying, and things are looking like April 2021 again. So, the future seems bright for Kraken.

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