One of the largest, most-recognised entities in the increasingly crowded crypto-exchange market is the US-listed Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN), and it’s just officially launched an Australia-focused chapter.

The exchange giant already had a very strong presence here as a global entity with more than 1 million existing Australian customers. But its new locally focused operation, led by Australian country director John O’Loghlen, is now “going deep” into the market Down Under with plans to engage more Aussie users based on a brand that prides itself on its “security and trust”.

“We’re the only exchange that’s never had a hack,” O’Loghlen told Stockhead.

Coinbase is also making its deeper Aussie-market move in partnership with, among other prominent entities, JPMorgan, Byron Bay payments firm Zepto and RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub. Investment arm Coinbase Ventures, meanwhile, has made five early-stage investments into Aussie crypto companies, including Immutable, CoFiX, Synthetix, Block Earner and CryptoTaxCalculator.

The exchange plans to migrate its legacy Aussie customers over to a dedicated local platform that still offers around 200 digital assets on its exchange, but now includes easier, banking institution-approved on-ramping and off-ramping functionality through the PayID service.

“Previously we’ve had to use a credit or debit card, now we’re using full Aussie fiat rails and Zepto, and it touches about 95% of Australian consumers with a bank account, and that’s enabled by PayID,” said O’Loghlen.

The dedicated, Australian-focused platform is also offering 24-hour in-app chat support and access to an in-depth, in-house, trading-analytics platform it calls Retail Advanced Trading (a bit more on that further below).

Stockhead attended a Coinbase briefing in Sydney today to learn a bit more about the exchange’s new services, its motives for this launch and where it sees Australia’s crypto industry heading from a regulatory standpoint.


‘Go broad’, then ‘go deep’

Coinbase’s VP of International and Business Development Nana Murugesan outlined the overall motivation for Coinbase, which is “to go broad” – a focus on international expansion and mission to onboard billions of people worldwide into the decentralised, cross-border world of crypto. That very much includes Australia – a market Coinbase views as globally “significant”.

“The second part of our strategy is to go deep,” noted Murugesan. “The theme here is building localised infrastructure, so that we can launch our full suite of retail, institutional and ecosystem products. And that’s what we’re announcing today.”

Murugesan and O’Loghlen both noted the importance of Coinbase being AUSTRAC-registered in Australia (it’s SEC-compliant in the US) and the need to comply with Australian crypto regulations and participate in discussions around that.

Coinbase’s VP of International and Business Development Nana Murugesan (left) with John O’Loghlen.

“What’s exciting is we’re seeing a lot of awesome developments in the local regulatory environment,” said Murugesan. “We’ve been engaging in that for the past several months and it’s really accelerated since John joined us.”

“It’s early days on the [Australian Treasury’s] token-mapping exercise and with the regulatory conversations,” O’Loghlen told Stockhead. “But we’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the human capital on the other side of the table, and by the questions they’re asking and their depth of knowledge. They’re across all the international developments in this space, and that’s something we can assist them with. I think they look to us as a trusted partner for commentary on it.”

The exchange’s VP of International Policy, Tom Duff Gordon, chimed in:

“One of our core philosophies is that regulation is a good thing. That’s going to lead to mass adoption, it’s going to increase trust, it’s going to bring more money in and so anything we can do to help bring in smart regulation, we’re very happy to do.”


Web3 adoption? ‘Australia has no choice’

You sound confident that Australia will look to embrace the crypto/Web3 industry. Do you expect the government to help foster that sort of innovation here? 

“I think Australia has no choice but to adopt a Web3 future,” responded O’Loghlen, who has a strong technology background and a CV that includes stints with Alibaba’s Ant Group and Goldman Sachs.

“And that’s if we want to be a globally relevant economy. I was talking about this when I was at Alibaba – Australia has to advance further from our resources narratives – from mining to dining, you know, farm-to-table branding – we’ve got to do more than just that, we’ve got to be doing it on the technology skill-set side and leverage the human capital that’s here.

“But migration is an issue in keeping the skill base here alive and sustainable. I don’t think Australia’s as hot on that right now as it might’ve been pre-COVID. People are getting lured off to Singapore, the US, Europe. So I think we need to keep creating these companies here in the Web3 industry that have a culture and attitude that allow you to come and learn and thrive and grow.”

Is that part of the reason you’ve partnered with RMIT? [The Melbourne uni is renowned as the first in Australia to offer dedicated blockchain courses.]

“Absolutely. In fact, last week we teamed up on an opinion piece with the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub.” [The paper touched on Australia’s Web3 opportunities, including its unique position as a supply-chain origin, the need for “deep institutional reform” and described crypto/Web3 as a “generational opportunity for Australia”.] 

“I don’t necessarily think Australia’s broader community realises how important RMIT is. They’re churning out the second-highest number of blockchain graduates in the world after Harvard University. Incidentally, the University of New South Wales is also ranked in the top 10 blockchain-education issuers globally.”


Retail Advanced Trading platform – ‘a big step up’

One of the key differentiators for Coinbase in the Aussie market is its aforementioned, in-house Retail Advanced Trading Platform, which is partly a comprehensive analytics tool geared towards serious traders and those who wish to utilise and greater understand the dark arts of crypto-based technical analysis.

More than that, though, it’s an educational resource that, for example, taps into webinars with the likes of Ethereum figurehead Vitalik Buterin and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.

“It’s a big step up from a generic trading platform,” enthused O’Loghlen. “Every drop-down, every pain-point you want to solve, every prompt – it can all lead you on to a huge number of learning exercises, papers, webinars and all sorts of resources.”

Explaining a bit further how the new trading platform works, the Coinbase’s Australian director said that “you can either drop straight into the simple trading platform or the Retail Advanced Trading version, which has every manner of graph you can imagine in terms of advanced pairs, hollow-candle charts and so on. I like to think of it as a bit like like having the Bloomberg Terminal inside the app.

“And having downloaded or audited all the other big international exchanges and the legacy players here, I can tell you that this [advanced trading platform] is best in class.”