Coinbase hires George Osborne as adviser

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Former UK chancellor George Osborne has joined the advisory council of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, as the company faces increasing regulatory scrutiny.

The San Francisco-based exchange is embroiled in a high-profile battle with US regulators and is expanding in jurisdictions ranging from Singapore to Bermuda.

The company said it anticipated relying on Osborne’s “insights and experiences as we grow Coinbase around the world”.

During a visit to London last April, Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong flirted with the idea of relocating the Nasdaq-listed exchange, suggesting that “anything was on the table”.

The UK government has set out to market itself as a “hub” for digital assets.

Ministers last year unveiled wide-ranging plans to regulate the sector, including a proposal to introduce stablecoins — digital tokens pegged to hard currencies — as an option for payments.

However, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority is enforcing strict rules on crypto marketing.

“There’s a huge amount of exciting innovation in finance right now,” said Osborne, adding that “blockchains are transforming financial markets and online transactions”.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission sued Coinbase last June, alleging it failed to register as a national securities exchange. The company is fighting the lawsuit.

Osborne, who was chancellor between 2010 and 2016, has since taken up a series of other jobs. He is currently a partner at boutique investment bank Robey Warshaw and chair of the British Museum.

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