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Exclusive: Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase readies stock market listing - sources

(Reuters) - Coinbase Inc has initiated preparations for a stock market listing that could come as early as this year, making it the first major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange to go public, according to people familiar with the matter.

The listing would need the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) blessing. Were the securities watchdog to greenlight it, it would represent a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates vying for its endorsement.

While the SEC has said some cryptocurrencies may be considered securities and be subject to regulation, it has yet to issue specific guidance on the vast majority of virtual coins. Many cryptocurrencies have struggled to win legitimacy with those in the investment community and the general public who are wary of their speculative nature and potential for money laundering.

Coinbase, which was valued at more than $8 billion in its latest private fundraising round in 2018, is exploring going public via a direct listing instead of a traditional initial public offering (IPO) later this year, one of the sources said.

Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bangalore, Joshua Franklin in Pompano Beach, Florida, and Anna Irrera in New York, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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