Big changes are on the horizon for one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges. Coinbase has opened an account with Barclays, the U.K. bank and multinational financial services company, according to a report by Bitcoin.com.

The arrangement has been described as the first partnership between a major bank in the U.K. and a large cryptocurrency exchange. In the short term, Coinbase believes that the partnership will help improve customer experience by reducing transaction processing times. (See also: Coinbase: What Is It and How Do You Use It?)

Benefits to the Consumer

Coinbase's U.K. CEO, Zeeshan Feroz, commented on the arrangement, indicating that "having domestic GBP payments with Barclays reduces the cost, improves the customer experience...and makes the transaction faster."

Feroz added that "[Coinbase] believe[s] that this is an important step towards our commitment to making cryptocurrency accessible to everyone."

The agreement was not an easy or a quick one to make, however. Feroz revealed that the process for arriving at the partnership with Barclays was a lengthy one, and that Barclays required evidence of robust anti-money laundering protections. (See also: Coinbase Hit With Class Action Lawsuits Alleging Insider Crypto Trading.)

"It's a completely brand new industry," Feroz explained, adding that "there's a lot of understanding and risk management that's needed."

Fiat Currency Operations Simplified

Coinbase customers will now be able to withdraw and deposit fiat currency in the U.K. with a greater degree of ease. While this is due to the new Barclays partnership, it's also a result of the exchange's new e-money license, granted by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority. This has granted Coinbase access to the Faster Payment Scheme, a streamlining process for fiat currency transactions.

The exchange plans to introduce the new services available thanks to these partnerships gradually. "U.K. customers will benefit from faster, safer and seamless bank transfers," Coinbase said. "We will start with a pilot, giving a small number of institutional users access to Faster Payments. In the coming weeks, we will begin rolling out to all U.K. customers, making the Coinbase experience increasingly easier."

Although the partnership bodes well for Coinbase, the U.K. government remains committed to a thorough investigation of cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger, with the ultimate outcome for the cryptocurrency space remaining a question mark at this point. The Treasury Select Committee announced the investigation weeks ago. (See also: UK Authorities Plan Crackdown on Bitcoin.)

Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.

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