Retail bitcoin service launches in Singapore

U.S.-based bitcoin firm Coinbase has launched retail buy and sell operations in Singapore to ramp up the use of the digital currency globally, according to Reuters.

Brian Armstrong, the company's chief executive officer and co-founder, said Singapore is the company’s first foray into Asia.

The money transfer service was launched on 4 September and will allow consumers to buy and sell bitcoin with Singapore dollars. Armstrong pointed out that the service is not considered regulated activity in Singapore.

"About a year ago, we made a decision to offer bitcoin services to as many countries in the world," Armstrong told Reuters.

At present, Coinbase operates in 28 countries. Armstrong said the goal is to be in 40 countries by the end of 2015. "That would be an aggressive goal. So we may end up 2015 with 30-40 countries."

Unlike conventional currencies, bitcoin is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central control. Bitcoin is not backed by a government or central bank, and its value fluctuates according to demand by users.

Coinbase currently has more than 3.9 million consumer wallets, 40,000 merchants using its payment mechanism and 7,000 software developers using its platform to create new products.

Marketing has reached out to Coinbase for more comments.