What to know about investing in Coinbase’s $100 billion IPO

Coinbase, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency trade, goes public on April 14. The corporate will commerce below the ticker COIN and checklist 114,850,769 shares on the NASDAQ with an preliminary valuation of $100 billion.

As an alternative of following the standard preliminary public providing (IPO) route, Coinbase plans to submit its shares straight on the NASDAQ trade by way of a direct itemizing, a way pioneered by massive names like Spotify and Palantir in current years. Whereas an IPO includes an organization creating new shares and having an underwriter that buys them for a set worth after which sells them to the market, in a direct itemizing an organization sells present shares and has no underwriter.

However what’s Coinbase and why is that this comparable to vital improvement in the cryptocurrency market?


The Coinbase enterprise mannequin

Coinbase was based in 2012 by Brian Armstrong, a former engineer at Airbnb, and Fred Ehrsam, who was a dealer at Goldman Sachs. Their mission was to make investing and transacting in cryptocurrencies simpler, extra environment friendly, and fairer.

The corporate has since risen to turn into the largest cryptocurrency trade in the U.S. Despite the fact that there are quite a few different exchanges world wide with significantly bigger buying and selling volumes, together with Binance, Huobi, and OKEx, Coinbase’s progress has been unbelievable currently.

It has simply reported preliminary results for the primary quarter of 2021, with income surging to $1.8 billion. This can be a ninefold improve from the primary quarter in 2020 and greater than the $1.3 billion that the corporate made in the whole of 2020. Internet earnings for the primary quarter is predicted to be in the vary of $800 million, in contrast to $322 million in calendar 2020. Prior to now three months alone, the verified userbase has risen 30% to 56 million folks.

So how does Coinbase generate income? It earns charges and commissions when prospects purchase or promote cryptocurrencies, although there isn’t any cost to retailer cryptocurrencies in buyer wallets. The fees include margin charges, the place Coinbase costs 0.5% for purchases and gross sales, though this determine can range relying on market circumstances.

It additionally costs a “Coinbase price”, which is fee on all crypto transactions which relies on your location and the overall quantity of your transaction. The corporate additionally has different strains of enterprise together with worldwide cost system Coinbase Commerce, a Coinbase Visa card, and USD Coin (USDC), a stablecoin cryptocurrency whose worth is pegged 1:1 to the US greenback. Coinbase co-founded USDC together with crypto monetary companies platform Circle, and makes cash from the stablecoin by reinvesting the {dollars} that customers trade for it in secure belongings comparable to short-term U.S. Treasury bonds.

How sustainable is it?

When it comes to investing in Coinbase, the identical guidelines apply for getting any inventory—there may be threat and the efficiency of the inventory will depend upon demand and the corporate’s future success. Coinbase’s destiny is clearly tied to the efficiency and uptake of bitcoin and different cryptocurrencies. If traders lose curiosity in cryptocurrencies, Coinbase’s enterprise shall be in hassle. Coinbase additionally has to deal with opponents arriving day by day, a lot of whom turn into massive in a short time. Binance, the market chief with $39 billion in each day volumes, solely launched in 2017 for instance.

However given the surge in cryptocurrency costs, especially bitcoin, in the final 12 months, there are an increasing number of people and huge establishments comparable to MassMutual and Tesla wanting to acquire publicity to this different funding. And with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing governments to spend closely on help measures and central banks creating plenty of more money to stimulate their economies, many investors worry about the inflation that this might trigger, which might devalue “fiat” currencies just like the greenback and pound. Since bitcoin is designed to by no means have greater than a maximum of 21 million in circulation, it’s seen by these traders as a retailer of worth to defend their wealth from this downside.


Brian Armstrong himself is very bullish in phrases of the uptake in cryptocurrencies. In a letter celebrating the platform submitting to go public, he wrote:

Buying and selling and hypothesis have been the primary main use instances to take off in cryptocurrency, similar to folks rushed to purchase domains in the early days of the web. However we’re now seeing cryptocurrency evolve into one thing way more vital. Persons are utilizing cryptocurrency to earn, spend, save, stake, borrow, lend, vote, and carry out many different forms of financial exercise.

Nonetheless, a lot of that is an argument for holding cryptocurrencies themselves, so why would traders need to purchase shares in a crypto trade as an alternative? It’s a method of tapping into the large rise in this market with out truly shopping for cryptocurrencies straight. For traders who fear about the high volatility in crypto costs, in addition to the truth that it can be stressful making an attempt to retailer cryptocurrencies safely, Coinbase could possibly be a beautiful different. This may notably attraction to monetary establishments like pension funds that take a really conservative method to investing.

Little doubt when Coinbase lists below the ticker COIN, it would draw numerous consideration. Demand shall be excessive and with any itemizing of this measurement, there shall be main fluctuations all through the next few days as buying and selling volumes shall be giant. However in case you are in investing in cryptocurrencies, you’re in all probability nonetheless higher off investing in the digital cash themselves as their efficiency relies upon solely on the extent of demand for them.

The efficiency of COIN will depend upon Coinbase staying forward of the pack and providing low cost and safe entry to cryptocurrencies, so it has an underlying vulnerability that’s distinct from the belongings themselves. Nonetheless, the itemizing will expose extra traders to the cryptocurrency world and is one other signal that the monetary ecosystem is beginning to take discover of cryptocurrencies.

Andrew Urquhart is an affiliate professor of finance at ICMA Centre, Henley Enterprise College, College of Studying. This text is republished from The Conversation below a Inventive Commons license. Learn the original article.