Crypto steps into the mainstream with Coinbase listing

Coinbase Global Inc will list on the Nasdaq on today.

This marks a milestone in the journey of virtual currencies from niche technology to mainstream asset.

The listing is by far the biggest yet of a cryptocurrency company, with Coinbase saying last month that private market transactions had valued the company at around $68 billion this year in contrast to $5.8 billion in September.

It represents the latest breakthrough for acceptance of cryptocurrencies, an asset class that only a few years ago had been shunned by mainstream finance, investors, analysts and executives says.

Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, hit a record of over $63,000 on Tuesday.

It has more than doubled this year as large investors, banks from Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley and household name companies such as Tesla Inc warm to the emerging asset.

Coinbase’s direct listing – which means it has not sold any shares ahead of its market debut – is likely to accelerate that process by boosting awareness of digital assets among investors.

Still, some institutional investors voiced caution over long-term prospects for Coinbase and the crypto sector.

Swiss asset manager Unigestion said it was wary of the hype around cryptocurrencies, and as a result would not be buying Coinbase stock.

Others experts said risks included Coinbase’s exposure to a highly volatile asset that is still subject to patchy regulation.

Founded in 2012, Coinbase boasts 56 million users globally and an estimated $223 billion assets on its platform, accounting for 11.3% crypto asset market share, according to regulatory filings.

The company’s most recent financial results underscore how revenues have surged in lock-step with the rally in bitcoin trading volumes and price.

In the first quarter of the year, as bitcoin more than doubled in price, Coinbase estimated revenue of over $1.8 billion and net income between $730 million to $800 million, versus revenue of $1.3 billion for the entire 2020.

Regulatory risks also loom, others said, as Coinbase increases the number of digital assets users can trade on its platform.

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