The great thing about Coinbase going public today is that if you want to get involved in cryptocurrency without ever leaving the almighty dollar, you can now.
On Tuesday, Nasdaq set $ 250 as reference price for Coinbase, although no one necessarily bought at that price as this is a direct offer. Coinbase closed trading today at $ 328.28, giving it a market cap of $ 85.8 billion, more than that of the company behind the Nasdaq exchange. It’s yet another marker of how normal cryptocurrency has become – and how much easier it is for normas to join.
Think of the early 2000s: banking crisis, panicked market, excited cypherpunks. The idea behind bitcoin was relatively simple: it arose from a specific distrust of financial institutions. That early ethos, of course, evaporated some time ago – and now Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk are shaking for bitcoin and persuading their respective companies (Square, Tesla) to invest in it.
Coinbase is also part of the story. It’s one of the easiest ways to move from the dollar to cryptocurrency, and it’s now the largest bitcoin exchange in the US. If you were hesitant about dealing with cryptocurrency yourself – maybe because you were worried you might have a wallet on one hard drive and lose the hard drive or forget the password or something else Investing in Coinbase is a less risky way to get into the trend.
Maybe that’s the point. Because in theory, instead of going public, Coinbase could have made an initial coin offering. You can think of an ICO productively as a cryptocurrency version of securities offering – the Securities and Exchange Commission oftenHad Coinbase done this, it would have offered a token that investors on cryptocurrency exchanges could have bought. That token could theoretically replace stocks.
But the fact that I am writing about an IPO tells you that this did not happen. It’s possible that Coinbase’s investors wanted to go public instead of haggling with an ICO as this is more predictable. Maybe there were other considerations! Whatever the reason, this choice has given Coinbase a remarkable opportunity. Investors who don’t want to get directly involved with cryptocurrency but see upside potential can use their dollars to buy back Coinbase.
It doesn’t hurt that Coinbase is profitable and just had a great first quarter, one of both.
Using Coinbase as a proxy investment may also explain the valuation, which critics say is too high. Some people have suggested that as cryptocurrency gets older, there will be less need for Coinbase’s servicesSome say Coinbase’s fees can deter customers using other servicesBut if Coinbase is a proxy investment, then the underlying company isn’t the only thing that gets into the valuation. You may not make as much money investing in Coinbase as you do in bitcoin, but it may be less risky.