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Coinbase CEO: A Billion People Will Be Using Crypto in Five Years

Confidence in crypto may be at a low point for the year but some believe we are only at the beginning and adoption will inevitably grow substantially over the next five years.

In an interview with TechCrunch Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong outlined his vision for the company and the future of the crypto industry. In that future he sees the company operating in a similar way to the New York Stock Exchange hosting a growing number of altcoins and becoming the standard for companies to create their own tokens. He stated;

“It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table… should have their own token. Every open source project, every charity, potentially every fund or these new types of decentralized organizations [and] apps, they’re all going to have their own tokens. We want to be the bridge all over the world where people come and they take fiat currency and they can get it into these different cryptocurrencies,”

Coinbase could be host to hundreds of tokens in the near future and potentially millions looking even further ahead. Today it only supports five but the addition of new ones would obviously give them a price pump that is desperately needed in the current market climate.

Regulation is currently the hurdle preventing US companies taking full advantage of this embryonic industry. Coinbase’s billion dollar value is evidently the exception to this notion as the firm goes from strength to strength. The question over whether cryptos will be considered as securities is still a concern, one which Coinbase has already addressed with the acquisition of a securities dealer earlier this year.

“We do feel a substantial subset of these tokens will be securities. Our approach has always been to be the most trusted [exchange] and the easiest to use. So we want to be the legal compliant place where you can start to trade these tokens that are classified as securities.” Armstrong added.

He also made the internet comparison by stating that Web 1.0 was all about publishing information, Web 2.0 interaction, and Web 3.0 will be about value transfer. “Web 3.0 is going to be about value transfer on the internet because now the web has this native currency and so applications can be built that instantly tap into this global economy on the internet,” he added.

When asked about crypto adoption the exchange boss remained bullish claiming that the total number of people in the crypto ecosystem can reach a billion within the next five years. It is currently estimated at around 40 million today.

The post Coinbase CEO: A Billion People Will Be Using Crypto in Five Years appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Coinbase Isn’t Adding 50k Users Each Day, But Blockchain’s Wallet Is

Earlier this week, Ethereum World News reported that Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong explained in an interview that his cryptocurrency platform was receiving an influx of “more than 50,000 (people) a day signing up.” Many individuals saw this as a bullish sign, with many noting that this figure indicates that the market is continuing to garner the interest of individuals, despite the overall downtrend in prices.

Although many saw this proclamation from Coinbase’s CEO as a matter of fact, including Bloomberg reporters, who originally broke the topic, it was later clarified that the 50k/Day figure only applied during 2017’s astounding bull-run, where Bitcoin’s price rose by over ten-fold.

As such, skeptics thought that adoption rates of cryptocurrencies would be down across the board, but according to a tweet from Peter Smith, the CEO of the Blockchain crypto/blockchain infrastructure firm, this may not be the case.

In fact, Smith writes that Blockchain is the one who is signing up 50,000 users per day, not Coinbase. He writes:

CORRECTION: It’s actually *Blockchain* signing up over 50,000 per day in the midst of this crypto downturn. It’s delightful to see new entrants actually interested in *using* crypto. (Hi )

While this figure had some cryptocurrency proponents over the moon, some were critical that Peter Smith might have been ‘overhyping’ this figure. One Twitter user wrote that Smith may mean 50,000 new wallets each day, which is a far cry from 50,000 ‘fresh meat’ signups each day. While another critic pointed out how Blockchain doesn’t currently support a fiat on-ramp for retail investors, making such a growth statistic note entirely relevant.

Nonetheless, this statistic, regardless of how some see it, still shows that this nascent industry is alive and kicking, even after a dismal 70% decline.

Blockchain’s CEO Remains As Bullish As Ever

Although Smith may have received some flak over the aforementioned Tweet, the Blockchain executive remains as bullish as ever. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Blockchain’s CEO commented on the future of this market, in terms of price actions and fundamental indicators. Firstly, the long-time crypto proponent spoke about the value of Bitcoin, noting that the market could enter a consolidation phase within the third and fourth quarter of this year. He elaborated, drawing attention to previous ‘cycles,’ stating:

“I think over the past couple of years we’ve seen a lot of really rapid increases, and really rapid decreases, then a sort of a slow consolidation of the market. I think we are seeing another slow consolidation in the market now and we are likely to see a very sort of moderate or positive price consolidation over the next quarter.”

Speaking more on this prediction, Smith cited reasons of higher levels of regulatory clarity, which was brought about by the countless developments made over the past year as Bitcoin made a foray into the mainstream.

Secondly, the CEO of Blockchain brought attention to the current dynamic between institutional and retail investors in this fledgling market. Smith noted that the institutional “order flow” has begun to increase, with retail interest starting to die down. Although institutions are starting to show interest, he closed out this segment noting that the market will not experience the full effect of this influx of investment until mid-2019. As Peter Smith has continually noted, it may be a few years before cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology replace the legacy systems that are used by billions across the world.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


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Market Woes No Concern For Coinbase With 50k Daily Signups

Cryptocurrency markets have rebounded a little today following a week of heavy losses. Those in the industry are unfazed though as exchange giants such as Coinbase continue to grow at a staggering pace.

At an interview at the Bloomberg Players Technology Summit in San Francisco Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said that the exchange was signing up 50,000 new users last year. His comments during the interview were still extremely positive in an environment where market sentiment has been bearish all year.

As one of the world’s leading crypto exchanges with 25 million customers Coinbase can be considered a good indicator of the overall condition of the industry and its future. Looking at the exponential growth that the company has had over the past few years is a testament to that. Armstrong elaborated stating;

“This technology is going through a series of bubbles and corrections. So we’ve actually been through four or five of them now where Bitcoin made this big run up in price and there was irrational exuberance, and then it corrected back 60 or 70 percent. Each time it has done that it has reached a new plateau which has kind of matched the growth of the company. If you go back to 2012-13 when we started, we had 500 people a day signing up. After the next bubble and correction, we had 5,000 people a day sign up, and now it’s more like 50,000 a day signing up.”

He also compared things to the start of the internet when companies came and went as fast as cryptos appear to be doing today. When questioned about the SEC he said the scrutiny was justified and that they have been good to work with in weeding out bad actors while approving genuine operators.

Ethereum co-founder, Joseph Lubin, meanwhile has attributed the current market volatility purely to speculation. In a Bloomberg interview he stated;

“We’ve seen six big bubbles, each more epic than the previous one, and each bubble is astonishing when they’re happening but when you look back they look like pimples on a chart,” before adding “With each of these bubbles we have a tremendous surge of activity and that’s what we’re seeing right now.”

Lubin continued to say that traders are causing the price spikes and dips but developer activity has increased by two orders of magnitude since last year’s peak. He is not concerned about the current market slump affecting the growth of the ecosystem and its adoption and neither, evidently, is Coinbase boss Armstrong.


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Coinbase Taps Amazon Web Services Vet as Engineering VP

Cryptocurrency exchange startup Coinbase has hired Amazon Web Services veteran Tim Wagner as its new vice president of engineering.

Wagner was with AWS for five years, serving as a general manager and overseeing its API gateway, as well as various serverless services. Prior to that, he spent six years at Microsoft as director of development for Visual Studio Ultimate.

The development continues Coinbase’s 2018 hiring spree. Since the start of the year, the company has hired Tina Bhatnagar to serve as vice president of operations and technology; Emilie Choi as its vice president of corporate and business development; Eric Soto as vice president of finance; Rachael Horwitz as vice president of communications; Alesia Haas as its new chief financial officer; and Jeff Horowitz as its chief compliance officer, among others.

With Wagner, Coinbase is beefing up its engineering team, which the AWS vet will help grow, according to Coinbase.

“Engineering is central to our mission of creating an open financial system for the world. It is core to our strategy to deliver the most trusted and easiest to use cryptocurrency products and services. We have built an amazing engineering team at a Coinbase, one which Tim will now lead and expand,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrote in a blog post announcing the hire. 

Brian Armstrong and Tim Wagner image courtesy Coinbase

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Who Are the Brightest Minds in Crypto Featured Among Fortune’s ‘40 Under 40’

The world of finance is driven by some of the greatest minds out there, but every year we see new faces pop up on the list of the industry’s most influential.

This month, Fortune released their list of ‘40 under 40,’ a compendium of the most influential figures in the global business space.

The usual suspects featured in this awe-inspiring group include Instagram’s co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and AirBNB co-founder Brian Chesky, to name but a few.

The list also features prominent leaders of some of the world’s biggest enterprises, such as Dhivya Suryadevara, who is the chief financial officer of General Motors. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is also a notable inclusion, highlighting the diverse makeup of figures under the age of 40 making a difference in the world.

This does not exclude the expanding influence that cryptocurrencies are having around the world.

Not one, but five prominent names from the crypto world graced this auspicious list of influencers, and their work in the space has clearly exceeded the bounds of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin, Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong, Telegram founder Pavel Durov and Robinhood co-founders Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev cracked the nod, and here’s a look at their respective journeys into the world of cryptocurrency and the effect they are now having on a global scale.

Vitalik Buterin

Crypto net worth: $400-500 million

Other accolades: Forbes’ Richest in Cryptocurrency, Forbes’ 30 Under 30

Vitalik Buterin is one of the most prominent figures in the cryptocurrency industry. It is at just 24 years old that he invented Ethereum, which has become the second largest cryptocurrency in the world by market volume.

While Bitcoin still reigns supreme as both the most widely used and most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, Ethereum has emerged as a leader in its own right — a blockchain platform that allows the development of decentralized applications.

Buterin’s journey into the world of cryptocurrency could be attributed to his upbringing — with his father, Dmitry Buterin, a computer programmer, credited with introducing Vitalik to Bitcoin when he was 17.

Having taken an interest in the subject, Buterin began writing about Bitcoin for online blogs before he eventually got the opportunity to launch Bitcoin Magazine alongside Mihai Alisie in 2011.

According to Wired, a trip to a cryptocurrency conference in 2013 — organized by the Winklevoss twins — provided the impetus for Buterin to explore the possibility of creating a blockchain platform that answered the many layers people were trying to build on top of Bitcoin.

Buterin told the publication that the situation needed to be rectified in a different way:

“I discovered that they were doing this sort of Swiss Army knife-approach of supporting 15 different features and doing it in a very limited way.”

Buterin then spent six months travelling around the world, picking the brains of people doing their utmost to improve on Bitcoin’s capabilities. Once he’d completed his research, Buterin returned home and wrote the Ethereum white paper, which was published at the end of 2013.

As Buterin told Wired, the community reacted in a way he had not anticipated.

“When I came up with Ethereum, my first first thought was, okay this thing is too good to be true and I’m going to have five professional cryptographers raining down on me and telling me how stupid I am for not seeing a bunch of very obvious flaws. Two weeks later, I was extremely surprised that none of that happened. As it turned out, the core Ethereum idea was good, fundamentally, completely, sound.”

While it hasn’t been smooth sailing, Ethereum has become a revolutionary blockchain platform in its own right, going far and beyond the mainly transactional capabilities of Bitcoin.

The platform is now maintained by the Ethereum Foundation, while Buterin heads up the research team that is actively involved in the maintenance and the development of the future of the platform.

Brian Armstrong

Crypto net worth: $900 million

Other accolades: Forbes’ Richest in Cryptocurrency

At 35-years-old, Brian Armstrong has also made waves in the cryptocurrency industry and the broader financial industry as a result.

Having completed three degrees from Rice University — i.e., a bachelor’s degree in computer science, a bachelor’s in economics and a master’s in computer science — Armstrong cut his teeth as a developer for some top-notch companies.

Armstrong served as an intern at IBM in 2003, before working as an enterprise risk management consultant at Deloitte. From 2003 to 2012, he founded and acted as CEO of University Tutor — a platform that links students with tutors in their area.

In 2011, Armstrong joined AirBNB as a software engineer and, a year later, in June 2012, he founded Coinbase. From its humble beginnings in 2012, Coinbase now has a global user base of over 20 million people and has facilitated $150 billion worth of cryptocurrency trades.

Hailed as the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in America and one of the most well-known in the world, Armstrong is directly responsible for millions of people being introduced to cryptocurrencies.

His company has since been labelled a ‘unicorn’ of the crypto industry, having raised $100 million in series D funding in August 2017 and being valued at around $1.6 billion.

Pavel Durov

Net worth: $1.7 billion

Known as the ‘Mark Zuckerberg of Russia,’ Pavel Durov is famous for creating Russian social networking site Vkontakte alongside his brother Nikolai. The brothers founded the platform in 2005 — with Pavel aged 22 — and it quickly became Russia’s most used social networking site. As of July 2018, the platform has nearly 500 million users.  

Durov was effectively forced out of VK’s management in 2014, due to ownership issues and pressures from the Russian government to submit user data and control content. He’d previously sold a 12 percent stake in VK for an estimated $300 million — that gave Russian internet company a majority ownership of the company.

That led to Durov not only leaving the company, but departing Russia with ‘no plans to return.’ However, it also provided him the freedom to develop Telegram. The free-to-use, privacy-focused messaging application has exploded, with over 200 million users as of March 2018. It was the first messaging app to have end-to-end encryption when it was launched in 2013.

Durov’s application has revolutionized the messaging app space due to its commitment to privacy for its users. This hasn’t gone over well with some of the world’s biggest countries — with Iran, China and Russia making moves to block the app within their borders.

Durov has gone as far as to incentivize internet service providers in his Telegram channel to work around these bans by setting up Bitcoin grants as a reward for setting up virtual private networks (VPNs) to keep users connected.

That hasn’t stopped Telegram’s emphatic growth, and interest in the platform has grown exponentially since plans to launch the Telegram Open Network (TON) came to light in early 2018.

Two rounds of a private ICO — that was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision — raised $850 million each, netting a whopping $1.7 billion.

Durov has become an important figure in fighting against pervasive government policies, and he’s leading the way in providing a platform where people can communicate freely, with the knowledge that their everyday conversations are safe from surveillance — by governments or nefarious organizations.

In a post in March 2018, Durov reaffirmed Telegram’s promise to its users to never compromise their privacy, given that the company is not beholden to shareholders, advertisers, governments or global institutions:

“Above all, we at Telegram believe in people. We believe that humans are inherently intelligent and benevolent beings that deserve to be trusted; trusted with freedom to share their thoughts, freedom to communicate privately, freedom to create tools. This philosophy defines everything we do.”

Baiju Bhatt & Vlad Tenev

Net worth: $1 billion each (source)

This duo is being lumped together for the pure fact that they’re responsible for launching Robinhood, a zero-fee stock trading app.

Both Bhatt and Tenev are graduates of Stanford, where their friendship and business partnership was founded. Bhatt has a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in mathematics, while Tenev has both an bachelor’s and master’s in mathematics.

Bhatt and Tenev founded Robinhood in 2012, whose flagship offering was zero-fee trading on traditional stock markets.

It wasn’t until 2018 that the startup launched a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading of Bitcoin and Ethereum. At the time, Tenev told Techcrunch that the support of cryptocurrency trading was an innovation that was aimed at improving their customers’ experience:

“We’re planning to operate this business on break-even basics and we don’t plan to profit from it for the foreseeable future. The value of Robinhood Crypto is in growing our customer base and better serving our existing customers.”

Nevertheless, Robinhood has definitely made its mark on the cryptocurrency exchange space, muscling its way into the industry and challenging the conventional trading fees charged by most other exchanges.

Their exploits have been met with plenty of support from investors in the cryptocurrency industry. A series D fundraising round netted $363 million to further the expansion of the Robinhood Crypto trading platform around the U.S. The company is valued at over $5.6 billion — making it the second most valuable tech startup in the country, only after Stripeaccording to Fortune.  

The Robinhood founders seem pretty intent on challenging the status quo of conventional financial trading platforms. Bhatt told the publication that users should never expect the platform to change it’s zero-fee policy:

“We plan on continuing to offer these services for free. There’s no real scenario where we would change that at all. I think we’re pretty relentlessly focused on our mission of making the markets and the financial services system more accessible to the broader population, and that’s a pretty good North Star for us.”

A sign of things to come

These five figures have left indelible marks on the cryptocurrency space for widely different reasons. However, their collective efforts have put them among an elite list of business leaders from around the world.

Their technological prowess, coupled with innovative ideas and progressive ideologies, highlight the power and potential of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

They have also blazed a trail for others to follow, challenging young creative minds to think of new ways to innovate and change the world — from finance to politics.

The prominence of cryptocurrencies has even led to Forbes creating its very own Richest in Cryptocurrency list. Among the names mentioned, it includes Binance CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao, Bitcoin foundation chairman Brock Pierce, as well as Armstrong and Buterin.

It won’t be surprising to see more cryptocurrency and blockchain figures feature among these mainstream benchmarks in the years to come.

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Coinbase Drawing Fire From All Sides: What’s Going on at US’s Biggest Exchange?

As the saying goes, tall trees catch much wind,’ and for Coinbase, especially this week, this seems to be true. The seventh biggest exchange through transaction volume, as shown on Coinmarketcap is also the biggest exchange in the US. So, being at the top, it has caught a lot of flak and made a lot of news this week.

Coinbase is an important junction in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and it has shown on a number of occasions that its influence and direction can shape the entire marketplace globally.

Its decision to integrate SegWit recently saw an upswing in those types of transactions, but on the flipside, its decision to offer Bitcoin Cash also pumped that market- in what is being called insider trading by some. Even rumors about Ripple integration have had its effect on the coin.

In the news this week alone, Coinbase has been sued twice, once for the insider trading allegations, and once for allegations that it “kept” funds that its users sent via email, but which recipients never claimed. It has also been linked to Ripple, again, and has had to deny that- which has caused swings in the Ripple price. Finally, it is still forging ahead as a pioneering crypto ecosystem with its latest offering an index fund.

Laying out lawsuits

Coinbase is no stranger to lawsuits and legal battles, having faced a few days in court before, as well as having fended off the IRS in their quest to obtain users’ trading information through the exchange. But fresh allegations have emerged, dating back to their decision to integrate Bitcoin Cash onto the platform.

At the end of December last year, Coinbase decided to add Bitcoin Cash to their offerings. This saw the price of the forked currency soar, while Bitcoin started to drop off.

Immediately, accusations flew that Insider trading was happening, despite the company making it clear that employees had been restricted from trading BCH on the site for a number of weeks prior to the announcement.

Now, a class action lawsuit has emerged from one of the Coinbase users based in Arizona, Jeffrey Berk. The plaintiff accuses Coinbase of “artificially inflated prices” by means of disclosing buy and sell orders moments after Coinbase launched BCH support. CEO Brian Armstrong said at the time of first allegations, in a blog post: “If we find evidence of any employee or contractor violating our policies,  directly or indirectly,  I will not hesitate to terminate the employee immediately.”

Unfair business practices

This lawsuit comes months after the allegations were laid, but is put forward: “on behalf of all Coinbase customers who placed purchase, sale or trade orders with Coinbase… during the period of Dec. 19, 2017 through and including Dec. 21, 2017… and who suffered monetary loss as a result of defendants’ wrongdoing.”

Additionally, while fielding this lawsuit, Coinbase has also been accused of keeping hold of funds sent by email which were never claimed by their recipients. It is another class action lawsuit that the exchange will have to handle delicately as it looks to keep its reputation intact in a space where there are a number of scam and badly run cryptocurrency services.

To lawsuit has been brought forward to the District Court for the Northern District of California by Restis Law Firm on behalf of two Coinbase users seeks reimbursement of the funds, including those sent involving now-expired email addresses. It is claimed that Bitcoin, which was emailed to people prior to the mainstream acceptance and understanding of digital currencies went unclaimed in many emails, and, instead of returning the coins, Coinbase simply kept hold of them. This falls under the gambit of unfair business practices being leveled at the exchange.

Both of these lawsuits, of course, do not paint Coinbase in the best of lights, despite them only being allegations currently. The negative press associated with bad practices and insider trading can be damaging, and for a company like Coinbase, it is not what is needed as they aim to be a positive precedent setting crypto solution.

It is negative news that is being picked up by some influencers in the community as Tone Vays, Host of CryptoScam podcast, points out how much of their energy and funds are going to just keep afloat with all the legal battles.

Ripple Rumors

One aspect, that they have dealt with before, and have had to deal with again this week, is the rumors that they would be introducing RIpple to the exchange. They have again vehemently denied this, which has had its effect on the Ripple Price.

The company quashed the rumors this time in another blog post by Armstrong as he stated:

“As of the date of this statement, we have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.”

The effect of this rumor, and then the quashing of it, showed quite prominently in Ripple’s price graph, but, as Matt Odell on Twitter, surmises, Ripple may well still make its way to Coinbase in the same manner in which Bitcoin Cash appeared on the exchange.

The blog post goes further to outline the process that Coinbase follows when making a decision to add a new coin to its stable, and as one can imagine, it is not a simple process. Coinbase faces a lot of scrutiny and has many watchful eyes on them when making big calls, and thus it is up to them to make sure it is executed perfectly, for their own well-being, and that of the entire crypto market.

Forging ahead

It is not all doom and gloom for Coinbase as they look to put out fires along the way. The most recent move by the exchange is to move them in somewhat of a different direction, offering weighted index fund for cryptocurrencies. What this means is that, for US citizens, there is a chance for investors to exposure to all assets listed on the company’s current exchange, GDAX, depending on their market capitalization.

This is a step in a slightly different direction for Coinbase as they expand their market to reach those who are perhaps more akin to traditional investments, broadening the net and amalgamating crypto and traditional assets.

Still, as with the fires they are trying to put out in the lawsuits, the Index fund has been met with mixed reviews.

Managing partner at Full Tilt Capital, a venture capital firm and real estate solutions company that has its eyes on crypto, Anthony Pompliano, believes this is a crossing over of traditional and crypto investors.

However, the move is confusing to Meltem Demirors, vice president at Digital Currency Group as she states the same thing can be achieved on the Coinbase platform without the need for the two percent charge.

Frank Chaparro, a well-regarded cryptocurrency writer for Business Insider also drew people to the fact that this move by Coinbase is one that is aimed at “tap[ping] Wall Street’s appetite for cryptocurrency” in a tweet that linked to his article.

Eyes on Coinbase

Like it or not, Coinbase’s prominence as a cryptocurrency platform, in a country with such high media coverage as the US, puts it in the public eye, and as such, it garners attention from all sides. Even other platforms are keeping an eye on what Coinbase does, and how it handles certain situations, in order to navigate their own way through the unprecedented cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Mati Greenspan, the senior market analyst of trading platform eToro, mentions how even though they are based in the UK, the two companies work together somewhat in order to keep abreast of things such as regulations and trends.

“In the UK, we work with Coinbase and other leading platforms and exchanges through Crypto UK, a self-regulatory trade body designed to set standards for the industry, so it’s a collegiate relationship.”

As Coinbase continues to try and set a bar of expectation for cryptocurrency services, it faces an uphill battle against regulators and broaching new territory. However, it is important to have established pioneers, but ones that can be trusted, working to define this new ecosystem and industry, even if it is simply to lay a workable path down.

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Coinbase Rejects Ripple Integration Rumors, Currency’s Market Cap Drops $22 Billion

The popular exchange and wallet platform Coinbase has refuted recent rumors that Ripple (XRP) or other cryptocurrencies will soon be integrated into GDAX, its flagship digital currency exchange.

Quashing rumors

CEO Brian Armstrong firmly stated that neither Coinbase and GDAX have made a decision to integrate any cryptocurrency or digital asset in the short-term. The company said in a blog post:

“A committee of internal experts is responsible for determining whether and when new assets will be added to the platform in accordance with our framework. These individuals — and all employees at Coinbase — are subject to confidentiality and trading restrictions.

As of the date of this statement, we have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.”

Coinbase’s statement was released following a spate of unverified rumors that claimed GDAX is planning to integrate XRP. The scale of the rumors, which largely circulated on Reddit and Twitter, increased to the point where the company felt the need to refute them, as the price of XRP surged.

Immediately after Coinbase issued its statement, the market valuation of XRP decreased from over $148 billion to $126 billion.

Ripple Charts

Insider trading controversy

Coinbase and GDAX are unlikely to integrate any new assets until they can be certain to prevent any leaks. In early December, when Coinbase added Bitcoin Cash, a Coinbase employee or a contractor reportedly revealed the integration two days prior to the official announcement.

Coinbase received significant backlash and criticism from the cryptocurrency community and as a consequence, Armstrong vowed to launch a full investigation. The CEO stated that Coinbase will pursue legal action against the employee or contractor that released confidential information on the company’s digital asset integration plans.

As such, the recent statement of Armstrong and rumors around Coinbase’s Ripple integration were also criticized by some of the community’s most prominent experts. These include software engineer Pierre Rochard and BitGo lead engineer Jameson Lopp:

Lopp replied to Armstrong’s tweet, asking:

No new assets yet

The investigation into the Bitcoin Cash controversy is still ongoing and until that is completed, it is highly unlikely that Coinbase will pursue the implementation of other cryptocurrencies. The company’s CEO admitted that some insider trading-like movement was spotted in the global Bitcoin Cash exchange market prior to the listing of Coinbase.

On December 20, Armstrong wrote:

“Given the price increase in the hours leading up the announcement, we will be conducting an investigation into this matter. If we find evidence of any employee or contractor violating our policies — directly or indirectly — I will not hesitate to terminate the employee immediately and take appropriate legal action.”

Former Coinbase executive Charlie Lee also stated:

“Coinbase is not adding a new coin anytime soon. There’s no reason why they would lie about this… Especially after the flack they got for surprising everyone by adding BCH.”

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Dapp Browsers Will Radically Accelerate Mainstream Ethereum Adoption

In 2017, several Ethereum-based decentralized application (dapp) browsers gained significant popularity, primarily due to the rise of dapps like CryptoKitties. During its peak, CryptoKitties, the digital cartoon collectibles game, was responsible for more than 20 percent of the entire Ethereum network’s daily transaction volume.

CryptoKitties in particular was praised by some of the cryptocurrency sector’s experts like Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan. Srinivasan noted that CryptoKitties has demonstrated the potential of the Ethereum network to process digital asset trading in a decentralized manner, without the involvement of intermediaries. According to Srinivasan:

“It’s one of the first examples of what people have been talking about for years: frictionless international trading of digital assets (not just cash) on a Blockchain.”

Difficult to replicate

But CryptoKitties was a one-time success story of a decentralized application that reached large-scale commercial success. It did so through extensive mainstream media coverage triggered by a sudden increase in demand. It is extremely rare for an app on the Ethereum protocol to achieve the level of success that CryptoKitties did.

Lessons from the past

To imagine the current structure of Ethereum’s decentralized application market, one has to consider the mobile app era prior to the existence of Google Play Store and Apple App Store. At that time, users had to download apps from websites directly from the distributors and developers. The process was highly inefficient and for apps to gain popularity, a significant amount of capital had to be allocated to marketing.

Over the past few months, Ethereum-based browsers have provided a better platform for users to search for innovative decentralized applications. These browsers are essentially operating similarly to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store in terms of aggregating decentralized apps for users to peruse.

Bringing together dapps and users

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong explained in a blog post that in the future, Ethereum-based browsers could increase the accessibility of decentralized applications and potentially introduce them to a larger user and consumer base. Armstrong wrote:

“Our theory is that the smartphone + Ethereum + dapps offer an unprecedented opportunity to bring this to people all over the world. We’re attempting to increase the economic freedom of the world, and clean up some bad behavior in the lowest scoring countries. It can be easy to take the above tools for granted if you’ve only ever lived in developed countries. But for the majority of people living in the world today, those tools are inaccessible.”

Decentralized applications launched on top of the Ethereum protocol utilize the ERC20 token standard and operate with native tokens compatible with Ether. Consequently, the trading of digital tokens can be processed seamlessly on decentralized trading platforms. Still, experts like Armstrong believe that the adoption of Ethereum browsers and decentralized applications could take many months to achieve commercial success. Once they do, however, they are poised to revolutionize the dapps market.

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Largest US Options Exchange CBOE to Enable Bitcoin Futures Trading by December 10

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), the largest US options exchange with an annual trading volume of around 1.27 billion contracts, will enable Bitcoin futures trading at 5 p.m CT on December 10.

Ed Tilly, the chairman and CEO of Cboe Global Markets, stated:

“Given the unprecedented interest in Bitcoin, it’s vital we provide clients the trading tools to help them express their views and hedge their exposure. We are committed to encouraging fairness and liquidity in the Bitcoin market. To promote this, we will initially offer XBT futures trading for free.”

Drastic increase in liquidity

Last month, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of the world’s largest Bitcoin brokerage and wallet platform Coinbase, revealed that at least $10 billion in institutional money are awaiting to be invested in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Armstrong wrote:

“By some estimates there is $10B of institutional money waiting on the sidelines to invest in digital currency today. When we speak with these institutions, they tell us that the number one thing preventing them from getting started is the existence of a digital asset custodian that they can trust to store client funds securely.”

With the scheduled launch of CBOE and CME Group’s Bitcoin futures exchanges on December 10 and December 18 respectively, large-scale institutional and retail investors in the traditional finance market will have a robust platform and infrastructure to invest in Bitcoin.

Over the past year, the market valuation of Bitcoin has increased from less than a billion dollars to $195 billion, without the involvement and entrance of large-scale institutional and retail investors, hedge funds, and investment firms. If Armstrong is right, the movement of tens of billions of dollars into this market would lead to a price surge for Bitcoin, as new investors from the traditional finance market reallocate their capital from conventional assets to Bitcoin. Indeed, Bitcoin’s price could grow exponentially, as predicted by billionaire hedge fund legend Mike Novogratz.

However, it should be noted that highly liquid regulated futures markets will make it much easier for large institutional investors to short Bitcoin. Though the contracts are cash-settled, major futures traders could likely move the underlying spot market. There exists the possibility that Bitcoin’s price could drop as a result of the futures markets opening.

CBOE partners with Gemini

CBOE will launch its Bitcoin futures exchange through a strategic partnership with US-based regulated Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, operated by the Winklevoss twins.

Tyler Winklevoss, the CEO of Gemini, explained that the company has worked for several years to build necessary infrastructure for investors in the traditional finance market, and will continue to develop a regulated derivatives Bitcoin market. Winklevoss said:

“Developing a regulated derivatives market is the next logical and crucial step towards advancing the broader digital asset market. We have been working for years to build infrastructure to grow the digital asset market and today’s news marks a significant milestone.”

Upon the launch of CBOE and CME’s Bitcoin futures exchanges, many leading hedge funds including the Man Group, with over $100 bln in funds under management, will begin trading Bitcoin.

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Coinbase Taps Former TD Ameritrade Exec for COO Role

Cryptocurrency startup Coinbase has hired a former executive for TD Ameritrade to serve as its new president and chief operating officer (COO).

Asiff Hirji, the startup announced today, is taking a leadership role at Coinbase after helping advise portfolio companies for Andreessen Horowitz, one of its existing investors. The firm led Coinbase’s $25 million funding round back in 2013, with the startup raising more than $200 million in venture capital to date.

Hirji is a notable hire for Coinbase, given the growing profile of its regulated cryptocurrency exchange and a boom in the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He previously held several leadership roles for TD Ameritrade, including chief information officer, working for the brokerage giant in the early 2000s. Per LinkedIn, Hirji has also served in senior roles at TPG Capital and Bain Capital, as well as Saxo Bank and Hewlett-Packard.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the company and look forward to helping realize its full potential,” Hirji said in a statement.

In comments to Fortune, Hirji noted the rise in activity around trading at the startup’s GDAX digital asset exchange, highlighting how the action is being driven by buyers from “the Wall Street crowd.”

“This is no longer a fringe thing just for fan boys,” he told the publication. “The Wall Street crowd and traditional old guard in the financial world are jumping in as well.”

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Coinbase.

Image Credit: Jonathan Weiss /

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