Cryptocurrency, Exchanges–Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges based out of the United States, has had a substantial week in terms of new development and making international headlines. Two weeks ago, the company announced updated features coming to the exchange, including more in-depth tools for investors related to cryptocurrency prices–including coins not listed on the exchange–in addition to a new service geared at providing users and novices with more educational information related to blockchain and crypto. Included in the announcement was a streamlining of the process for adding additional currencies to the exchange, a factor no doubt related to this past summer’s investigation into five new currencies that could possibly be added, including investor favorite Stellar XLM.
Earlier in the week, news came down that Coinbase was making a promise to investors to add new assets in a reasonable amount of time. Ignoring the addition of Ethereum Classic ETC, which was previously offered by the exchange before being delisted years ago, Coinbase has not added an additional currency for buy/sells since Bitcoin Cash at the end of December 2017–a coin that was primarily added due to the air dropped coins from the fork that were deservedly owed to consumer’s who kept their BTC on the exchange wallet.
On Wednesday, Coinbase once again made national financial news with the announcement by Recode that the company could be valued at around $8 billion, a figure they came to after examining the deal in the works with Tiger Global over a $500 million investment, making Coinbase one of the most valuable startups in U.S. history.
While Coinbase has been making major moves throughout 2018, even in the face of the eroding cryptocurrency markets, the company has had its share of scandal. The Bitcoin Cash addition in December brought about a large scale debacle for the company, which ended in the exchange being frozen for a short period of time and class action lawsuits filed over insider trading allegations. Coinbase has since exonerated itself from wrongdoing, including a commitment to customers and outside investors to improve the process of coin additions to avoid similar disaster. But the exchange has been at the heart of a massive consumer complaint campaign, with over 100 pages worth of material submitted to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission related to their interaction with the business. In Coinbase’s defense, the company has publicly stated they were not fully prepared for the boom in cryptocurrency that occured in the final quarter of 2017 and into the start of the new year. At one point in November, the company made national headlines when its customer base of over 13 million eclipsed that of long time stock brokerage Charles Schwab.
While Coinbase undoubtedly deserves blame in relation to their handling of the Bitcoin Cash integration and the substantial accumulation of customer complaints, the company probably does not deserve the harsh maleficence regularly leveled by crypto enthusiasts. On one hand, the lack of truly decentralized exchanges driving cryptocurrency investing is a bit of a black eye for the industry. However, Coinbase has not only established a commitment to improving the state of Bitcoin, but the overall health of the crypto markets. Their push towards education and becoming a portal for crypto novices and new investors cannot be overlooked–especially during a time when the vast majority of the general public still has no clue what ‘a Bitcoin’ is.
Despite previous transgressions, the company has done a commendable job to advance the industry of cryptocurrency. Most investors would like to see more coins listed on the exchange–no doubt related to a selfish interest to help pump the valuation of those currencies–but Coinbase has a value in its simplistic offering. It focuses the new, app-focused casual crypto investor towards Bitcoin, Ethereum and other top-of-the-market well established currencies, which in part keeps them clear of the riskier ICO and broader altcoin landscape as they grow accustomed to the market.