5 Tales from the Crypto: Partnerships, Tax Proposals, and the Rise of Perpetual Futures

5 Tales from the Crypto: Partnerships, Tax Proposals, and the Rise of Perpetual Futures

News that Venmo is now accepting transfers of cryptocurrency is among the top stories in crypto of late. Here are some of the other stories making the crypto headlines.

Paxos Partners with Fierce Finance

Blockchain infrastructure platform Paxos has forged a partnership with financial services app, Fierce Finance. Paxos’ technology will be leveraged to power Fierce Finance’s new digital asset experience. This new offering will combine an FDIC-insured checking account, a no-fee debit card, and fractional stock, ETF, and cryptocurrency trading all in a single app.

“We are the qualified custodian managing the licensing, trading, and technical complexity so that our clients can focus on building a seamless user experience,” Paxos Chief Revenue Officer Michael Coscetta said. “By integrating with Paxos platform, Fierce ensures its users get the best prices with the proper consumer protections in place so that their assets always remain safe and accessible.”

Headquartered in New York, Paxos was founded in 2012. The company reached a major milestone at the beginning of last month when it surpassed ten million active end user digital wallets globally. Earlier this year, Paxos launched an engineering R&D Center in Israel focused on “security and cryptography excellence.” The center will serve as a hub for cryptography researchers and security specialists to develop secure solutions on top of the blockchain.

Paxos has raised more than $540 million in funding. The company’s investors include Oak HC/FT, Declaration Partners, and PayPal Ventures.  

Tax on Cryptocurrency Mining Proposed

If the Biden administration gets its way, the electricity used in mining cryptocurrencies could get a lot more expensive. The White House is proposing a 30% tax to offset the impact of cryptocurrency mining on the environment.

A statement from the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) argues that the “high-energy consumption” of cryptocurrency mining “has negative spillovers on the environment, quality of life, and electricity grids” wherever they are located. A report from the White House released last fall suggested that cryptocurrency mining devours more electricity than the country of Australia. In the U.S., cryptocurrency mining represents between 0.9% and 1.7% of all electricity use. The U.S. is home to approximately a third of the world’s cryptocurrency mining.

Some critics of the proposal believe less in the administration’s concerns over the climate and more in its antipathy toward the cryptocurrency industry in general. Other observers suggest that taxing greenhouse gas emissions from cryptocurrency mining makes more sense than simply taxing electricity use – which can come from clean sources.

If enacted, the tax could yield $3.5 billion over 10 years.

Coinbase Launches International Exchange

Hot on the heels of securing a license to operate in Bermuda, U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has launched its Coinbase International Exchange. The new exchange will give institutional market participants in eligible jurisdictions outside the U.S. the ability to trade perpetual futures.

Perpetual futures are similar to futures contracts in other assets. But there are important differences. Perpetual futures do not have an expiration period – unlike traditional futures contracts. This enables traders to hold on to their positions for longer periods – or even indefinitely. Trading in perpetual futures is not allowed in the U.S. But the market for perpetual futures is sizable. Almost 75% of cryptocurrency trading worldwide last year was in perpetual futures.

Coinbase International exchange listed perpetual futures contracts for both Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) this week. The contracts provide 5x leverage and all trades are settled in USDC.

New Digital Asset Venture Fund Coming from Fineqia

Digital asset and fintech investment company Fineqia will launch a new venture capital fund to invest in startups in the digital asset space. The new fund, Fineqia Glass Slipper Ventures (FGSV), will focus on investments in early and growth-stage technology companies. Among Fineqia’s current investments in the industry are digital asset manager Wave Digital Assets LLDC, and blockchain gaming platform company Forte Labs. The fund has identified blockchain infrastructure, decentralized finance, and the metaverse as areas of particular investment interest.

“We have a proven track record of investments that are generating extraordinary returns,” Fineqia CEO Bundeep Singh Rangar said. “An investment fund will give us more firepower to invest in the most promising firms among the scores we see monthly and take advantage of entry valuations not frothy as they were 18 months ago.”

Deloitte Leverages the Blockchain for KYB, KYC

Will the next big thing in decentralized finance come from the underlying blockchain technology or from products like cryptocurrencies? The latest entry in the “innovative blockchain use case” competition comes courtesy of Deloitte Consulting. The firm announced that it has partnered with BOTLabs GmBh to use its KILT protocol to support KYC and KYB processes.

“By offering re-usable digital credentials anchored on the KILT blockchain, Deloitte is transforming verification processes for individuals and entities,” Head of Deloitte Managed Services Micha Bitterli said. “Digital credentials that are convenient, cost-effective and secure have the potential to open new digital marketplaces, from e-commerce and DeFi to gaming.”

Re-usable credentials are stored on the customer’s wallet on their own device. Customers have full control over whom they share their credential with. They can also control which data points on the credential they grant access to. Deloitte digitally signs the credentials and is able to revoke credentials via the blockchain if a customer’s circumstances change.

5 Tales from the Crypto: M&A, CBDCs, Banks, Bonds, and the Blockchain

5 Tales from the Crypto: M&A, CBDCs, Banks, Bonds, and the Blockchain

Canadian Crypto Combo: A trio of Canada-based cryptocurrency exchanges announced plans to merge into a single entity. Vancouver-based WonderFi, along with Toronto-based Coinsquare and Coin Smart Financial, are the firms involved. Together, they represent more than $600 million CAD in assets under custody and more than 1.65 million users. The merger will create what the companies are calling “Canada’s largest regulated crypto asset trading platform.”

The road to the three-way union had its complications. At one point, Coinsquare had been poised to acquire CoinSmart. At another point, a merger with WonderFi was allegedly on the table. CoinSmart had been both cold and hot to an acquisition by Coinsquare and reportedly was prepared to seek monetary damages in court when the acquisition deal did not work out. But those days are gone, and the three companies have decided they are better off serving cryptocurrency customers together than they are on their own.

UAE and ANZ Get Busy with CBDCs: There have been a few CBDC-oriented stories in fintech and crypto headlines in recent days. First up is news that the UAE has selected technology and legal partners ahead of the launch of its CBDC strategy. The country’s central bank has picked Clifford Chance to provide legal oversight. R3 and G42 Cloud will serve as technology and infrastructure providers. This will enable the central bank to begin Phase 1 of its CBDC project. This initial phase has three components: initiating real-value cross-border CBDC transactions for international trade settlement, proof-of-concept work for bilateral CBDC bridges with India, and proof-of-concept work for domestic CBDC issuance covering wholesale and retail use. Phase 1 is expected to take place over the next 12 to 15 months.

Meanwhile in Australia, ANZ bank reported that it had concluded one of its projects in the country’s CBDC trials. The project involved using the ANZ stablecoin to settle tokenized carbon credit transactions. ANZ Bank is involved in four of the 15 use cases and projects in the country’s CBDC pilot. With regard to this specific use case – applying tokenization to the carbon markets – ANZ Banking Services Lead Nigel Dobson expressed optimism. He highlighted the potential to improve both efficiency and transparency, as well as “preserve the unique characteristics of underlying projects to incentivize investment in climate solutions.”

Speaking of the relationship between crypto and the climate, SEB and Crédit Agricole announced this week that they are jointly launching so|bond, a sustainable and open platform for digital bonds built on blockchain technology. The platform enables issuers in capital markets to issue digital bonds onto a blockchain network in an effort to enhance efficiency and support real-time data synchronization between participants. Additionally, the network is using a validation protocol, Proof of Climate awaReness, that encourages participants to minimize their carbon footprint.

“Crédit Agricole CIB is proud to contribute to the emerging market of digital assets,” Crédit Agricole CIB Head of Innovation and Digital Transformation Romaric Rollet said. “The platform’s innovative approach, both to the blockchain infrastructure and to the securities market, is coupled with the strong commitment to green and sustainable finance that is at the center of our Societal Project.”

And while on the topic of the blockchain use cases, we report that Acre, a blockchain-based mortgage platform, has raised $8.1 million (£6.5 million). The fundraising is the second major capital infusion for the London-based company and brings the firm’s total equity funding to $14.3 million (£14.3 million). The round was led by McPike, an investor in Starling Bank, as well as Aviva and Founders Factory.

Acre helps traditional brokers compete with their digital counterparts by using blockchain technology to enhance the mortgage and insurance application process for advisers. The company’s technology brings together all aspects of the process into a single “record of the transaction.” This, according to Acre founder and CEO Justus Brown, helps brokers deliver “speedy, efficient advice that meets the individual requirements of each case in a dynamic market.”

Acre was founded in 2017. Brown reports that the company grew by 10x in 2022, and processes £10 billion in annual mortgage volume. In the wake of the latest investment, Acre will focus on forging new partnerships with lenders and insurers to enable brokers to recommend the most competitive financial products and services for their clients.

Coinbase Announces Derivatives Exchange Upgrade: Last up for this edition of 5 Tales from the Crypto is news from one of the industry’s banner companies, Coinbase. The firm announced this week that it had partnered with Transaction Network Services (TNS). The partnership is designed to enable faster, more efficient transactions on its derivatives exchange (CDE).

“Crypto has witnessed both volatile and liquid markets, and with institutional adoption remaining strong, we believe the time is right for the offering that TNS brings to the table,” Coinbase Derivatives Exchange CEO Boris Ilyevsky said. “Dedicated cloud infrastructure connectivity coupled with our derivatives exchange represents a mission-critical step toward supporting and maintaining a vibrant and reliable crypto derivatives market.”

Coinbase launched its Derivatives Exchange in June of last year with the goal of attracting more retail traders to its platform. This week’s news shows that the company recognizes the potential attraction its exchange could have for institutional investors, as well. Regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the CDE will leverage its new TNS-provided financial trading infrastructure to enable institutional investors to grow their storage capabilities and process large data sets with less delay.

Coinbase’s Future in the U.S.

Coinbase’s Future in the U.S.

Amid the news of bank failures last week, you may have heard that cryptocurrency wallet and platform Coinbase received a Wells notice from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The notice is a letter that the SEC sends at the end of an investigation, informing an organization of the charges it plans to bring against the party.

What Coinbase did (or didn’t do) wrong

So why is the SEC taking aim at Coinbase? The commission said that its investigation identified that Coinbase’s listed digital assets, Coinbase Earn, Coinbase Prime, and Coinbase Wallet are potentially violating securities law. This statement makes it clear that the SEC believes it has identified securities listed on Coinbase’s platform. Coinbase, on the other hand, insists that it does not list securities on its platform.

Crucial to this debate is understanding that there is an ongoing, complicated debate on whether or not cryptoassets should be considered securities. After receiving the Wells notice, Coinbase asked the SEC to identify which specific assets listed on its platforms are considered securities, but the SEC declined to do so.

Coinbase’s public response

After receiving the Wells notice, Coinbase published a blog post titled, “We asked the SEC for reasonable crypto rules for Americans. We got legal threats instead.” In post, the company reinforces that it does not consider its cryptoassets securities, and that the Wells notice does not require changes to its current products or services.

Furthermore, Coinbase said it attempted to register a portion of its business with the SEC last summer. This was tricky because there is no current method for a crypto firm to register with the SEC. So Coinbase pioneered the registration process, spending millions of dollars on legal support to create proposals for the SEC. However, after spending nine months creating potential methods Coinbase met with the SEC 30 times and did not receive any feedback or questions regarding its suggested methods.

After undergoing this process, Coinbase said it is ultimately looking for guidance. “If our regulators cannot agree on who regulates which aspects of crypto, the industry has no fair notice on how to proceed,” said Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal. “Against this backdrop, it makes no sense to threaten enforcement actions against trusted public companies like Coinbase who are committed to playing by the rules. It makes even less sense to threaten enforcement actions unless an industry participant concedes that non-securities can be regulated by the SEC. That is for Congress to decide.”

Other SEC targets

Coinbase is not the only crypto-related organization the SEC has targeted in recent years. Stablecoin issuer Paxos, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, USDC-creator Circle, and real-time money movement platform Ripple have each gone into battle with the SEC.

One of the above crypto firms the SEC has targeted, Circle, is doubling-down on its business in more crypto-friendly pastures. The Massachusetts-based company announced earlier this month that it has selected France as its European headquarters. Additionally, Circle recently filed applications in France to become both a licensed Electronic Money Institution and a registered Digital Asset Service Provider (DASP) in the nation.

What’s next?

Coinbase, which is publicly listed on the NASDAQ, has made it clear it is doing its best to be forthcoming and honest, and that it believes it is not breaking the law. “Tell us the rules and we will follow them. Give us an actual path to register, and we will register the parts of our business that need registering,” said Grewal. He concluded by saying that if U.S. regulators continue to threaten the good actors in the crypto industry, they will ultimately drive innovation, jobs, and the entire industry overseas. If Circle’s recent move is any indication, the U.S. may be saying, “au revoir” to the entire crypto industry.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki

Coinbase Launches Wallet-as-a-Service

Coinbase Launches Wallet-as-a-Service
  • Coinbase is launching a Wallet-as-a-Service (WaaS).
  • The offering will enable businesses to build web3 wallets for their customers, using only web2 skills.
  • Initial customers for the launch include NFT marketplace Floor, gaming platform Moonray, and token-gated events site Tokenproof.

Digital currency platform Coinbase launched a Wallet-as-a-Service (WaaS) this week. The new offering is aimed to help any company build customizable wallets for their clients, bringing them into the web3 era.

The launch comes after Coinbase realized that web3 wallets were out of reach for many businesses. These on-chain wallets– which help users store digital assets, facilitate transactions, and act as a digital identity– are complex and require technical knowledge. Coinbase’s WaaS aims to simplify things by enabling companies to offer a digital wallet onboarding experience that requires only a username and password. Coinbase will also enable companies to offer the wallet within their own app, enabling in-app transfers of currency or digital assets all in one place.

The WaaS tool enables users to access a web3 wallet using a web2 interface. Also making things easier for those new to web3 is the security. With WaaS, users are not required to manage their own keys. Instead, Coinbase uses advanced multi-party computation to securely divide, encrypt, and distribute keys among multiple parties.

Coinbase has already secured a handful of clients for its WaaS, including NFT marketplace Floor, gaming platform Moonray, and token-gated events site Tokenproof. “Individuals will no longer have to come with knowledge of how the blockchain works in order to interact with the brands they love,” said Tokenproof Founder Fonz. “When users download the tokenproof app, we’ll help welcome them into web3 by creating their first wallet, which will be powered by Coinbase.”

With 1,110 verified users on its platform, Coinbase sees $145 billion in quarterly volume traded and has $80 billion in assets on its platform. The company went public in 2021 and now trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker COIN with a current market capitalization of $14 billion. Earlier this month, Coinbase acquired digital asset management company One River Digital Asset Management in an effort to bridge the gap between financial institutions and the crypto economy.

Photo by Lukas

5 Tales from the Crypto: Pillow Raises $18 Million; BlueSnap and BitPay; Coinbase and Google

5 Tales from the Crypto: Pillow Raises $18 Million; BlueSnap and BitPay; Coinbase and Google

Cryptocurrency Investment Platform Pillow Raises $18 Million

In a round co-led by Accel and Quona Capital, crypto investment platform Pillow has secured $18 million in Series A funding. Also participating in the round were Elevation Capital and Jump Capital.

Singapore-based Pillow enables individuals to save and invest in a variety of major cryptocurrencies. The company will use the capital to power expansion of its cryptocurrency savings and investment services into emerging markets in Africa and Southeast Asia. Pillow already operates in Nigeria, Ghana, and Vietnam. This week’s funding adds to the $3 million in seed capital Pillow secured earlier this year.

Founded in 2021, Pillow has more than 75,000 users in more than 60 countries on its app. Among the cryptocurrencies available are: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, Polygon, and Axie Infinity, as well as USD-backed stablecoins, USDC and USDT. Pillow plans to support more than 20 different digital assets over the next few months. The company offers returns of more than 10% on its stablecoins and approximately 6% on Bitcoin and Ethereum. Pillow earns its money by investing user funds in DeFi protocols on blockchain networks.

BlueSnap and BitPay Team Up for Crypto Acceptance and Payout

Payment orchestration platform BlueSnap announced a new partnership this week. The company is teaming up with cryptocurrency payments company BitPay to enable businesses to accept and make payouts in as many as 15 different cryptocurrencies – as well as seven fiat currencies. The currencies available include leading digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and Dogecoin. Five stablecoins pegged to the U.S. dollar and one stablecoin pegged to the Euro will also be supported.

Courtesy of the partnership, customers will be able to accept cryptocurrencies and be paid out in fiat currencies including the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the British pound, and the Mexican peso, as well as the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand dollars.

BlueSnap and BitPay noted in a statement that a growing number of retailers are accepting cryptocurrencies as payment, and that consumers were becoming increasingly “crypto curious.”

“By working with one of the most well-respected crypto companies in the industry, we’ll be able to make the new payment experience as frictionless as possible,” BlueSnap Managing Director for Europe Nihkhita Hyett said. “We look forward to making a real impact in this new space – through developing technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency – as we foster greater innovation in payments, and further our growth across Europe.”

WSJ: NYDIG Lays Off a Third of its Workforce

According to reporting in the Wall Street Journal, institutional cryptocurrency custody firm NYDIG has laid off more than 100 of its workers, an amount believed to be approximately a third of the New York-based crypto firm’s total workforce. The layoffs took place over a number of weeks per the Journal’s sources, and come almost a year after NYDIG raised $1 billion in funding at a valuation of more than $7 billion. NYDIG mentioned using the capital to “further expand its world-class team across the globe” – though this was noted toward the end of the company’s funding announcement. Using the capital to “develop NYDIG’s institutional-grade Bitcoin platform” was noted in paragraph two.

More recently, NYDIG was in the headlines for the C-suite shuffle in October that had CEO Robert Gutmann and President Yan Zhao stepping down and returning to NYDIG’s parent company Stone Ridge Holdings. Gutmann and Zhao co-founded Stone Ridge, along with Ross Stevens, in 2012.

There has been no comment on the lay off report from NYDIG at this time.

Mastercard Teams Up with Blockchain Platform Paxos

Our last edition of 5 Tales highlighted Mastercard’s new Crypto Secure solution that helps card issuers assess the risk profile of crypto exchanges and other providers.

This week we share more news of Mastercard and its business in the crypto space. The company has announced a partnership with blockchain infrastructure platform Paxos that will enable financial institutions to offer secure cryptocurrency trading capabilities to their customers. Mastercard’s Crypto Source program will give its financial institution partners access to a suite of services that will enable them to buy, hold, and sell select crypto assets.

The suite of services provides technology and partnership support to enable FIs to buy, sell, and hold select digital assets; security management, including AML, transaction monitoring, and KYB; crypto spend and cash out capabilities; and crypto program management, including go-to-market optimization.

“What we are announcing today is a connected approach to services that will help bring the next billion users safely and securely into the crypto ecosystem,” Mastercard President, Cyber & Intelligence, Ajay Bhalla said.

Mastercard demoed its technology at FinovateFall 2017. More recently, the company demoed in partnership with Strands at FinovateSpring 2019.

Coinbase Expands in Europe – And Adds a Friend in Google

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has had more than its fair share of less than pleasant news over the past few days. Today we read headlines about the company experiencing the largest outflow of Bitcoin since June. This follows reports of hundreds of Coinbase users in the Republic of Georgia who allegedly profited from a pricing glitch – and what Coinbase may have to do to get the money back.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco-based company continues to grow, expanding its operations in Australia earlier this month with a pair of new features. PayID will enable Australians to top up their Coinbase accounts directly with Australian dollars. Retail Advanced Trading will give local clients access to low volume-based pricing and trading tools with one unified balance.

And earlier this week, Coinbase introduced the man who will lead the company’s expansion in Europe: former Solarisbank Chief Operating Officer Daniel Seifert. The appointment comes as Coinbase gains momentum in the region, earning regulatory approval to offer its services to customers in Italy in July and the Netherlands in September. Coinbase VP of International and Business Development Nana Murusegan has called international expansion an “existential priority.”

But the biggest news of the week for the company is the announcement that Google has partnered with Coinbase to allow select customers pay for cloud services via cryptocurrencies starting early next year. The capability will be made possible thanks to an integration with Coinbase Commerce, which supports 10 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Litecoin. Coinbase will earn a fraction of each transaction processed, according to the company’s VP of Business Development Jim Migdal.

Coinbase made its Finovate debut in 2014. More than 100 million individuals and companies use Coinbase’s technology to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies.

Photo by Pixabay

Coinbase Partners with Google Cloud; Earns Regulatory Approval in Singapore

Coinbase Partners with Google Cloud; Earns Regulatory Approval in Singapore

Enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies has settled down from its peak a year ago. But innovation in the space continues undaunted. Today we learned that one of the pioneering companies in digital assets, Coinbase, has forged a strategic partnership with Google Cloud. The partnership calls for Coinbase to use Google Cloud as its strategic cloud provider for developing advanced exchange and data services. Google Cloud’s platform will enable Coinbase to process blockchain data at scale, and boost the international reach of its services courtesy of Google Cloud’s fiber optic network. Coinbase will also benefit from Google Cloud’s secure infrastructure and the company’s data and analytics capabilities.

“We are excited Google Cloud has selected Coinbase to help bring Web3 to a new set of users and provide powerful solutions to developers,” Coinbase CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong said. “With more than 100 million verified users and 14,500 institutional clients, Coinbase has spent more than a decade building industry-leading products on top of blockchain technology. We could not ask for a better partner to help execute our vision of building a trusted bridge into the Web3 ecosystem.”

The partnership also means that Google Cloud will enable select customers to pay for its cloud services with designated cryptocurrencies. The functionality will be powered by Coinbase Commerce, which provides a decentralized way for merchants around the world to accept cryptocurrency payments. Further, Web3 developers will be able to access Google’s BigQuery crypto public datasets – powered by Coinbase Cloud Nodes – across leading blockchains. This will enable developers to operate Web3-based systems without requiring expensive and unwieldy infrastructure.

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said the partnership would help make it easier and faster for developers to build Web3. Kurian highlighted the “scalability, reliability, security, and data services available via Google Cloud” which he said would enable developers to “focus on innovation in the Web3 space.” Google also announced that it will use Coinbase Prime for institutional crypto services such as secure custody and reporting.

Coinbase’s partnership news with Google Cloud comes as the cryptocurrency innovator announces that it has secured regulatory approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The company received its In-Principle Approval (IPA) as a Major Payments Institution license holder, which will enable Coinbase to offer regulated Digital Payment Token products and services in Singapore. It’s worth noting that Coinbase is no stranger to the country. The company introduced the island nation as its technology hub last year. And over the past three years, Coinbase’s venture capital arm, Coinbase Ventures, has invested in more than 15 Singapore-based Web3 startups.

“Today’s announcement underlines our commitment to Singapore as a regional hub that allows us to unlock new capabilities for Singapore-based institutional and corporate clients in the future,” Coinbase’s Nana Murugesan wrote on the company blog this week. “Gaining this in-principle approval from MAS is an important step, as we plan to launch our full suite of retail, institutional, and ecosystem products.”

Coinbase made its Finovate debut in 2014 at FinovateSpring in San Francisco, California. Founded in 2012, the company now enables more than 100 million people and businesses to buy, sell, and manage cryptocurrencies. Coinbase has a quarterly trading volume of $217 billion, and $96 billion in assets on its platform. With partners in more than 100 countries, and 4,900+ employees, Coinbase is a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker COIN and has a market capitalization of $16 billion.

Photo by Pixabay

BlackRock Taps Coinbase to Facilitate Bitcoin Purchases

BlackRock Taps Coinbase to Facilitate Bitcoin Purchases
  • BlackRock has selected Coinbase to help its clients buy and sell bitcoin.
  • Under the partnership, clients of BlackRock Aladdin will benefit from Coinbase Prime.
  • Partnering with Coinbase will help BlackRock add digital currencies as an asset class for the first time.

Coinbase is partnering with BlackRock to help some of the asset manager’s institutional clients connect to Coinbase Prime, making it possible for them to buy and sell bitcoin.

Under the agreement, common clients of Coinbase and BlackRock’s end-to-end investment management platform Aladdin, will benefit from Coinbase Prime, a full-service platform to access crypto markets at scale. At the outset, Aladdin clients will be limited to using Coinbase Prime to buy and sell bitcoin.

With $10 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock offers clients a range of investment strategies, including alternative assets, sustainable investing, factor-based investing, systematic investing, and now digital assets. The company has 8,000 employees across the U.S. and works with more than 190,000 financial advisors to help build client portfolios.

The move adds cryptocurrency as an asset class for BlackRock clients for the first time. “Our institutional clients are increasingly interested in gaining exposure to digital asset markets and are focused on how to efficiently manage the operational lifecycle of these assets,” said BlackRock Global Head of Strategic Ecosystem Partnerships Joseph Chalom. “This connectivity with Aladdin will allow clients to manage their bitcoin exposures directly in their existing portfolio management and trading workflows for a whole portfolio view of risk across asset classes.”

BlackRock and Coinbase will roll out functionality in phases to interested clients.

Coinbase was founded 2012 and went public late last year. The company trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker COIN. The news of a new client for Coinbase Prime has given Coinbase a boost this week after the recent crypto winter took its toll on the company, which announced a hiring freeze and layoffs earlier this summer. Coinbase’s market capitalization currently sits at $19.74 billion.

Photo by Alesia Kozik

Coinbase Acquires Unbound Security

Coinbase Acquires Unbound Security

Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase acquired Israel-based security company Unbound Security today. Terms of the deal, which Coinbase calls the next phase of its security journey, were not disclosed. Coinbase expects the deal to close in the coming months.

Unbound specializes in cryptographic security technologies, including secure multi-party computation (MPC), an emerging subfield of cryptography that allows parties to jointly compute a function over their inputs while protecting their data. Essentially, MPC enables crypto assets to be stored, transferred, and deployed more securely, easily and flexibly.

Today’s deal will give Coinbase access to cryptographic security experts, including Unbound Co-founders Guy Peer and Yehuda Lindell, who is considered a world leader in MPC. Coinbase will also gain a presence in Israel and plans to establish a tech center in the country. The company states that this global reach will “add an additional powerful prong” to its global talent acquisition strategy.

“We’ve long recognized Israel as a hot bed of strong technology and cryptography talent, and are excited to continue to grow our team with some of the best and brightest minds in these fields,” the company said in its blog post announcement. “The Unbound Security team will form the nucleus of this new research facility, which we plan to grow over time.”

The purchase of Unbound marks Coinbase’s twentieth acquisition since the company was founded in 2012. Coinbase has acquired six companies this year alone, including financial software company BRD, voice AI startup Agra, crypto wallet API provider Zabo, financial infrastructure company Skew, and blockchain security firm Bison Trails.

Coinbase, which demoed at FinovateSpring 2014, went public earlier this year and now trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker COIN. The company has a current market capitalization of $67 billion. Earlier this fall the company announced plans to launch its own NFT marketplace, Coinbase NFT, to help users mint, purchase, showcase, and discover NFTs.

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Coinbase to Launch NFT Marketplace by Year’s End

Coinbase to Launch NFT Marketplace by Year’s End

Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase announced plans this week to launch its own NFT marketplace. Dubbed Coinbase NFT, the new marketplace will help users mint, purchase, showcase, and discover NFTs.

“Just as Coinbase helped millions of people access Bitcoin for the first time in an easy and trusted way — we want to do the same for the NFTs,” said Coinbase VP of Product and Ecosystem Sanchan Saxena.

Coinbase NFT, which the company aims to launch at the end of this year, will offer a user-friendly interface that the company said will be “as simple as tapping a few buttons.” The new platform will be creator-centric, placing art and the artist’s experience at the forefront.

Coinbase is putting creators first by leveraging decentralized contracts and metadata transparency to help artists maintain creative control. Additionally, the platform will cultivate a community for artists and their fans using social features to help users discover and discuss NFTs. Coinbase NFT will curate a personal feed based on users’ interests. User profiles will showcase all of their NFTs and will help them connect with like-minded collectors and artists.

“Our ambition with Coinbase NFT is to allow everyone to benefit from their creative spark; to contribute to a future where the creator economy isn’t a small subset of the real economy, but a central driver,” said Saxena.

Coinbase NFT will compete with NFT exchange platforms such as OpenSea, one of the major players in the space. According to TechCrunch, OpenSea facilitated $3.4 billion in transaction volume in August of this year. Coinbase NFT boasts two differentiating factors that set it apart from OpenSea. The first is that Coinbase is placing a large focus on the social and community aspects of its tool, something that OpenSea lacks. Coinbase’s second differentiation is that it comes with brand recognition and a built-in client base of 68 million users.

Currently, there is no word from Coinbase on the commission percentage it will charge artists, nor on the royalty percentage for perpetual trades. Whatever it decides, it will need to compete with OpenSea’s relatively-low 2.5% fee.

Coinbase went public on the NASDAQ earlier this year, trading under the ticker COIN. The San Francisco-based company’s user numbers increased 44% in the third quarter of this year, up from 56 million users in the previous quarter. Brian Armstrong is CEO.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How the Indian Diaspora Helps Fuel Fintech Innovation in the UAE

How the Indian Diaspora Helps Fuel Fintech Innovation in the UAE

Recent news headlines have underscored the long-standing relationship between fintechs in India and the UAE.

This week, we learned that Indian payment solution provider PayMate has teamed up with both Visa and Citi to automate business payments in the UAE. The collaboration will involve both accounts payables and receivables, enabling institutions to benefit from end-to-end payment automation.

Access to PayMate’s platform also will give corporations in the UAE the ability to take advantage of longer Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) as purchasers, as well as make supplier payments earlier. The platform, which auto-reconciles both made and received payments in real-time, also allows for settling of corporate card payments directly into the accounts of suppliers.

A Visa-certified Business Payment Solution Provider (BPSP), PayMate is looking to leverage its relationship with Visa into offering both its platform and working capital solutions to other countries in the region. More than 105,000 Indian businesses currently use the PayMate platform.

Also this week we learned of that a partnership between the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) and UAE-based Mashreq Bank will bring Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to the UAE to support Indian business and leisure travelers to the country.

Unified Payments Interface is an instant, real-time payment system launched by NPCI that enables multiple accounts to be controlled via a single mobile app. The solution supports a wide range of banking features ranging from money transfers to bill sharing and billpay to merchant payments. Introduced in 2016, UPI currently facilitates 10% of all retail payments in India, and has more than 100 million monthly active users in the country. Last year, $457 billion in value moved on the UPI platform, and analysts believe that UPI will top both Visa and Mastercard in India by 2023.

And while bringing UPI to the UAE will be a major boon for Indian travelers and expats in the country, the UAE stands to benefit as well from the support that additional digital payment activity will provide to the UAE’s digital payments ecosystem.

“We are delighted to collaborate with NIPL (NPCI International Payments) to introduce their mobile-based real-time payment systems to our customers in the UAE,” EVP and Head of Payments for Mashreq Bank Kartik Taneja said. “Given the position of UAE as an international commerce and tourism hub, retail merchants in the Emirates always enable the latest payment methods that are expected by our international clients.”

It is worth pointing out that Indians represent the largest expatriate community in the United Arab Emirates, its more than 3.4 million members representing more than 38% of the UAE population. And while this is no surprise to anyone who has visited the UAE, the impact of this sizable population on the fintech industries of both nations is notable. In the summer of 2019, the Dubai Startup Hub, a project of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, announced its intention to “woo” Indian fintechs to the UAE with a $100 million fund for financial services startups.

Underscoring Dubai’s role as a “testbed” for enabling technologies like blockchain and AI,” Manager of the Entrepreneurship Department at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce Natalia Sycheva noted that Indian startups represented more than 30% of the total start-up community in the country. “When we decided to launch the programme of attracting overseas start-ups here,” Sycheva said, “naturally the first choice was India, as 30% co-founders of our Dubai Startup Hub have Indian origin.”

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

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Why Coinbase’s Public Debut Matters

Why Coinbase’s Public Debut Matters

The news is abuzz with excitement about Coinbase’s IPO. The San Francisco-based digital currency platform began trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker COIN for $381 per share today and closed out the day at just over $328 per share.

It’s always exciting when a fintech company goes public, but there are a few reasons why Coinbase’s debut is particularly compelling:


Coinbase’s listing helps legitimize cryptocurrency in general. Many everyday consumers consider cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange for fraudsters and bad actors on the dark web. This will shift, however, to placing digital currencies in a more positive light and consumers will begin to understand the true benefits of crypto– a tool for faster payments, a way to lower fees, and an agent for a more inclusive financial system.

Sets the stage

The Coinbase IPO sets a precedent for others in the cryptocurrency industry to go public. Digital currency wallets and crypto marketplaces are closely tied to the price of cryptocurrencies, which have historically been extremely volatile.

Despite the uncertainty, Coinbase has proven to be profitable. According to the New York Times, Coinbase made $730 million to $800 million in net profit on $1.8 billion in revenue in the first quarter of this year. The company’s performance in the public eye will dictate the moves of others in the cryptocurrency industry, including bitcoin exchange Kraken, which is considering a public listing next year.

Ready for CBDCs?

One effect we may see come from Coinbase’s move into the public eye is its potential to prime the U.S. market for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). This reflects back to the first discussion point about offering a sense of legitimacy to the cryptocurrency realm.

The U.S. hasn’t taken any formal actions toward the launch of its own digital currency. However, multiple other nations, including China, Brazil, and Russia, have recently made announcements regarding their own nations’ CBDCs. Bringing cryptocurrency into the realm of traditional finance helps ready the everyday U.S. consumer for the eventual proliferation of digital currencies.

An increase in demand

Will Coinbase’s exposure outside the cryptocurrency space increase the number of people holding digital currencies?

Ben Weiss, CEO of crypto ATM provider CoinFlip answers it this way, “While it is hard for us to know if more people will get into crypto just because Coinbase is trading publicly, we know for sure that at least people who were too scared of the volatility of bitcoin can now take a more traditional approach by buying Coinbase stock. There will definitely be a lot of these people and hopefully this is a gateway for them to get into bitcoin over time.”

Cryptocurrencies and the Road to a Public Coinbase

Cryptocurrencies and the Road to a Public Coinbase

From its role as a digital currency innovator to its controversial, politics-free workplace stance, Coinbase continues to be one of fintech’s most compelling stories. And with the company moving ever closer toward a becoming a publicly-traded firm, attention on the San Francisco, California-based digital currency exchange only has intensified.

There may be no better example of this dynamic than an article published on Bloomberg.com this week headlined “Coinbase Is a $100 Billion Crypto Cult.” The author, Jared Dillian, is an investment strategist who wastes little time in letting readers know where he stands on a platform that “has frequent service outages, nonexistent customer service, and sky-high transaction costs.”

Nevertheless, as Dillian acknowledges, there are precious few alternatives for individual cryptocurrency investors. Moreover, much of his dissatisfaction seems to stem from an unfavorable comparison between Coinbase and discount stock brokerages – which have very different histories as well as very different ways of generating revenue.

As for the cult reference, that too has less to do with Coinbase and more to do with the author’s take on the contemporary enthusiasm/mania for cryptocurrencies. If you believe that investment in Bitcoin and other digital assets “has crossed over into religion territory” and represents “an investment cult,” then it is understandable to be critical of an institution that facilitates the behavior. But that, as Dillian indicates, is akin to blaming the store for selling picks and shovels to the gold miners.

What is Coinbase eight and a half years after its launch in 2012 (and six and a half after its Finovate debut)? Will its going public mark the beginning of a new era in digital asset adoption by institutions and individuals? Or, as has been the case in the past, will the news signal, if not an end, then at least a pause in what has been a surge in interest in cryptocurrencies since the spring of 2020?

Here’s what we know: Coinbase has filed with the SEC to go public by way of a direct listing, selling shares directly to the public rather than via a traditional IPO. The company will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker COIN. In terms of the company’s current valuation, at its most recent funding in 2018, Coinbase was valued at $8 billion. More recently, Axios has reported that Coinbase was valued at $100 billion when it sold shares on the Nasdaq Private Market earlier this year.

Coinbase currently has 43 million verified users (up from 12,000 in 2012). The company has a lifetime trading volume of $456 million and currently has more than $90 billion in assets on its platform. In fiscal 2020, the company experienced trading volume of $38 billion more than double that of fiscal 2018. And perhaps most critically, Coinbase has begun to secure the kind of institutional support that both the company and the cryptocurrencies it manages need. The company reported having 7,000 institutional customers as of the end of 2020, a seven-fold increase over 2017. Revenue growth also has been strong for Coinbase, with the company achieving revenues $1.3 billion in fiscal 2020 compared to $533.7 million in fiscal 2019.

What does this mean for a publicly-traded entity? The best case for $COIN may rest in its ability to serve as a safer haven for crypto-curious investors who do not have the interest in analyzing – or even deeply understanding – individual digital assets. Coinbase could find itself serving a role, in the near-term, that might otherwise be played by a Bitcoin or cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund. And if we are still in the early days of the Digital Asset Age, that may not be a bad place to be.

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