Coinbase makes splash on market debut with $99.6bn valuation

Business

The cryptocurrency exchange coinbase started trading on Wednesday at a valuation of nearly $100bn (£72bn), in a major boost to supporters of digital currencies such as bitcoin.

Coinbase shares opened at $381 (£276) on the Nasdaq, racing past the $250 reference price, and valuing the exchange at $99.6bn (£72bn).

The valuation means that coinbase is worth more than traditional financial institutions such as HSBC, Barclays, and Standard Chartered.

It is the first time a major cryptocurrency business has been publicly listed, and is a landmark moment for a technology once considered trivial.

Coinbase earns money from transaction fees and has seen its profits soar as cryptocurrency trading has boomed since the start of the pandemic.

Record levels of cash have poured in to digital currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, plumping up coinbase’s margins. Both have seen their prices climb meteorically in the past year, rising over 800% and 1,300% respectively.

Thanks to this, coinbase booked an estimated $730m (£530m) to $800m (£580m) in net profits in the first three months of 2021, while it reported $1.8bn (£1.3bn) in revenue during the same period.

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“The coinbase IPO is potentially a watershed event for the crypto industry and will be something the Street will be laser focused on to gauge investor appetite,” said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives in a note to investors.

The company is a “foundational piece of the crypto ecosystem,” he said.

Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong, a software engineer at Airbnb, and Fred Ehrsam, a trader at Goldman Sachs.

The pair set out to simplify the process of buying and selling bitcoin, at a time when the currency was largely used by hobbyists fascinated by its technology, and criminals attracted to its anonymity.

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