Leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase signed up hundreds of institutions in 2018 and is optimistic about what next year will bring.
Asiff Hirji, the President of Coinbase, told CNBC the company had “blown by” the internal goals it set for its custodial service and feels “very good” about its current position.
“We’ve laid a lot of the infrastructure to allow institutions to start to invest in cryptocurrencies,” Mr Hirji said.
“We think 2019 will continue to be a good year for the institutions that are coming into crypto.”
The 2018 crash
Mr Hirji said Coinbase had warned customers about a potential bubble when Bitcoin hit US$20,000 around 12 months ago.
“We had (said) at that time that sometimes things can get out ahead of fundamentals (and were) effectively reminding people to really take a hard look and … to be careful.”
“It’s the old adage of things are never as good as they seem and things are never as bad as they seem.
“To quote (Warren) Buffett – be greedy when others are fearful and be fearful when others are greedy.”
A year ago Bitcoin hit it's high. Today lots declare it dead. Things are never as good nor as bad as they seem. Remember Buffet – fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful
— Asiff Hirji (@AsiffHirji) December 17, 2018
“It hasn’t surprised me that we’ve had a bit of a bounce back,” Mr Hirji said.
“I think the amount of innovation that’s happened in cryptocurrency over the last year has exceeded everything in all the years before it.
“And if you just look at the number of engineers who are going to cryptocurrencies and the number of projects that are being launched, we’ve never had as much as innovation as we have today.”
Mr Hirji has denied claims that Coinbase has been adding more coins to make up for a lack of volume in the bear market.
“Three or four years ago, Bitcoin was the only thing that mattered in cryptocurrency,” he said.
“Now we’re at a point where there’s probably three to four thousand cryptocurrencies out there and there are probably 200 or so that matter. You should assume that we will over the course of time add all of the cryptocurrencies that matter in as many geographies as we’re allowed to add them.
“This is the start I think of the next great wave of innovation and technology and you should expect to see more and more cryptocurrencies over time.”
A Coinbase IPO?
Mr Hirji says Coinbase has “a long way to go” before doing an Initial Public Offering and will instead focus on “building a great business.”
“We did a (funding) round earlier this year where we were valued at $8 Billion (and) we had a number of institutions come and proactively want to invest in us,” he said.
“None of those investors were betting on the price of the asset today, tomorrow, or even a year from now. If that’s your time horizon, as an institutional investor, you shouldn’t be touching this.
“But if you have a long term constructive view of where crypto is going, we’re the best leveraged bet on crypto that you can find.” M