Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, one of the best-known names in the cryptocurrency space, is not concerned about the decision of the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) to postpone its ruling on a proposed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). This was one of the topics Armstrong discussed in an extensive interview with Bloomberg, touching also on initial coin offerings (ICOs), Bitcoin’s price swings, altcoins, and regulatory issues.
The hottest current topics
When asked about the latest Bitcoin ETF developments, Armstrong offered a rather positive view. As he put it, the SEC has been doing its job at creating a “safe market” and protecting consumers, working together with Coinbase and other stakeholders. Expecting a swift decision on an issue like this would be foolish. The next challenge would be defining “what is an acceptable cryptocurrency” and how digital coins should be classified.
Armstrong expressed skepticism about most altcoins while reiterating that his platform was exploring the possibility of listing some. He was also somewhat negative on ICOs but acknowledged the concept was a positive for entrepreneurs with no other means of securing capital.
The topic of cryptocurrency adoption also made its way into the conversation, with Armstrong estimating approximately 90% of the current activity to be fueled by speculators and investors in various projects. The rest is left for real-world usage, which still occurs mostly online, and it will take some time before Starbucks begins accepting crypto.
Coinbase then and now
Armstrong drew a lot of comparisons between the current state of affairs in the cryptocurrency space and the early days of the Internet. Coinbase started out as a hosted wallet for the average user. As he noted, “nobody wants to run their own e-mail server,” and the exchange came much later due to popular demand. This is a somewhat controversial issue for crypto purists, who want to keep control of their wallets and private keys.
The comparison was a common theme throughout the interview as Armstrong believes a few good coins/companies will emerge once the dust settles. That being said, the growth of Coinbase is still correlated with Bitcoin’s price changes.
“This technology is going through a series of bubbles and corrections, […] we have been through four or five of them, where Bitcoin made a big run up in price […] and corrected back 60-70%. Each time it does that it’s at a new plateau, and it’s matched the growth of the company. […] In 2012-13, when we started, we had maybe 500 people a day signing-up and after the next bubble and correction we had 5,000 people a day and now it’s more like 50,000,” Armstrong said.