Preparations for the launch of Bitcoin (BTC) futures on Bakkt are on track. While market participants were excited before the launch of CME group’s futures trading at the end of 2017, the current launch is being approached with caution. Bitcoin’s volatility continues to drop, which shows that both bulls and bears are not taking large directional bets.
Coinbase is one of the most popular ways to buy Bitcoins, and it is now looking to take the ease of use that it provides one step further. The cryptocurrency exchange recently announced that it is raising $300 million as a part of Series E financing at a value of more than $8 billion. Tiger Global Management is leading this financing round, while the other participants include Wellington Management, Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator Continuity, Polychain, and others.
In April 2019, a UK corporate filing stated that Coinbase's non-U.S. revenue grew 20% to €153 million (U.S.$173 million) in 2018 resulting in a net profit of €6.6 million. Coinbase UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz said the company's non-U.S. operations accounted for nearly one-third of the company's overall revenue and Reuters estimated that the company's global revenue totaled "around $520 million" in 2018.
Ripple positions itself as a complement to, rather than a competitor with, Bitcoin - the site has a page dedicated to Ripple for bitcoiners. Ripple is a distributed network which means transactions occur immediately across the network - and as it is peer to peer - the network is resilient to systemic risk. Ripples aren't mined - unlike bitcoin and its peers - but each transaction destroys a small amount of XRP which adds a deflationary measure into the system.
Essentially, if you are interested in trading in digital currencies but don't want to get bogged down in the underlying technology, products like Coinbase are a way to begin a foray into a new form of currency speculation and investing. You do, however, lose some of the advantages of trading in a cryptocurrency and through the blockchain. On Coinbase, you have no pseudo anonymity—your name is attached to your Coinbase account and so is your bank account, so transaction history is relatively easy to track down. And if you're not working on the blockchain, there's not much you can do to ensure that the verification of your transaction history or your account is taking place on the blockchain. You are, instead, placing trust in the intermediary, in this case, Coinbase.
Coinbase recently announced that its customers in supported jurisdictions can send, receive, buy, and sell the USD Coin stablecoin (USDC) on its website and mobile applications. This marks Coinbase first entry into stablecoins, which have a fundamental difference as compared to other cryptocurrencies. A USDC is pegged to the price of a single US dollar (USD). Coinbase explains that one USDC is represented by one USD on the Ethereum blockchain.
Cryptocurrencies are experiencing a moment of unprecedented attention and speculation for several reasons. 1) The value of Bitcoin has been steadily climbing through 2017, with Ether seemingly poised to overtake the cryptocurrency giant any day; 2) Blockchain technology has purposes above and beyond cryptocurrency, and has been hailed by some as the backbone of the future financial system; 3) The increasing number of people who see cryptocurrency as a form of investment similar to gold. If cryptocurrencies stabilize in value, buying Bitcoin or Ether has the potential to be a worthy venture.
However, Coinbase doesn’t list XRP on its exchange yet, and the addition of the cryptocurrency to custody services doesn’t guarantee that it will be offered on the exchange. But then, because Coinbase Custody is now supporting XRP, user confidence in the cryptocurrency should increase. Additionally, institutional investing in XRP will also bring more liquidity and push up volumes of the cryptocurrency, so Coinbase listing this digital asset on its exchange shouldn’t be ruled out completely.
In the case of Bitcoin, miners run computer programs to verify the data that creates a complete transaction history of all Bitcoin. A technology known as the blockchain, which is used to create irreversible and traceable transactions, makes the process of verification possible. Once a miner has verified the data (which comes in a block, hence, blockchain), they are rewarded with some amount of digital currency, the same currency for which they were verifying the transaction history. So mining Bitcoin, for example, would earn you Bitcoin.
The other 2% of customer funds, held online, are covered in the event of a breach of Coinbase's online storage. Also, Coinbase holds all customer fiat currency in custodial bank accounts, on behalf of customers. So, if you have fiat currency in Coinbase, in a USD wallet, it is covered by FDIC insurance up to $250,000 (just like a "regular" bank). This protects customer assets (so long as they have been converted to fiat currency) even in the event of Coinbase becoming insolvent.
Coinbase is not just a “wallet” for digital money, it is an entire platform that makes it is possible to store, transfer, buy and sell it. The process of signing up is similar to any other website. After logging in, it is possible to choose any national currency in the settings to show the relative rate of Bitcoin. In order to transfer money, it is necessary to add some to the account and then submit the information about the receiver. The latest news concerning Coinbase is that access to its system is now available for 24 countries. Coinbase offers two-factor authentication, exchange on stock markets where all operations are possible without leaving the account, instant confirmation of transfers, and partnership programs which gives users $10 for inviting friends to join the platform.
Despite the intricate technology associated with and necessary for cryptocurrency investing, speculation and possession, Coinbase has created an apparatus that makes this process remarkably easy and familiar, almost like buying and selling stocks. This screenshot from the Coinbase site shows real-time cryptocurrency prices and doesn't look too different from your ordinary online stock tracker.