Skip to Content
Blockchain

Coinbase is starting to look a lot like a traditional big tech company

July 17, 2018

The popular American cryptocurrency exchange is growing up fast—and becoming more like the kind of company that cryptocurrency was supposed to circumvent.

Two big news items: Coinbase has announced that it is “exploring the addition” of five new crypto-tokens—Cardano, the Basic Attention Token, Stellar Lumens, Zcash, and 0x—which would join Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum Classic. Just as important, Bloomberg reported yesterday that Coinbase has the “green light” from US securities regulators to make three acquisitions that will pave the way for it to become one of the first licensed platforms for trading “tokenized” versions of traditional investments, like company shares.

A contentious backdrop: Landing on a big exchange like Coinbase boosts a crypto-token’s perceived value, so a lot of money is on the line. But there are very few rules governing the process, and the debate over which coins the exchanges should be allowed to list is just beginning. Complicating things is a lack of clarity from regulators in the US and many other countries regarding which coins are commodities, which are securities, and which may be something different altogether.

This looks familiar: Coinbase, which may be worth as much as $8 billion, has been in rapid expansion mode lately. Some have called it a budding “Google of crypto.” But isn’t that antithetical to the decentralized ideal to which so many cryptocurrency enthusiasts adhere? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Pictured above: Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.