'Coinbase is Coinbase for crypto': Crypto exchange's CFO weighs in on its market debut

Coinbase is officially trading on Nasdaq under the ticker COIN and its chief financial officer has a message for Wall Street: its business can't be pigeonholed into one category.

"Coinbase is Coinbase for crypto," Alesia Haas said in a message to The Block. The crypto exchange, which has seen its share price whipsaw throughout Wednesday's trading session—has been referred to as the Google of the crypto world and the Goldman Sachs of the market, illustrating its central position in the blockchain world. 

Coinbase traded above $420 shortly after its public debut but fell as low as $310 before the close at $328.28. At the time of writing, the exchange's share price is trading hands at about $330 in post-market trading.

During its first day of trading, $COIN traded more than SPY, as noted by Bloomberg's Eric Balchunas

But Haas wants would-be investors to take a broader view of the firm, which has raked in most of its revenues from custody and trading-related services. While those revenues came in at an estimated $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2021, the firm's core brokerage business could be threatened by fee compression in the future. 

"We are focused on the long-term where we will continue to diversify our offerings," Haas said. "Today we are primarily investing, but interestingly enough, we’re seeing over 20% of users engaging with multiple products - from staking to earning, and borrowing/lending."

Today, nearly 90% of Coinbase's revenues are transactional. But Haas told The Block in a phone interview that those revenues will diversify. 


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"We don't yet know where value will accrue," she said. "We have products that touch payments, brokerage, and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. And value can accrue in many ways. It may take 5 to 10 years longer for them to play out. But we are going to try to build a platform that engages in all the new types of transactions that exist from fiat to crypto to decentralized finance."

Still, it's no secret that Coinbase operates in an increasingly competitive environment not only from crypto exchanges but also a growing list of fintechs and other incumbent financial services looking to leverage crypto capabilities as a new lever for monetization and user engagement.

Haas said the firm's history in both crypto and traditional finance would serve as a competitive moat down the road.

"We are competing against other crypto native companies and financial services companies. On the crypto side, we are deeply committed to compliance in the way we've positioned ourselves. Meanwhile, compared to Square, PayPal, Fidelity we are crypto native. We are deeply integrated with crypto protocols and are not producing just the simple bitcoin experience and are not wall gardened like many of these platforms."

To be sure, the share of Coinbase's assets on platform (AoP) relative to the total value of the crypto market has only continued to grow over the past eight quarters. As of March 31st, 2021 the company estimated that it had over $220 billion worth of crypto on its platform.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Frank Chaparro is the Editor At Large at The Block. Chaparro started his career at Business Insider, where he specialized in the intersection of digital assets and Wall Street, market structure, and financial technology. Soon after joining Business Insider out of Fordham University, Chaparro was interviewing top finance and tech executives, including billionaire Mark Cuban, “Flash Boys” star Brad Katsuyama, Cboe Global Markets CEO Ed Tilly, and New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley. In 2018, he become a sought after reporter in the crypto world, interviewing luminaries such as Tyler Winklevoss, the cofounder of Gemini, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, and Fundstrat head Tom Lee. He runs his own podcast The Scoop and writes a biweekly eponymous newsletter. He leads special projects, including The Block's flagship podcast, The Scoop. Prior to The Block, he held roles at Business Insider, NPR, and Nasdaq. For inquiries or tips, email [email protected].