FILE- In this Dec. 8, 2017, file photo, a man uses a Bitcoin ATM in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
FILE- In this Dec. 8, 2017, file photo, a man uses a Bitcoin ATM in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Coinbase to expand in Asia with crypto institutional services

By Julie Verhage Time of article published Jan 24, 2019

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INTERNATIONAL – Coinbase is turning to Asia a little more than six months after making a big push to become the go-to trading platform for Wall Street when it comes to all things related to digital currencies.

“Asia is super important to the crypto ecosystem,’’ Kayvon Pirestani, head of institutional sales in Asia for the San Francisco-based company, said in an interview. “It’s home to some of the most active retail traders in the world as well as a lot of institutional investors.”

The exchange announced in May that it was offering custodial services where US clients could store large amounts of digital currencies and get enhanced trading capabilities such as risk management and margin trading, which allows customers to use borrowed money. 

Coinbase has been testing it in Asia with select customers and is now broadly rolling it out across the region.

The institutional push came after the best-known crypto exchange in the US helped bring Bitcoin to the masses. 

The subsequent Bitcoin price collapse and fading general investor interest have triggered speculation Coinbase is rethinking its strategy to focus more on clients such as hedge funds rather than a broad range of Wall Street businesses.

Despite the slowdown in crypto trading, Coinbase was able to lock in a new round of funding in October at a valuation of $8 billion and generated $1.3 billion in 2018 sales, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg.

Pirestani says Asia will be a big part of Coinbase moving forward. He added that he expects some Asian exchanges to be customers through its custodial product to protect against future hacks.

“I would argue that the Asia customer base is already moving the needle for the firm,’’ he said. “One of our top five clients by revenue is in the Asian region.‘’


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