Coinbase Chief Brian Armstrong on Bitcoin Bubbles and Corrections

It’s not often that you have two blockchain pioneers like Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Ethereum Co-Founder Joseph Lubin address the market in the same week. But in recent days, the stars aligned, with Armstrong and Lubin both meeting with Bloomberg for separate interviews.

While each of them has their own take on the state of the market, they appear to agree on overarching themes that have gripped cryptocurrency investors of late surrounding digital currency prices and the bubble theory.

Coinbase’s Armstrong didn’t shy away from questions on bitcoin’s price, which has taken investors on a roller coaster ride since its December 2017 peak of more than $19,000 and recent dip below $6,000. Today, a corrective rally is in place in which the bitcoin price is up more than 6% on CoinMarketCap to $6,455. Armstrong suggested that it’s part of the evolution of the emerging technology.

“This technology is going through a series of bubbles and corrections. We’ve actually been through about four or five of them now where bitcoin made this big run-up in price and there was … irrational exuberance and it corrected back 60-70%. and each time it does that it’s at a new plateau,” said Armstrong.

Joseph Lubin, who in addition to co-founding Ethereum is at the helm of ConsenSys, seems to agree, adding in a discussion with Bloomberg that “each of these bubbles has the advantage to bring attention to our ecosystem.”

Coinbase and Crypto

Coinbase, which launched about six years ago, holds anywhere between $10 billion and $20 billion of clients’ cryptocurrency assets on a given day. In 2017, Coinbase transacted approximately $150 billion in cryptocurrency volume. Armstrong likened the bitcoin bubbles to the growth of Coinbase, which is the most popular U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange.

For instance, as the bitcoin price has traversed this series of bubbles and corrections, Coinbase’s growth has performed in a similar trajectory, with the number of daily new users rising on the heels of major market corrections.

Armstrong is in the camp of comparing cryptocurrencies to the internet of 2001, pointing to “a lot of good companies that got started in the trough as well,” such as Facebook, for instance. While the expectations for the cryptocurrency prices may be “all over the map,” he said that “the real world adoption and usage is pretty steadily increasing.”

While adoption and usage may be on the rise, don’t expect to walk into your local Starbucks and pay with bitcoin any time soon, at least not in the U.S. The reason, Armstrong suggests, is that payments aren’t a major “pain point” in the U.S. unlike some developing economies. As much as 90% of cryptocurrency usage surrounds investments, leaving a mere 10% for “real world usage.”

Armstrong, who more than once likened Coinbase to the New York Stock Exchange, also addressed topics like regulation and ICOs, saying of the latter that the exchange “is not trying to list everything under the sun.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Gerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.

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