News about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology can easily fly under the radar, especially when the country is riveted by a controversial Supreme Court nominee, so here’s what you should know from this week’s headlines.
Catch up quick: Coinbase’s huge valuation could have been even larger; SEC seeks more comments on rejected bitcoin exchange-traded funds, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission holds meeting about digital assets; Circle to buy SeedInvest to help startups fundraise with crypto-assets.
Why it matters: Coinbase is one of the biggest names in the cryptocurrency industry, and it’s racing to build a range of services to attract customers, from regular people to institutional investors. But as we reported, its large exposure to the cryptocurrency market is making it challenging for investors to put a price on the company now that it’s valued in the billions, with one investor even retracting an offer at $12 billion.
As one early Coinbase investor tells us, “their performance right now is pretty tightly correlated to the price of bitcoin.”
Why it matters: The common theme here is regulators’ concerns over the exchanges’ abilities to adequately protect investors. Earlier this summer, the SEC rejected a number of bitcoin exchange-traded funds, at one point prompting one of its commissioners to dissent and argue her colleagues were judging the underlying bitcoin market instead of the exchanges.
Meanwhile, during this week’s CFTC meeting, industry representatives told the commission that self-regulation — following in Wall Street’s footsteps — could address many of the problems that cause exchange hacks and digital asset theft. Whether Washington buys that argument remains to be seen.
Why it matters: If approved by regulators, the acquisition would help Circle facilitate so-called “initial coin offerings” for other companies (SeedInvest specializes in public crowdfunding for startups).
Though the ICO fever has subsided since its peak last year, it’s sure to to pick back up should the federal government offer clearer rules via new legislation or guidance from regulators (or the courts). More broadly, companies and investors are also interested in using blockchain technology to create digital tokens backed by a number of different assets.