Coinbase Custody: $1 Billion in Assets Under Management Just 12 Months After Launch

Brian Armstrong, CEO at Coinbase, one of the largest cryptoasset trading platforms, has revealed that Coinbase Custody now has approximately $1 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All Assets Are Regulated, Insured, Subjected To Internal Evaluations

On May 6th, 2019, Coinbase’s management revealed that Coinbase Custody has added more than 20 different cryptocurrencies to its platform (so far this year). In addition to providing support for a wide range of cryptos, Coinbase’s team aims to “offer a safe, regulated and insured storage platform for all the assets [its] clients request and that pass [its] internal evaluations.”

Launched on May 15th, 2018, Coinbase Custody has been adding an average of around “$150 million AUM a month” and 70 institutional clients have registered (so far) to use the exchange operator’s digital asset custodial solution. This, according to Armstrong, whose comments came during an on-stage discussion at Coindesk’s Consensus 2019 event, held on May 15th, 2019.

Armstrong mentioned that institutional investors are also looking for cryptocurrency services such as “staking and voting, [and] doing governance on-chain.” Expressing views that are similar to many other blockchain industry participants, Armstrong believes proof-of-stake (PoS)-based cryptocurrencies will be widely used as their adoption rate is “growing rapidly.”

While most institutional clients are primarily interested in Bitcoin-related investments, Armstrong said that investors are now also more open to investing in other digital assets.

First Custodian To Provide OTC Trading “Directly From Cold Storage”

During the first of this year, Coinbase Custody has been integrating new features and support and it also became “the first institutional-grade, qualified custodian” to provide staking services for cryptoassets held in cold storage (offline). Coinbase Custody is also one of the first platforms to offer over-the-counter (OTC) trading “directly from cold storage.”

Only Around 200 Institutions Are “All In” On Crypto “So Far”

According to Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures: “The token funds and venture funds will make up the first two big institutional funds. For them [traditional institutions] to take their chips and go all in, I don’t see that in the next year or two.”

He also mentioned:

When people read in the Wall Street Journal that institutions are coming to crypto, they think Goldman is coming, but in reality, maybe 100 token funds in the US and 100 in Asia are all in so far.

Notably, Armstrong revealed that 60% of Coinbase’s “trading volume” now comes from institutions.

He added:

I would love to be in a world where people could self-custody … and still participate in exchanges, we’re talking to people at StarkWare about that.

Interestingly, Armstrong has also acknowledged that Coinbase is becoming increasingly centralized and that the exchange is “a victim of [its own] success.”

Bitfinex Wants to Offer 100x Leverage For Crypto Derivatives Trading

Michael LaVere
  • Bitfinex will offer 100x leverage trading for cryptocurrency derivatives
  • According to the exchange's CTO, the hedging product is "ready for prime time"

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex revealed it wants to offer derivatives products with up to 100x leverage for cryptocurrency traders. 

Hedging On Cryptocurrency Derivatives

Chief Technology Officer Paolo Ardoino told The Block on June 25 that the cryptocurrency exchange was ready to ship a 100x leverage product for certain users. According to the post, the project has been under development for some time and is “now ready for prime time.” 

The product was referenced in last month’s whitepaper published by Bitfinex for its $1 billion private token sale of LEO, stating

“Qualified Bitfinex account holders will be able to trade a new hedging product through a derivatives wallet.”

The whitepaper originally claimed that the new hedging mechanism would be released by the end of June, a timetable that fits with Ardoino’s “ready for prime time” statement. 

Ardoino confirmed that only “verified” customers will be allowed access to the product, given the risks involved in such highly leveraged trades. 

The CTO also took to Twitter to quell user concerns over Bitfinex’s existing 3.3x margin trading. Ardoino explained 100x leverage will be “optional,” and that their current leveraged trading products will be unaffected by the release. 

Big Risk, Big Reward

Bitfinex is looking to compete with rival exchange BitMEX, who already offers 100x leverage through its bitcoin perpetual swap contract. However, Bitfinex claims its product is designed as a legitimate hedging tool for clients, rather than a gambling mechanism. 

Max Boonen, CEO of trading firm B2C2, believes the product will only appeal to retail hedgers, as large investors will shy away from the risks involved in 100x trading. 

According to Boonen, 

“There’s nothing wrong inherently about 100x. But as a commercial hedger you want lower leverage margin. The larger investor wouldn’t want to take the risk of 100X, typically. They don’t want to go balls to the wall.”

The cryptocurrency derivatives market has been heating up. Last week bitcoin-bull Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital announced plans to offer cryptocurrency options contracts.

Binance has also reportedly been exploring futures trading. On June 24, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted the exchange had executed its first margin liquidation for a BTC short.