On March 19, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, appeared on Bloomberg TV to discuss various aspects of the cryptocurrency industry, including the impact of spot Bitcoin ETFs on Coinbase’s business, his meetings with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and the potential approval of spot Ethereum ETFs.

Spot Bitcoin ETFs and Coinbase’s Business

Armstrong began by addressing the positive impact of spot Bitcoin ETFs on Coinbase. Contrary to concerns about these ETFs diverting business away from the platform, he noted that Coinbase had actually seen an influx of capital into the system, amounting to about $12 billion. He emphasized that Coinbase is the custodian for approximately 90% of the assets in these Bitcoin ETFs, which not only provides monetization opportunities but also has not cannibalized the company’s direct retail and institutional products.

Coinbase’s Role Beyond a Crypto Exchange

Armstrong highlighted Coinbase’s evolution beyond just a cryptocurrency exchange. With over 100 supported crypto assets, Coinbase aims to be the most trusted and easiest-to-use platform for storing, trading, and using cryptocurrencies. He envisions Coinbase potentially serving as people’s primary financial account in the new crypto economy, akin to a “crypto bank,” albeit without engaging in fractional reserve banking.

Spot Ethereum ETFs and Regulatory Challenges

When discussing the potential for spot Ethereum ETFs, Armstrong voiced his belief that they should be approved, considering the clear commodity status of Ethereum. However, he acknowledged the political and regulatory hurdles, including the ongoing “turf war” between the CFTC and the SEC over whether cryptocurrencies are commodities or securities. Armstrong was optimistic that, despite possible delays, the industry would follow a path similar to Bitcoin ETFs, potentially resorting to legal action to ensure fair treatment.

Coinbase’s Infrastructure and System Importance

Addressing the technical challenges faced by Coinbase amid surges in crypto trading activity, Armstrong admitted that the platform had experienced traffic far exceeding their models, which underscored Coinbase’s growing role as a systemically important financial institution. He committed to further investments in infrastructure to ensure reliability and service quality.

Diversification and Future of Crypto Investments

Armstrong discussed the importance of diversification in custody solutions for crypto assets, stressing that people should have the option to self-custody. He also outlined a vision for the future where crypto investments go beyond passive holdings, highlighting the increasing utility of cryptocurrencies in payments, digital art, and decentralized applications. Armstrong foresees Coinbase playing a significant role as both an infrastructure provider for traditional financial services and a direct platform for engaging with the crypto economy.

Political and Economic Context

Finally, Armstrong touched on the broader political and economic context, particularly the role of cryptocurrencies in addressing inflation. He argued that Bitcoin offers a crucial check and balance on deficit spending and could help preserve the U.S.’s status as a financial and technological leader. Armstrong also mentioned Coinbase’s efforts to support pro-crypto candidates, emphasizing the growing political significance of the cryptocurrency user base.