Picture: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC
Picture: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

Miami  — Coinbase, a leading US cryptocurrency exchange, moved a step closer to listing on the Nasdaq with a filing on Thursday to go public, revealing that it had swung into profit in 2020 as bitcoin surged.

Approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a listing would represent a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates, vying for mainstream endorsement for a sector which has struggled to win the trust of mainstream investors, regulators and the public.

It would pave the way for the first share listing of a company whose business is primarily focused on trading cryptocurrencies, and could also be seen as a tacit regulatory approval of assets traded on its platform.

In its filing, Coinbase noted that it had not received approval from regulators that would allow it to trade cryptocurrencies that had been classified as securities in the US. While bitcoin is considered a commodity by US financial regulators, most other cryptocurrencies have yet to be classified as commodities or securities.

In December, Coinbase shut down trading in the XRP cryptocurrency, after the SEC charged associated blockchain firm Ripple with conducting an unregistered securities offering.

The price of bitcoin, the world's biggest cryptocurrency ended 2020 up more than 300% and earlier in February hit a record high of $58,354 with a market capitalisation above $1-trillion.

Bitcoin has come off its recent highs this week as investors grew nervous at sky-high valuations.

The filing provides the first detailed look at Coinbase's finances since the San Francisco-based company was founded in 2012.

It showed Coinbase in 2020 pulled in total revenue of $1.3bn, up from $533.7m in 2019. It reported net income of $322.3m, swinging from a loss of $30.4m.

In the filing, Coinbase, which was valued at more than $8bn in its past private fundraising round in 2018, did not disclose the date when it plans to list shares on Nasdaq. It also did not disclose the price at which its stock has been trading of late in private markets. This will serve as a pricing benchmark when it goes public on Nasdaq.

Coinbase is eschewing a traditional initial public offering where a company raises money by selling new shares, opting instead to go public through a direct listing where no new stock is sold and existing shareholders can sell stock.

It is among the most well-known cryptocurrency platforms globally, with more than 43-million users in more than 100 countries.

The New York Stock Exchange, BBVA and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit are among those that have invested in Coinbase.

Coinbase said in December that it had confidentially applied with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go public. Reuters reported in July that Coinbase started plans for a stock-market listing.

Reuters

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