When bitcoin came out, supporters believed that the decentralized cryptocurrency would decimate the banking industry. Years later, as digital currencies became more mainstream, these networks were suddenly commanding billion dollar valuations. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchanges, brokerage services, and over-the-counter market makers have started to look into purchasing shares of banks and even becoming the banks themselves.
If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them
A lot has changed since the Bitcoin network was launched back in 2009 when the cryptocurrency was a tiny little network with just a few users. Now there are over 1600+ digital assets and the entire cryptocurrency market capitalization of all of them combined is valued at $294Bn USD. Back in the early days, incumbent financial institutions scoffed at cryptocurrencies but now it's pretty hard for them to ignore the massive economy growing around them.
These days some of the exchanges and market makers are becoming incredibly large and dealing with very large quantities of money. Moreover, a few businesses and cryptocurrency exchanges look like they are adopting a different kind of attitude — 'If you can't beat them, join them,' by either attempting to become banks or purchasing shares of these financial institutions.
The San Francisco Unicorn Coinbase Looks Into a Federal Banking Charter
For instance, the unicorn cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has been a digital asset heavyweight since the early days and the firm continues to make more money while expanding its services. There are those that believe Coinbase will someday become a fairly large sized 'bitcoin bank' with its 20Mn users that have traded $150Bn USD worth of digital assets since the company's inception. Back in May, the public found out that the San Francisco exchange was recently exploring a federal banking charter, other banking licenses, and had been meeting with U.S. regulators.