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Coinbase’s crypto winter survival plan involves a $4 billion cash reserve

The crypto exchange might use its cash stockpile to fund new product rollouts as a way to diversify its revenue sources and lessen its reliance on transaction fees.

Marco Verch

Thu, 19 Aug 2021, 13:47 pm UTC

Crypto exchange Coinbase is preparing for the worst-case scenario. The Nasdaq-listed firm has set aside a multi-billion cash stockpile to ensure that it could weather a host of business risks in the crypto industry including a crypto winter.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Coinbase Chief Financial Officer Alesia Haas said that the crypto exchange has set aside a stockpile worth around $4 billion in cash to offset a host of potential negative business developments. The CFO added that the platform stress tests its balance sheet as preparation for possible cyberattacks, trading declines, stricter regulations, and other still unidentified risks.

“We want to ensure that we maintain those cash reserves so that we can continue to invest and continue to grow our products and services in the event that we go into a crypto winter,” Haas explained. Crypto winter is an extended bear market, which came from the sustained low prices of Bitcoin and other digital currencies in 2018 and 2019.

Coinbase has benefited from the recent surge in both institutional and retail crypto trading. The company’s second-quarter 2021 profits soared to $1.61 billion, a massive 4,931 percent increase from the $32 million it reported for the same period in 2020.

The crypto exchange generated $2.23 billion in revenue in Q2 2021, up 1,098 percent from Q2 2020s $186 million. Around 95 percent of its revenue came from trading fees while the rest came from subscription and other services such as custody fees for its institutional clientele.

The crypto platform’s number of monthly active retail investors rose sixfold to 8.8 million compared to the same period last year. Coinbase also reported that its now serve around 9,000 institutional clients. With the company’s strong performance, its cash balance has soared to $4.36 billion as of June 30, 2021, around four times higher than its cash position at the end of 2020.

Haas said that the company’s cash stockpile could be used for acquisitions. Coinbase acquired blockchain infrastructure provider Bison Trails in February. The company clarified that it does not intend to buy back shares or use it to pay dividends at the moment.

With its performance heavily relying on transaction fees, Coinbase is vulnerable to trading declines. According to Cointelegraph, the company might opt to use its war chest for new product roll-outs as a means of diversifying its revenue streams.

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