As is now customary for the company, Coinbase has released a list of the latest assets it’s considering. The latest batch are being mooted for its institutional platform, Coinbase Custody, and thus are for storage only at this time, though future trading cannot be discounted.
The list of altcoins it’s considering is as eclectic as it is incongruous. While some selections make sense, others have left observers scratching their heads.
Coinbase Prepares to Unleash a Plague of Assets
Coinbase, which has traditionally added new cryptocurrencies at a rate of one a year, has been on something of a splurge lately. In addition to ethereum classic (ETC), which is scheduled to start trading in around a week on its retail exchange, there’s a handful of other assets it’s likely to list in the near future such as ADA, BAT, and ZRX. Yesterday it was the turn of its institutional arm, Coinbase Custody, to unveil a shortlist of possible new tokens. Only in this case, it was more of a long list, containing no less than 34 coins.
Scanning the list of coins that are candidates for custodial inclusion provides an insight into the thinking of CEO Brian Armstrong and his team, for like it or not, Coinbase exerts huge sway over the industry. It may be slow to list new coins, but when it does belatedly get its act together, the markets react swiftly to the news. ETC is up 15% in the past 24 hours ahead of its Coinbase listing, while the likes of Tezos, which is on the Coinbase Custody shortlist, is up by 20%. Even in a bear market, Coinbase has the power to move markets.
Half of Coinbase Custody’s Shortlisted Assets Make Little Sense
Like any shortlist, the selection of coins that might make the grade at Coinbase Custody is open to debate. The company is naturally entitled to list whatever it likes, but from a business perspective, there are some odd choices. Furthermore, given that low market cap altcoins are more synonymous with retail investors than institutional, it’s hard to imagine why Coinbase Custody is interested in safeguarding altcoins that investment firms are unlikely to look twice at.
As the company clarified in its blog post, “Coinbase Custody is exploring the addition of many existing and forthcoming crypto assets for storage only, and will be working to add them as quickly and safely as possible. At this time, we have not yet considered these assets for trading.”
It is safe to assert, however, that Coinbase wouldn’t offer to care for these assets on behalf of its clients if it wasn’t at least considering making some of them tradable in the future.
The Strangest Names on the List
Of the 34 assets on the list, the following coins have attracted particular attention:
Ripple: Could this be Coinbase’s way of taunting ripple bagholders by offering to safeguard their coin but never list it?
Monero: Given XMR’s association with illicit transactions, it had been assumed that Coinbase would never touch a coin whose previous owners could have used it to fund anything from terrorism to drugs.
Tezos: Last year this might have made sense, but ever since Tezos’ legal woes, the coin has become a hot potato that US investors in particular have been reticent to touch. It is currently listed on Gate.io, Hitbtc, and Gatecoin only.
Bytecoin: As one commenter pithily put it, “listed on the Chinese govt top shitcoin list, now being considered by @CoinbaseCustody, apparently institutions might want to own this. Launch was a joke of a scam: claimed it had been used on deep web for 2 years, faked whitepaper dates, faked blockchain, 80% premine.”
Bitshares: In 2015 maybe.
Tatatu: A coin literally no one has heard of.
Kik: Pump and dump vaporware.
Bitcoin Gold: One of 2018’s worst performers, down 95% from its ATH (though listing might still make sense since it’s a BTC fork so many Coinbase customers will own it by default).
On a brighter note, the remainder of Coinbase’s shortlist makes sense, with some commendable candidates ranging from the obvious (Decred) to the nostalgic (Doge) to the up-and-coming – Telegram, Hashgraph and Foam, which is so fresh its token sale hasn’t even completed. While crypto commenters debate the wisdom of Coinbase Custody’s proposed new additions to the vault, institutional investors will be googling hard, trying to ascertain the identity of these hitherto unheard of assets that are now poised for inclusion – and possibly even listing – on the world’s most famous exchange.