Can’t blame Coinbase (COIN) for trying.
The most popular of the crypto exchanges in the United States is scrambling to try to find sources of growth as trading by retail investors has slowed markedly.
It is these same investors, led by young people who have suddenly become rich thanks to their investments in crypto, which had fueled the crypto mania in 2021.
But since the records reached in November, the euphoria seems to have died down. It is the hard return to reality. Bitcoin, which hit $69,000 on Nov. 10, has since lost more than $28,000 at last check, according to CoinGecko.
As for Ether, the native token of the ethereum blockchain, its value has decreased by 37.3% compared to its record high of $4,878.26 on Nov. 10.
Many retail investors, especially Reddit social media traders, have now opted for caution and occasionally venture onto trading platforms.
Apart from this slowdown in retail investor trading, Coinbase is also suffering from competition from brokerages like Robinhood (HOOD) – Get Robinhood Markets, Inc. Class A Report, which also offer crypto services.
An International Expansion With Uncertain Results
The company is multiplying initiatives and often without much success.
Coinbase announced in February that it was diversifying into the remittances business, basically money that immigrants and expats send back home to their families and/or friends.
The company claimed to have developed a very low-cost cross-border money-transfer service. The platform is testing a pilot in Mexico before deploying it probably a little later in other countries.
Remittance is a lucrative business, and one of the biggest players in it is Western Union. In 2020, the global remittance industry was estimated at $702 billion, and it’s anticipated to hit $1.23 trillion by 2030, according to Allied Market Research.
At the beginning of April, the firm said crypto investors in India could now use the country’s online retail payments system to transfer funds to the platform.
This system, known as United Payments Interface or UPI, is run by an entity, the National Payments Corporation of India that’s part of the country’s central bank.
But three days after the announcement, Coinbase had to suspend transfers of rupees, the local currency, to its trading app due to the fact that the authorities were not aware of company’s projects.
Coinbase customers found themselves without the means to fund their accounts with rupees.
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The company is experimenting with a new initiative still to increase its revenues and profits.
Coinbase has just launched its marketplace for the creation (mint) and sale of non-fungible tokens several months after unveiling this project.
This is a bet that these digital property titles are a long-term economic opportunity.
Coinbase’s NFT marketplace is available now in trial form (Beta).
“Beta testers will be able to create a Coinbase NFT profile to buy and sell NFTs using any self-custody wallet, whether that’s Coinbase wallet or something else,” Sanchan Saxena, vice-president of product, ecosystem products, said in a blog post.
“For a limited time, there’ll be no Coinbase transaction fees. We’ll eventually add fees, which will be in-line with web3 industry standards, and we’ll provide notice before anything changes.”
Web3 is the new iteration of the internet which is decentralized.
The beta testers are invited by Coinbase based on their position on a waitlist the company opened several months ago.
“We’ll start at the top of the waitlist and open access to more people over time. Stay tuned as we gradually make access to create profiles, buy, and sell on Coinbase NFT available to everyone,” Saxena said.
The problem is that the context between Coinbase’s announcements and the launch of this NFT marketplace has completely changed and not in a good way.
The euphoria around NFTs, the buzzword at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, has died down. We are living a bit of a return to earth for these digital title deeds.
According to DappRadar statistics, OpenSea, the U.S. NFT marketplace leader, has seen a 6.74% decline over the last 30 days in active users, and a drop of 8.25% in internal transactions. Sales are down 67% over that period.
“In a year in which profitability may be challenged, we question the strategic rationale of chasing NFTs, especially as interest in NFTs appears to be dwindling,” Dan Dolev, analyst at Mizuho, wrote to its clients early April.
Market cap is now at $38.5 billion from $65.47 billion when it was listed on the stock market a year ago. Coinbase’s market cap has thus shrunk by nearly $27 billion.