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May 28, 2021

Coinbase listing to pave way for a flurry of crypto IPOs

By GlobalData Thematic Research

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase almost reached a $100bn market cap on its first day of trading on the Nasdaq in April. Since then, the stock has plummeted in line with the broader fall of cryptocurrencies, losing more than 40% of its value compared to its public debut. However, Coinbase has recovered slightly on the stock market after JP Morgan Chase initiated coverage and said that the stock can rebound more than 60%, driven by continued growth of the cryptocurrency market.

Despite the recent downturn, the support of heavyweights like JP Morgan Chase have prompted speculation about which cryptocurrency-related companies that might go public next. Back in April, Santosh Rao, Head of Research at Manhattan Venture Partners, a merchant bank that was one of Coinbase’s early investors, said that Coinbase’s debut would be a precursor for other players in the crypto space to go public.

Which cryptocurrency exchanges will go public?

The top four cryptocurrency exchanges according to CoinMarketCap’s Exchange Score, are in order: Binance, Huobi, Coinbase, and Kraken. So, which of these are primed to make their public debut next?

San Francisco-based Kraken, Coinbase main rival in the US, looks to be next on the list. In April, Jesse Powell, Kraken’s CEO and co-founder, told CNBC, that “We’re looking at being able to go public sometime next year” and “it would probably be a direct listing, similar to Coinbase”. Some media outlets are reporting that Kraken is seeking a valuation of over $10bn, although official confirmation has yet to be presented.

Huobi, a Seychelles-based cryptocurrency exchange founded in China, became publicly listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) via a reverse or backdoor takeover in 2019. It acquired HKEX-listed electronics manufacturer Pantronics in 2018 and changed its name to Huobi Technology in 2019.

On the other hand, Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, stated that it has no intentions to follow in Coinbase’s path and go public anytime soon. In March, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said that “We’re not really short on funds. We’re surviving OK and we’re growing very healthily and organically so we don’t have any plans for an IPO”.

Any other crypto players primed for an IPO?

Gemini, another US-based cryptocurrency exchange, founded by the Winklevoss twins, told Bloomberg in January that they are considering taking the company public amid the resurgence of interest in cryptocurrencies. Cameron Winklevoss said that “We are definitely considering it and making sure that we have that option. We are watching the market, and we are also having internal discussions on whether it makes sense for us at this point in time. We are certainly open to it”.

Bakkt, the Intercontinental Exchange-owned (and thereby corporate-sibling of the New York Stock Exchange) crypto futures and digital asset marketplace, said in January that it is going public via a merger with the VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company. The merger is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021.

The list doesn’t stop here, Apfinity, a digital asset trading network, BlockFi, a company specializing in the lending and borrowing of digital assets, and Blockchain.com, a platform that offers people and institutions ways to buy, hold, and use cryptocurrencies, have all, in the last few months, said that they are open to or plan on going public.

The votes are in, cryptocurrencies are here to stay

The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies has been fuelled by a wider acceptance among institutional investors in the last year, and Coinbase listing was a monumental moment for the mainstream legitimacy of the crypto industry. However, the recent downturn has once again highlighted the extreme volatility and regulatory uncertainty surrounding the crypto industry, casting a shadow of uncertainty over its prospects.

Nevertheless, support and continued interest from giants like JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Visa coupled with prominent crypto players ploughing ahead with their plans for public listings, make it unlikely that the crypto industry will fizzle out and disappear. As Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at Visa, recently said: “we see increasing demand from consumers across the world to be able to access, hold and use digital currencies”. There are a lot of uncertainties in life, but the likelihood of Fortune 500 companies turning down new revenue streams is not one of them. As such, prominent crypto players set to become publicly traded in the near future are likely to be well-received, especially if bitcoin and its smaller relatives continue to bounce-back.