‘The most powerful force in the world’: Coinbase CEO on the rise of cryptocurrency


October 3, 2018

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong discusses the future of cryptocurrency at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in September.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong discusses the future of cryptocurrency at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in September.

Digital currency exchange company Coinbase is taking the bitcoin world by storm.

CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong took the stage at TechCrunch San Francisco in September to share his experience in building Coinbase. According to Armstrong, about 40,000 people signed up for Coinbase in just one day, leading the company to quickly develop a customer service team that could help new customers learn about cryptocurrency and invest properly.

Coinbase’s mission is to “create an open financial system for the world” and spur innovation, efficiency, and economic freedom. Armstrong said he hopes that the number of people who own cryptocurrency will grow from 40 million now to 1 billion in five years and roughly 4 billion in ten years — roughly half of the world’s population.

“I think that technology is the most powerful force in the world that’s disrupting and improving things for the best,” Armstrong said. “We need people who can kind of help guide and shape legislation that’s out there, come up with creative solutions that haven’t been thought of before, and then go implement them as trailblazers in this industry.”

Armstrong predicted that most tech startups would have their own version of cryptocurrency tokens within the next few years, sparking conversation about regulation and whether those tokens count as securities or commodities. Coinbase acquired a broker dealer to handle securities exchanges and allow users to trade securities legally on the platform.

The company’s first product was a consumer app where users could trade cryptocurrency. Coinbase has since expanded to include an app specifically for professionals and institutions — Coinbase Pro — and the company is working on new initiatives that are “driving the utility phase of crypto,” according to Armstrong.

When asked how Coinbase plans to remain unshackled from control by big companies, Armstrong said it helps to have ample resources to achieve a company’s mission, but keeping ambitious goals in mind supersede money matters.

“I think my approach to entrepreneurship and business has always been, don’t try to think of something that’ll make money — try to think of something that’s useful, that people want, and the money part will kind of take care of itself,” Armstrong said.