How the Coveted 'COIN' Ticker Found Its Way to Coinbase

London-listed Coinsilium has been trading under COIN since 2015. The Winklevoss twins registered the symbol for their proposed bitcoin ETF back in 2014. How did Coinbase land it in 2021?

AccessTimeIconApr 12, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:18 a.m. UTC

When Malcolm Palle, chairman of London-listed blockchain investment firm Coinsilium, saw that Coinbase was to begin trading on Nasdaq using the stock ticker “COIN,” it came as something of a surprise.

Back in 2015, Coinsilium became one of the first crypto-focused companies to go public, and the stock now trades on London-based Aquis Exchange (formerly NEX) – using the ticker symbol AQSE: COIN.

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  • Palle says he remains “relatively sanguine” about Coinbase taking the ticker, but added that conversations with the folks at Aquis, and also contacts at the London Stock Exchange, have left him wondering if this was merely overlooked by Coinbase and Nasdaq, and if any resulting confusion will end up being his problem.

    “What we would have expected to happen would have been for checks to be made from their end,” Palle said in an interview. “So either they did their checks and they didn't find us, which I find unbelievable, or they didn't do their checks and just thought, ‘It's available on Nasdaq, so we'll take it.’ Or they did their checks, found us and decided it doesn't matter, for whatever reason.”

    Coinbase declined to comment.

    Leaving aside the shades of David and Goliath this situation invites, there are cases where the same tickers exist in different jurisdictions, but not many. Underlying the ticker symbol is the International Securities Identification Number (ISIN), the code that uniquely identifies a specific stock. Where the potential for confusion really arises is with media coverage, not to mention the proliferation of social media, said Palle.

    Click the image for CoinDesk's full coverage of the Coinbase public listing.
    Click the image for CoinDesk's full coverage of the Coinbase public listing.

    Coinsilium, now Coinbase

    Coinsilium has been a stalwart of the London crypto community since the early days. The firm is recognized in the U.K. through the “COIN” ticker, but when it joined the OTCQB Market in the U.S. in October 2020, its shares were cross-traded under the ticker “CINGF.”

    Palle pointed out Coinsilium’s holdings have grown rapidly in recent months, and the company is busily pumping out news using the COIN tag in its releases.  

    “It's one thing to say there's a moribund company using the ticker and we'll never hear from them again. It's another thing to say we're going to use that ticker but there's also a ticker that belongs to a dynamic trading company that’s pumping out news,” Palle said, adding: 

    “We're not going to shy away from using the ticker symbol COIN in all our releases.”

    Nasdaq declined to comment.

    The Gemini angle

    London-listed Coinsilium is not the only firm to have coveted the famous ticker symbol. 

    In July 2014, Gemini co-founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss updated their exchange-traded fund (ETF) application, so that it would trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol “COIN.”

    Even when the twins later switched venues for the proposed ETF from Nasdaq to BATS Global Markets, the shares were to be listed under the “COIN” symbol.

    Back in 2014, Cameron Winklevoss told CoinDesk in an interview that “identifying the ticker symbol and the exchange are two major events that further demonstrate that we are moving forward as expected.” (Hindsight, etc.)

    Gemini declined to comment.

    UPDATE (April 13, 9:15 UTC): Modifies language around the amount of Coinsilium's crypto holdings.


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