Brian Armstrong at Consensus 2019 via CoinDesk archives

Coinbase CEO Armstrong Says Crypto Is Path to Financial Inclusion

Daniel Kuhn
Aug 2, 2019 at 01:00 UTC
Updated Aug 2, 2019 at 19:06 UTC
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Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wants to build an open financial system.

As part of the company’s roadmap outlined during an open house, Armstrong said his firm would continue to take a leading role in the development and dissemination of blockchain technology to get “100 million or more people to start [using] cryptocurrency.”

Referring to a line chart showing slow improvements in global economic freedom since 1995, Armstrong said:

“We can actually change the line, actually bend this curve and materially change the economic freedom of the entire world by what we’re going to build. … The vision for Coinbase is creating more economic freedom for every person and business in the world over the next ten years.”

To this end, Coinbase will continue to invest in industry startups through its incubator program, Coinbase Ventures. It will also roll out a suite of products aimed at lowering barriers to entry and expanding the ways people can earn cryptocurrencies.

“Coinbase can’t do it alone, there needs to be thousands of companies out there,” he said.

While his firm has already invested in 50 or 60 startups, Armstrong pointed out there are new investment strategies like security tokens and initial exchange offerings that will propel the industry forward.

While the upstarts of today will enjoy the benefits of being crypto-native, Armstong also pointed out that Coinbase grew to be “the largest custodian out there … by really focusing on compliance” and forging relationships with traditional financial institutions.

He believes it’s this emphasis on financial and cybersecurity that enabled “people to really trust us.” Ultimately, Armstrong wants to leverage his brand’s image of convenience and safety “to have a billion people, in say five to ten years, accessing an open financial system through our products every day.”

Armstrong is not the only Bay Area-technologist looking to reshape the global financial system. Though, in his 16-minute speech, there was no reference to Facebook’s Libra project.

Update (Aug. 2, 19:01 UTC): Corrected a transcription error in the first pullquote.

Brian Armstrong image via CoinDesk archives