Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said the exchange’s custody service, Coinbase Custody, has $1 billion in assets under management (AUM) in just 12 months after launch.
In an on-stage discussion at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2019 event on Wednesday, Armstrong was asked by panel moderator and Wall Street Journal reporter Paul Vigna about the status of institutional involvement in the cryptocurrency industry.
“We launched our custody 12 months ago, we’ve just crossed $1 billion AUM or institutions, 70 institutions have signed up, adding about $150 million AUM a month, so, to a large degree that has been a success.”
He added the institutions are not merely interested in having their funds sit idle while in custody either.
“They want to be staking and voting, doing governance on-chain,” Armstrong said. “I think that will grow rapidly.”
He also noted bitcoin is still the main asset of interest for institutions, but the interest for other cryptocurrencies is growing, too, so Coinbase currently offers services for 30 coins for institutions, including staking-as-a-service for some.
Both panelists, Armstrong and Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson, noted the institutions involved are not necessarily the big, traditional players most are familiar with, such as BlackRock.
“The token funds and venture funds will make up the first two big institutional funds,” Wilson said. “For them [traditional institutions] to take their chips and go all in, I don’t see that in the next year or two.”
“When people read in the Wall Street Journal that institutions are coming to crypto they think Goldman is coming, but in reality, maybe 100 token funds in the U.S. and 100 in Asia are all in so far.”
The Coinbase trading platform geared toward more advanced traders, Coinbase Pro, is seeing notable institutional involvement as well, Armstrong said, with more than half of its trading volume now coming from said institutions.
“Sixty percent of our trading volume is from institutions,” Armstrong said.
While so far a success, Coinbase being the sole custodian of user funds is not the exchange’s end goal.
Armstrong envisions users themselves taking a more active role in the custodial process, stating:
“I would love to be in a world where people could self-custody … and still participate in exchanges, we’re talking to people at StarkWare about that.”
Anna Baydakova contributed reporting.
From left: Fred Wilson, Brian Armstrong and Paul Vigna speak at Consensus 2019, image by Anna Baydakova for CoinDesk