Coinbase Institutional, Retail Trading Volume Grew at Equal Rates in 2020

Coinbase's institutional volumes have exceeded retail every quarter since Q2 2019.

Feb 25, 2021 at 6:22 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:17 p.m. UTC

As investors on Thursday got their first-ever public glimpse of U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase's financial results, a big surprise was just how far the company has come in diversifying its business mix away from the industry's roots in a primarily retail-driven market.

Retail customers represented just 36% of trading volumes during the fourth quarter, down from 80% in early 2018, Coinbase's regulatory disclosures showed. That means the bulk of volume has shifted in recent years toward institutional customers, mirroring the broader industry shift as more big investors nose into crypto markets. But the growth rates of volume from each demographic remained roughly equal in the past year.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Coinbase reported $5 billion in retail trading volume matched with $9 million in institutional volume. Fast forward to the fourth quarter of 2020 and the exchange reported $32 billion in retail volume – a 540% increase – matched with $57 billion from institutional clients, a 533% increase.

The shift toward more institutional business is reflected in recent reports of Coinbase serving as the agent or middleman for several high-profile bitcoin purchases. The company has assisted corporate investors including the business intelligence company MicroStrategy and the electric-vehicle maker Tesla, led by CEO Elon Musk, who has tweeted favorably about cryptocurrencies.

The second quarter of 2019 marked the first time Coinbase reported institutional trading volume exceeding retail volume since early 2018. Every quarter since, the exchange has seen institutional trading exceed retail volumes.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Coinbase retail and institutional trading volume since Q1 2018

The Festival for the Decentralized World
Thursday - Sunday, June 9-12, 2022
Austin, Texas
Save a Seat Now

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Trending

1
CoinDesk - Unknown
First Mover Asia: Terra's Difficult Post-Collapse Path: VCs Backing Away, Regulators Jumping on Stablecoins

Some investors see salvageable pieces in the rubble while others are bemoaning their involvement and want to forget the protocol ever existed; bitcoin edges up in weekend trading.

Some investors see salvageable pieces in the rubble while others are bemoaning their involvement and want to forget the protocol ever existed; bitcoin edges up in weekend trading.

CoinDesk - Unknown
2
CoinDesk - Unknown
China Can’t Seem to Stop Bitcoin Mining

Reported hashrate fell to zero for two months in China last year, but it has since returned rather abruptly.

Reported hashrate fell to zero for two months in China last year, but it has since returned rather abruptly.

CoinDesk - Unknown
3
CoinDesk - Unknown
Could Local Digital Currencies Improve Communities?

That's the argument of the president of the RadicalxChange Foundation.

That's the argument of the president of the RadicalxChange Foundation.

CoinDesk - Unknown
4
CoinDesk - Unknown
After the Terra Meltdown: What's Next for Stablecoins?

The largest token collapse in crypto history. So let Luna die.

The largest token collapse in crypto history. So let Luna die.

CoinDesk - Unknown