Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has filed with US regulators to go public, in a move that could capitalise on a recent rally in bitcoin and other digital tokens.
Coinbase said in a short statement it had submitted a confidential draft registration statement for a public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The statement did not provide additional details about the timing or size of the prospective listing.
Cryptocurrency advocates have eagerly awaited Coinbase’s listing, believing it could lend the sector legitimacy in the eyes of regulators and the public. A stock market debut would make the San Francisco-based company the first big public cryptocurrency exchange in the US.
The move to markets followed a run of large recent tech initial public offerings, including from the short-term rental site Airbnb and meal delivery company DoorDash, and could position it as one of the first big US listings next year.
The price of bitcoin has surged to new highs in recent weeks, surpassing $20,000 for the first time on Wednesday on the strength of a broader market rally that has lifted everything from junk bonds to hard-hit travel companies.
Founded in 2012 by the former Airbnb engineer Brian Armstrong and former Goldman Sachs trader Fred Ehrsam, Coinbase has become the largest US-based cryptocurrency exchange, expanding adoption and trading of digital tokens.
Investors led by Tiger Global Management valued the company at $8bn in a $300m round of funding in 2018, making it one of the most valuable cryptocurrency companies.
The recent cryptocurrency bull market has been driven in part by rising interest from professional investors and central banks and suggestions digital currencies could benefit as coronavirus-related lockdowns accelerate the shift from cash toward digital payments. In October, PayPal announced that it would start offering support for cryptocurrencies.
Coinbase is also one of the founding members of the Facebook-led global digital currency project Diem, formerly known as Libra, which is on track to launch next year.
Still, Mr Armstrong recently cautioned investors about the rally, saying the company takes a “long-term view of the market”.
“While we’re always excited to see increased interest in crypto, it’s also important to point out that this is not only a time of high volumes, but also price volatility,” Mr Armstrong wrote in a blog post.
Coinbase said this week it had added the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and former Cisco chief financial officer Kelly Kramer as board directors. Mr Andreessen, whose group Andreessen Horowitz was one of the first investors in Coinbase, had previously served as a board observer.