Brian Armstrong, the CEO of cryptocurrency wallet provider and exchange Coinbase, personally holds more Ether than bitcoin, according to the Fortune 40 Under 40 column.
“Armstrong, who now personally owns even more Ether than he does Bitcoin, is responsible for introducing much of America and beyond to cryptocurrency: The world’s largest exchange for trading digital currency, Coinbase’s customers have more than doubled in the past year, while trade volume in 2017 alone is roughly eight times last year’s total,” readFortune’s profile of Armstrong.
For many years, Coinbase has played a vital role in facilitating the demand from general consumers for bitcoin, as a leading wallet service provider and exchange. In 2014, the company was valued at $400 million according to Pierre Rochard of the Nakamoto Institute, which was more than 10 percent of bitcoin’s market valuation at the time.
But, over time, Coinbase has started to diversify its services to include other blockchain networks like Ethereum, introducing innovative applications like Toshi, a browser for the Ethereum network that provides universal access to financial services.
In August, Coinbase officially introduced Toshi, its first mobile application for Ethereum, as the first external application outside of the main Coinbase wallet, trading platform, and the GDAX exchange. The concept behind Toshi was to create a WhatsApp-like application for mobile Ethereum users that enable anyone to send and receive payments with ease.
The Coinbase team explained how the app would leverage Ethereum’s quick confirmation time and low transaction fees to benefit new markets:
“We believe that everyone in the world should have access to financial services, and with smartphones becoming ubiquitous, digital currency can make that happen. With this app, our long term goals are to provide financial services to the 2 billion people in the developing world who have a cell phone, but don’t have access to a bank account. Make it dramatically easier for people to build and use Ethereum applications. Shift digital currency from being just a speculative investment to being a payment network for useful goods and services.”
Over the past 12 months, Armstrong’s personal interest in Ethereum has been reflected in Coinbase’s projects. In the coming months, the company is expected to launch a major update to Toshi and introduce innovative Ethereum products that will appeal to Ether users.
However, Armstrong has also received a fair share of criticism for his enthusiasm towards Ethereum, mostly from the bitcoin community. Still, given Ethereum’s vibrant open-source development community, Armstrong and the rest of the Coinbase development team have continued to pursue their projects on Ethereum, utilizing efficient smart contracts and the robust Ethereum protocol.
Currently, Ethereum is the only public blockchain network in the market which comes close to bitcoin in terms of developer activity. Other major blockchain networks and cryptocurrencies including Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin significantly fall behind bitcoin and Ethereum in developer activity, which historically has been an accurate indicator for evaluating the price and market valuation of cryptocurrencies, as stated by Ivie Business School professor, JP Vergne.
As a multi-billion dollar businesses that serves tens of millions of active users on a daily basis, Coinbase seems to be attracted to the larger transaction capacity of Ethereum and its flexible smart contract-based blockchain network.