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26 Feb 2021

Crypto exchange Coinbase hints at potential token issuance in its S-1 filing

Crypto exchange unicorn Coinbase's S-1 filing went public as part of its bid for a direct listing on Nasdaq. Included in that document were hints at a possible token issuance in the future. 

On page 68 of the filing, as part of its risk disclosures, Coinbase said that it may raise additional capital to "support business growth." To that end, the firm could issue new shares or stock that could take the form of a blockchain token that could be tied to "customer reward or loyalty programs."

"If we issue additional equity securities, including in the form of blockchain tokens, stockholders will experience dilution, and the new equity securities could have rights senior to those of our currently authorized and issued common stock," the firm said in the filing. 

In another section, the firm said it could "authorize the issuance of 'blank check' preferred stock and common stock that our board of directors could use to implement a stockholder rights plan or issue other shares of preferred stock or common stock, including blockchain tokens."

To be sure, the mention of a blockchain token in the risk disclosure sections doesn't mean that Coinbase has concrete plans for such a launch. Still, its inclusion suggests that some degree of consideration has taken place. It also signifies Coinbase's interest in an area that other exchanges, such as FTX and Binance, have pursued.

Exchange tokens typically provide traders with discounts on trading fees and are tied to the success of the platform. Their status as securities has been debated. 

It's also worth noting that Coinbase acquired a broker-dealer, Keystone Capital, which could give the firm a regulatory framework for an in-house token.

In a tweet, former Coinbase employee Adam White — who currently is the president of digital assets firm Bakkt — raised the question of whether Coinbase is creating an exchange token. 

"Will be interesting to keep an eye on this and how other exchanges respond," White wrote. 

Coinbase declined to comment when reached.

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