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This start-up calls out Coinbase’s ‘unsustainable’ transaction costs, promises change

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Different institutions across the globe have expressed interest in joining the crypto-train. On 7 February, DriveWealth, the SoftBank-backed start-up entered the cryptocurrency industry by launching two subsidiaries. However, with the rise in institutions offering crypto services, this doesn’t come as a total surprise. But, here’s how this could prove to be an important development.

Fixing the fragments

The New Jersey-based company backed by Japanese investment firm Softbank entered the digital assets industry with the latest announcement. The CEO of this $2.85 billion company, Bob Cortright spoke to CNBC in an interview. He stated:

“…acquisition of Crypto-Systems will allow DriveWealth to begin offering Bitcoin and Ethereum trading to partners in April or May.”

Through that acquisition, DriveWealth launched its DriveLiquidity subsidiary. It would provide liquidity for partners wishing to invest in and trade crypto assets. DriveWealth also launched DriveDigital as a subsidiary crypto exchange. Furthermore, aimed at providing API (application programming interface) access to its partners.

The said executive hoped to incorporate ‘greater transparency to digital-assets markets, which trade 24-7 across a fragmented global network of independent exchanges.’ As per Cortright, traders were forced to trade across an “unsustainable” transaction spread on crypto exchanges such as Coinbase. He asserted:

 “As regulatory environments tighten around crypto and customers get more focused on spreads and efficiency, we can’t continue in a world where you can charge 200 basis points on a transaction.”

Here, a basis point equals 0.01%

Coinbase-one of the largest crypto exchanges charged fees as high as 4.5% of the transaction value plus a spread fee on its platform. In the earnings call, the platform earned 88% of its $1.2 billion in total revenue from those transaction fees in Q3. Even Coinbase’s executives acknowledged the same. It was testing a subscription model as it expected pressure on fees over the longer term.

“To become a commercially viable product, you can’t have those types of transaction costs. It’s coming out of the wallets of the customers,” Cortright said. “We’ve done this before, we understand it.

More to come…?

An increasing number of companies across various fields were requesting access to crypto liquidity including large e-commerce players. More would soon follow.

However, the journey to compete with Coinbase won’t be an easy ride. At the time of writing, Coinbase had over $39 billion market cap whereas DriveWealth stood somewhere around the $2 billion mark.


Shubham is a full-time journalist/ Crypto data analyst at AMBCrypto. A Master's graduate in Accounting and Finance, Shubham's writings mainly focus on the cryptocurrency sector with particular emphasis on market research studies and communications for >2 years. Also, a die-hard Chelsea fan #KTBFFH.
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