As of today, Coinbase has 139 tradable assets. The exchange added a whopping 83 assets to its trading list in 2021, nearly double the number of assets it had accumulated in the eight years since its founding. 

Is this rapid expansion a simple cash-grab? Are any of these lesser-known tokens and coins securities? Is this irresponsible or overly ambitious? What does this rapid expansion of assets by Coinbase mean?

A money grab?

I feel the answer to the first question is an emphatic “No!” Coinbase is making a lot of money on trading fees, but its token list expansion is not about the money. Coinbase started out with a small booth at a conference “just trying to make something that customers wanted,” pitching T-shirts and a hosted Bitcoin (BTC) wallet. Now, Coinbase is the second-largest crypto exchange in the world.

It’s a common tale that an entrepreneur builds something, finds success, sells and moves on, but Coinbase founder and CEO Bryan Armstrong was manning that small booth eight years ago, and is still at Coinbase today. The exchange stays true to its — and Armstrong’s — core values: economic freedom, property rights, a more efficient global system of exchange, and in my opinion, just building the things that customers want.

Back in June of this year, Armstrong posted a series of tweets indicating Coinbase’s change of approach to determining which assets get listed. To sum it up, Coinbase shifted from a merit-based approach depending on internal criteria to a pragmatic approach based on externalities. This new approach allows the market to decide…

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