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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K

(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from     to     
Commission file number 001-04321
Coinbase Global, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware46-4707224
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
Not ApplicableNot Applicable
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)(Zip Code)
Not Applicable
Registrant's telephone number, including area code
Not Applicable
(Former name, former address and former fiscal year, if changed since last report)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Class A common stock, $0.00001 par value per shareCOINNasdaq Global Select Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes     No    
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.  Yes     No    
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports); and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☒   No   ☐  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).     Yes  ☒   No   ☐ 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer ☐Accelerated filer
 ☐
Non-accelerated filer   ☒Smaller reporting company 
Emerging growth company 
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7 262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).     Yes        No   
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2021, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, was $33.5 billion based on the closing sales price of the registrant’s Class A common stock as reported on Nasdaq Global Select Market on that date.
As of February 16, 2022, the number of shares of the registrant's Class A common stock outstanding was 171,169,869 and the number of shares of the registrant's Class B common stock outstanding was 48,309,752.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, or Proxy Statement, to be filed within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K, are incorporated by reference in Part III. Except with respect to information specifically incorporated by reference in this Annual Report, the Proxy Statement shall not be deemed to be filed as part hereof.



TABLE OF CONTENTS
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SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or Form 10-K, contains forward-looking statements. All statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding our future operating results and financial position, our business strategy and plans, market growth, and our objectives for future operations, are forward-looking statements. The words “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “potential,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “target,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, but are not limited to, statements about:
our future financial performance, including our expectations regarding our net revenue, operating expenses, and our ability to achieve and maintain future profitability;
our business plan and our ability to effectively manage our growth;
anticipated trends, growth rates, and challenges in our business, the cryptoeconomy, and in the markets in which we operate;
market acceptance of our products and services;
beliefs and objectives for future operations;
our ability to maintain, expand, and further penetrate our existing customer base;
our ability to develop new products and services and grow our business in response to changing technologies, customer demand, and competitive pressures;
our expectations concerning relationships with third parties;
our ability to maintain, protect, and enhance our intellectual property;
our ability to continue to expand internationally;
the effects of increased competition in our markets and our ability to compete effectively;
future acquisitions of or investments in complementary companies, products, services, or technologies and our ability to successfully integrate such companies or assets;
our ability to stay in compliance with laws and regulations that currently apply or become applicable to our business both in the United States and internationally;
economic and industry trends, projected growth, or trend analysis;
trends in revenue, cost of revenue, and gross margin;
trends in operating expenses, including technology and development expenses, sales and marketing expenses, and general and administrative expenses, and expectations regarding these expenses as a percentage of revenue;
our key business metrics used to evaluate our business, measure our performance, identify trends affecting our business, and make strategic decisions;
increased expenses associated with being a public company; and
other statements regarding our future operations, financial condition, and prospects and business strategies.
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We caution you that the foregoing list may not contain all of the forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K primarily on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. The outcome of the events described in these forward-looking statements is subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors, including those described in the section titled “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for us to predict all risks and uncertainties that could have an impact on any forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We cannot assure you that the results, events, and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur, and actual results, events, or circumstances could differ materially from those described in such forward-looking statements.
Neither we nor any other person assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of any of these forward-looking statements. Moreover, the forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or to reflect new information or the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, restructurings, joint ventures, partnerships, or investments we may make.
In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.

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Glossary to the Cryptoeconomy
Throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we use a number of industry terms and concepts which are defined as follows:
Address: An alphanumeric reference to where crypto assets can be sent or stored.
Bitcoin: The first system of global, decentralized, scarce, digital money as initially introduced in a white paper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System by Satoshi Nakamoto.
Block: Synonymous with digital pages in a ledger. Blocks are added to an existing blockchain as transactions occur on the network. Miners are rewarded for “mining” a new block.
Blockchain: A cryptographically secure digital ledger that maintains a record of all transactions that occur on the network and follows a consensus protocol for confirming new blocks to be added to the blockchain.
Cold storage: The storage of private keys in any fashion that is disconnected from the internet. Common cold storage examples include offline computers, USB drives, or paper records.
Crypto: A broad term for any cryptography-based market, system, application, or decentralized network.
Crypto asset or token: Any digital asset built using blockchain technology, including cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and security tokens.
Crypto Asset Volatility: Represents our internal measure of crypto volatility in the market relative to prior periods. The volatility of crypto assets is measured on an hourly basis (using 10 minute price intervals within each hour) for each crypto asset supported for trading on Coinbase, averaged over the applicable time period (quarterly), then weighted by each crypto asset’s share of total trading volume during the same time period across a select set of trading platforms, in addition to the Coinbase platform, that operate in similar markets including itBit, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, bitFlyer, Binance.US, Binance, Kraken, Gemini, Bittrex, and Poloniex.
Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin and alternative coins, or “altcoins,” launched after the success of Bitcoin. This category of crypto asset is designed to work as a medium of exchange, store of value, or to power applications and excludes security tokens.
Cryptoeconomy: A new open financial system built upon crypto.
Customer: A retail user, institution, or ecosystem partner on our platform.
DeFi: Short for Decentralized Finance. Peer-to-peer software-based network of protocols that can be used to facilitate traditional financial services like borrowing, lending, trading derivatives, insurance, and more through smart contracts.
Ecosystem partners: Developers, creators, merchants, asset issuers, organizations and financial institutions, and other groups building decentralized protocols, applications, products, or other services for the cryptoeconomy.
Ethereum: A decentralized global computing platform that supports smart contract transactions and peer-to-peer applications, or “Ether,” the native crypto assets on the Ethereum network.
Fork: A fundamental change to the software underlying a blockchain which results in two different blockchains, the original, and the new version. In some instances, the fork results in the creation of a new token.
Hot wallet: A wallet that is connected to the internet, enabling it to broadcast transactions.
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Institutions: Businesses that include hedge funds, small to large financial institutions, and corporations.
Miner: Individuals or entities who operate a computer or group of computers that add new transactions to blocks, and verify blocks created by other miners. Miners collect transaction fees and are rewarded with new tokens for their services.
Mining: The process by which new blocks are created, and thus new transactions are added to the blockchain.
Network: The collection of all miners that use computing power to maintain the ledger and add new blocks to the blockchain. Most networks are decentralized, reducing the risk of a single point of failure.
Non-fungible token or NFT: A crypto asset that is unique - as opposed to “fungible” assets like Bitcoin and dollar bills.
Protocol: A type of algorithm or software that governs how a blockchain operates.
Public key or private key: Each public address has a corresponding public key and private key that are cryptographically generated. A private key allows the recipient to access any funds belonging to the address, similar to a bank account password. A public key helps validate transactions that are broadcasted to and from the address. Addresses are shortened versions of public keys, which are derived from private keys.
Retail users: Individual users with an account on our platform.
Security token: A crypto asset that is a security under the U.S. federal securities laws. This includes digital forms of traditional equity or fixed income securities, or may be assets deemed to be a security based on their characterization as an investment contract or note.
Smart contract: Software that digitally facilitates or enforces a rules-based agreement or terms between transacting parties.
Stablecoin: Crypto assets designed to minimize price volatility. A stablecoin is designed to track the price of an underlying asset such as fiat money or an exchange-traded commodity (such as precious metals or industrial metals), while other stablecoins utilize algorithms that are designed to maintain a relative stable price of the asset. Stablecoins can be backed by fiat money, physical commodities or other crypto assets.
Staking: An energy efficient equivalent of mining. Stakers use pools of tokens as collateral to validate transactions and create blocks. In exchange for this service, stakers earn a reward.
Supported crypto assets: The crypto assets we support for trading and custody on our platform, which included 139 crypto assets for trading and 172 crypto assets under custody as of December 31, 2021.
USD Coin or USDC: A stablecoin issued by Circle that is backed by dollar denominated assets held by the issuer in segregated accounts with U.S. regulated financial institutions. Coinbase and Circle co-founded the Centre Consortium which supports and administers the governance of USDC.
Wallet: A place to store public and private keys for crypto assets. Wallets are typically software, hardware, or paper-based.
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Wallet user: A retail user who has established an account with a username on our non-custodial software-based product. Coinbase Wallet is an application that allows the user to connect to DeFi applications and self-custody crypto assets. While they operate separately from our main platform, wallet users are included in the following key business metrics: Verified Users and Monthly Transacting Users, or MTUs.
Web3: A broad category of technologies that are defined by their use of internet protocols built on top of open source, decentralized and distributed systems. Examples of Web3 technologies include blockchain networks, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and smart contracts.
For additional information regarding our key business metrics, which include Verified Users, Monthly Transacting Users, Assets on Platform, and Trading Volume as well as our use of Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure, see the sections titledManagement’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Business Metrics” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Non-GAAP Financial Measure” in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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PART I
Item 1. Business
Coinbase Overview
Our mission is to increase economic freedom in the world.
We build safe, trusted, easy-to-use technology and financial infrastructure products and services that enable any person or business with an internet connection to discover, transact, and engage with crypto assets and decentralized applications. Our products provide access to the cryptoeconomy in more than 100 countries and serve as a critical infrastructure layer to Web3.
Customers that start with us grow with us as they experience the benefits of crypto-based products for investing, staking, spending, borrowing and transacting in crypto in a growing number of use cases. Today, our platform enables approximately 89 million retail users, 11,000 institutions, and 210,000 ecosystem partners to engage with crypto assets:
Retail users: We serve as the users’ primary crypto account, both hosted and self hosted – safe, trusted, and easy-to-use ways to discover, invest, stake, store, spend, earn, borrow, and use crypto assets.
Institutions: We provide a platform solution for safely accessing and transacting in crypto markets to institutions such as asset managers, hedge funds, banks, wealth platforms, registered investment advisors, payment platforms, and public and private corporations of all types. Coinbase Prime combines advanced trading, custody, analytics, and financing products on a single platform, built on top of a robust security infrastructure. Through our smart order routing tools, institutions can access deep pools of liquidity across the crypto marketplace and get the best priced execution in our network of connected trading venues when buying and selling.
Ecosystem partners: We provide developers, creators, merchants, and asset issuers a platform with technology and services that enables them to build applications that leverage crypto protocols, actively participate in crypto networks, and securely accept cryptocurrencies as payment.
Our Strengths
25+ native blockchain integrations and counting
We directly integrate with over 25 blockchain protocols and plan to integrate with more in the future. Each protocol has a unique design, with differences in characteristics such as its consensus mechanism and security model, and requires in-depth research and specific expertise both for initial integration and ongoing monitoring as transactions are recorded on the public blockchain. Our experience allows us to swiftly adapt to updates in the blockchain protocol, or “forks,” to safely support new products like staking, and to creatively reduce fees for our customers through strategies like batching transactions.
We are a market-leading brand exclusively focused on the cryptoeconomy
We have deep expertise in real-time distributed computing, novel consensus mechanisms, smart contracts, cryptography, and native blockchain integrations that allow us to nimbly adapt to shifting trends and innovate with the industry. We have invested heavily in the scarce talent required to safely power the cryptoeconomy and employ teams dedicated to blockchain research, operations, and development to support the growth of the industry.
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We have a trusted platform owing to our heritage of security and culture of regulatory compliance
We have made significant investments in regulatory compliance and cybersecurity to earn the trust of our customers in over 100 countries. We work with regulators and law enforcement agencies around the world to drive policy and practices favorable to the cryptoeconomy, and to ensure we are licensed as appropriate under local law. We are proud to be one of the longest-running crypto platforms where customers have not lost funds due to a security breach of the platform, and we secure our customers’ funds with multiple layers of protection by employing what we believe to be the largest hot wallet security program in the insurance market.
We reduce complexity and make crypto accessible and usable by all
We reduce the complexity of crypto by infusing usability at the core of each of our products and services. Our emphasis on intuitive product design has allowed us to become a primary on-ramp for customers’ journeys into the cryptoeconomy. This begins with our simple onboarding process that allows retail users to sign up and quickly purchase their first crypto asset, and extends to new products and services that we launch to broaden access to the cryptoeconomy.
We have significant scale, securely storing over 11.5% of global crypto assets and we grow with our customers
As of December 31, 2021, we stored and custodied over $278 billion in total fiat and crypto assets on behalf of our customers. The total value of crypto assets on our platform represented approximately 11.5% of the total market capitalization of crypto assets as of December 31, 2021. We believe our market leading share of assets on our platform is a competitive advantage, and that we have a substantial opportunity to build on our customer relationships by growing with our customers and offering a broader suite of products and services.
We operate a marketplace with one of the deepest pools of liquidity and a network effect
We have a deep pool of liquidity for exchanging a wide range of crypto assets. Our deep liquidity is supported by a healthy mix of retail and institutional activity, highlighting the synergistic relationship and network effect between customers on our platform. Liquidity begets liquidity, and this advantage deepens as we continue to expand the breadth of crypto assets that we support and attract new customers to our platform.
Growth Strategy
Coinbase grows as the cryptoeconomy grows.
There is significant momentum driving nearly every aspect of economic activity to be represented and exchanged online. We live in a world that is increasingly global, digital generations control a growing share of the world’s wealth, and each year we see more commerce happening online. Each of these secular trends supports the growth of the cryptoeconomy and Coinbase.
More importantly, we feel we have a tremendous opportunity to actively grow our business by adding more customers, increasing the depth and breadth of crypto assets on our platform, and introducing new, innovative products and services both organically and through acquisitions of complementary products, technologies and companies.
Add more customers: Any person or business with an internet connection that is looking to access or interact with the cryptoeconomy can be an active user and customer on our platform. We seek to increase adoption and engagement with our products through education, marketing, participation in developer conferences, crypto community engagement and expanding our institutional sales and support teams. In addition, we are expanding access to our products and services by adding new payment methods and expanding to more countries.
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Expand the depth and breadth of assets: Any asset or form of value can be represented as a crypto asset and be supported by our products, subject to meeting our security, legal, and compliance requirements. We intend to continue adding access to assets, support native blockchain protocol features like staking and governance and expand access to the types of crypto assets we offer to our customers, like NFTs.
Launch innovative products: To provide our customers an increasing number of opportunities to engage with crypto assets we intend to provide both first-party products and access to third-party products through our platform. We will also continue to build APIs and provide products that allow other companies to leverage our technology and integrate crypto products and solutions into their businesses.
In addition to continuing to develop and launch products and services organically, we have, and plan to continue to, actively pursue acquisitions of and strategic investments in products, technologies and companies that we believe will strengthen and expand our business and provide access to new customers and markets such as our acquisitions of Bison Trails and FairXchange, Inc.
We also support the broader cryptoeconomy by investing in companies and technologies through Coinbase Ventures, our venture capital arm. Through December 31, 2021, we had invested in over 250 companies. Our goal with these investments is to foster the development and growth of the ecosystem, which we believe will in turn benefit Coinbase.
Our Products
We create powerful products and services for our customers using our proprietary technology infrastructure that has been purpose-built to meet the needs of the cryptoeconomy. We enable our customers to safely and easily participate in all facets of the cryptoeconomy, including using third-party decentralized applications, investing, staking, sending, receiving, spending, and earning crypto assets.
Retail
We serve as the users’ primary crypto account, both hosted and self-hosted – providing safe, trusted, and easy-to-use tools to discover, invest, stake, store, spend, earn, borrow, and use crypto assets.
We provide our retail users a hosted wallet which allows them to securely and easily discover, buy, sell, send and receive 139 crypto assets with a growing number of fiat currencies or to trade one crypto asset for another crypto asset. In our hosted wallet, we provide custody services on our customers behalf. We charge a fee when users buy, sell, or convert crypto assets in either a fiat-to-crypto or crypto-to-crypto trade.
Through this hosted wallet, we offer first-party solutions that enable our users to engage in crypto transactions such as spending on our Coinbase Card, a Coinbase-branded prepaid debit card , borrowing USD against select crypto balances, or earning a yield on select crypto assets. We also provide services to allow our customers to participate in blockchain rewards paid by underlying protocols. The largest of these is staking where we offer a service known as Delegated Proof of Stake, which reduces the complexities of staking and allows our retail users to maintain full ownership of their crypto assets while earning staking rewards. In return, we receive a commission on all staking rewards earned.
Coinbase Wallet, a separately managed retail software product, allows users to self-custody crypto assets and NFTs in one place and interact with the cryptoeconomy and Web3, including an expanded set of approximately 5,500 crypto assets and decentralized applications. A fee is charged for select activities executed in the self-hosted wallet.
Institutions
We offer Coinbase Prime, a “one-stop shop” for institutions to participate in the cryptoeconomy. Coinbase Prime combines advanced trading, custody, real-time market data and analytics, and financing products to help customers safely access and transact in crypto markets. Through our smart order routing tools, institutions can access deep pools of liquidity across the crypto marketplace and get the best priced execution in our network of connected trading venues when buying and selling. We offer volume-based pricing and charge a transaction fee for every matched trade.
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We offer institutional-grade custody with a highly secure cold storage solution made available through our U.S. qualified custodian, which offers audits, governance, digital key management, and physical security. Our solution is vertically integrated with our investing platform, providing institutions with access to liquidity and trading services. We charge a fee based on the total assets stored in custody on our platform. We offer delegated proof-of-stake services for supported crypto assets, and similar to our retail users, earn a commission on staking rewards received.
We offer integrated financing products and services to select institutional customers that meet our credit criteria to access liquidity for their hedging, speculation, and working capital needs. Customers typically need to pre-fund their account and maintain fiat or crypto assets on our platform in order to participate in the 24/7/365 instant settlement crypto market. We offer trade financing whereby we advance funds and settle on behalf of credit-eligible customers, removing a key point of friction by allowing customers to instantly trade on credit and settle within a few days.
We also operate a crypto asset trading platform with deep liquidity that aggregates and matches buy and sell orders for a number of crypto assets. Coinbase Prime trades are routed directly to this platform, together with trades of market makers and trades from our retail business. We offer volume-based pricing and charge a transaction fee for every matched trade.
Ecosystem partners
We offer infrastructure technology and services to empower current and future builders of the cryptoeconomy through Coinbase Cloud. Coinbase Cloud offers crypto payment or trading APIs, data access, and staking infrastructure. These tools allow companies to build crypto products faster and to simplify how they interact with blockchains.
In addition, we offer tools like Coinbase Analytics, a blockchain analytics tool that relies solely on publicly available blockchain data, that enables law enforcement and other financial institutions to monitor blockchain transactions. Our policy is to never share customer personally identifiable information with third parties as disclosed in our privacy policies.
We also offer Coinbase Earn, a product that allows crypto asset issuers to engage with our customers through our technologies where we make educational videos available to our retail users to learn about new crypto assets and applications. In exchange for completing a task, such as watching the video and completing a quiz or downloading an app, retail users can earn some of the crypto assets that they learned about. We typically receive a commission based on the value of crypto assets that are distributed to our users.
Competition
The cryptoeconomy is highly fragmented, quickly evolving, intensely competitive, and subject to growing global regulatory scrutiny and oversight.
We face significant competition from parties ranging from large, established financial incumbents to smaller, early-stage financial technology providers and companies native to the cryptoeconomy, such as decentralized exchanges. Moreover, this market is growing quickly and we expect that we will face competition from new entrants in the future that may increase competition in the markets we operate.
For retail users, we compete with traditional financial technology and brokerage firms like Block (f/k/a Square), Robinhood, and PayPal. These companies have varying business models and focus areas and offer an overlapping, but limited, feature set, which includes buying and selling a subset of the crypto assets supported on our platform. In some cases, users who purchase through these platforms own the economic interest in a given crypto asset, but not the underlying asset itself, and therefore cannot use the asset to interact with the broader cryptoeconomy. We also compete with a number of companies that solely focus on the crypto market such as Binance.
For institutions, we primarily compete with other crypto-focused companies, and a few traditional financial incumbents that offer point or siloed solutions that are limited in scope.
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We differentiate ourselves through our cohesive ecosystem of products and services that address the distinct needs of our customers, our full-stack technology platform that is purpose-built for the cryptoeconomy, significant investments in regulatory compliance and licensure, advanced cryptography and security expertise, and our emphasis on accessibility, trust, and ease of use. Our ability to quickly and continuously innovate to support additional blockchains, provide products and services to our customers that are native to the cryptoeconomy, such as staking and governance, and launch additional products and services further separates us from our competition. See Part I, Item IA, “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a more comprehensive description of risks related to competition.
Technology
Crypto is natively digital, real-time, and operates globally on a 24/7/365 basis. The “always on” nature of the cryptoeconomy demands a more scalable and higher-throughput technical architecture. Our proprietary platform is purpose-built to support the unique demands of the cryptoeconomy, and is built on top of modern technology designed specifically to address the unique engineering, cybersecurity, compliance, and usability challenges of emerging blockchain technology, while seamlessly connecting to legacy technology and financial systems.
All of our customer-facing products and services are powered by a robust backend technology system that enables us to develop, launch, and market scalable new products and services. Our investments in platform-level capabilities allow us to offer unique and differentiated product experiences for our industry. For example, institutions that store crypto assets using our proprietary cold storage technology are able to trade directly on our platform, borrow against their crypto asset holdings as collateral, and actively participate in decentralized networks without moving their holdings.
We have pioneered industry-leading standards for managing private cryptographic keys and use sophisticated cybersecurity technologies such as multi-party computation to safeguard a wide range of crypto assets. We leverage data and machine learning to proactively identify and prevent potential exploits. These investments enable us to secure idle crypto assets in cold storage (offline and disconnected from the internet) while also offering customers the ability to quickly and safely move funds in and out of blockchain protocols.
We invest heavily in compliance tools. In addition to robust know-your-customer and anti-money laundering programs, we have built bespoke transaction monitoring systems to analyze crypto asset transactions in real time on the blockchain. This infrastructure allows us to quickly adapt to emerging threats in the cryptoeconomy, build scenarios and typologies around specific transaction types, and gives us the flexibility to support new products and services.
We strive to continually improve our technology infrastructure and products and services to enhance the customer experience and to increase reliance, scalability, and security.
Human Capital
Powering the cryptoeconomy is no small task. Our employees join Coinbase to increase economic freedom in the world.
Our employees are passionate about creating new products and services with technology. We hire entrepreneurs who are comfortable with ambiguity and thrive by innovating – driving our culture of repeatable innovation. We work incredibly hard at Coinbase but, because of that intensity, we are also deliberate about finding time to recover between sprints. When the creative moment strikes, we embrace efficient execution and adhere to robust security and compliance programs. However, we try not to let unnecessary bureaucracy impede our speed to market. Our culture has and will evolve but, at our core, we prioritize the following principles:
Clear communication
Efficient execution
Act like an owner
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Top talent
Championship team
Continuous learning
Customer focus
Repeatable innovation
Positive energy
Mission first
In 2021, we reimagined our compensation program to ensure it reinforces our unique culture. We instituted single, transparent pay targets for the vast majority of our roles – eliminating most compensation negotiations. We replaced four-year equity grants with annual one-year equity grants for all broad-based current and future employees that begin vesting immediately in lieu of one-year cliffs. We have also made meaningful investments in learning and development, offering each employee an annual learning budget, as well as access to unique industry education to help our employees better understand and build for the cryptoeconomy.
Coinbase is a remote-first company, and we believe that allowing our employees to work in the location that best suits them provides us access to a large talent pool and a sustained advantage in hiring and retaining employees in the United States and worldwide, including in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Israel, Brazil, India, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines. Our distributed workforce is made up of diverse backgrounds, skill sets and perspectives which is why we prioritize belonging, so that all employees feel they are a meaningful part of Coinbase and they matter.
As of December 31, 2021, we had 3,730 employees. We work to identify, attract, and retain employees who are aligned with and will help us progress with our mission, and we seek to provide competitive cash and equity compensation. We believe we have a good relationship with our employees and our unique, strong culture differentiates us and is a key driver of business success.
Corporate Philanthropy
At the core of our mission is the philosophy that all people should have access to a more fair, accessible, efficient, and transparent financial system to support economic freedom. To this end, in April 2020 we subscribed to Pledge 1%, committing 1% of equity, profits and employee time to charitable endeavors to expand economic freedom specifically through crypto and blockchain applications. At this time, our board of directors approved the reservation of up to 2,295,766 shares of Class A common stock that we may issue, over a period of ten years, in connection with our philanthropic endeavors. In May 2021, we announced the launch of Coinbase Giving, the operational embodiment of our commitment to Pledge 1%. In its first year, Coinbase Giving has funded charities and programs that broadly fall into three categories: (1) increasing education around, and access to, crypto; (2) accelerating the development of crypto protocols that underpin the cryptoeconomy; and (3) fostering the next generation of crypto talent, no matter where they are located.
Government Regulation
We operate globally in a complex and rapidly evolving regulatory environment and are subject to a wide range of laws and regulations enacted by U.S. federal, state, and local and foreign governments and regulatory authorities. We play a leadership role in driving innovative industry-wide solutions to comply with new regulations. For example, we devote resources to solving interoperability issues amongst virtual asset service providers to ensure compliance with the Travel Rule under the Bank Secrecy Act, or the BSA. In addition, we are a founding member of the Crypto Rating Council, a member-owned and operated organization whose purpose is to assess whether any given crypto asset, or whether the development, issuance, and use of such assets, have characteristics that make it more or less likely to implicate U.S. federal securities laws.
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The breadth of laws, rules, and regulations we are subject to include financial services and banking, consumer protection, money transmission, stored value and prepaid access, electronic payments, payment services, securities, commodities, and unclaimed property, as well as bespoke digital asset and cryptocurrency laws that have been promulgated in some jurisdictions. These laws, rules, and regulations evolve frequently and may be modified, interpreted, and applied in an inconsistent manner from one jurisdiction to another, and may conflict with one another. Moreover, the complexity and evolving nature of our business and the significant uncertainty surrounding the regulation of the cryptoeconomy, require us to exercise our judgment as to whether certain laws, rules, and regulations apply to us, and it is possible that regulators may disagree with our conclusions. We are not regulated as a federal bank regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or as a Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, regulated derivatives clearing organization. In addition, our crypto asset trading platform is not an SEC-regulated national securities exchange or alternative trading system.
Globally, we are subject to increasingly strict legal and regulatory requirements relating to the detection and prevention of countering terrorist financing, anti-money laundering, fraud, and other illicit activity, the regulation of competition, economic and trade sanctions, privacy, cybersecurity, information security, and data protection. These descriptions are not exhaustive, and these laws, regulations and rules (and the interpretations thereof) frequently change and are increasing in number.
The laws and regulations to which we are subject, including those pertaining to digital assets and crypto assets, are rapidly evolving and increasing in scope. Therefore, we monitor these areas closely and invest significant resources in our legal, compliance, product, and engineering teams to ensure our business practices evolve to help us comply with the current laws, regulations, and legal standards to which we are subject, as well as to plan and prepare for changes in interpretations thereof, as well as additional laws, regulations and legal standards that are introduced in the future.
Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing
We are subject to various anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws, including the BSA in the United States, and similar laws and regulations abroad. In the United States, as a money services business registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, the BSA requires us to among other things, develop, implement, and maintain a risk-based anti-money laundering program, provide an anti-money laundering-related training program, report suspicious activities and transactions to FinCEN, comply with certain reporting and recordkeeping requirements, and collect and maintain information about our customers. In addition, the BSA requires us to comply with certain customer due diligence requirements as part of our anti-money laundering obligations, including developing risk-based policies, procedures, and internal controls reasonably designed to verify a customer’s identity. Many states and other countries impose similar and, in some cases, more stringent requirements related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. We have implemented a compliance program designed to prevent our platform from being used to facilitate money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit activity in countries, or with persons or entities, included on designated lists promulgated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, and equivalent foreign authorities. Our compliance program includes policies, procedures, reporting protocols, and internal controls, and is designed to address legal and regulatory requirements as well as to assist us in managing risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing. Anti-money laundering regulations are constantly evolving and vary from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction. We continuously monitor our compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations and industry standards and implement policies, procedures, and controls in light of the most current legal requirements.
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Money transmission, stored value, and virtual currency business activity
In the United States, we have obtained licenses to operate as money transmitters or the equivalent in the states where such licenses or equivalent are required to conduct our business, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In addition, we have obtained a BitLicense from the New York State Department of Financial Services, or NYDFS. As a licensed money transmitter and an entity subject to the BitLicense regulatory regime, we are subject to, among other things, the BSA, restrictions and requirements with respect to the investment of customer funds and use and safeguarding of customer funds and crypto assets, and bonding, net worth, customer notice and disclosure, reporting and recordkeeping requirements applicable to the company, as well as control persons and inspection and examination by state regulatory agencies. These state licensing laws also cover matters such as regulatory approval of controlling stockholders, directors, and senior management of the licensed entity.
Outside the United States, we have obtained licenses to provide crypto-asset custody and trading from the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority. We are also registered as a crypto asset exchange service provider in Japan which provides crypto-asset and first-party payments services to Japanese customers pursuant to registration with the Kanto Local Finance Bureau of the Ministry of Finance of Japan, covering both crypto-asset and first-party payment services. Under these licenses and registrations, we are subject to a broad range of rules and regulations including in respect of AML, safeguarding of customer assets and funds, regulatory capital requirements, fit and proper management, operational controls, corporate governance, customer disclosures, reporting and record keeping.
New York State trust company
Our subsidiary, Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC, operates as a New York State-chartered limited purpose trust company, which is subject to regulation, examination, and supervision by the NYDFS. NYDFS regulations impose various compliance requirements including, without limitation, operational limitations related to the nature of crypto assets we can hold under custody, capital requirements, BSA and anti-money laundering program requirements, affiliate transaction limitations, and notice and reporting requirements.
Electronic money and payment institution
We serve our customers through Electronic Money Institutions authorized by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the Central Bank of Ireland. We comply with rules and regulations applicable to the European e-money industry, including those related to funds safeguarding, corporate governance, anti-money laundering, disclosure, reporting, and inspection. We are, or may be, subject to banking-related regulations in other countries now or in the future related to our role in the financial industry.
Economic and trade sanctions
We are required to comply with economic and trade sanctions administered by the United States, the European Union, or E.U., relevant E.U. member states, and other jurisdictions in which we operate. Economic and trade sanctions programs administered by OFAC and by certain foreign jurisdictions prohibit or restrict transactions to or from (or dealings with or involving) certain countries, regions, governments, and in certain circumstances, specified individuals and entities such as narcotics traffickers, terrorists, and terrorist organizations, as well as certain digital currency addresses.
Securities
In recent years, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, and U.S. state securities regulators have stated that certain digital assets may be classified as securities under U.S. federal and state securities laws - however, there has not been definitive guidance on this point. A number of enforcement actions and regulatory proceedings have since been initiated against digital assets and their developers and proponents, as well as against trading platforms that support digital assets. Several foreign governments have also issued similar warnings cautioning that digital assets may be deemed to be securities under the laws of their jurisdictions.
We have established policies and practices to evaluate each crypto asset we consider for listing or for custody and are a founding member of the Crypto Rating Council.
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Broker-Dealer
Our broker-dealer business is operated by both Coinbase Capital Markets and Coinbase Securities, which are registered with the SEC as broker-dealers under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and in the states in which they conduct business. They are also members of and subject to the rules of the Financial Industry Regulation Authority, or FINRA. All of our broker-dealer activities are subject to regulation, examination, investigation, and disciplinary action by the SEC, FINRA, and state securities regulators, as well as other governmental authorities and self-regulatory organizations with which they are registered or licensed or of which they are a member.
Commodities and derivatives
The CFTC has stated and CFTC enforcement actions have confirmed that at least some crypto assets, including Bitcoin, fall within the definition of a “commodity” under the U.S. Commodities Exchange Act of 1936, or the CEA. Under the CEA, the CFTC has broad enforcement authority to police market manipulation and fraud in spot crypto asset markets. We are subject to such authority with respect to improper trading on our platform. In addition, CFTC regulations and CFTC oversight and enforcement authority apply with respect to futures, swaps, other derivative products, and certain retail leveraged commodity transactions involving crypto assets, including the markets on which these products trade. Separately, security-based swaps are subject to SEC regulation and oversight. In general, we seek to ensure that crypto asset transactions on our crypto asset trading platform do not constitute futures, swaps, security-based swaps, other derivative products, or retail leveraged commodity transactions. Given our novel business model and uncertainty regarding the application of some of these laws and regulations, we may become subject to regulatory scrutiny or legal challenge with respect to our compliance with these requirements. Separately, our subsidiary, Coinbase Financial Markets, has applied for registration as a futures commission merchant, or FCM, with the National Futures Association, and we recently acquired FairXchange, Inc., a designated contract market, or DCM, regulated by the CFTC. FCMs and DCMs are subject to numerous regulatory requirements, including strict capital requirements.
Prohibitions on bribery and anti-corruption
We are subject to regulations imposed by the FCPA in the United States and similar laws in other countries, such as the Bribery Act 2010 in the United Kingdom, or the Bribery Act, which generally prohibit companies and those acting on their behalf from making improper payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Some of these laws, such as the Bribery Act, also prohibit improper payments between private entities and persons.
Privacy and protection of user data
We are subject to a number of laws, rules, directives, and regulations relating to the collection, use, retention, security, processing, and transfer of personally identifiable information about our customers and employees in the countries where we operate. Our business relies on the processing of personal data in many jurisdictions and the movement of data across national borders. As a result, much of the personal data that we process, which may include certain financial information associated with individuals, is regulated by multiple privacy and data protection laws and, in some cases, the privacy and data protection laws of multiple jurisdictions. In many cases, these laws apply not only to third-party transactions, but also to transfers of information between or among us, our subsidiaries, and other parties with which we have commercial relationships.
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Consumer protection
The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, and other U.S. federal, state, and local and foreign regulatory agencies regulate financial products, including money transfer services related to remittance or peer-to-peer transfers. These agencies, as well as certain other governmental bodies, including state attorneys general, have broad consumer protection mandates and discretion in enforcing consumer protection laws, including matters related to unfair or deceptive, and, in the case of the CFPB, abusive, acts or practices, or UDAAPs, and they promulgate, interpret, and enforce rules and regulations that affect our business. For example, all persons offering or providing financial services or products to consumers in the United States, directly or indirectly, can be subject to enforcement actions related to the prohibition of UDAAPs. The CFPB has enforcement authority to prevent an entity that offers or provides consumer financial services or products or a service provider in the United States from committing or engaging in UDAAPs, including the ability to engage in joint investigations with other agencies, issue subpoenas and civil investigative demands, conduct hearings and adjudication proceedings, commence a civil action, grant relief (e.g., limit activities or functions; rescission of contracts), and refer matters for criminal proceedings.
Escheatment and unclaimed property regulations
We are subject to unclaimed property laws in the United States and in other jurisdictions where we operate. These laws require us to turn over to certain government authorities the property of others held by us that has been unclaimed for a specified period of time, including airdropped tokens and forked crypto assets. These laws may also require us to liquidate that property prior to turning it over. We hold property subject to unclaimed property laws, and we have an ongoing program designed to help us comply with these laws. However, there is significant regulatory uncertainty with how states and foreign jurisdictions treat crypto assets under unclaimed property rules.
Lending law
We originate secured consumer and commercial loans in certain states in the United States. As a result, we are subject to certain federal laws, including: the Truth-in-Lending Act and its implementation of Regulation Z, which require creditors to provide consumers with certain information regarding the terms of their loan and credit transactions; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and its implementation of Regulation B, which prohibits creditors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, marital status, the fact that all or part of an applicant’s income derives from public assistance, or the fact that the applicant has exercised any right under the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act; the Fair Credit Reporting Act; and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which imposes guidelines and limitations on the conduct of debt collectors in connection with the collection of consumer debts. Our lending activities are also subject to various state lending laws and licensure requirements with respect to lending activities within such state. These state lending laws may be enforced by state attorneys general, state financial regulators, and private litigants, among others.
We are also subject to and seek to comply with other state and federal laws and regulations applicable to consumer and commercial lending, including additional requirements relating to loan disclosure, credit discrimination, debt collection, interest rate restrictions, and UDAAPs. These laws and regulations may be enforced by state financial regulators, state attorneys general, the CFPB, and private litigants, among others. Given our novel business model and uncertainty regarding application of some of these laws and regulations, particularly laws prohibiting UDAAPs, we may become subject to regulatory scrutiny or legal challenge with respect to our compliance with these requirements.
Interchange fees
Interchange fees associated with four-party payments systems are being reviewed or challenged in various jurisdictions. For example, in the European Union, the Multilateral Interchange Fee Regulation caps interchange fees for credit and debit card payments and provides for business rules to be complied with by any company dealing with card transactions, including us. As a result, the fees that we collect in certain jurisdictions may become the subject of regulatory challenge.
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Legal requirements for prepaid cards
Prepaid card programs are subject to various federal and state laws and regulations, including consumer financial protection regulations such as the CFPB's Regulation E, which imposes requirements on issuers of prepaid cards. The laws and regulations impose compliance obligations and costs on our business, and failure to comply could result in litigation, enforcement actions, and penalties.
Card association and payment network rules
In addition to the federal and state laws and regulations governing prepaid cards, we, as well as the bank that issues our Coinbase Card, are subject to and required to comply with card association and payment network rules and guidelines which apply to prepaid cards. The card association and payment network rules govern a variety of areas, including how consumers and merchants may use their cards and data security, and may be changed periodically. Noncompliance with these rules could result in fines or penalties levied by the card association or payment network for certain acts or omissions, or the termination of our ability to offer prepaid cards.
Association and network rules
The bylaws and agreements between clearing house participants and bankcard companies impose specific responsibilities and liabilities for issuers of debit cards. As the issuer of the Coinbase Card, we are required to comply with the appropriate National Automated Clearing House Association, or NACHA, bylaws, operating rules, and agreements, as well as card network rules and guidelines. Additional new products and services that we offer may also impose additional obligations on us to comply with NACHA and card network obligations related to preventing fraud, money laundering, and IT security breaches.
Intellectual Property
The protection of our technology and intellectual property is an important aspect of our business. We rely upon a combination of patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, confidentiality procedures, contractual commitments, and other legal rights to establish and protect our intellectual property. We generally enter into agreements with our employees and consultants that contain confidentiality provisions to control access to, and invention or work product assignment provisions to clarify ownership of, our proprietary information.
We co-founded the Crypto Open Patent Alliance, and pledged to only use our crypto technology patents defensively. We may also in the future agree to license our patents to third parties as part of various patent pools and open patent projects.
Intellectual property laws, procedures, and restrictions provide only limited protection and any of our intellectual property rights may be challenged, invalidated, circumvented, infringed, or misappropriated. Indeed, the laws of certain countries do not protect property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States, and, therefore, in certain jurisdictions, we may be unable to protect our proprietary technology.
Corporate Information
We were initially incorporated in May 2012 as Coinbase, Inc., a Delaware corporation. In January 2014, Coinbase Global, Inc. was incorporated as a Delaware corporation to act as the holding company of Coinbase, Inc. and our other subsidiaries. In April 2014, we completed a corporate reorganization whereby Coinbase, Inc. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coinbase Global, Inc. Coinbase Global, Inc.’s principal assets are the equity interests of Coinbase, Inc. In addition to Coinbase, Inc., Coinbase Global, Inc. is the parent company of a number of other operating subsidiaries, including (i) CB Payments, Ltd, a private limited company incorporated under the laws of the United Kingdom, which provides e-money services to our United Kingdom and certain other international customers; (ii) Coinbase Ireland Limited, a private limited company incorporated under the laws of Ireland, which provides e-money services to our European Economic Area customers; and (iii) Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC, a New York limited liability trust company, which is authorized to exercise fiduciary powers under New York state banking law and holds certain crypto assets in trust for the benefit of our institutional customers.
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In May 2020, following the global pandemic resulting from the coronavirus known as COVID-19, we became a remote-first company, meaning that for the vast majority of roles, our employees have the option to work remotely. Due to this, we do not currently have a principal executive office.
Coinbase, the Coinbase logo, and other registered or common law trade names, trademarks, or service marks of Coinbase included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of Coinbase. Other trademarks, service marks, or trade names included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names, trademarks, or service marks to imply a relationship with these other companies, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by these other companies. Solely for convenience, our trademarks, service marks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K appear without the ® and ™ symbols, but those references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights, or the right of the applicable licensor, to these trademarks, service marks and trade names.
Available Information
We file electronically with the SEC our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. The SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information that we file with the SEC electronically. We will make available on our website at www.coinbase.com, free of charge, copies of these reports and other information as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.
We use our website at www.coinbase.com and blog.coinbase.com, as well as press releases, public conference calls, public webcasts, our Twitter feed (@coinbase), Facebook page, LinkedIn page, YouTube channel, and Brian Armstrong’s Twitter feed (@brian_armstrong) as means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. The information disclosed by the foregoing channels could be deemed to be material information. As such, we encourage investors, the media, and others to follow the channels listed above and to review the information disclosed through such channels. The content of our websites and information that we may post on or provide to online and social media channels, including those mentioned above, and information that can be accessed through our websites or these online and social media channels are not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in any other report or document we file with the SEC, and any references to our websites or these online and social media channels are intended to be inactive textual references only.
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Item 1A. Risk Factors
Investing in our Class A common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the consolidated financial statements and related notes. Additional risks and uncertainties that we are unaware of or that we deem immaterial may also become important factors that adversely affect our business. If any of the following risks occur, our business, operating results, financial condition and future prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In that event, the market price of our Class A common stock could decline, and you could lose part or all of your investment.
Risk Factors Summary
Consistent with the foregoing, our business is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including those risks discussed at length below. These risks include, among others, the following, which we consider our most material risks:
our operating results have and will significantly fluctuate due to the highly volatile nature of crypto;
our total revenue is substantially dependent on the prices of crypto assets and volume of transactions conducted on our platform. If such price or volume declines, our business, operating results, and financial condition would be adversely affected;
a majority of our net revenue is from transactions in Bitcoin and Ethereum. If demand for either of these crypto assets declines and is not replaced by new demand for other supported crypto assets, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected;
the future development and growth of crypto is subject to a variety of factors that are difficult to predict and evaluate. If crypto does not grow as we expect, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected;
cyberattacks and security breaches of our platform, or those impacting our customers or third parties, could adversely impact our brand and reputation and our business, operating results, and financial condition;
we are subject to an extensive and highly-evolving regulatory landscape and any adverse changes to, or our failure to comply with, any laws and regulations could adversely affect our brand, reputation, business, operating results, and financial condition;
we operate in a highly competitive industry and we compete against unregulated or less regulated companies and companies with greater financial and other resources, and our business, operating results, and financial condition may be adversely affected if we are unable to respond to our competitors effectively;
we compete against a growing number of decentralized and noncustodial platforms and our business may be adversely affected if we fail to compete effectively against them;
as we continue to expand and localize our international activities, our obligations to comply with the laws, rules, regulations, and policies of a variety of jurisdictions will increase and we may be subject to inquiries, investigations and enforcement actions by U.S. and non-U.S. regulators and governmental authorities, including those related to sanctions, export control, and anti-money laundering;
we are, and may continue to be, subject to material litigation, including individual and class action lawsuits, as well as inquiries, investigations and enforcement actions by regulators and governmental authorities;
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if we cannot keep pace with rapid industry changes to provide new and innovative products and services, the use of our products and services, and consequently our net revenue, could decline, which could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition;
a particular crypto asset’s status as a “security” in any relevant jurisdiction is subject to a high degree of uncertainty and if we are unable to properly characterize a crypto asset, we may be subject to regulatory scrutiny, inquiries, investigations, fines, and other penalties, which may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition;
we currently rely on third-party service providers for certain aspects of our operations, and any interruptions in services provided by these third parties may impair our ability to support our customers;
loss of a critical banking or insurance relationship could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition;
any significant disruption in our products and services, in our information technology systems, or in any of the blockchain networks we support, could result in a loss of customers or funds and adversely impact our brand and reputation and our business, operating results, and financial condition;
our failure to safeguard and manage our customers’ fiat currencies and crypto assets could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition; and
the theft, loss, or destruction of private keys required to access any crypto assets held in custody for our own account or for our customers may be irreversible. If we are unable to access our private keys or if we experience a hack or other data loss relating to our ability to access any crypto assets, it could cause regulatory scrutiny, reputational harm, and other losses.
Risk Factors
The Most Material Risks Related to Our Business and Financial Position
Our operating results have and will significantly fluctuate due to the highly volatile nature of crypto.
Our operating results are dependent on crypto assets and the broader cryptoeconomy. Due to the highly volatile nature of the cryptoeconomy and the prices of crypto assets, our operating results have, and will continue to, fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter in accordance with market sentiments and movements in the broader cryptoeconomy. For example, the average three month Crypto Asset Volatility supported on our platform increased by 11% from the first quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2021, then decreased by 30% from the second quarter of 2021 to the third quarter of 2021, and then increased by 9% from the third quarter of 2021 to the fourth quarter of 2021. Our operating results will continue to fluctuate significantly as a result of a variety of factors, many of which are unpredictable and in certain instances are outside of our control, including:
our dependence on offerings that are dependent on crypto asset trading activity, including trading volume and the prevailing trading prices for crypto assets, whose trading prices and volume can be highly volatile;
our ability to attract, maintain, and grow our customer base and engage our customers;
changes in the legislative or regulatory environment, or actions by United States or foreign governments or regulators, including fines, orders, or consent decrees;
regulatory changes that impact our ability to offer certain products or services;
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our ability to diversify and grow our subscription and services revenue;
pricing for our products and services;
investments we make in the development of products and services as well as technology offered to our ecosystem partners, international expansion, and sales and marketing;
adding crypto assets to, or removing from, our platform;
market conditions of, and overall sentiment towards, the cryptoeconomy;
macroeconomic conditions;
adverse legal proceedings or regulatory enforcement actions, judgments, settlements, or other legal proceeding and enforcement-related costs;
the development and introduction of existing and new products and services by us or our competitors;
increases in operating expenses that we expect to incur to grow and expand our operations and to remain competitive;
system failure, outages, or interruptions, including with respect to our crypto platform and third-party crypto networks;
our lack of control over decentralized or third-party blockchains and networks that may experience downtime, cyber-attacks, critical failures, errors, bugs, corrupted files, data losses, or other similar software failures, outages, breaches and losses;
breaches of security or privacy;
inaccessibility of our platform due to our or third-party actions;
our ability to attract and retain talent; and
our ability to compete with our competitors.
As a result of these factors, it is difficult for us to forecast growth trends accurately and our business and future prospects are difficult to evaluate, particularly in the short term. In view of the rapidly evolving nature of our business and the cryptoeconomy, period-to-period comparisons of our operating results may not be meaningful, and you should not rely upon them as an indication of future performance. Quarterly and annual expenses reflected in our financial statements may be significantly different from historical or projected rates. Our operating results in one or more future quarters may fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. As a result, the trading price of our Class A common stock may increase or decrease significantly.
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Our total revenue is substantially dependent on the prices of crypto assets and volume of transactions conducted on our platform. If such price or volume declines, our business, operating results, and financial condition would be adversely affected.
We generate substantially all of our total revenue from transaction fees on our platform in connection with the purchase, sale, and trading of crypto assets by our customers. Transaction revenue is based on transaction fees that are either a flat fee or a percentage of the value of each transaction. For our retail brokerage product, we also charge a spread to ensure that we are able to settle purchases and sales at the price we quote to customers. We also generate total revenue from our subscription products and services and, while revenues from these products and services are growing, they have not been significant to date, most of this revenue will also fluctuate based on the price of crypto assets. As such, any declines in the volume of crypto asset transactions, the price of crypto assets, or market liquidity for crypto assets generally may result in lower total revenue.
The price of crypto assets and associated demand for buying, selling, and trading crypto assets have historically been subject to significant volatility. For instance, in 2017, the value of certain crypto assets, including Bitcoin, experienced steep increases in value, and our customer base expanded worldwide. The increase in value of Bitcoin from 2016 to 2017 was followed by a steep decline in 2018, which adversely affected our net revenue and operating results. The price and trading volume of any crypto asset is subject to significant uncertainty and volatility, depending on a number of factors, including:
market conditions of, and overall sentiment towards, crypto assets;
changes in liquidity, market-making volume, and trading activities;
trading activities on other crypto platforms worldwide, many of which may be unregulated, and may include manipulative activities;
investment and trading activities of highly active retail and institutional users, speculators, miners, and investors;
the speed and rate at which crypto is able to gain adoption as a medium of exchange, utility, store of value, consumptive asset, security instrument, or other financial assets worldwide, if at all;
decreased user and investor confidence in crypto assets and crypto platforms;
negative publicity and events relating to the cryptoeconomy;
unpredictable social media coverage or “trending” of, or other rumors and market speculation regarding crypto assets;
the ability for crypto assets to meet user and investor demands;
the functionality and utility of crypto assets and their associated ecosystems and networks, including crypto assets designed for use in various applications;
retail user preferences and perceived value of crypto assets and crypto asset markets;
increased competition from other payment services or other crypto assets that exhibit better speed, security, scalability, or other characteristics;
regulatory or legislative changes and updates affecting the cryptoeconomy;
the characterization of crypto assets under the laws of various jurisdictions around the world;
the maintenance, troubleshooting, and development of the blockchain networks underlying crypto assets, including by miners, validators, and developers worldwide;
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the ability for crypto networks to attract and retain miners or validators to secure and confirm transactions accurately and efficiently;
ongoing technological viability and security of crypto assets and their associated smart contracts, applications and networks, including vulnerabilities against hacks and scalability;
fees and speed associated with processing crypto asset transactions, including on the underlying blockchain networks and on crypto platforms;
financial strength of market participants;
the availability and cost of funding and capital;
the liquidity of crypto platforms;
interruptions in service from or failures of major crypto platforms;
availability of an active derivatives market for various crypto assets;
availability of banking and payment services to support crypto-related projects;
level of interest rates and inflation;
monetary policies of governments, trade restrictions, and fiat currency devaluations; and
national and international economic and political conditions.
There is no assurance that any supported crypto asset will maintain its value or that there will be meaningful levels of trading activities. In the event that the price of crypto assets or the demand for trading crypto assets decline, our business, operating results, and financial condition would be adversely affected.
A meaningful concentration of our net revenue is from transactions in Bitcoin and Ethereum. If demand for these crypto assets declines and is not replaced by new demand for crypto assets, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We support a diverse portfolio of crypto assets for trading and custody. However, for the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, we derived a meaningful amount of our net revenue from transaction fees generated in connection with the purchase, sale, and trading of Bitcoin and Ethereum; these trading pairs drove over 45% and 56% of total Trading Volume on our platform during these periods, respectively. As such, in addition to the factors impacting the broader cryptoeconomy described in this section, our business may be adversely affected if the markets for Bitcoin and Ethereum deteriorate or if their prices decline, including as a result of the following factors:
the reduction in mining rewards of Bitcoin, including block reward halving events, which are events that occur after a specific period of time, and reduces the block reward earned by miners;
the development and launch timeline of Ethereum 2.0, including the planned migration of Ethereum to a proof-of-stake model;
disruptions, hacks, splits in the underlying networks also known as “forks,” attacks by malicious actors who control a significant portion of the networks’ hash rate such as double spend or 51% attacks, or other similar incidents affecting the Bitcoin or Ethereum blockchain networks;
hard “forks” resulting in the creation of and divergence into multiple separate networks, such as Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic;
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informal governance led by Bitcoin and Ethereum’s core developers that lead to revisions to the underlying source code or inactions that prevent network scaling, and which evolve over time largely based on self-determined participation, which may result in new changes or updates that affect their speed, security, usability, or value;
the ability for Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain networks to resolve significant scaling challenges and increase the volume and speed of transactions;
the ability to attract and retain developers and customers to use Bitcoin and Ethereum for payment, store of value, unit of accounting, and other intended uses, and the absence of another supported crypto asset to attract and retain developers and customers for the same;
transaction congestion and fees associated with processing transactions on the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks and the absence of another supported crypto asset to replace these transactions;
the identification of Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous person or persons who developed Bitcoin, or the transfer of Satoshi’s Bitcoins;
negative perception of Bitcoin or Ethereum;
development in mathematics, technology, including in digital computing, algebraic geometry, and quantum computing that could result in the cryptography being used by Bitcoin and Ethereum becoming insecure or ineffective;
regulatory or legislative restrictions or limitations on Bitcoin or Ethereum lending, mining or staking activities; and
laws and regulations affecting the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks or access to these networks, including a determination that either Bitcoin or Ethereum constitutes a security or other regulated financial instrument under the laws of any jurisdiction.
The future development and growth of crypto is subject to a variety of factors that are difficult to predict and evaluate. If crypto does not grow as we expect, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
Crypto assets built on blockchain technology were only introduced in 2008 and remain in the early stages of development. In addition, different crypto assets are designed for different purposes. Bitcoin, for instance, was designed to serve as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, while Ethereum was designed to be a smart contract and decentralized application platform. Many other crypto networks, ranging from cloud computing to tokenized securities networks, have only recently been established. The further growth and development of any crypto assets and their underlying networks and other cryptographic and algorithmic protocols governing the creation, transfer, and usage of crypto assets represent a new and evolving paradigm that is subject to a variety of factors that are difficult to evaluate, including:
many crypto networks have limited operating histories, have not been validated in production, and are still in the process of developing and making significant decisions that will affect the design, supply, issuance, functionality, and governance of their respective crypto assets and underlying blockchain networks, any of which could adversely affect their respective crypto assets;
many crypto networks are in the process of implementing software upgrades and other changes to their protocols, which could introduce bugs, security risks, or adversely affect the respective crypto networks;
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several large networks, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, are developing new features to address fundamental speed, scalability, and energy usage issues. If these issues are not successfully addressed, or are unable to receive widespread adoption, it could adversely affect the underlying crypto assets;
security issues, bugs, and software errors have been identified with many crypto assets and their underlying blockchain networks, some of which have been exploited by malicious actors. There are also inherent security weaknesses in some crypto assets, such as when creators of certain crypto networks use procedures that could allow hackers to counterfeit tokens. Any weaknesses identified with a crypto asset could adversely affect its price, security, liquidity, and adoption. If a malicious actor or botnet (a volunteer or hacked collection of computers controlled by networked software coordinating the actions of the computers) obtains a majority of the compute or staking power on a crypto network, as has happened in the past, it may be able to manipulate transactions, which could cause financial losses to holders, damage the network’s reputation and security, and adversely affect its value;
the development of new technologies for mining, such as improved application-specific integrated circuits (commonly referred to as ASICs), or changes in industry patterns, such as the consolidation of mining power in a small number of large mining farms, could reduce the security of blockchain networks, lead to increased liquid supply of crypto assets, and reduce a crypto’s price and attractiveness;
if rewards and transaction fees for miners or validators on any particular crypto network are not sufficiently high to attract and retain miners, a crypto network’s security and speed may be adversely affected, increasing the likelihood of a malicious attack;
many crypto assets have concentrated ownership or an “admin key,” allowing a small group of holders to have significant unilateral control and influence over key decisions related to their crypto networks, such as governance decisions and protocol changes, as well as the market price of such crypto assets;
the governance of many decentralized blockchain networks is by voluntary consensus and open competition, and many developers are not directly compensated for their contributions. As a result, there may be a lack of consensus or clarity on the governance of any particular crypto network, a lack of incentives for developers to maintain or develop the network, and other unforeseen issues, any of which could result in unexpected or undesirable errors, bugs, or changes, or stymie such network’s utility and ability to respond to challenges and grow; and
many crypto networks are in the early stages of developing partnerships and collaborations, all of which may not succeed and adversely affect the usability and adoption of the respective crypto assets.
Various other technical issues have also been uncovered from time to time that resulted in disabled functionalities, exposure of certain users’ personal information, theft of users’ assets, and other negative consequences, and which required resolution with the attention and efforts of their global miner, user, and development communities. If any such risks or other risks materialize, and in particular if they are not resolved, the development and growth of crypto may be significantly affected and, as a result, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
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Cyberattacks and security breaches of our platform, or those impacting our customers or third parties, could adversely impact our brand and reputation and our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our business involves the collection, storage, processing, and transmission of confidential information, customer, employee, service provider, and other personal data, as well as information required to access customer assets. We have built our reputation on the premise that our platform offers customers a secure way to purchase, store, and transact in crypto assets. As a result, any actual or perceived security breach of us or our third-party partners may:
harm our reputation and brand;
result in our systems or services being unavailable and interrupt our operations;
result in improper disclosure of data and violations of applicable privacy and data protection laws;
result in significant regulatory scrutiny, investigations, fines, penalties, and other legal, regulatory, and financial exposure;
cause us to incur significant remediation costs;
lead to theft or irretrievable loss of our or our customers’ fiat currencies or crypto assets;
reduce customer confidence in, or decreased use of, our products and services;
divert the attention of management from the operation of our business;
result in significant compensation or contractual penalties from us to our customers or third parties as a result of losses to them or claims by them; and
adversely affect our business and operating results.
Further, any actual or perceived breach or cybersecurity attack directed at other financial institutions or crypto companies, whether or not we are directly impacted, could lead to a general loss of customer confidence in the cryptoeconomy or in the use of technology to conduct financial transactions, which could negatively impact us, including the market perception of the effectiveness of our security measures and technology infrastructure.
An increasing number of organizations, including large merchants, businesses, technology companies, and financial institutions, as well as government institutions, have disclosed breaches of their information security systems, some of which have involved sophisticated and highly targeted attacks, including on their websites, mobile applications, and infrastructure.
Attacks upon systems across a variety of industries, including the crypto industry, are increasing in their frequency, persistence, and sophistication, and, in many cases, are being conducted by sophisticated, well-funded, and organized groups and individuals, including state actors. The techniques used to obtain unauthorized, improper, or illegal access to systems and information (including customers’ personal data and crypto assets), disable or degrade services, or sabotage systems are constantly evolving, may be difficult to detect quickly, and often are not recognized or detected until after they have been launched against a target. These attacks may occur on our systems or those of our third-party service providers or partners. Certain types of cyberattacks could harm us even if our systems are left undisturbed. For example, attacks may be designed to deceive employees and service providers into releasing control of our systems to a hacker, while others may aim to introduce computer viruses or malware into our systems with a view to stealing confidential or proprietary data. Additionally, certain threats are designed to remain dormant or undetectable until launched against a target and we may not be able to implement adequate preventative measures.
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Although we have developed systems and processes designed to protect the data we manage, prevent data loss and other security breaches, effectively respond to known and potential risks, and expect to continue to expend significant resources to bolster these protections, there can be no assurance that these security measures will provide absolute security or prevent breaches or attacks. We have experienced from time to time, and may experience in the future, breaches of our security measures due to human error, malfeasance, insider threats, system errors, vulnerabilities, or other irregularities. Unauthorized parties have attempted, and we expect that they will continue to attempt, to gain access to our systems and facilities, as well as those of our customers, partners, and third-party service providers, through various means, including hacking, social engineering, phishing, and attempting to fraudulently induce individuals (including employees, service providers, and our customers) into disclosing usernames, passwords, payment card information, or other sensitive information, which may in turn be used to access our information technology systems and customers’ crypto assets. Threats can come from a variety of sources, including criminal hackers, hacktivists, state-sponsored intrusions, industrial espionage, and insiders. Certain threat actors may be supported by significant financial and technological resources, making them even more sophisticated and difficult to detect. We may also acquire other companies that expose us to unexpected security risks or increase costs to improve the security posture of the acquired company. Further, there has been an increase in such activities as a result of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic. As a result, our costs and the resources we devote to protecting against these advanced threats and their consequences may continue to increase over time.
Although we maintain insurance coverage, it may be insufficient to protect us against all losses and costs stemming from security breaches, cyberattacks, and other types of unlawful activity, or any resulting disruptions from such events. Outages and disruptions of our platform, including any caused by cyberattacks, may harm our reputation and our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We are subject to an extensive and highly-evolving regulatory landscape and any adverse changes to, or our failure to comply with, any laws and regulations could adversely affect our brand, reputation, business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our business is subject to extensive laws, rules, regulations, policies, orders, determinations, directives, treaties, and legal and regulatory interpretations and guidance in the markets in which we operate, including those governing financial services and banking, federal government contractors, trust companies, securities, broker-dealers and alternative trading systems, or ATS, commodities, credit, crypto asset custody, exchange, and transfer, cross-border and domestic money and crypto asset transmission, retail and commercial lending, usury, foreign currency exchange, privacy, data governance, data protection, cybersecurity, fraud detection, payment services (including payment processing and settlement services), retail protection, escheatment, antitrust and competition, bankruptcy, tax, anti-bribery, economic and trade sanctions, anti-money laundering, and counter-terrorist financing. Many of these legal and regulatory regimes were adopted prior to the advent of the internet, mobile technologies, crypto assets, and related technologies. As a result, some applicable laws and regulations do not contemplate or address unique issues associated with the cryptoeconomy, are subject to significant uncertainty, and vary widely across U.S. federal, state, and local and international jurisdictions. These legal and regulatory regimes, including the laws, rules, and regulations thereunder, evolve frequently and may be modified, interpreted, and applied in an inconsistent manner from one jurisdiction to another, and may conflict with one another. Moreover, the complexity and evolving nature of our business and the significant uncertainty surrounding the regulation of the cryptoeconomy requires us to exercise our judgment as to whether certain laws, rules, and regulations apply to us, and it is possible that governmental bodies and regulators may disagree with our conclusions. To the extent we have not complied with such laws, rules, and regulations, we could be subject to significant fines, revocation of licenses, limitations on our products and services, reputational harm, and other regulatory consequences, each of which may be significant and could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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In addition to existing laws and regulations, various governmental and regulatory bodies, including legislative and executive bodies, in the United States and in other countries may adopt new laws and regulations. Furthermore, new interpretations of existing laws and regulations may be issued by such bodies or the judiciary, which may adversely impact the development of the cryptoeconomy as a whole and our legal and regulatory status in particular by changing how we operate our business, how our products and services are regulated, and what products or services we and our competitors can offer, requiring changes to our compliance and risk mitigation measures, imposing new licensing requirements, or imposing a total ban on certain crypto asset transactions, as has occurred in certain jurisdictions in the past. For example, under recommendations from FinCEN, and FATF, the United States and several foreign jurisdictions have or are likely to impose the Funds Travel Rule and the Funds Transfer Rule (commonly referred to collectively as the Travel Rule) on financial service providers in the cryptoeconomy. We may face substantial costs to operationalize and comply with the Travel Rule and may be further subject to administrative sanctions for technical violations or customer attrition if the user experience suffers as a result. In December 2020, FinCEN released a proposed rule that would require us to collect personal information from the owners of self-custodied wallets that transfer cryptocurrencies to or receive cryptocurrencies from us, and report certain transactions to the federal government. There are substantial uncertainties on how these requirements would apply in practice, and we may face substantial costs to operationalize and comply with these rules. We may be further subject to administrative sanctions for technical violations or customer attrition if the user experience suffers as a result. As another example, the recent extension of anti-money laundering requirements to certain crypto-related activities by the E.U.’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive has increased the regulatory compliance burden for our business in Europe and, as a result of the fragmented approach to the implementation of its provisions, resulted in distinct and divergent national licensing and registration regimes for us in different E.U. member states. Further E.U.-level legislation imposing additional regulatory requirements in relation to crypto-related activities is also expected in the intermediate term which, among other things, may impose new or additional regulatory requirements on both crypto service providers and issuers of certain crypto assets, which may impact our operations in the European Union. For example, the requirements of privacy and data protection laws in the European Union, United States, and elsewhere are typically founded on the premise of centralized, data-controller-based data processing, and require fulfilling, among other things, individual rights to access or delete one’s data. This creates unique compliance challenges given the nature of blockchain’s peer-to-peer network architecture, lack of centralized control, immutability, and perpetual data storage.
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Because we have offered and will continue to offer a variety of innovative products and services to our customers, many of our offerings are subject to significant regulatory uncertainty and we from time to time face regulatory inquiries regarding our current and planned products. For instance, we are a founding member of the Centre Consortium and a reseller of USDC, a stablecoin redeemable on a one-to-one basis for U.S. dollars. The regulatory treatment of fiat-backed stablecoins is highly uncertain and has drawn significant attention from legislative and regulatory bodies around the world. The issuance and resale of such stablecoins may implicate a variety of banking, deposit, money transmission, prepaid access and stored value, anti-money laundering, commodities, securities, sanctions, and other laws and regulations in the United States and in other jurisdictions. Moreover, in October 2021, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, issued a joint report that recommended legislation that would subject stablecoin issuers and wallet providers to increased federal oversight. There are substantial uncertainties on how these requirements would apply in practice, and we may face substantial compliance costs to operationalize and comply with these rules. Certain products and services offered by us that we believe are not subject to regulatory oversight, or are only subject to certain regulatory regimes, such as Coinbase Wallet, a standalone mobile application that allows customers to manage their own private keys and store their crypto assets directly on their mobile devices, may cause us to be deemed to be engaged in a form of regulated activity for which licensure is required or cause us to become subject to new and additional forms of regulatory oversight. We also offer various staking, rewards, and lending products, all of which are subject to significant regulatory uncertainty, and could implicate a variety of laws and regulations worldwide. For example, there is regulatory uncertainty regarding the status of our staking, lending, rewards, and other yield-generating activities under the U.S. federal and state securities laws. While we have implemented policies and procedures designed to help monitor for and ensure compliance with existing and new laws and regulations, there can be no assurance that we and our employees, contractors, and agents will not violate or otherwise fail to comply with such laws and regulations. To the extent that we or our employees, contractors, or agents are deemed or alleged to have violated or failed to comply with any laws or regulations, including related interpretations, orders, determinations, directives, or guidance, we or they could be subject to a litany of civil, criminal, and administrative fines, penalties, orders and actions, including being required to suspend or terminate the offering of certain products and services.
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Due to our business activities, we are subject to ongoing examinations, oversight, and reviews and currently are, and expect in the future, to be subject to investigations and inquiries, by U.S. federal and state regulators, including the NYDFS, and foreign financial service regulators, including the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the Central Bank of Ireland, which each have broad discretion to audit and examine our business. We are periodically subject to audits and examinations by these regulatory authorities. As a result of findings from these audits and examinations, regulators have, are, and may in the future require us to take certain actions, including amending, updating, or revising our compliance measures from time to time, limiting the kinds of customers that we provide services to, changing, terminating, or delaying our licenses and the introduction of our existing or new product and services, and undertaking further external audit or being subject to further regulatory scrutiny, including investigations and inquiries. We have received, and may in the future receive, examination reports citing violations of rules and regulations, inadequacies in existing compliance programs, and requiring us to enhance certain practices with respect to our compliance program, including due diligence, monitoring, training, reporting, and recordkeeping. Implementing appropriate measures to properly remediate these examination findings may require us to incur significant costs, and if we fail to properly remediate any of these examination findings, we could face civil litigation, significant fines, damage awards, forced removal of certain employees including members of our executive team, barring of certain employees from participating in our business in whole or in part, revocation of existing licenses, limitations on existing and new products and services, reputational harm, negative impact to our existing relationships with regulators, exposure to criminal liability, or other regulatory consequences. Further, we believe increasingly strict legal and regulatory requirements and additional regulatory investigations and enforcement, any of which could occur or intensify, may continue to result in changes to our business, as well as increased costs, and supervision and examination for ourselves, our agents, and service providers. Moreover, new laws, regulations, or interpretations may result in additional litigation, regulatory investigations, and enforcement or other actions, including preventing or delaying us from offering certain products or services offered by our competitors or could impact how we offer such products and services. Adverse changes to, or our failure to comply with, any laws and regulations have had, and may continue to have, an adverse effect on our reputation and brand and our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We operate in a highly competitive industry and we compete against unregulated or less regulated companies and companies with greater financial and other resources, and our business, operating results, and financial condition may be adversely affected if we are unable to respond to our competitors effectively.
The cryptoeconomy is highly innovative, rapidly evolving, and characterized by healthy competition, experimentation, changing customer needs, frequent introductions of new products and services, and subject to uncertain and evolving industry and regulatory requirements. We expect competition to further intensify in the future as existing and new competitors introduce new products or enhance existing products. We compete against a number of companies operating both within the United States and abroad, and both those that focus on traditional financial services and those that focus on crypto-based services. Our main competitors fall into the following categories:
traditional financial technology and brokerage firms that have entered the crypto asset market in recent years and offer overlapping features targeted at our customers;
companies focused on the crypto asset market, some of whom adhere to local regulations and directly compete with our platform, and many who choose to operate outside of local rules and regulations or in jurisdictions with less stringent local rules and regulations and are potentially able to more quickly adapt to trends, support a greater number of crypto assets, and develop new crypto-based products and services due to a different standard of regulatory scrutiny; and
crypto-focused companies and traditional financial incumbents that offer point or siloed solutions specifically targeted at institutional customers.
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Our primary source of competition to date has been from companies, in particular those located outside the United States, who are subject to significantly less stringent regulatory and compliance requirements in their local jurisdictions. Their business models rely on being unregulated or only regulated in a small number of lower compliance jurisdictions, whilst also offering their products in highly regulated jurisdictions, including the United States, without necessarily complying with the relevant regulatory requirements in such jurisdictions.
To date, due to limited enforcement by United States and foreign regulators, many of these competitors have been able to operate from offshore while offering large numbers of products and services to retail users, including in the United States, Europe, and other highly regulated jurisdictions, without complying with the relevant licensing and other requirements in these jurisdictions, and seemingly without penalty. Due to our regulated status in several jurisdictions and our commitment to legal and regulatory compliance, we have not been able to offer many popular products and services, including products and services that our unregulated or less regulated competitors are able to offer to a group that includes many of our customers, which may adversely impact our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
In recent years, our commitment to compliance and the attendant customer-facing requirements, including customer due diligence requirements, have resulted in our customers transferring significant funds and crypto assets to these unregulated or less regulated competitors. We also have expended significant managerial, operational, and compliance costs to meet the legal and regulatory requirements applicable to us in the United States and other jurisdictions in which we operate, and expect to continue to incur significant costs to comply with these requirements, which these unregulated or less regulated competitors have not had to incur.
Additionally, due to the broad nature of our products and services, we also compete with, and expect additional competition from, digital and mobile payment companies and other traditional financial services companies.
Many innovative start-up companies and larger companies have made, and continue to make, significant investments in research and development, and we expect these companies to continue to develop similar or superior products and technologies that compete with our products. Further, more traditional financial and non-financial services businesses may choose to offer crypto-based services in the future as the industry gains adoption. Our current and potential competitors may establish cooperative relationships among themselves or with third parties that may further enhance their resources.
Our existing competitors have, and our potential competitors are expected to have, various competitive advantages over us, such as:
the ability to trade crypto assets and offer products and services that we do not support or offer on our platform (due to constraints from regulatory authorities, our banking partners, and other factors) such as tokens that constitute securities or derivative instruments under U.S. or foreign laws;
greater name recognition, longer operating histories, larger customer bases, and larger market shares;
larger sales and marketing budgets and organizations;
more established marketing, banking, and compliance relationships;
greater customer support resources;
greater resources to make acquisitions;
lower labor, compliance, risk mitigation, and research and development costs;
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larger and more mature intellectual property portfolios;
greater number of applicable licenses or similar authorizations;
established core business models outside of the trading of crypto assets, allowing them to operate on lesser margins or at a loss;
operations in certain jurisdictions with lower compliance costs and greater flexibility to explore new product offerings; and
substantially greater financial, technical, and other resources.
If we are unable to compete successfully, or if competing successfully requires us to take costly actions in response to the actions of our competitors, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We compete against a growing number of decentralized and noncustodial platforms and our business may be adversely affected if we fail to compete effectively against them.
We also compete against an increasing number of decentralized and noncustodial platforms. On these platforms, users can interact directly with a market-making smart contract or on-chain trading mechanism to exchange one type of crypto asset for another without any centralized intermediary. These platforms are typically not as easy to use as our platform, and some lack the speed and liquidity of centralized platforms, but various innovative models and incentives have been designed to bridge the gap. In addition, such platforms have low startup and entry costs as market entrants often remain unregulated and have minimal operating and regulatory costs. A significant number of decentralized platforms have recently been developed and released, including on Ethereum, Tron, Polkadot, and Solana, and many such platforms have experienced significant growth and adoption. For instance, we have seen increased interest in certain decentralized platforms with transaction volumes rivaling our own platform on multiple occasions, and expect interest in decentralized and noncustodial platforms to grow further as the industry develops. If the demand for decentralized platforms grows and we are unable to compete with these decentralized and noncustodial platforms, our business may be adversely affected.
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As we continue to expand and localize our international activities, our obligations to comply with the laws, rules, regulations, and policies of a variety of jurisdictions will increase and we may be subject to inquiries, investigations, and enforcement actions by U.S. and non-U.S. regulators and governmental authorities, including those related to sanctions, export control, and anti-money laundering.
As we expand and localize our international activities, we have become increasingly obligated to comply with the laws, rules, regulations, policies, and legal interpretations of both the jurisdictions in which we operate and those into which we offer services on a cross-border basis. For instance, financial regulators outside the United States have in recent months significantly increased their scrutiny of crypto asset exchanges, such as by requiring crypto asset exchanges operating in their local jurisdictions to be regulated and licensed under local laws. Moreover, laws regulating financial services, the internet, mobile technologies, crypto, and related technologies outside of the United States are highly evolving, extensive and often impose different, more specific, or even conflicting obligations on us, as well as broader liability. In addition, we are required to comply with laws and regulations related to economic sanctions and export controls enforced by U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, and U.S. anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws and regulations, enforced by FinCEN and certain state financial services regulators. U.S. sanctions and export control laws and regulations generally restrict dealings by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction with certain jurisdictions that are the target of comprehensive embargoes, currently the Crimea Region of Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, as well as with persons, entities, and governments identified on certain prohibited party lists. We have an OFAC compliance program in place that includes monitoring of IP addresses to identify prohibited jurisdictions and of blockchain addresses that have either been identified by OFAC as prohibited or that otherwise are believed by us to be associated with prohibited persons or jurisdictions. Nonetheless, there can be no guarantee that our compliance program will prevent transactions with particular persons or addresses or prevent every potential violation of OFAC sanctions. From time to time, we have submitted voluntary disclosures to OFAC or responded to administrative subpoenas from OFAC. Certain of these voluntary self-disclosures are currently under review by OFAC. To date, none of those proceedings has resulted in a monetary penalty or finding of violation. Any present or future government inquiries relating to sanctions could result in negative consequences for us, including costs related to government investigations, financial penalties, and harm to our reputation. The impact on us related to such matters could be substantial. Although we have implemented controls, and are working to implement additional controls and screening tools designed to prevent sanctions violations, there is no guarantee that we will not inadvertently provide access to our products and services to sanctioned parties or jurisdictions in the future.
Regulators worldwide frequently study each other’s approaches to the regulation of the cryptoeconomy. Consequently, developments in any jurisdiction may influence other jurisdictions. New developments in one jurisdiction may be extended to additional services and other jurisdictions. As a result, the risks created by any new law or regulation in one jurisdiction are magnified by the potential that they may be replicated, affecting our business in another place or involving another service. Conversely, if regulations diverge worldwide, we may face difficulty adjusting our products, services, and other aspects of our business with the same effect. These risks are heightened as we face increased competitive pressure from other similarly situated businesses that engage in regulatory arbitrage to avoid the compliance costs associated with regulatory changes.
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The complexity of U.S. federal and state and international regulatory and enforcement regimes, coupled with the global scope of our operations and the evolving global regulatory environment, could result in a single event prompting a large number of overlapping investigations and legal and regulatory proceedings by multiple government authorities in different jurisdictions. Any of the foregoing could, individually or in the aggregate, harm our reputation, damage our brand and business, and adversely affect our operating results and financial condition. Due to the uncertain application of existing laws and regulations, it may be that, despite our regulatory and legal analysis concluding that certain products and services are currently unregulated, such products or services may indeed be subject to financial regulation, licensing, or authorization obligations that we have not obtained or with which we have not complied. As a result, we are at a heightened risk of enforcement action, litigation, regulatory, and legal scrutiny which could lead to sanctions, cease and desist orders, or other penalties and censures which could significantly and adversely affect our continued operations and financial condition.
We are, and may continue to be, subject to material litigation, including individual and class action lawsuits, as well as investigations and enforcement actions by regulators and governmental authorities. These matters are often expensive and time consuming, and, if resolved adversely, could harm our business, financial condition, and operating results.
We have been, currently are, and may from time to time become subject to claims, arbitrations, individual and class action lawsuits with respect to a variety of matters, including employment, consumer protection, advertising, and securities. For example, we are currently subject to securities class actions and a shareholder derivative action, which are described in the section titled “Legal Proceedings” in Part I, Item 3 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition, we have been, currently are, and may from time to time become subject to, government and regulatory investigations, inquiries, actions or requests, other proceedings and enforcement actions alleging violations of laws, rules, and regulations, both foreign and domestic. The scope, determination, and impact of claims, lawsuits, government and regulatory investigations, enforcement actions, disputes, and proceedings to which we are subject cannot be predicted with certainty, and may result in:
substantial payments to satisfy judgments, fines, or penalties;
substantial outside counsel, advisor, and consultant fees and costs;
substantial administrative costs, including arbitration fees;
additional compliance and licensure requirements;
loss or non-renewal of existing licenses or authorizations, or prohibition from or delays in obtaining additional licenses or authorizations, required for our business;
loss of productivity and high demands on employee time;
criminal sanctions or consent decrees;
termination of certain employees, including members of our executive team;
barring of certain employees from participating in our business in whole or in part;
orders that restrict our business or prevent us from offering certain products or services;
changes to our business model and practices;
delays to planned transactions, product launches or improvements; and
damage to our brand and reputation.
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Because of our large customer base, actions against us may claim large monetary damages, even if the alleged per-customer harm is small or non-existent. From time to time, we receive letters alleging claims on behalf of our users. Due to our large customer base, the ongoing defense and resolution or settlement of these alleged claims could be material and we may incur significant expenses associated with arbitrating or litigating the claims. Regardless of the outcome, any such matters can have an adverse impact, which may be material, on our business, operating results, or financial condition because of legal costs, diversion of management resources, reputational damage, and other factors.
If we cannot keep pace with rapid industry changes to provide new and innovative products and services, the use of our products and services, and consequently our net revenue, could decline, which could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our industry has been characterized by many rapid, significant, and disruptive products and services in recent years. These include decentralized applications, DeFi, yield farming, NFTs, play-to-earn games, lending, staking, token wrapping, governance tokens, innovative programs to attract customers such as transaction fee mining programs, initiatives to attract traders such as trading competitions, airdrops and giveaways, staking reward programs, and novel cryptocurrency fundraising and distribution schemes, such as “initial exchange offerings.” We expect new services and technologies to continue to emerge and evolve, which may be superior to, or render obsolete, the products and services that we currently provide. We cannot predict the effects of new services and technologies on our business. However, our ability to grow our customer base and net revenue will depend heavily on our ability to innovate and create successful new products and services, both independently and in conjunction with third-party developers. In particular, developing and incorporating new products and services into our business may require substantial expenditures, take considerable time, and ultimately may not be successful. Any new products or services could fail to attract customers, generate revenue, or perform or integrate well with third-party applications and platforms. In addition, our ability to adapt and compete with new products and services may be inhibited by regulatory requirements and general uncertainty in the law, constraints by our banking partners and payment processors, third-party intellectual property rights, or other factors. Moreover, we must continue to enhance our technical infrastructure and other technology offerings to remain competitive and maintain a platform that has the required functionality, performance, capacity, security, and speed to attract and retain customers, including large, institutional, high-frequency and high-volume traders. As a result, we expect to incur significant costs and expenses to develop and upgrade our technical infrastructure to meet the evolving needs of the industry. Our success will depend on our ability to develop and incorporate new offerings and adapt to technological changes and evolving industry practices. If we are unable to do so in a timely or cost-effective manner, our business and our ability to successfully compete, to retain existing customers, and to attract new customers may be adversely affected.
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A particular crypto asset’s status as a “security” in any relevant jurisdiction is subject to a high degree of uncertainty and if we are unable to properly characterize a crypto asset, we may be subject to regulatory scrutiny, inquiries, investigations, fines, and other penalties, which may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
The SEC and its staff have taken the position that certain crypto assets fall within the definition of a “security” under the U.S. federal securities laws. The legal test for determining whether any given crypto asset is a security is a highly complex, fact-driven analysis that evolves over time, and the outcome is difficult to predict. The SEC generally does not provide advance guidance or confirmation on the status of any particular crypto asset as a security. Furthermore, the SEC’s views in this area have evolved over time and it is difficult to predict the direction or timing of any continuing evolution. It is also possible that a change in the governing administration or the appointment of new SEC commissioners could substantially impact the views of the SEC and its staff. For example, Chair Gary Gensler has repeatedly remarked on the need for further regulatory oversight on crypto assets, crypto trading, and lending platforms by the SEC. Public statements by senior officials at the SEC indicate that the SEC does not intend to take the position that Bitcoin or Ethereum are securities (in their current form). Bitcoin and Ethereum are the only crypto assets as to which senior officials at the SEC have publicly expressed such a view. Moreover, such statements are not official policy statements by the SEC and reflect only the speakers’ views, which are not binding on the SEC or any other agency or court and cannot be generalized to any other crypto asset. With respect to all other crypto assets, there is currently no certainty under the applicable legal test that such assets are not securities, notwithstanding the conclusions we may draw based on our risk-based assessment regarding the likelihood that a particular crypto asset could be deemed a “security” under applicable laws. Similarly, though the SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology published a framework for analyzing whether any given crypto asset is a security in April 2019, this framework is also not a rule, regulation or statement of the SEC and is not binding on the SEC.
Several foreign jurisdictions have taken a broad-based approach to classifying crypto assets as “securities,” while other foreign jurisdictions, such as Switzerland, Malta, and Singapore, have adopted a narrower approach. As a result, certain crypto assets may be deemed to be a “security” under the laws of some jurisdictions but not others. Various foreign jurisdictions may, in the future, adopt additional laws, regulations, or directives that affect the characterization of crypto assets as “securities.”
The classification of a crypto asset as a security under applicable law has wide-ranging implications for the regulatory obligations that flow from the offer, sale, trading, and clearing of such assets. For example, a crypto asset that is a security in the United States may generally only be offered or sold in the United States pursuant to a registration statement filed with the SEC or in an offering that qualifies for an exemption from registration. Persons that effect transactions in crypto assets that are securities in the United States may be subject to registration with the SEC as a “broker” or “dealer.” Platforms that bring together purchasers and sellers to trade crypto assets that are securities in the United States are generally subject to registration as national securities exchanges, or must qualify for an exemption, such as by being operated by a registered broker-dealer as an ATS in compliance with rules for ATSs. Persons facilitating clearing and settlement of securities may be subject to registration with the SEC as a clearing agency. Foreign jurisdictions may have similar licensing, registration, and qualification requirements.
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We have policies and procedures to analyze whether each crypto asset that we seek to facilitate trading on our platform could be deemed to be a “security” under applicable laws. Our policies and procedures do not constitute a legal standard, but rather represent our company-developed model, which permits us to make a risk-based assessment regarding the likelihood that a particular crypto asset could be deemed a “security” under applicable laws. Regardless of our conclusions, we could be subject to legal or regulatory action in the event the SEC, a state or foreign regulatory authority, or a court were to determine that a supported crypto asset currently offered, sold, or traded on our platform is a “security” under applicable laws. Because our platform is not registered or licensed with the SEC or foreign authorities as a broker-dealer, national securities exchange, or ATS (or foreign equivalents), and we do not seek to register or rely on an exemption from such registration or license to facilitate the offer and sale of crypto assets on our platform, we only permit trading on our core platform of those crypto assets for which we determine there are reasonably strong arguments to conclude that the crypto asset is not a security. We believe that our process reflects a comprehensive and thoughtful analysis and is reasonably designed to facilitate consistent application of available legal guidance to crypto assets to facilitate informed risk-based business judgment. However, we recognize that the application of securities laws to the specific facts and circumstances of crypto assets may be complex and subject to change, and that a listing determination does not guarantee any conclusion under the U.S. federal securities laws. For example, in December 2020, we announced that we had made a decision to suspend all XRP trading pairs on our platform in light of the SEC’s lawsuit filed against Ripple Labs, Inc., or Ripple, and two of its executives, alleging that they have engaged in an unregistered, ongoing securities offering through the sale of XRP. The SEC’s litigation with Ripple is still pending resolution. We expect our risk assessment policies and procedures to continuously evolve to take into account case law, facts, and developments in technology.
There can be no assurances that we will properly characterize any given crypto asset as a security or non-security for purposes of determining whether our platform will support trading of the crypto asset, or that the SEC, foreign regulatory authority, or a court, if the question was presented to it, would agree with our assessment. If the SEC, state or foreign regulatory authority, or a court were to determine that a supported crypto asset currently offered, sold, or traded on our platform is a security, we would not be able to offer such crypto asset for trading until we are able to do so in a compliant manner. A determination by the SEC, a state or foreign regulatory authority, or a court that an asset that we currently support for trading on our platform constitutes a security may also result in us determining that it is advisable to remove assets from our platform that have similar characteristics to the asset that was determined to be a security. In addition, we could be subject to judicial or administrative sanctions for failing to offer or sell the crypto asset in compliance with the registration requirements, or for acting as a broker, dealer, or national securities exchange without appropriate registration. Such an action could result in injunctions, cease and desist orders, as well as civil monetary penalties, fines, and disgorgement, criminal liability, and reputational harm. Customers that traded such supported crypto asset on our platform and suffered trading losses could also seek to rescind a transaction that we facilitated as the basis that it was conducted in violation of applicable law, which could subject us to significant liability. We may also be required to cease facilitating transactions in the supported crypto asset other than via our licensed subsidiaries, which could negatively impact our business, operating results, and financial condition. Furthermore, if we remove any assets from trading on our platform, our decision may be unpopular with users and may reduce our ability to attract and retain customers, especially if such assets remain traded on unregulated exchanges, which includes many of our competitors.
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Further, if Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other supported crypto asset is deemed to be a security under any U.S. federal, state, or foreign jurisdiction, or in a proceeding in a court of law or otherwise, it may have adverse consequences for such supported crypto asset. For instance, all transactions in such supported crypto asset would have to be registered with the SEC or other foreign authority, or conducted in accordance with an exemption from registration, which could severely limit its liquidity, usability and transactability. Moreover, the networks on which such supported crypto assets are utilized may be required to be regulated as securities intermediaries, and subject to applicable rules, which could effectively render the network impracticable for its existing purposes. Further, it could draw negative publicity and a decline in the general acceptance of the crypto asset. Also, it may make it difficult for such supported crypto asset to be traded, cleared, and custodied as compared to other crypto asset that are not considered to be securities. Specifically, even if transactions in a crypto asset were registered with the SEC or conducted in accordance with an exemption from registration, the current intermediary-based framework for securities trading, clearance and settlement is not consistent with the operations of the crypto asset market. For example, under current SEC guidance, crypto asset securities cannot be held on behalf of customers by broker-dealers that also support custody of traditional securities; and the SEC has not permitted public permissionless blockchain-based clearance and settlement systems for securities.
We currently rely on third-party service providers for certain aspects of our operations, and any interruptions in services provided by these third parties may impair our ability to support our customers.
We rely on third parties in connection with many aspects of our business, including payment processors, banks, and payment gateways to process transactions; cloud computing services and data centers that provide facilities, infrastructure, website functionality and access, components, and services, including databases and data center facilities and cloud computing; as well as third parties that provide outsourced customer service, compliance support and product development functions, which are critical to our operations. Because we rely on third parties to provide these services and to facilitate certain of our business activities, we face increased operational risks. We do not directly manage the operation of any of these third parties, including their data center facilities that we use. These third parties may be subject to financial, legal, regulatory, and labor issues, cybersecurity incidents, break-ins, computer viruses, denial-of-service attacks, sabotage, acts of vandalism, privacy breaches, service terminations, disruptions, interruptions, and other misconduct. They are also vulnerable to damage or interruption from human error, power loss, telecommunications failures, fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, pandemics (including the COVID-19 pandemic) and similar events. For example, on February 24, 2021, the U.S. Federal Reserve’s payments network experienced an outage, which had the potential to result in reduced functionality for certain of our products. In addition, these third parties may breach their agreements with us, disagree with our interpretation of contract terms or applicable laws and regulations, refuse to continue or renew these agreements on commercially reasonable terms or at all, fail or refuse to process transactions or provide other services adequately, take actions that degrade the functionality of our services, impose additional costs or requirements on us or our customers, or give preferential treatment to competitors. There can be no assurance that third parties that provide services to us or to our customers on our behalf will continue to do so on acceptable terms, or at all. If any third parties do not adequately or appropriately provide their services or perform their responsibilities to us or our customers on our behalf, such as if third-party service providers to close their data center facilities without adequate notice, are unable to restore operations and data, fail to perform as expected, or experience other unanticipated problems, we may be unable to procure alternatives in a timely and efficient manner and on acceptable terms, or at all, and we may be subject to business disruptions, losses or costs to remediate any of the deficiencies, customer dissatisfaction, reputational damage, legal or regulatory proceedings, or other adverse consequences which could harm our business.
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Loss of a critical banking or insurance relationship could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We rely on bank accounts to provide our platform and custodial services. In particular, customer cash holdings on our platform are held with one or more of our banking partners. As a registered money services business with FinCEN under the Bank Secrecy Act, as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and its implementing regulations enforced by FinCEN, or collectively, the BSA, a licensed money transmitter in a number of U.S. states and territories, a licensee under NYDFS’s Virtual Currency Business Activity regime, commonly referred to as a BitLicense, a licensed electronic money institution under both the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the Central Bank of Ireland, and a limited purpose trust company chartered by the NYDFS, our banking partners view us as a higher risk customer for purposes of their anti-money laundering programs. We may face difficulty establishing or maintaining banking relationships due to our banking partners’ policies and some prior bank partners have terminated their relationship with us or have limited access to bank services. The loss of these banking partners or the imposition of operational restrictions by these banking partners and the inability for us to utilize other redundant financial institutions may result in a disruption of business activity as well as regulatory risks. In addition, financial institutions in the United States and globally may, as a result of the myriad of regulations or the risks of crypto assets generally, decide to not provide account, custody, or other financial services to us or the cryptoeconomy generally. We also rely on insurance carriers to insure customer losses resulting from a breach of our physical security, cyber security, or by employee or service provider theft. Our ability to maintain crime, specie, and cyber insurance is subject to the insurance carriers’ ongoing underwriting criteria and our inability to obtain and maintain appropriate insurance coverage could cause a substantial business disruption, adverse reputational impact, inability to compete with our competitors, and regulatory scrutiny.
Any significant disruption in our products and services, in our information technology systems, or in any of the blockchain networks we support, could result in a loss of customers or funds and adversely impact our brand and reputation and our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our reputation and ability to attract and retain customers and grow our business depends on our ability to operate our service at high levels of reliability, scalability, and performance, including the ability to process and monitor, on a daily basis, a large number of transactions that occur at high volume and frequencies across multiple systems. Our platform, the ability of our customers to trade, and our ability to operate at a high level, are dependent on our ability to access the blockchain networks underlying the supported crypto assets, for which access is dependent on our systems’ ability to access the internet. Further, the successful and continued operations of such blockchain networks will depend on a network of computers, miners, or validators, and their continued operations, all of which may be impacted by service interruptions.
Our systems, the systems of our third-party service providers and partners, and certain crypto asset and blockchain networks have experienced from time to time, and may experience in the future service interruptions or degradation because of hardware and software defects or malfunctions, distributed denial-of-service and other cyberattacks, insider threats, break-ins, sabotage, human error, vandalism, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, and other natural disasters, power losses, disruptions in telecommunications services, fraud, military or political conflicts, terrorist attacks, computer viruses or other malware, or other events. In addition, extraordinary Trading Volumes or site usage could cause our computer systems to operate at an unacceptably slow speed or even fail. Some of our systems, including systems of companies we have acquired, or the systems of our third-party service providers and partners are not fully redundant, and our or their disaster recovery planning may not be sufficient for all possible outcomes or events.
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If any of our systems, or those of our third-party service providers, are disrupted for any reason, our products and services may fail, resulting in unanticipated disruptions, slower response times and delays in our customers’ trade execution and processing, failed settlement of trades, incomplete or inaccurate accounting, recording or processing of trades, unauthorized trades, loss of customer information, increased demand on limited customer support resources, customer claims, complaints with regulatory organizations, lawsuits, or enforcement actions. Further, when these disruptions occur, we have in the past, and may in the future, fulfill customer transactions using our own crypto assets as an accommodation to our customers, which may have an impact on our operating results. A prolonged interruption in the availability or reduction in the availability, speed, or functionality of our products and services could harm our business. Significant or persistent interruptions in our services could cause current or potential customers or partners to believe that our systems are unreliable, leading them to switch to our competitors or to avoid or reduce the use of our products and services, and could permanently harm our reputation and brands. Moreover, to the extent that any system failure or similar event results in damages to our customers or their business partners, these customers or partners could seek significant compensation or contractual penalties from us for their losses, and those claims, even if unsuccessful, would likely be time-consuming and costly for us to address. Problems with the reliability or security of our systems would harm our reputation, and damage to our reputation and the cost of remedying these problems could negatively affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Because we are a regulated financial institution in certain jurisdictions, interruptions have resulted and in the future may result in regulatory scrutiny, and significant or persistent interruptions could lead to significant fines and penalties, and mandatory and costly changes to our business practices, and ultimately could cause us to lose existing licenses or banking relationships that we need to operate or prevent or delay us from obtaining additional licenses that may be required for our business.
In addition, we are continually improving and upgrading our information systems and technologies. Implementation of new systems and technologies is complex, expensive, time-consuming, and may not be successful. If we fail to timely and successfully implement new information systems and technologies, or improvements or upgrades to existing information systems and technologies, or if such systems and technologies do not operate as intended, it could have an adverse impact on our business, internal controls (including internal controls over financial reporting), operating results, and financial condition.
Our failure to safeguard and manage our customers’ fiat currencies and crypto assets could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
As of December 31, 2021, we held $278 billion in custodial fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies on behalf of customers. Supported crypto assets are not insured or guaranteed by any government or government agency. We have also entered into partnerships with third parties, such as with the Centre Consortium, as a reseller of USDC, where we or our partners receive and hold funds for the benefit of our customers. Our and our partners’ abilities to manage and accurately safeguard these customer assets requires a high level of internal controls. As our business continues to grow and we expand our product and service offerings, we must continue to strengthen our associated internal controls and ensure that our partners do the same. Our success and the success of our offerings requires significant public confidence in our and our partners’ ability to properly manage customers’ balances and handle large and growing transaction volumes and amounts of customer funds. In addition, we are dependent on our partners’ operations, liquidity, and financial condition for the proper maintenance, use, and safekeeping of these customer assets. Any failure by us or our partners to maintain the necessary controls or to manage customer crypto assets and funds appropriately and in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements could result in reputational harm, significant financial losses, lead customers to discontinue or reduce their use of our and our partners’ products, and result in significant penalties and fines and additional restrictions, which could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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We deposit, transfer, and custody customer cash and crypto assets in multiple jurisdictions. In each instance, we are required to safeguard customers’ assets using bank-level security standards applicable to our wallet and storage systems, as well as our financial management systems related to such custodial functions. Our security technology is designed to prevent, detect, and mitigate inappropriate access to our systems, by internal or external threats. We believe we have developed and maintained administrative, technical, and physical safeguards designed to comply with applicable legal requirements and industry standards. However, it is nevertheless possible that hackers, employees or service providers acting contrary to our policies, or others could circumvent these safeguards to improperly access our systems or documents, or the systems or documents of our business partners, agents, or service providers, and improperly access, obtain, misuse customer crypto assets and funds. The methods used to obtain unauthorized access, disable, or degrade service or sabotage systems are also constantly changing and evolving and may be difficult to anticipate or detect for long periods of time. Certain of our customer contracts do not limit our liability with respect to security breaches and other security-related matters and our insurance coverage for such impropriety is limited and may not cover the extent of loss nor the nature of such loss, in which case we may be liable for the full amount of losses suffered, which could be greater than all of our assets. Our ability to maintain insurance is also subject to the insurance carriers’ ongoing underwriting criteria. Any loss of customer cash or crypto assets could result in a subsequent lapse in insurance coverage, which could cause a substantial business disruption, adverse reputational impact, inability to compete with our competitors, and regulatory investigations, inquiries, or actions. Additionally, transactions undertaken through our websites or other electronic channels may create risks of fraud, hacking, unauthorized access or acquisition, and other deceptive practices. Any security incident resulting in a compromise of customer assets could result in substantial costs to us and require us to notify impacted individuals, and in some cases regulators, of a possible or actual incident, expose us to regulatory enforcement actions, including substantial fines, limit our ability to provide services, subject us to litigation, significant financial losses, damage our reputation, and adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition, and cash flows.
The theft, loss, or destruction of private keys required to access any crypto assets held in custody for our own account or for our customers may be irreversible. If we are unable to access our private keys or if we experience a hack or other data loss relating to our ability to access any crypto assets, it could cause regulatory scrutiny, reputational harm, and other losses.
Crypto assets are generally controllable only by the possessor of the unique private key relating to the digital wallet in which the crypto assets are held. While blockchain protocols typically require public addresses to be published when used in a transaction, private keys must be safeguarded and kept private in order to prevent a third party from accessing the crypto assets held in such a wallet. To the extent that any of the private keys relating to our wallets containing crypto assets held for our own account or for our customers is lost, destroyed, or otherwise compromised or unavailable, and no backup of the private key is accessible, we will be unable to access the crypto assets held in the related wallet. Further, we cannot provide assurance that our wallet will not be hacked or compromised. Crypto assets and blockchain technologies have been, and may in the future be, subject to security breaches, hacking, or other malicious activities. Any loss of private keys relating to, or hack or other compromise of, digital wallets used to store our customers’ crypto assets could adversely affect our customers’ ability to access or sell their crypto assets, require us to reimburse our customers for their losses, and subject us to significant financial losses in addition to losing customer trust in us and our products. As such, any loss of private keys due to a hack, employee or service provider misconduct or error, or other compromise by third parties could hurt our brand and reputation, result in significant losses, and adversely impact our business. The total value of crypto assets in our possession and control is significantly greater than the total value of insurance coverage that would compensate us in the event of theft or other loss of funds, which could cause our business, operating results, and financial condition to be adversely impacted in the event of such uninsured loss.
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Other Risks Related to Our Business and Financial Position
If we fail to retain existing customers or add new customers, or if our customers decrease their level of engagement with our products, services and platform, our business, operating results, and financial condition may be significantly harmed.
Our success depends on our ability to retain existing customers and attract new customers, including ecosystem partners, to increase engagement with our products, services, and platform. To do so, we must continue to offer leading technologies and ensure that our products and services are secure, reliable, and engaging. We must also expand our products and services, and offer competitive prices in an increasingly crowded and price-sensitive market. There is no assurance that we will be able to continue to do so, that we will be able to retain our current customers or attract new customers, or keep our customers engaged. Any number of factors can negatively affect customer retention, growth, and engagement, including if:
customers increasingly engage with competing products and services, including products and services that we are unable to offer due to regulatory reasons;
we fail to introduce new and improved products and services, or if we introduce new products or services that are not favorably received;
we fail to support new and in-demand crypto assets or if we elect to support crypto assets with negative reputations;
there are changes in sentiment about the quality or usefulness of our products and services or concerns related to privacy, security, or other factors;
there are adverse changes in our products and services that are mandated by legislation, regulatory authorities, or litigation;
customers perceiving the crypto assets on our platform to be bad investments, or experiencing significant losses in investments made on our platform;
technical or other problems prevent us from delivering our products and services with the speed, functionality, security, and reliability that our customers expect;
cybersecurity incidents, employee or service provider misconduct, or other unforeseen activities that causes losses to us or our customers, including losses to assets held by us on behalf of our customers;
modifications to our pricing model or modifications by competitors to their pricing;
we fail to provide adequate customer service; or
we or other companies in our industry are the subject of adverse media reports or other negative publicity.
From time to time, certain of these factors have negatively affected customer retention, growth, and engagement to varying degrees. If we are unable to maintain or increase our customer base and customer engagement, our revenue and financial results may be adversely affected. Any decrease in user retention, growth, or engagement could render our products and services less attractive to customers, which may have an adverse impact on our revenue, business, operating results, and financial condition. If our customer growth rate slows or declines, we will become increasingly dependent on our ability to maintain or increase levels of user engagement and monetization in order to drive growth of revenue.
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We expect our operating expenses to increase significantly in the foreseeable future and may not be able to achieve profitability or achieve positive cash flow from operations on a consistent basis, which may cause our business, operating results, and financial condition to be adversely impacted.
We anticipate that our operating expenses will increase substantially in the foreseeable future as we continue to hire additional employees, expand our sales and marketing efforts, develop additional products and services, and expand our international business. Moreover, we expect to incur significant legal, accounting, and other expenses, including substantially higher costs to obtain and maintain director and officer liability insurance, as a result of being a public company. This may prove more expensive than we currently anticipate, and we may not succeed in increasing our net revenue sufficiently to offset these higher expenses. Our revenue growth may slow, or our net revenue may decline for a number of other reasons, including reduced demand for our offerings, increased competition, a decrease in the growth or size of the cryptoeconomy, or any failure to capitalize on growth opportunities. Any failure to increase our revenue could prevent us from achieving profitability. We cannot be certain that we will be able to achieve profitability or achieve positive operating cash flow on any quarterly or annual basis. If we are unable to effectively manage these risks and difficulties as we encounter them, our business, operating results, and financial condition may suffer.
Our business and operations have experienced significant growth, and if we do not effectively manage our growth, or are unable to improve our systems and processes, our operating results will be negatively affected.
We have significantly expanded our operations in recent years, both in terms of employee headcount as well as the number of customers. For example, we have grown from 1,249 employees as of December 31, 2020 to 3,730 employees as of December 31, 2021. We expect such growth to continue for the foreseeable future. As we grow, our business becomes increasingly complex. To effectively manage and capitalize on our growth, we must continue to expand our information technology and financial, operating, and administrative systems and controls, and continue to manage headcount, capital, and processes efficiently. Our continued growth could strain our existing resources, and we could experience ongoing operating difficulties in managing our business as it expands across numerous jurisdictions, including difficulties in hiring, training, and managing a diffuse and growing employee base. Failure to scale and preserve our company culture could harm our future success, including our ability to retain and recruit personnel and to effectively focus on and pursue our corporate objectives. If we do not adapt to meet these evolving challenges, or if our management team does not effectively scale with our growth, we may experience erosion to our brand, the quality of our products and services may suffer, and our company culture may be harmed. Moreover, the failure of our systems and processes could undermine our ability to provide accurate, timely, and reliable reports on our financial and operating results, including the financial statements provided herein, and could impact the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. In addition, our systems and processes may not prevent or detect all errors, omissions, or fraud. Any of the foregoing operational failures could lead to noncompliance with laws, loss of operating licenses or other authorizations, or loss of bank relationships that could substantially impair or even suspend company operations.
Successful implementation of our growth strategy will also require significant expenditures before any substantial associated revenue is generated and we cannot guarantee that these increased investments will result in corresponding and offsetting revenue growth. Because we have a limited history operating our business at its current scale, it is difficult to evaluate our current business and future prospects, including our ability to plan for and model future growth. Our limited operating experience at this scale, combined with the rapidly evolving nature of the crypto asset market in which we operate, substantial uncertainty concerning how these markets may develop, and other economic factors beyond our control, reduces our ability to accurately forecast quarterly or annual revenue. Failure to manage our future growth effectively could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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Our strategy and focus on delivering high-quality, compliant, easy-to-use, and secure crypto-related financial services may not maximize short-term or medium-term financial results.
We have taken, and expect to continue to take, actions that we believe are in the best interests of our customers and the long-term interests of our business, even if those actions do not necessarily maximize short-term or medium-term results. These include expending significant managerial, technical, and legal efforts on complying with laws and regulations that are applicable to our products and services and ensuring that our products are secure. We also focus on driving long-term engagement with our customers through innovation and developing new industry-leading products and technologies. These decisions may not be consistent with the short-term and medium-term expectations of our stockholders and may not produce the long-term benefits that we expect, which could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
A significant amount of the Trading Volume on our platform is derived from a relatively small number of customers, and the loss of these customers, or a reduction in their Trading Volume, could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
A relatively small number of institutional market makers and high-transaction volume retail customers account for a significant amount of the Trading Volume on our platform and our net revenue. We expect significant Trading Volume and net revenue attributable to these customers for the foreseeable future. As a result, a loss of these customers, or a reduction in their Trading Volume, and our inability to replace these customers with other customers, could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Due to our limited operating history, it may be difficult to evaluate our business and future prospects, and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability in any given period.
We began our operations in 2012 and since then our business model has continued to evolve. Our net revenue has significantly grown since our formation, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will continue in future periods and you should not rely on the revenue growth of any given prior quarterly or annual period as an indication of our future performance. We may not always generate sufficient total revenue to achieve positive cash flow from operations or profitability in any given period, and our limited operating history and the volatile nature of our business make it difficult to evaluate our current business and our future prospects. For instance, although we generated net income of $322.3 million in 2020, we incurred a net loss of $30.4 million in 2019. We have encountered and will continue to encounter risks and difficulties as described in this section. If we do not manage these risks successfully, our business may be adversely impacted. If our growth rate were to decline significantly or become negative, it could adversely affect our operating results and financial condition. If we are not able to achieve or maintain positive cash flow from operations, our business may be adversely impacted and we may require additional financing, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all, or which would be dilutive to our stockholders.

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Because our long-term success depends, in part, on our ability to expand our sales to customers outside the United States, our business is susceptible to risks associated with international operations.
We currently have subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Canada, Germany, the Cayman Islands, the Philippines, Ireland, India, Kenya, Israel, and Australia, as well as the United States. We plan to enter into or increase our presence in additional markets around the world. We have a limited operating history outside the United States, and our ability to manage our business and conduct our operations internationally requires considerable management attention and resources and is subject to particular challenges of supporting a rapidly growing business in an environment of diverse cultures, languages, customs, tax laws, legal systems, alternate dispute systems, and regulatory systems. As we continue to expand our business and customer base outside the United States, we will be increasingly susceptible to risks associated with international operations. These risks and challenges include:
difficulty establishing and managing international operations and the increased operations, travel, infrastructure, including establishment of local customer service operations, and legal and regulatory compliance costs associated with different jurisdictions;
the need to vary pricing and margins to effectively compete in international markets;
the need to adapt and localize our products and services for specific countries, including offering services and support in local languages;
compliance with multiple, potentially conflicting and changing governmental laws and regulations across different jurisdictions;
compliance with U.S. and foreign laws designed to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities, as well as economic and trade sanctions;
difficulties obtaining required licensing from regulators in foreign jurisdictions;
competition with companies that have greater experience in the local markets, pre-existing relationships with customers in these markets or are subject to less regulatory requirements in local jurisdictions;
varying levels of payments and blockchain technology adoption and infrastructure, and increased network, payment processing, banking, and other costs;
compliance with anti-bribery laws, including compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act 2010, and other local anticorruption laws;
difficulties collecting in foreign currencies and associated foreign currency exposure;
difficulties holding, repatriating, and transferring funds held in offshore bank accounts;
difficulties enforcing contracts and collecting accounts receivable, longer payment cycles and other collection difficulties;
restrictions on crypto asset trading;
stringent local labor laws and regulations;
potentially adverse tax developments and consequences;
antitrust and competition regulations; and
regional economic and political conditions.
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We have limited experience with international regulatory environments and market practices and may not be able to penetrate or successfully operate in the markets we choose to enter. In addition, we may incur significant expenses as a result of our international expansion, and we may not be successful. We may face limited brand recognition in certain parts of the world that could lead to non-acceptance or delayed acceptance of our products and services by customers in new markets. We may also face challenges in complying with local laws and regulations. Our failure to successfully manage these risks could harm our international operations and have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Disputes with our customers could adversely impact our brand and reputation and our business, operating results, and financial condition.
From time to time we have been, and may in the future be, subject to claims and disputes with our customers with respect to our products and services, such as regarding the execution and settlement of crypto asset trades, fraudulent or unauthorized transactions, account takeovers, deposits and withdrawals of crypto assets, failures or malfunctions of our systems and services, or other issues relating to our products services. For example, during periods of heavy Trading Volumes, we have received increased customer complaints. Additionally, the ingenuity of criminal fraudsters, combined with many retail users’ susceptibility to fraud, may cause our customers to be subject to ongoing account takeovers and identity fraud issues. While we have taken measures to detect and reduce the risk of fraud, there is no guarantee that they will be successful and, in any case, require continuous improvement and optimization for continually evolving forms of fraud to be effective. There can be no guarantee that we will be successful in detecting and resolving these disputes or defending ourselves in any of these matters, and any failure may result in impaired relationships with our customers, damage to our brand and reputation, and substantial fines and damages. In some cases, the measures we have implemented to detect and deter fraud have led to poor customer experiences, including indefinite account inaccessibility for some of our customers, which increases our customer support costs and can compound damages. We could incur significant costs in compensating our customers, such as if a transaction was unauthorized, erroneous, or fraudulent. We could also incur significant legal expenses resolving and defending claims, even those without merit. To the extent we are found to have failed to fulfill our regulatory obligations, we could also lose our authorizations or licenses or become subject to conditions that could make future operations more costly, impair our ability to grow, and adversely impact our operating results. We currently are, and may in the future become, subject to investigation and enforcement action by state, federal, and international retail protection agencies, including the CFPB, the FTC, state attorneys general in the United States, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, the U.K. Financial Ombudsman Service, and the U.K. Office of Fair Trading, each of which monitors customer complaints against us and, from time to time, escalates matters for investigation and potential enforcement against us.
While certain of our customer agreements contain arbitration provisions with class action waiver provisions that may limit our exposure to retail class action litigation, some federal, state, and foreign courts have refused to enforce one or more of these provisions, and there can be no assurance that we will be successful in enforcing these arbitration provisions, including the class action waiver provisions, in the future or in any given case. Legislative, administrative, or regulatory developments may directly or indirectly prohibit or limit the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses and class action waiver provisions. Any such prohibitions or limitations on or discontinuation of the use of, such arbitration or class action waiver provisions could subject us to additional lawsuits, including additional retail class action litigation, and significantly limit our ability to avoid exposure from retail class action litigation.
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We may suffer losses due to staking, delegating, and other related services we provide to our customers.
Certain supported crypto assets enable holders to earn rewards by participating in decentralized governance, bookkeeping and transaction confirmation activities on their underlying blockchain networks, such as through staking activities, including staking through validation, delegating, and baking. We currently provide and expect to continue to provide such services for certain supported crypto assets to our customers in order to enable them to earn rewards based on crypto assets that we hold on their behalf. For instance, as a service to customers, we operate staking nodes on certain blockchain networks utilizing customers’ crypto assets and pass through the rewards received to those customers, less a service fee. In other cases, upon customers’ instructions, we may delegate our customers’ assets to third-party service providers that are unaffiliated with us. Some networks may further require customer assets to be transferred into smart contracts on the underlying blockchain networks not under our or anyone’s control. If our validator, any third-party service providers, or smart contracts fail to behave as expected, suffer cybersecurity attacks, experience security issues, or encounter other problems, our customers’ assets may be irretrievably lost. In addition, certain blockchain networks dictate requirements for participation in the relevant decentralized governance activity, and may impose penalties, or “slashing,” if the relevant activities are not performed correctly, such as if the staker, delegator, or baker acts maliciously on the network, “double signs” any transactions, or experience extended downtimes. If we or any of our service providers are slashed by the underlying blockchain network, our customers’ assets may be confiscated, withdrawn, or burnt by the network, resulting in losses for which we may be responsible. Furthermore, certain types of staking require the payment of transaction fees on the underlying blockchain network and such fees can become significant as the amount and complexity of the transaction grows, depending on the degree of network congestion and the price of Ethereum. If we experience a high volume of such staking requests from our customers on an ongoing basis, we could incur significant costs. Any penalties or slashing events could damage our brand and reputation, cause us to suffer financial losses, discourage existing and future customers from utilizing our products and services, and adversely impact our business.
We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service our debt and other obligations, including our obligations under the 2026 Convertible Notes and Senior Notes.
Our ability to make payments on our indebtedness, including the 2026 Convertible Notes and Senior Notes, and our other obligations will depend on our financial and operating performance, which is subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control. We may be unable to attain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness, including each series of the 2026 Convertible Notes and Senior Notes, and other obligations.
If we are unable to service our debt and other obligations from cash flows, we may need to refinance or restructure all or a portion of our debt obligations prior to maturity. Our ability to refinance or restructure our debt and other obligations will depend upon the condition of the capital markets and our financial condition at such time. Any refinancing or restructuring could be at higher interest rates and may require us to comply with more onerous covenants, which could further restrict our business operations. If our cash flows are insufficient to service our debt and other obligations, we may not be able to refinance or restructure any of these obligations on commercially reasonable terms or at all and any refinancing or restructuring could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, or financial condition. Statutory, contractual or other restrictions may also limit our subsidiaries’ ability to pay dividends or make distributions, loans or advances to us. For these reasons, we may not have access to any assets or cash flows of our subsidiaries to make interest and principal payments on each series of the 2026 Convertible Notes and Senior Notes.
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If our cash flows are insufficient to fund our debt and other obligations and we are unable to refinance or restructure these obligations, we could face substantial liquidity problems and may be forced to reduce or delay investments and capital expenditures, or to sell material assets or operations to meet our debt and other obligations. We cannot assure you that we would be able to implement any of these alternative measures on satisfactory terms or at all or that the proceeds from such alternatives would be adequate to meet any debt or other obligations then due. If it becomes necessary to implement any of these alternative measures, our business, operating results, or financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
We have a substantial amount of indebtedness and other obligations, which could adversely affect our financial position and prevent us from fulfilling our obligations under the 2026 Convertible Notes and Senior Notes.
We have a substantial amount of indebtedness and other obligations. As of December 31, 2021, we had approximately $3.44 billion in aggregate principal amount of outstanding indebtedness (excluding crypto asset borrowings), which includes $2.0 billion of our Senior Notes and $1.44 billion of our 2026 Convertible Notes.
Our substantial indebtedness and other obligations may:
make it difficult for us to satisfy our financial obligations, including making scheduled principal and interest payments on our 2026 Convertible Notes, Senior Notes, and our other obligations;
limit our ability to use our cash flow for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or other general business purposes;
increase our cost of borrowing;
require us to use a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to make debt service payments and pay our other obligations when due;
limit our flexibility to plan for, or react to, changes in our business and industry;
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our less leveraged competitors; and
increase our vulnerability to the impact of adverse economic and industry conditions, including changes in interest rates and foreign exchange rates.
We provide secured loans to our customers, which exposes us to credit risks and may cause us to incur financial or reputational harm.
We provide retail and commercial loans to qualified customers secured by their crypto asset holdings on our platform, which exposes us to the risk of our borrowers’ inability to repay such loans. In addition, such activity results in us being subject to certain lending laws and regulations in the applicable jurisdiction and as a result we may be subject to additional regulatory scrutiny. In the future we may enter into credit arrangements with financial institutions to obtain more capital. Any termination or interruption in the financial institutions’ ability to lend to us could interrupt our ability to provide capital to qualified customers to the extent we rely on such credit lines to continue to offer or to grow such products. Further, our credit decision process and underwriting, pricing, loss forecasting, and scoring models used to evaluate loan applications may contain errors or may not adequately assess creditworthiness of our borrowers, or may be otherwise ineffective, resulting in incorrect approvals or denials of loans. It is also possible that loan applicants could provide false or incorrect information.
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Borrower loan loss rates may be significantly affected by economic downturns or general economic conditions beyond our control and beyond the control of individual borrowers. In particular, loss rates on loans may increase due to factors such as prevailing market conditions in the cryptoeconomy, the price of Bitcoin and other crypto assets, the amount of liquidity in the markets, and other factors. Borrowers may seek protection under federal bankruptcy law or similar laws. If a borrower files for bankruptcy (or becomes the subject of an involuntary petition), a stay will go into effect that will automatically put any pending collection actions on the loan on hold and prevent further collection action absent bankruptcy court approval. The efficacy of our security interest in customer collateral is not guaranteed under Delaware law or the Uniform Commercial Code and therefore we may be exposed to loss in the event of a customer default, even if we appear to be secured against such default. While we have not incurred any material losses to date, if any of the foregoing events were to occur, our reputation and relationships with borrowers, and our financial results, could be harmed. We intend to continue to explore other products, models, and structures for offering retail and commercial financing, and other forms of credit and loan products. Some of those models or structures may require, or be deemed to require, additional data, procedures, partnerships, licenses, regulatory approvals, or capabilities that we have not yet obtained or developed.
We are exposed to transaction losses due to chargebacks, refunds or returns as a result of fraud or uncollectibility that may adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Certain of our products and services are paid for by electronic transfer from bank accounts which exposes us to risks associated with returns and insufficient funds. Furthermore, some of our products and services are paid for by credit and debit cards through payment processors which exposes us to risks associated with chargebacks and refunds. These claims could arise from fraud, misuse, unintentional use, settlement delay, insufficiency of funds, or other activities. Also, criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to engage in illegal activities, such as counterfeiting and fraud. If we are unable to collect such amounts from the customer, or if the customer refuses or is unable, due to bankruptcy or other reasons, to reimburse us, we bear the loss for the amount of the chargeback, refund, or return.
While we have policies and procedures to manage and mitigate these risks, we cannot be certain that such processes will be effective. Our failure to limit chargebacks and fraudulent transactions could increase the number of returns, refunds and chargebacks that we have to process. In addition, if the number of returns, refunds and chargebacks increases, card networks or our banking partners could require us to increase reserves, impose penalties on us, charge additional or higher fees, or terminate their relationships with us. Failure to effectively manage risk and prevent fraud could increase our chargeback, refund, and return losses or cause us to incur other liabilities. Increases in chargebacks, refunds, returns, or other liabilities could have an adverse effect on our operating results, financial condition, and cash flows.
We route orders through third-party trading venues in connection with our prime brokerage trading service. The loss or failure of any such trading venues may adversely affect our business.
In connection with our prime brokerage trading service, we routinely route customer orders to third-party exchanges or other trading venues. In connection with these activities, we generally hold cash and other crypto assets with such third-party exchanges or other trading venues in order to effect customer orders. If we were to experience a disruption in our access to these third-party exchanges and trading venues, our prime brokerage trading service could be adversely affected to the extent that we are limited in our ability to execute order flow for our prime brokerage customers. In addition, if any of these third party trading venues experience any technical, legal, regulatory or other adverse events, such as shutdowns, delays, system failures, suspension of withdrawals, illiquidity, insolvency, or loss of customer assets, we might not be able to fully recover the cash and other crypto assets that we have deposited with these third parties. As a result, our business, operating results and financial condition could be adversely affected.
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We have a highly active acquisition and investment strategy and we plan to continue to make acquisitions and investments, which could require significant management attention, disrupt our business, result in dilution to our stockholders, and adversely affect our financial results.
As part of our business strategy, we have made and intend to continue making acquisitions to add specialized employees, complementary companies, products, services, licenses, or technologies. We routinely conduct discussions and evaluate opportunities for possible acquisitions, strategic investments, entries into new businesses, joint ventures, and other transactions. As we grow, the pace and scale of our acquisitions may increase and may include larger acquisitions than we have done historically. We also invest in companies and technologies, many of which are private companies and technologies that are highly speculative in nature. In the future, we may not be able to find other suitable acquisition and investment candidates, and we may not be able to complete acquisitions or make investments on favorable terms, if at all. In some cases, the costs of such acquisitions may be substantial, and there is no assurance that we will receive a favorable return on investment for our acquisitions. We may in the future be required to write off acquisitions or investment. Moreover, our previous and future acquisitions may not achieve our goals, and any future acquisitions we complete could be viewed negatively by customers, developers, advertisers, or investors. For example, in February 2019, we announced the acquisition of Neutrino S.r.l., a blockchain intelligence platform, whose founders were directly affiliated with the software firm the Hacking Team, which purportedly sold software with surveillance capabilities to governments with authoritarian regimes, resulting in reputational harm to our business, a loss of customers, and increased cost. In addition, if we fail to successfully close or integrate any acquisitions, or integrate the products or technologies associated with such acquisitions into our company, our net revenue and operating results could be adversely affected. Our ability to acquire and integrate companies, products, services, licenses, employees, or technologies in a successful manner is unproven. Any integration process may require significant time and resources, and we may not be able to manage the process successfully, including successfully securing regulatory approvals which may be required to close the transaction and to continue to operate the target firm’s business or products in a manner that is useful to us. We may not successfully evaluate or utilize the acquired products, services, technology, or personnel, or accurately forecast the financial impact of an acquisition transaction, including accounting charges. We may have to pay cash, incur debt, or issue equity securities to pay for any such acquisition, any of which could adversely affect our financial results. The sale of equity or issuance of debt to finance any such acquisitions could result in dilution to our stockholders, which, depending on the size of the acquisition, may be significant. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased fixed obligations and could also include covenants or other restrictions that would impede our ability to manage our operations.
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If we fail to develop, maintain, and enhance our brand and reputation, our business, operating results, and financial condition may be adversely affected.
Our brand and reputation are key assets and a competitive advantage. Maintaining, protecting, and enhancing our brand depends largely on the success of our marketing efforts, ability to provide consistent, high-quality, and secure products, services, features, and support, and our ability to successfully secure, maintain, and defend our rights to use the “Coinbase” mark and other trademarks important to our brand. We believe that the importance of our brand will increase as competition further intensifies. Our brand and reputation could be harmed if we fail to achieve these objectives or if our public image were to be tarnished by negative publicity, unexpected events, or actions by third parties. Unfavorable publicity about us, including our products, services, technology, customer service, personnel, and crypto asset or crypto asset platforms generally could diminish confidence in, and the use of, our products and services. Moreover, to the extent that we acquire a company and maintain that acquired company’s separate brand, we could experience brand dilution or fail to retain positive impressions of our own brand to the extent such impressions are instead attributed to the acquired company’s brand. In addition, because we are a founder-led company, actions by, or unfavorable publicity about, Brian Armstrong, our co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, may adversely impact our brand and reputation. Such negative publicity also could have an adverse effect on the size and engagement of our customers and could result in decreased revenue, which could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Key business metrics and other estimates are subject to inherent challenges in measurement, and our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected by real or perceived inaccuracies in those metrics.
We regularly review key business metrics, including the number of our Verified Users and MTUs, our Trading Volume and Assets on Platform, and other measures to evaluate growth trends, measure our performance, and make strategic decisions. These key metrics are calculated using internal company data and have not been validated by an independent third-party. While these numbers are based on what we currently believe to be reasonable estimates for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in such measurements. If we fail to maintain an effective analytics platform, our key metrics calculations may be inaccurate, and we may not be able to identify those inaccuracies. We regularly review our processes for calculating these metrics, and from time to time we make adjustments to improve their accuracy. We generally will not update previously disclosed key business metrics for any such inaccuracies or adjustments that are immaterial.
Our key business metrics may also be impacted by compliance or fraud-related bans, technical incidents, or false or spam accounts in existence on our platform. We regularly deactivate fraudulent and spam accounts that violate our terms of service, and exclude these users from the calculation of our key business metrics; however, we may not succeed in identifying and removing all such accounts from our platform. Additionally, users are not prohibited from having more than one account and both our Verified Users and MTU metrics may overstate the number of unique customers who have registered an account on our platform as one customer may register for, and use, multiple accounts with different email addresses, phone numbers, or usernames. Furthermore, MTUs may overstate the number of unique retail users due to differences in product architecture. If our metrics provide us with incorrect or incomplete information about users and their behavior, we may make inaccurate conclusions about our business.
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Unfavorable media coverage could negatively affect our business.
We receive a high degree of media coverage in the cryptoeconomy and around the world. Unfavorable publicity regarding, for example, our product changes, product quality, litigation or regulatory activity, privacy practices, terms of service, employment matters, the use of our products, services, or supported crypto assets for illicit or objectionable ends, the actions of our customers, or the actions of other companies that provide similar services to ours, has in the past, and could in the future, adversely affect our reputation. Further, we have in the past, and may in the future, be the target of social media campaigns criticizing actual or perceived actions or inactions that are disfavored by our customers, employees, or society at-large, which campaigns could materially impact our customers’ decisions to trade on our platform. Any such negative publicity could have an adverse effect on the size, activity, and loyalty of our customers and result in a decrease in net revenue, which could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our platform may be exploited to facilitate illegal activity such as fraud, money laundering, gambling, tax evasion, and scams. If any of our customers use our platform to further such illegal activities, our business could be adversely affected.
Our platform may be exploited to facilitate illegal activity including fraud, money laundering, gambling, tax evasion, and scams. We or our partners may be specifically targeted by individuals seeking to conduct fraudulent transfers, and it may be difficult or impossible for us to detect and avoid such transactions in certain circumstances. The use of our platform for illegal or improper purposes could subject us to claims, individual and class action lawsuits, and government and regulatory investigations, prosecutions, enforcement actions, inquiries, or requests that could result in liability and reputational harm for us. Moreover, certain activities that may be legal in one jurisdiction may be illegal in another jurisdiction, and certain activities that are at one time legal may in the future be deemed illegal in the same jurisdiction. As a result, there is significant uncertainty and cost associated with detecting and monitoring transactions for compliance with local laws. In the event that a customer is found responsible for intentionally or inadvertently violating the laws in any jurisdiction, we may be subject to governmental inquiries, enforcement actions, prosecuted, or otherwise held secondarily liable for aiding or facilitating such activities. Changes in law have also increased the penalties for money transmitters for certain illegal activities, and government authorities may consider increased or additional penalties from time to time. Owners of intellectual property rights or government authorities may seek to bring legal action against money transmitters, including us, for involvement in the sale of infringing or allegedly infringing items. Any threatened or resulting claims could result in reputational harm, and any resulting liabilities, loss of transaction volume, or increased costs could harm our business.
Moreover, while fiat currencies can be used to facilitate illegal activities, crypto assets are relatively new and, in many jurisdictions, may be lightly regulated or largely unregulated. Many types of crypto assets have characteristics, such as the speed with which digital currency transactions can be conducted, the ability to conduct transactions without the involvement of regulated intermediaries, the ability to engage in transactions across multiple jurisdictions, the irreversible nature of certain crypto asset transactions, and encryption technology that anonymizes these transactions, that make crypto assets susceptible to use in illegal activity. U.S. federal and state and foreign regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Justice, SEC, CFTC, FTC, Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, and various state securities and financial regulators have taken and continue to take legal action against persons and entities alleged to be engaged in fraudulent schemes or other illicit activity involving crypto assets. We also support crypto assets that incorporate privacy-enhancing features, and may from time to time support additional crypto assets with similar functionalities. These privacy-enhancing crypto assets obscure the identities of sender and receiver, and may prevent law enforcement officials from tracing the source of funds on the blockchain. Facilitating transactions in these crypto assets may cause us to be at increased risk of liability arising out of anti-money laundering and economic sanctions laws and regulations.
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While we believe that our risk management and compliance framework is designed to detect significant illicit activities conducted by our potential or existing customers, we cannot ensure that we will be able to detect all illegal activity on our platform. If any of our customers use our platform to further such illegal activities, our business could be adversely affected.
Our compliance and risk management methods might not be effective and may result in outcomes that could adversely affect our reputation, operating results, and financial condition.
Our ability to comply with applicable complex and evolving laws, regulations, and rules is largely dependent on the establishment, maintenance, and scaling of our compliance, audit, and reporting systems to continuously keep pace with our customer activity and transaction volume, as well as our ability to attract and retain qualified compliance and other risk management personnel. While we have devoted significant resources to develop policies and procedures to identify, monitor, and manage our risks, and expect to continue to do so in the future, we cannot assure you that our policies and procedures are and will always be effective or that we have been and will always be successful in monitoring or evaluating the risks to which we are or may be exposed in all market environments or against all types of risks, including unidentified or unanticipated risks. Our risk management policies and procedures rely on a combination of technical and human controls and supervision that are subject to error and failure. Some of our methods for managing risk are discretionary by nature and are based on internally developed controls and observed historical market behavior, and also involve reliance on standard industry practices. These methods may not adequately prevent losses, particularly as they relate to extreme market movements, which may be significantly greater than historical fluctuations in the market. Our risk management policies and procedures also may not adequately prevent losses due to technical errors if our testing and quality control practices are not effective in preventing failures. In addition, we may elect to adjust our risk management policies and procedures to allow for an increase in risk tolerance, which could expose us to the risk of greater losses.
Regulators periodically review our compliance with our own policies and procedures and with a variety of laws and regulations. We have received in the past and may from time to time receive additional examination reports citing violations of rules and regulations and inadequacies in existing compliance programs, and requiring us to enhance certain practices with respect to our compliance program, including due diligence, training, monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping. If we fail to comply with these, or do not adequately remediate certain findings, regulators could take a variety of actions that could impair our ability to conduct our business, including, but not limited to, delaying, denying, withdrawing, or conditioning approval of certain products and services. In addition, regulators have broad enforcement powers to censure, fine, issue cease and desist orders, prohibit us from engaging in some of our business activities, or revoke our licenses. We face significant intervention by regulatory authorities, including extensive examination and surveillance activities, and will continue to face the risk of significant intervention by regulatory authorities in the future. In the case of non-compliance or alleged non-compliance, we could be subject to investigations and proceedings that may result in substantial penalties or civil lawsuits, including by customers, for damages which can be significant. Any of these outcomes would adversely affect our reputation and brand and our business, operating results, and financial condition. Some of these outcomes could adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.
Low short-term interest rates negatively impact us.
The level of prevailing short-term interest rates affects our profitability because we derive a portion of our revenue from interest earned from funds deposited with us by our customers which we hold on their behalf in custodial accounts at banks. Higher interest rates increase the amount of interest income earned from these customer deposits. If short-term interest rates remain low or start to decline further, our revenue derived from interest will correspondingly decline which would negatively impact our profitability.
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We hold certain investments in DeFi protocols and may suffer losses if they do not function as expected.
We hold investments in various DeFi protocols. These protocols achieve their investment purposes through self-executing smart contracts that allow users to invest crypto assets in a pool from which other users can borrow without requiring an intermediate party to facilitate these transactions. These investments earn interest to the investor based on the rates at which borrowers repay the loan, and can generally be withdrawn with no restrictions. However, these DeFi protocols are subject to various risks, including the risk that the underlying smart contract is insecure, the risk that borrowers may default and the investor will not be able to recover its investment, the risk that any underlying collateral may experience significant volatility, and the risk of certain core developers with protocol administration rights can make unauthorized or harmful changes to the underlying smart contract. If any of these risks materialize, our investments in these DeFi protocols may be adversely impacted.
We may suffer losses due to abrupt and erratic market movements.
The crypto asset market has been characterized by significant volatility and unexpected price movements. Certain crypto assets may become more volatile and less liquid in a very short period of time, resulting in market prices being subject to erratic and abrupt market movement, which could harm our business. For instance, abrupt changes in volatility or market movement can lead to extreme pressures on our platform and infrastructure that can lead to inadvertent suspension of services across parts of the platform or the entire platform. As a result, from time to time we experience outages. For example, in 2020, we experienced approximately 30 outages, with an average outage duration of 64.6 minutes. Outages can lead to increased customer service expense, can cause customer loss and reputational damage, and can lead to other damages for which we may be responsible.
Risks Related to Crypto Assets
Due to unfamiliarity and some negative publicity associated with crypto asset platforms, existing and potential customers may lose confidence in crypto asset platforms.
Crypto asset platforms are relatively new. Many of our competitors are unlicensed, unregulated, operate without supervision by any governmental authorities, and do not provide the public with significant information regarding their ownership structure, management team, corporate practices, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance. As a result, customers and the general public may lose confidence in crypto asset platforms, including regulated platforms like ours.
Since the inception of the cryptoeconomy, numerous crypto asset platforms have been sued, investigated, or shut down due to fraud, manipulative practices, business failure, and security breaches. In many of these instances, customers of these platforms were not compensated or made whole for their losses. Larger platforms like us are more appealing targets for hackers and malware, and may also be more likely to be targets of regulatory enforcement actions. For example, in February 2014, Mt. Gox, the then largest crypto asset platform worldwide, filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan after an estimated 700,000 Bitcoins were stolen from its wallets. In May 2019, Binance, one of the world’s largest platforms, was hacked, resulting in losses of approximately $40 million, and in February 2021, Bitfinex settled a long-running legal dispute with the State of New York related to Bitfinex’s alleged misuse of over $800 million of customer assets.
In addition, there have been reports that a significant amount of crypto asset trading volume on crypto asset platforms is fabricated and false in nature, with a specific focus on unregulated platforms located outside the United States. Such reports may indicate that the market for crypto asset platform activities is significantly smaller than otherwise understood.
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Negative perception, a lack of stability and standardized regulation in the cryptoeconomy, and the closure or temporary shutdown of crypto asset platforms due to fraud, business failure, hackers or malware, or government mandated regulation, and associated losses suffered by customers may reduce confidence in the cryptoeconomy and result in greater volatility of the prices of assets, including significant depreciation in value. Any of these events could harm an adverse impact on our business.
Depositing and withdrawing crypto assets into and from our platform involve risks, which could result in loss of customer assets, customer disputes and other liabilities, which could adversely impact our business.
In order to own, transfer and use a crypto asset on its underlying blockchain network, a person must have a private and public key pair associated with a network address, commonly referred to as a “wallet.” Each wallet is associated with a unique “public key” and “private key” pair, each of which is a string of alphanumerical characters. To deposit crypto assets held by a customer onto our platform or custody platform, a customer must “sign” a transaction that consists of the private key of the wallet from where the customer is transferring crypto assets, the public key of a wallet that we control which we provide to the customer, and broadcast the deposit transaction onto the underlying blockchain network. Similarly, to withdraw crypto assets from our platform or custody platform, the customer must provide us with the public key of the wallet that the crypto assets are to be transferred to, and we would be required to “sign” a transaction authorizing the transfer. In addition, some crypto networks require additional information to be provided in connection with any transfer of crypto assets to or from our platforms. A number of errors can occur in the process of depositing or withdrawing crypto assets into or from our platform, such as typos, mistakes, or the failure to include the information required by the blockchain network. For instance, a user may incorrectly enter our wallet’s public key or the desired recipient’s public key when depositing and withdrawing from our platforms, respectively. Alternatively, a user may transfer crypto assets to a wallet address that he does not own, control or hold the private keys to. In addition, each wallet address is only compatible with the underlying blockchain network on which it is created. For instance, a Bitcoin wallet address can only be used to send and receive Bitcoins. If any Ethereum or other crypto assets is sent to a Bitcoin wallet address, or if any of the foregoing errors occur, all of the customer’s crypto assets will be permanently and irretrievably lost with no means of recovery. We have encountered and expect to continue to encounter similar incidents with our customers. Such incidents could result in customer disputes, damage to our brand and reputation, legal claims against us, and financial liabilities, any of which could adversely affect our business.
A temporary or permanent blockchain “fork” to any supported crypto asset could adversely affect our business.
Blockchain protocols, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, are open source. Any user can download the software, modify it, and then propose that Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other blockchain protocols users and miners adopt the modification. When a modification is introduced and a substantial majority of users and miners consent to the modification, the change is implemented and the Bitcoin, Ethereum or other blockchain protocol networks, as applicable, remain uninterrupted. However, if less than a substantial majority of users and miners consent to the proposed modification, and the modification is not compatible with the software prior to its modification, the consequence would be what is known as a “fork” (i.e., “split”) of the impacted blockchain protocol network and respective blockchain, with one prong running the pre-modified software and the other running the modified software. The effect of such a fork would be the existence of two parallel versions of the Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other blockchain protocol network, as applicable, running simultaneously, but with each split network’s crypto asset lacking interchangeability.
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Both Bitcoin and Ethereum protocols have been subject to “forks” that resulted in the creation of new networks, including Bitcoin Cash ABC, Bitcoin Cash SV, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum Classic, and others. Some of these forks have caused fragmentation among platforms as to the correct naming convention for forked crypto assets. Due to the lack of a central registry or rulemaking body, no single entity has the ability to dictate the nomenclature of forked crypto assets, causing disagreements and a lack of uniformity among platforms on the nomenclature of forked crypto assets, and which results in further confusion to customers as to the nature of assets they hold on platforms. In addition, several of these forks were contentious and as a result, participants in certain communities may harbor ill will towards other communities. As a result, certain community members may take actions that adversely impact the use, adoption, and price of Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any of their forked alternatives.
Furthermore, hard forks can lead to new security concerns. For instance, when the Ethereum and Ethereum Classic networks split in July 2016, replay attacks, in which transactions from one network were rebroadcast on the other network to achieve “double-spending,” plagued platforms that traded Ethereum through at least October 2016, resulting in significant losses to some crypto asset platforms. Similar replay attacks occurred in connection with the Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Cash SV network split in November 2018. Another possible result of a hard fork is an inherent decrease in the level of security due to the splitting of some mining power across networks, making it easier for a malicious actor to exceed 50% of the mining power of that network, thereby making crypto assets that rely on proof-of-work more susceptible to attack, as has occurred with Ethereum Classic.
We do not believe that we are required to support any fork or provide the benefit of any forked crypto asset to our customers. However, we have in the past and may in the future continue to be subject to claims by customers arguing that they are entitled to receive certain forked or airdropped crypto assets by virtue of crypto assets that they hold with us. If any customers succeed on a claim that they are entitled to receive the benefits of a forked or airdropped crypto asset that we do not or are unable to support, we may be required to pay significant damages, fines or other fees to compensate customers for their losses.
Future forks may occur at any time. A fork can lead to a disruption of networks and our information technology systems, cybersecurity attacks, replay attacks, or security weaknesses, any of which can further lead to temporary or even permanent loss of our and our customers’ assets. Such disruption and loss could cause us to be exposed to liability, even in circumstances where we have no intention of supporting an asset compromised by a fork.
We currently support, and expect to continue to support, certain smart contract-based crypto assets. If the underlying smart contracts for these crypto assets do not operate as expected, they could lose value and our business could be adversely affected.
We currently support, and expect to continue to support, various crypto assets that represent units of value on smart contracts deployed on a third-party blockchain. Smart contracts are programs that store and transfer value and execute automatically when certain conditions are met. Since smart contracts typically cannot be stopped or reversed, vulnerabilities in their programming and design can have damaging effects. For instance, in April 2018, a batch overflow bug was found in many Ethereum-based ERC20-compatible smart contract tokens that allowed hackers to create a large number of smart contract tokens, causing multiple crypto asset platforms worldwide to shut down ERC20-compatible token trading. Similarly, in March 2020, a design flaw in the MakerDAO smart contract caused forced liquidations of crypto assets at significantly discounted prices, resulting in millions of dollars of losses to users who had deposited crypto assets into the smart contract. If any such vulnerabilities or flaws come to fruition, smart contract-based crypto assets, including those held by our customers on our platforms, may suffer negative publicity, be exposed to security vulnerabilities, decline significantly in value, and lose liquidity over a short period of time.
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In some cases, smart contracts can be controlled by one or more “admin keys” or users with special privileges, or “super users.” These users have the ability to unilaterally make changes to the smart contract, enable or disable features on the smart contract, change how the smart contract receives external inputs and data, and make other changes to the smart contract. For smart contracts that hold a pool of reserves, these users may also be able to extract funds from the pool, liquidate assets held in the pool, or take other actions that decrease the value of the assets held by the smart contract in reserves. Even for crypto assets that have adopted a decentralized governance mechanism, such as smart contracts that are governed by the holders of a governance token, such governance tokens can be concentrated in the hands of a small group of core community members, who would be able to make similar changes unilaterally to the smart contract. If any such super user or group of core members unilaterally make adverse changes to a smart contract, the design, functionality, features and value of the smart contract, its related crypto assets may be harmed. In addition, assets held by the smart contract in reserves may be stolen, misused, burnt, locked up or otherwise become unusable and irrecoverable. These super users can also become targets of hackers and malicious attackers. If an attacker is able to access or obtain the super user privileges of a smart contract, or if a smart contract’s super-users or core community members take actions that adversely affects the smart contract, our customers who hold and transact in the affected crypto assets may experience decreased functionality and value of the applicable crypto assets, up to and including a total loss of the value of such crypto assets. Although we do not control these smart contracts, any such events could cause customers to seek damages against us for their losses, result in reputational damage to us, or in other ways adversely impact our business.
From time to time, we may encounter technical issues in connection with the integration of supported crypto assets and changes and upgrades to their underlying networks, which could adversely affect our business.
In order to support any supported crypto asset, a variety of front and back-end technical and development work is required to implement our wallet, custody, trading, staking and other solutions for our customers, and to integrate such supported crypto asset with our existing technical infrastructure. For certain crypto assets, a significant amount of development work is required and there is no guarantee that we will be able to integrate successfully with any existing or future crypto asset. In addition, such integration may introduce software errors or weaknesses into our platform, including our existing infrastructure. Even if such integration is initially successful, any number of technical changes, software upgrades, soft or hard forks, cybersecurity incidents, or other changes to the underlying blockchain network may occur from time to time, causing incompatibility, technical issues, disruptions, or security weaknesses to our platform. If we are unable to identify, troubleshoot and resolve any such issues successfully, we may no longer be able to support such crypto asset, our customers’ assets may be frozen or lost, the security of our hot, warm, or cold wallets may be compromised, and our platform and technical infrastructure may be affected, all of which could adversely impact our business.
If miners or validators of any supported crypto asset demand high transaction fees, our operating results may be adversely affected.
We charge miner fees when a customer sends certain crypto assets from their Coinbase account to a non-Coinbase account. We estimate the miner fee based on the cost that we will incur to process the withdrawal transaction on the underlying blockchain network. In addition, we also pay miner fees when we move crypto assets for various operational purposes, such as when we transfer crypto assets between our hot and cold wallets, for which we do not charge our customers. However, miner fees can be unpredictable. For instance, in 2017, Bitcoin miner fees increased from approximately $0.35 per transaction in January 2017 to over $50 per transaction in December 2017. Even though Bitcoin’s miner fees have since decreased, if the block rewards for miners on any blockchain network are not sufficiently high to incentivize miners, miners may demand higher transaction fees, or collude to reject low transaction fees and force users to pay higher fees. Although we generally attempt to pass miner fees relating to customer withdrawals through to our customers, we have in the past incurred, and expect to incur from time to time, losses associated with the payment of miner fees in excess of what we charge our customers, resulting in adverse impacts on our operating results.
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Future developments regarding the treatment of crypto assets for U.S. and foreign tax purposes could adversely impact our business.
Due to the new and evolving nature of crypto assets and the absence of comprehensive legal and tax guidance with respect to crypto asset products and transactions, many significant aspects of the U.S. and foreign tax treatment of transactions involving crypto assets, such as the purchase and sale of crypto assets on our platform, as well as the provision of staking rewards and other crypto asset incentives and rewards products, are uncertain, and it is unclear whether, when and what guidance may be issued in the future on the treatment of crypto asset transactions for U.S. and foreign income tax purposes.
In 2014, the IRS released Notice 2014-21, discussing certain aspects of “virtual currency” for U.S. federal income tax purposes and, in particular, stating that such virtual currency (i) is “property,” (ii) is not “currency” for purposes of the rules relating to foreign currency gain or loss, and (iii) may be held as a capital asset. In 2019, the IRS released Revenue Ruling 2019-24 and a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” (which have been periodically updated), that provide additional guidance, including guidance to the effect that, under certain circumstances, hard forks of digital currencies are taxable events giving rise to ordinary income and guidance with respect to the determination of the tax basis of virtual currency. However, this guidance does not address other significant aspects of the U.S. federal income tax treatment of crypto assets and related transactions.
There continues to be uncertainty with respect to the timing, character and amount of income inclusions for various crypto asset transactions including, but not limited to lending and borrowing crypto assets, staking rewards and other crypto asset incentives and rewards products that we offer. Although we believe our treatment of crypto asset transactions for federal income tax purposes is consistent with existing guidance provided by the IRS and existing U.S. federal income tax principles, because of the rapidly evolving nature of crypto asset innovations and the increasing variety and complexity of crypto asset transactions and products, it is possible the IRS and various U.S. states may disagree with our treatment of certain crypto asset offerings for U.S. tax purposes, which could adversely affect our customers and the vitality of our business. Similar uncertainties exist in the foreign markets in which we operate, affecting our non-U.S. customer base, and these uncertainties and potential adverse interpretations of tax law could affect our non-U.S. customers and the vitality of our platforms outside of the United States.
There can be no assurance that the IRS, the U.S. state revenue agencies or other foreign tax authorities, will not alter their respective positions with respect to crypto assets in the future or that a court would uphold the treatment set forth in existing guidance. It also is unclear what additional guidance may be issued in the future on the treatment of existing crypto asset transactions and future crypto asset innovations for purposes of U.S. tax or other foreign tax regulations. Any such alteration of existing IRS, U.S. state and foreign tax authority positions or additional guidance regarding crypto asset products and transactions could result in adverse tax consequences for holders of crypto assets and could have an adverse effect on the value of crypto assets and the broader crypto assets markets. Future technological and operational developments that may arise with respect to crypto assets may increase the uncertainty with respect to the treatment of crypto assets for U.S. and foreign tax purposes. The uncertainty regarding tax treatment of crypto asset transactions impacts our customers, and could impact our business, both domestically and abroad.
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Our tax information reporting obligations with respect to crypto transactions are subject to change.
Although we believe we are compliant with U.S. tax reporting and withholding requirements with respect to our customers’ crypto asset transactions, the exact scope and application of such requirements, including but not limited to U.S. onboarding requirements through Form W, backup withholding, and Form 1099 reporting obligations, is not entirely clear for all of the crypto asset transactions that we facilitate. In November 2021, the U.S. Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or the IIJA, providing that exchanges such as Coinbase would be responsible for reporting to the IRS the transactions of their customers in digital assets, including transfers to other exchanges or non-exchanges. In their current form, the IIJA’s new provisions for reporting transactions with respect to digital assets will become effective beginning with Form 1099s filed in 2024. In connection with the IIJA, it is expected that the IRS will introduce new rules related to our tax reporting and withholding obligations on our customer transactions in the future, likely in ways that differ from our existing compliance protocols and where there is risk that we do not have proper records to ensure compliance for certain legacy customers. If the IRS determines that we are not in compliance with our tax reporting or withholding requirements with respect to customer crypto asset transactions, we may be exposed to significant penalties, which could adversely affect our financial position. We anticipate guidance from the IRS regarding tax reporting and withholding obligations with respect to customer crypto asset transactions that will likely require us to invest substantially in new compliance measures and that may require significant retroactive compliance efforts, which also could adversely affect our financial position.
Similarly, it is likely that new rules for reporting crypto assets under the global “common reporting standard” will be implemented on our international operations, creating new obligations and a need to invest in new onboarding and reporting infrastructure. Such rules are under discussion today by the member and observer states of the “Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development” and by the European Commission on behalf of the member states of the European Union. These new rules may give rise to potential liabilities or disclosure requirements for prior customer arrangements and new rules that affect how we onboard our customers and report their transactions to taxing authorities.
The nature of our business requires the application of complex financial accounting rules, and there is limited guidance from accounting standard setting bodies. If financial accounting standards undergo significant changes, our operating results could be adversely affected.
The accounting rules and regulations that we must comply with are complex and subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or the FASB, the SEC, and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles. A change in these principles or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported financial results, and may even affect the reporting of transactions completed before the announcement or effectiveness of a change. Recent actions and public comments from the FASB and the SEC have focused on the integrity of financial reporting and internal controls. In addition, many companies’ accounting policies are being subjected to heightened scrutiny by regulators and the public. Further, there has been limited precedents for the financial accounting of crypto assets and related valuation and revenue recognition, and no official guidance has been provided by the FASB or the SEC. As such, there remains significant uncertainty on how companies can account for crypto assets transactions, crypto assets, and related revenue. Uncertainties in or changes to regulatory or financial accounting standards could result in the need to change our accounting methods and restate our financial statements and impair our ability to provide timely and accurate financial information, which could adversely affect our financial statements, result in a loss of investor confidence, and more generally impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.

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Risks Related to Government Regulation and Privacy Matters
The cryptoeconomy is novel and has limited access to policymakers or lobbying organizations, which may harm our ability to effectively react to proposed legislation and regulation of crypto assets or crypto asset platforms adverse to our business.
As crypto assets have grown in both popularity and market size, various U.S. federal, state, and local and foreign governmental organizations, consumer agencies and public advocacy groups have been examining the operations of crypto networks, users and platforms, with a focus on how crypto assets can be used to launder the proceeds of illegal activities, fund criminal or terrorist enterprises, and the safety and soundness of platforms and other service providers that hold crypto assets for users. Many of these entities have called for heightened regulatory oversight, and have issued consumer advisories describing the risks posed by crypto assets to users and investors. For instance, in July 2019, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated that he had “very serious concerns” about crypto assets, and indicated that FinCEN is planning to release new requirements relating to crypto asset activities in 2020. Outside the United States, several jurisdictions have banned so-called initial coin offerings, such as China and South Korea, while Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong, have opined that token offerings may constitute securities offerings subject to local securities regulations. In July 2019, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority proposed rules to address harm to retail customers arising from the sale of derivatives and exchange-traded notes that reference certain types of cryptocurrencies, contending that they are “ill-suited” to retail investors due to extreme volatility, valuation challenges and association with financial crimes.
The cryptoeconomy is novel and has limited access to policymakers and lobbying organizations in many jurisdictions. Competitors from other, more established industries, including traditional financial services, may have greater access to lobbyists or governmental officials, and regulators that are concerned about the potential for crypto assets for illicit usage may affect statutory and regulatory changes with minimal or discounted inputs from the cryptoeconomy. As a result, new laws and regulations may be proposed and adopted in the United States and internationally, or existing laws and regulations may be interpreted in new ways, that harm the cryptoeconomy or crypto asset platforms, which could adversely impact our business.
Our consolidated balance sheets may not contain sufficient amounts or types of regulatory capital to meet the changing requirements of our various regulators worldwide, which could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We are required to possess sufficient financial soundness and strength to adequately support our regulated subsidiaries. We may from time to time incur indebtedness and other obligations which could make it more difficult to meet these capitalization requirements or any additional regulatory requirements. In addition, although we are not a bank holding company for purposes of United States law or the law of any other jurisdiction, as a global provider of financial services and in light of the changing regulatory environment in various jurisdictions, we could become subject to new capital requirements introduced or imposed by the United States and international regulators. Any change or increase in these regulatory requirements could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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As a financial institution licensed to engage in money transmission in the United States, to conduct virtual currency business activity in New York, and issue electronic money in Europe, we are subject to strict rules governing how we manage and hold customer fiat currency and crypto assets. We maintain complex treasury operations to manage and move customer fiat currency and crypto assets across our platforms and to comply with regulatory requirements. However, it is possible we may experience errors in fiat currency and crypto asset handling, accounting, and regulatory reporting that lead us to be out of compliance with these requirements. In addition, regulators may increase the amount of fiat currency reserves that we are required to maintain for our operations, as has happened in the past. For instance, in 2017, the Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions imposed a new policy whereby digital currency businesses are required to maintain cash reserves in an amount equal to the aggregate face value of digital currency funds held on behalf of customers, making our operations in Hawaii impracticable and forcing us to shut down operations in the state at the time. Any similar events can lead to sanctions, penalties, changes to our business operations, or the revocation of licenses. Frequent launch of new products and services, including Earn campaigns, margin trading, lending functions, and the addition of new payment rails increase these risks.
Many of the crypto assets in which we facilitate trading are subject to regulatory authority by the CFTC. Any fraudulent or manipulative activity in a crypto asset occurring on our platform could subject us to increased regulatory scrutiny, regulatory enforcement, and litigation.
The CFTC has stated and judicial decisions involving CFTC enforcement actions have confirmed that at least some crypto assets, including Bitcoin, fall within the definition of a “commodity” under the CEA. As a result, the CFTC has general enforcement authority to police against manipulation and fraud in at least some spot crypto asset markets. From time to time, manipulation, fraud, and other forms of improper trading by market participants have resulted in, and may in the future result in, CFTC investigations, inquiries, enforcement action, and similar actions by other regulators, government agencies, and civil litigation. Such investigations, inquiries, enforcement actions, and litigation may cause us to incur substantial costs and could result in negative publicity.
Certain transactions in crypto assets may constitute “retail leveraged commodity transactions” subject to regulation by the CFTC as futures contracts. If crypto asset transactions we facilitate are deemed to be such retail commodity transactions, we would be subject to additional regulatory requirements, licenses and approvals, and potentially face regulatory enforcement, civil liability, and significant increased compliance and operational costs.
Any transaction in a commodity, including a crypto asset, entered into with or offered to retail investors using leverage, margin, or other financing arrangements (a “retail leveraged commodity transaction”) is subject to CFTC regulation as a futures contract unless such transaction results in actual delivery within 28 days. The meaning of “actual delivery” has been the subject of commentary and litigation, and in 2020, the CFTC has adopted interpretive guidance addressing the “actual delivery” of a crypto asset. To the extent that crypto asset transactions that we facilitate or facilitated are deemed retail leveraged commodity transactions, including pursuant to current or subsequent rulemaking or guidance by the CFTC, we may be subject to additional regulatory requirements and oversight, and we could be subject to judicial or administrative sanctions if we do not or did not at a relevant time possess appropriate registrations. The CFTC has previously brought enforcement actions against entities engaged in retail leveraged commodity transactions without appropriate registrations.
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Particular crypto assets or transactions therein could be deemed “commodity interests” (e.g., futures, options, swaps) or security-based swaps subject to regulation by the CFTC or SEC, respectively. If a crypto asset that we facilitate trading in is deemed a commodity interest or a security-based swap, we would be subject to additional regulatory requirements, registrations and approvals, and potentially face regulatory enforcement, civil liability, and significant increased compliance and operational costs.
Commodity interests, as such term is defined by the CEA and CFTC rules and regulations, are subject to more extensive supervisory oversight by the CFTC, including registrations of entities engaged in, and platforms offering, commodity interest transactions. This CFTC authority extends to crypto asset futures contracts and swaps, including transactions that are based on current and future prices of crypto assets and indices of crypto assets. To the extent that a crypto asset in which we facilitate or facilitated trading or transactions in a crypto asset which we facilitate or facilitated are deemed to fall within the definition of a commodity interest, including pursuant to subsequent rulemaking or guidance by the CFTC, we may be subject to additional regulatory requirements and oversight and could be subject to judicial or administrative sanctions if we do not or did not at a relevant time possess appropriate registrations as an exchange (for example, as a designated contract market for trading futures or options on futures, or as a swaps execution facility for trading swaps) or as a registered intermediary (for example, as a futures commission merchant or introducing broker). Such actions could result in injunctions, cease and desist orders, as well as civil monetary penalties, fines, and disgorgement, as well as reputational harm. The CFTC has previously brought enforcement actions against entities engaged in crypto asset activities for failure to obtain appropriate exchange, execution facility and intermediary registrations.
Furthermore, the CFTC and the SEC have jointly adopted regulations defining “security-based swaps,” which include swaps based on single securities and narrow-based indices of securities. If a crypto asset is deemed to be a security, certain transactions referencing that crypto asset could constitute a security-based swap. A crypto asset or transaction therein that is based on or references a security or index of securities, whether or not such securities are themselves crypto assets, could also constitute a security-based swap. To the extent that a crypto asset in which we facilitate or have facilitated trading or transactions in a crypto asset which we facilitate or have facilitated are deemed to fall within the definition of a security-based swap, including pursuant to subsequent rulemaking or guidance by the CFTC or SEC, we may be subject to additional regulatory requirements and oversight by the SEC and could be subject to judicial or administrative sanctions if we do not or did not a relevant time possess appropriate registrations as an exchange (for example, as a security-based swaps execution facility) or as a registered intermediary (for example, as a security-based swap dealer or broker-dealer). This could result in injunctions, cease and desist orders, as well as civil monetary penalties, fines, and disgorgement, as well as reputational harm.
We obtain and process a large amount of sensitive customer data. Any real or perceived improper use of, disclosure of, or access to such data could harm our reputation, as well as have an adverse effect on our business.
We obtain and process large amounts of sensitive data, including personal data related to our customers and their transactions, such as their names, addresses, social security numbers, visa information, copies of government-issued identification, facial recognition data (from scanning of photographs for identity verification), trading data, tax identification, and bank account information. We face risks, including to our reputation, in the handling and protection of this data, and these risks will increase as our business continues to expand, including through our acquisition of, and investment in, other companies and technologies. Federal, state, and international laws and regulations governing privacy, data protection, and e-commerce transactions require us to safeguard our customers’, employees’, and service providers’ personal data.
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We have administrative, technical, and physical security measures and controls in place and maintain a robust information security program. However, our security measures, or the security measures of companies we acquire, may be inadequate or breached as a result of third-party action, employee or service provider error, malfeasance, malware, phishing, hacking attacks, system error, trickery, advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography, inadequate facility security or otherwise, and, as a result, someone may be able to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive information, including personal data, on our systems. We could be the target of a cybersecurity incident, which could result in harm to our reputation and financial losses. Additionally, our customers have been and could be targeted in cybersecurity incidents like an account takeover, which could result in harm to our reputation and financial losses. For example, earlier in 2021, third parties independently obtained login credentials and personal information for at least 6,000 customers and used those credentials to exploit a vulnerability that previously existed in the account recovery process. Coinbase reimbursed impacted customers approximately $25.1 million. Additionally, privacy and data protection laws are evolving, and these laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our data handling safeguards and practices that could result in fines, lawsuits, and other penalties, and significant changes to our or our third-party partners business practices and products and service offerings.
Our future success depends on the reliability and security of our platform. To the extent that the measures we, any companies we acquire, or our third-party business partners have taken prove to be insufficient or inadequate, or to the extent we discover a security breach suffered by a company we acquire following the closing of such acquisition, we may become subject to litigation, breach notification obligations, or regulatory or administrative sanctions, which could result in significant fines, penalties, damages, harm to our reputation, or loss of customers. If our own confidential business information or sensitive customer information were improperly disclosed, our business could be adversely affected. Additionally, a party who circumvents our security measures could, among other effects, appropriate customer information or other proprietary data, cause interruptions in our operations, or expose customers to hacks, viruses, and other disruptions.
Depending on the nature of the information compromised, in the event of a data breach or other unauthorized access to our customer data, we may also have obligations to notify customers and regulators about the incident, and we may need to provide some form of remedy, such as a subscription to credit monitoring services, pay significant fines to one or more regulators, or pay compensation in connection with a class-action settlement (including under the private right of action under the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, or the CCPA, which is expected to increase security breach litigation). Such breach notification laws continue to evolve and may be inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another. Complying with these obligations could cause us to incur substantial costs and could increase negative publicity surrounding any incident that compromises customer data. Additionally, the financial exposure from the events referenced above could either not be insured against or not be fully covered through any insurance that we may maintain, and there can be no assurance that the limitations of liability in any of our contracts would be enforceable or adequate or would otherwise protect us from liabilities or damages as a result of the events referenced above. Any of the foregoing could have an adverse effect on our business, reputation, operating results, and financial condition.
Furthermore, we may be required to disclose personal data pursuant to demands from individuals, regulators, government agencies, and law enforcement agencies in various jurisdictions with conflicting privacy and security laws, which could result in a breach of privacy and data protection policies, notices, laws, rules, court orders, and regulations. Additionally, changes in the laws and regulations that govern our collection, use, and disclosure of customer data could impose additional requirements with respect to the retention and security of customer data, could limit our marketing activities, and have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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We are subject to laws, regulations, and industry requirements related to data privacy, data protection and information security, and user protection across different markets where we conduct our business, including in the United States, European Economic Area, or the EEA, and Asia-Pacific region, or APAC, and industry requirements and such laws, regulations, and industry requirements are constantly evolving and changing. Any actual or perceived failure to comply with such laws, regulations, and industry requirements, or our privacy policies, could harm our business.
Various local, state, federal, and international laws, directives, and regulations apply to our collection, use, retention, protection, disclosure, transfer, and processing of personal data. These data protection and privacy laws and regulations are subject to uncertainty and continue to evolve in ways that could adversely impact our business. These laws have a substantial impact on our operations both outside and in the United States, either directly or as a data processor and handler for various offshore entities.
In the United States, state and federal lawmakers and regulatory authorities have increased their attention on the collection and use of user data. In the United States, non-sensitive user data generally may be used under current rules and regulations, subject to certain restrictions, so long as the person does not affirmatively “opt-out” of the collection or use of such data. If an “opt-in” model or additional required “opt-outs” were to be adopted in the United States, less data may be available, and the cost of data likely would increase. For example, California enacted the CCPA, which became operative on January 1, 2020 and became enforceable by the California Attorney General on July 1, 2020. Since then, the CCPA has been amended on multiple occasions most recently on March 15, 2021. Additionally, although not effective until January 1, 2023 (with a look back to January 2022 for certain date collection practices), in the November 2020 election, California voters passed the California Privacy Rights Act, or the CPRA, which expands upon the CCPA.
The CCPA requires, and the CPRA will require, covered companies to, among other things, provide new disclosures to California users, and affords such users new privacy rights such as the ability to opt-out of certain sales of personal information and expanded rights to access and require deletion of their personal information, opt out of certain personal information sharing, and receive detailed information about how their personal information is collected, used, and shared. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for security breaches that may increase security breach litigation. Potential uncertainty surrounding the CCPA and CPRA may increase our compliance costs and potential liability, particularly in the event of a data breach, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, including how we use personal information, our financial condition, the results of our operations or prospects.
Other states have followed California’s lead. For example, in 2021, Virginia passed the Consumer Data Protection Act, or the CDPA, (effective January 1, 2023) and Colorado passed the Colorado Privacy Act, or the CPA, (effective July 1, 2023), both of which will provide comparable consumer privacy rights to the CCPA/CPRA. We cannot fully predict the impact of the CCPA, CPRA, CDPA, CPA, or other similar laws or regulations on our business or operations, but compliance may require us to modify our data processing practices and policies incurring costs and expense. Further, to the extent multiple state-level laws are introduced with inconsistent or conflicting standards, and given presently that there are no federal laws to preempt such state laws, it may require costly and difficult efforts to achieve compliance with such laws that could expose us to fines and penalties for non-compliance, particularly regarding legal obligations in the wake of a data breach. Further, in October 2021, the CFPB launched an inquiry into the data use and protection business practices of several large payments companies. The impact of this inquiry is uncertain and could result in stringent restrictions on the use of customer data.
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Additionally, many foreign countries and governmental bodies, including Australia, Brazil, Kenya, the European Union, India, Japan, and numerous other jurisdictions in which we operate or conduct our business, have laws and regulations concerning the collection, use, processing, storage, and deletion of personal information obtained from their residents or by businesses operating within their jurisdiction. These laws and regulations often are more restrictive than those in the United States. Such laws and regulations may require companies to implement new privacy and security policies, permit individuals to access, correct, and delete personal information stored or maintained by such companies, inform individuals of security breaches that affect their personal information, require that certain types of data be retained on local servers within these jurisdictions, and, in some cases, obtain individuals’ affirmative opt-in consent to collect and use personal information for certain purposes.
In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, took effect on May 25, 2018. As a result of our presence in Europe and our service offering in the European Union, we are subject to the GDPR, which imposes stringent E.U. data protection requirements, and could increase the risk of non-compliance and the costs of providing our products and services in a compliant manner. A breach of the GDPR could result in regulatory investigations, reputational damage, fines and sanctions, orders to cease or change our processing of our data, enforcement notices, or assessment notices (for a compulsory audit). We may also face civil claims including representative actions and other class action type litigation (where individuals have suffered harm), potentially amounting to significant compensation or damages liabilities, as well as associated costs, diversion of internal resources, and reputational harm.
Administrative fines under the GDPR can amount up to 20 million Euros or four percent of the group’s annual global turnover, whichever is highest. Additionally, the United Kingdom, or the U.K., implemented its own Data Protection Act, effective in May 2018 and statutorily amended in 2019, which is further supplemented by the U.K. GDPR, which came into effect on January 1, 2021. The U.K. GDPR is based on the E.U. GDPR which applied in the U.K. before that date, with some changes to make it work more effectively in a U.K. context, including its own derogations, for how GDPR is applied in the U.K. From the beginning of 2021 (when the transitional period following Brexit expired), we have to continue to comply with the E.U. GDPR as well as the U.K.’s Data Protection Act and U.K. GDPR, with each regime having the ability to result in fines up to the greater of €20 million (£17 million) or 4% of global turnover.
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Both the E.U. GDPR (covering the EEA) as well as U.K. and Swiss data protection laws impose strict rules on the transfer of personal data out of the E.U., U.K., or Switzerland to a “third country,” including the United States. These obligations may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another and may conflict with other requirements or our practices. On July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or the CJEU, invalidated the E.U.-U.S., Privacy Shield (under which personal data could be transferred from the E.U. to U.S. entities that had self-certified under the Privacy Shield scheme), or the Privacy Shield, on the grounds that the Privacy Shield failed to offer adequate protections to E.U. personal data transferred to the United States. In addition, while the CJEU upheld the adequacy of the standard contractual clauses (a standard form of contract approved by the European Commission as an adequate personal data transfer mechanism, and potential alternative to the Privacy Shield), it made clear that reliance on them alone may not necessarily be sufficient in all circumstances. Use of the standard contractual clauses must now be assessed on a case by case basis taking into account the legal regime applicable in the destination country, in particular applicable surveillance laws and rights of individuals. The use of standard contractual clauses for the transfer of personal data specifically to the United States remains under review by a number of European data protection supervisory authorities, along with those of some other E.U. member states. German and Irish supervisory authorities have indicated, and enforced in recent rulings, that the standard contractual clauses alone provide inadequate protection for E.U.-U.S. data transfers. Further, on June 4, 2021 the European Commission finalized new versions of the Standard Contractual Clauses, with the Implementing Decision now in effect as of June 27, 2021. Under the Implementing Decision, we have until December 27, 2022 to update any existing agreements, or any new agreements executed before September 27, 2021, that rely on Standard Contractual Clauses as the data transfer mechanism. To comply with the Implementing Decision and the new Standard Contractual Clauses, we may need to implement additional safeguards to further enhance the security of data transferred out of the EEA, conduct data transfer impact assessments, and review existing agreements which could increase our compliance costs, expose us to further regulatory scrutiny and liability, and adversely affect our business. The U.K. data protection regulator is consulting on the U.K. version of the Standard Contractual Clauses, or the SCCs, and intends to publish them in 2022, but in the interim has indicated that using the E.U. SCCs with appropriate modifications is sufficient for data transfers from the United Kingdom.
While we maintain a Privacy Shield certification, we rely on the standard contractual clauses for intercompany data transfers from the European Union to the United States and have reviewed and amended any existing vendor agreements that rely only on Privacy Shield as the data transfer mechanism. As supervisory authorities continue to issue further guidance on personal data, we could suffer additional costs, complaints, or regulatory investigations or fines, and if we are otherwise unable to transfer personal data between and among countries and regions in which we operate, it could affect the manner in which we provide our services, the geographical location or segregation of our relevant systems and operations and could adversely affect our financial results.
We are also subject to evolving E.U. privacy laws on cookies and e-marketing. In the European Union, regulators are increasingly focusing on compliance with requirements in the online behavioral advertising ecosystem, and an E.U. regulation known as the ePrivacy Regulation will significantly increase fines for non-compliance once in effect. In the European Union, informed consent, including a prohibition on pre-checked consents and a requirement to ensure separate consents for each cookie, is required for the placement of a cookie or similar technologies on a user’s device and for direct electronic marketing. As regulators start to enforce the strict approach in recent guidance, this could lead to substantial costs, require significant systems changes, limit the effectiveness of our marketing activities, divert the attention of our technology personnel, negatively impact our efforts to understand users, adversely affect our margins, increase costs, and subject us to additional liabilities.
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There is a risk that as we expand, we may assume liabilities for breaches experienced by the companies we acquire. Additionally, there are potentially inconsistent world-wide government regulations pertaining to data protection and privacy. Despite our efforts to comply with applicable laws, regulations and other obligations relating to privacy, data protection, and information security, it is possible that our practices, offerings, or platform could fail, or be alleged to fail to meet applicable requirements. For instance, the overall regulatory framework governing the application of privacy laws to blockchain technology is still highly undeveloped and likely to evolve. Our failure, or the failure by our third-party providers or partners, to comply with applicable laws or regulations and to prevent unauthorized access to, or use or release of personal data, or the perception that any of the foregoing types of failure has occurred, even if unfounded, could subject us to audits, inquiries, whistleblower complaints, adverse media coverage, investigations, severe criminal, or civil sanctions, damage our reputation, or result in fines or proceedings by governmental agencies and private claims and litigation, any of which could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Risks Related to Third Parties
Our current and future services are dependent on payment networks and acquiring processors, and any changes to their rules or practices could adversely impact our business.
We rely on banks and other payment processors to process customers’ payments in connection with the purchase of crypto assets on our platform and we pay these providers fees for their services. From time to time, payment networks have increased, and may increase in the future, the interchange fees and assessments that they charge for transactions that use their networks. Payment networks have imposed, and may impose in the future, special fees on the purchase of crypto assets, including on our platform, which could negatively impact us and significantly increase our costs. Our payment card processors may have the right to pass any increases in interchange fees and assessments on to us, and may impose additional use charges which would increase our operating costs and reduce our operating income. We could attempt to pass these increases along to our customers, but this strategy might result in the loss of customers to our competitors that may not pass along the increases, thereby reducing our revenue and earnings. If competitive practices prevent us from passing along the higher fees to our customers in the future, we may have to absorb all or a portion of such increases, thereby increasing our operating costs and reducing our earnings.
We may also be directly or indirectly liable to the payment networks for rule violations. Payment networks set and interpret their network operating rules and have alleged from time to time that various aspects of our business model violate these operating rules. If such allegations are not resolved favorably, they may result in significant fines and penalties or require changes in our business practices that may be costly and adversely affect our business. The payment networks could adopt new operating rules or interpret or reinterpret existing rules that we or our processors might find difficult or even impossible to follow, or costly to implement. As a result, we could lose our ability to give customers the option of using cards to fund their purchases or the choice of currency in which they would like their card to be charged. If we are unable to accept cards or are limited in our ability to do so, our business would be adversely affected.
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We depend on major mobile operating systems and third-party platforms for the distribution of certain products. If Google Play, the Apple App Store, or other platforms prevent customers from downloading our apps, our ability to grow may be adversely affected.
We rely upon third-party platforms for the distribution of certain products and services. Our Coinbase, Coinbase Pro, and Coinbase Wallet apps are provided as free applications through both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, and are also accessible via mobile and traditional websites. The Google Play Store and Apple App Store are global application distribution platforms and the main distribution channels for our apps. As such, the promotion, distribution, and operation of our apps are subject to the respective platforms’ terms and policies for application developers, which are very broad and subject to frequent changes and re-interpretation. Further, these distribution platforms often contain restrictions related to crypto assets that are uncertain, broadly construed, and can limit the nature and scope of services that can be offered. For example, Apple App Store’s restrictions related to crypto assets have disrupted the proposed launch of many features within the Coinbase and Coinbase Wallet apps, including our Earn services and access to decentralized applications. If our products are found to be in violation of any such terms and conditions, we may no longer be able to offer our products through such third-party platforms. There can be no guarantee that third-party platforms will continue to support our product offerings, or that customers will be able to continue to use our products. For example, in November 2013, our iOS app was temporarily removed by Apple from the Apple App Store. In December 2019, we were similarly instructed by Apple to remove certain features relating to decentralized applications from our application to comply with the Apple App Store’s policies. Any changes, bugs, technical or regulatory issues with third-party platforms, our relationships with mobile manufacturers and carriers, or changes to their terms of service or policies could degrade our products’ functionalities, reduce or eliminate our ability to distribute our products, give preferential treatment to competitive products, limit our ability to deliver high quality offerings, or impose fees or other charges, any of which could affect our product usage and harm our business.
Risks Related to Intellectual Property
Our intellectual property rights are valuable, and any inability to protect them could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our business depends in large part on our proprietary technology and our brand. We rely on, and expect to continue to rely on, a combination of trademark, trade dress, domain name, copyright, and trade secrets, as well as confidentiality and license agreements with our employees, contractors, consultants, and third parties with whom we have relationships, to establish and protect our brand and other intellectual property rights. However, our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights may not be sufficient or effective. Our proprietary technology and trade secrets could be lost through misappropriation or breach of our confidentiality and license agreements, and any of our intellectual property rights may be challenged, which could result in them being narrowed in scope or declared invalid or unenforceable. There can be no assurance that our intellectual property rights will be sufficient to protect against others offering products, services, or technologies that are substantially similar to ours and that compete with our business.
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We do not intend to monetize our patents or attempt to block third parties from competing with us by asserting our patents offensively, but our ability to successfully defend intellectual property challenges from competitors and other parties may depend, in part, on our ability to counter-assert our patents defensively. Effective protection of our intellectual property may be expensive and difficult to maintain, both in terms of application and registration costs as well as the costs of defending and enforcing those rights. As we have grown, we have sought to obtain and protect our intellectual property rights in an increasing number of countries, a process that can be expensive and may not always be successful. In some instances, patent applications or patents may be abandoned or allowed to lapse, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in a relevant jurisdiction. Further, intellectual property protection may not be available to us in every country in which our products and services are available. For example, some foreign countries have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner must grant licenses to third parties. In addition, many countries limit the enforceability of patents against certain third parties, including government agencies or government contractors. In these countries, patents may provide limited or no benefit. We may also agree to license our patents to third parties as part of various patent pools and open patent projects. Those licenses may diminish our ability, though, to counter-assert our patents against certain parties that may bring claims against us.
We have been, and in the future may be, sued by third parties for alleged infringement of their proprietary rights.
In recent years, there has been considerable patent, copyright, trademark, domain name, trade secret and other intellectual property development activity in the cryptoeconomy, as well as litigation, based on allegations of infringement or other violations of intellectual property, including by large financial institutions. Furthermore, individuals and groups can purchase patents and other intellectual property assets for the purpose of making claims of infringement to extract settlements from companies like ours. Our use of third-party intellectual property rights also may be subject to claims of infringement or misappropriation. We cannot guarantee that our internally developed or acquired technologies and content do not or will not infringe the intellectual property rights of others. From time to time, our competitors or other third parties may claim that we are infringing upon or misappropriating their intellectual property rights, and we may be found to be infringing upon such rights. Any claims or litigation could cause us to incur significant expenses and, if successfully asserted against us, could require that we pay substantial damages or ongoing royalty payments, prevent us from offering our products or services or using certain technologies, force us to implement expensive work-arounds, or impose other unfavorable terms. We expect that the occurrence of infringement claims is likely to grow as the crypto assets market grows and matures. Accordingly, our exposure to damages resulting from infringement claims could increase and this could further exhaust our financial and management resources. Further, during the course of any litigation, we may make announcements regarding the results of hearings and motions, and other interim developments. If securities analysts and investors regard these announcements as negative, the market price of our Class A common stock may decline. Even if intellectual property claims do not result in litigation or are resolved in our favor, these claims, and the time and resources necessary to resolve them, could divert the resources of our management and require significant expenditures. Any of the foregoing could prevent us from competing effectively and could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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Our platform contains third-party open source software components, and failure to comply with the terms of the underlying open source software licenses could harm our business.
Our platform contains software modules licensed to us by third-party authors under “open source” licenses. We also make certain of our own software available to users for free under various open source licenses. Use and distribution of open source software may entail greater risks than use of third-party commercial software, as open source licensors generally do not provide support, warranties, indemnification or other contractual protections regarding infringement claims or the quality of the code. In addition, the public availability of such software may make it easier for others to compromise our platform.
Some open source licenses contain requirements that we make available source code for modifications or derivative works we create based upon the type of open source software we use, or grant other licenses to our intellectual property. If we combine our proprietary software with open source software in a certain manner, we could, under certain open source licenses, be required to release the source code of our proprietary software to the public. This would allow our competitors to create similar offerings with lower development effort and time and ultimately could result in a loss of our competitive advantages. Alternatively, to avoid the public release of the affected portions of our source code, we could be required to expend substantial time and resources to re-engineer some or all of our software.
We have not recently conducted an extensive audit of our use of open source software and, as a result, we cannot assure you that our processes for controlling our use of open source software in our platform are, or will be, effective. If we are held to have breached or failed to fully comply with all the terms and conditions of an open source software license, we could face litigation, infringement or other liability, or be required to seek costly licenses from third parties to continue providing our offerings on terms that are not economically feasible, to re-engineer our platform, to discontinue or delay the provision of our offerings if re-engineering could not be accomplished on a timely basis or to make generally available, in source code form, our proprietary code, any of which could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition. Moreover, the terms of many open source licenses have not been interpreted by United States or foreign courts. As a result, there is a risk that these licenses could be construed in a way that could impose unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to provide or distribute our platform. From time to time, there have been claims challenging the ownership of open source software against companies that incorporate open source software into their solutions. As a result, we could be subject to lawsuits by parties claiming ownership of what we believe to be open source software.
Risks Related to Our Employees and Other Service Providers
The loss of one or more of our key personnel, or our failure to attract and retain other highly qualified personnel in the future, could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We operate in a relatively new industry that is not widely understood and requires highly skilled and technical personnel. We believe that our future success is highly dependent on the talents and contributions of our senior management team, including Mr. Armstrong, our co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, members of our executive team, and other key employees across product, engineering, risk management, finance, compliance and legal, and marketing. Our future success depends on our ability to attract, develop, motivate, and retain highly qualified and skilled employees. Due to the nascent nature of the cryptoeconomy, the pool of qualified talent is extremely limited, particularly with respect to executive talent, engineering, risk management, and financial regulatory expertise. We face intense competition for qualified individuals from numerous software and other technology companies. To attract and retain key personnel, we incur significant costs, including salaries and benefits and equity incentives. Even so, these measures may not be enough to attract and retain the personnel we require to operate our business effectively. The loss of even a few qualified employees, or an inability to attract, retain and motivate additional highly skilled employees required for the planned expansion of our business could adversely impact our operating results and impair our ability to grow.
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Our culture emphasizes innovation, and if we cannot maintain this culture as we grow, our business and operating results could be adversely impacted.
We believe that our entrepreneurial and innovative corporate culture has been a key contributor to our success. We encourage and empower our employees to develop and launch new and innovative products and services, which we believe is essential to attracting high quality talent, partners, and developers, as well as serving the best, long-term interests of our company. If we cannot maintain this culture as we grow, we could lose the innovation, creativity and teamwork that has been integral to our business, in which case our products and services may suffer and our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely impacted.
In the event of employee or service provider misconduct or error, our business may be adversely impacted.
Employee or service provider misconduct or error could subject us to legal liability, financial losses, and regulatory sanctions and could seriously harm our reputation and negatively affect our business. Such misconduct could include engaging in improper or unauthorized transactions or activities, misappropriation of customer funds, insider trading and misappropriation of information, failing to supervise other employees or service providers, improperly using confidential information, as well as improper trading activity such as spoofing, layering, wash trading, manipulation and front-running. Employee or service provider errors, including mistakes in executing, recording, or processing transactions for customers, could expose us to the risk of material losses even if the errors are detected. Although we have implemented processes and procedures and provide trainings to our employees and service providers to reduce the likelihood of misconduct and error, these efforts may not be successful. Moreover, the risk of employee or service provider error or misconduct may be even greater for novel products and services and is compounded by the fact that many of our employees and service providers are accustomed to working at tech companies which generally do not maintain the same compliance customs and rules as financial services firms. This can lead to high risk of confusion among employees and service providers, particularly in a fast growth company like ours, with respect to compliance obligations, particularly including confidentiality, data access, trading, and conflicts. It is not always possible to deter misconduct, and the precautions we take to prevent and detect this activity may not be effective in all cases. If we were found to have not met our regulatory oversight and compliance and other obligations, we could be subject to regulatory sanctions, financial penalties, restrictions on our activities for failure to properly identify, monitor and respond to potentially problematic activity and seriously damage our reputation. Our employees, contractors, and agents could also commit errors that subject us to financial claims for negligence, as well as regulatory actions, or result in financial liability. Further, allegations by regulatory or criminal authorities of improper trading activities could affect our brand and reputation.
Our officers, directors, employees, and large stockholders may encounter potential conflicts of interests with respect to their positions or interests in certain crypto assets, entities, and other initiatives, which could adversely affect our business and reputation.
We frequently engage in a wide variety of transactions and maintain relationships with a significant number of crypto projects, their developers, members of their ecosystem, and investors. These transactions and relationships could create potential conflicts of interests in management decisions that we make. For instance, certain of our officers, directors, and employees are active investors in crypto projects themselves, and may make investment decisions that favor projects that they have personally invested in. Many of our large stockholders also make investments in these crypto projects. In addition, our co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Armstrong, is involved in a number of initiatives related to the cryptoeconomy and more broadly. For example, Mr. Armstrong currently serves as the chief executive officer of ResearchHub Technologies, Inc., a scientific research development platform. This and other initiatives he is involved in could divert Mr. Armstrong's time and attention from overseeing our business operations which could have a negative impact on our business. Moreover, we may in the future be subject to litigation as a result of his involvement with these other initiatives.
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Similarly, certain of our directors, officers, employees, and large stockholders may hold crypto assets that we are considering supporting for trading on our platform, and may be more supportive of such listing notwithstanding legal, regulatory, and other issues associated with such crypto assets. While we have instituted policies and procedures to limit and mitigate such risks, there is no assurance that such policies and procedures will be effective, or that we will be able to manage such conflicts of interests adequately. If we fail to manage these conflicts of interests, or we receive unfavorable media coverage with respect to actual or perceived conflicts of interest, our business may be harmed and the brand, reputation and credibility of our company may be adversely affected.
General Risk Factors
Adverse economic conditions may adversely affect our business.
Our performance is subject to general economic conditions, and their impact on the crypto asset markets and our customers. The United States and other key international economies have experienced cyclical downturns from time to time in which economic activity declined resulting in lower consumption rates, restricted credit, reduced profitability, weaknesses in financial markets, bankruptcies, and overall uncertainty with respect to the economy. The impact of general economic conditions on the cryptoeconomy is highly uncertain and dependent on a variety of factors, including market adoption of crypto assets, global trends in the cryptoeconomy, central bank monetary policies, and other events beyond our control. Geopolitical developments, such as trade wars and foreign exchange limitations can also increase the severity and levels of unpredictability globally and increase the volatility of global financial and crypto asset markets. To the extent that conditions in the general economic and crypto assets markets materially deteriorate, our ability to attract and retain customers may suffer.
The COVID-19 pandemic could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We are responding to the global outbreak of COVID-19 by taking steps to mitigate the potential risks to us posed by its spread and the impact of the restrictions put in place by governments to protect the population. Our employees and service providers work from home and we are a remote-first company. This subjects us to heightened operational risks. For example, technologies in our employees’ and service providers’ homes may not be as robust as in our offices and could cause the networks, information systems, applications, and other tools available to employees and service providers to be more limited or less reliable than in our offices. Further, the security systems in place at our employees’ and service providers’ homes may be less secure than those used in our offices, and while we have implemented technical and administrative safeguards to help protect our systems as our employees and service providers work from home, we may be subject to increased cybersecurity risk, which could expose us to risks of data or financial loss, and could disrupt our business operations. There is no guarantee that the data security and privacy safeguards we have put in place will be completely effective or that we will not encounter risks associated with employees and service providers accessing company data and systems remotely. We also face challenges due to the need to operate with the remote workforce and are addressing those challenges to minimize the impact on our ability to operate.
Being a remote-first company may make it more difficult for us to preserve our corporate culture and our employees may have decreased opportunities to collaborate in meaningful ways. Further, we cannot guarantee that being a remote-first company will not have a negative impact on employee morale and productivity. Any failure to preserve our corporate culture and foster collaboration could harm our future success, including our ability to retain and recruit personnel, innovate and operate effectively, and execute on our business strategy.
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In addition, the continued spread of COVID-19 and the imposition of related public health measures have resulted in, and is expected to continue to result in, increased volatility and uncertainty in the cryptoeconomy. We also rely on third party service providers to perform certain functions. Any disruptions to a service providers’ business operations resulting from business restrictions, quarantines, or restrictions on the ability of personnel to perform their jobs could have an adverse impact on our service providers’ ability to provide services to us. The continued spread of COVID-19 and efforts to contain the virus could adversely impact our strategic business plans and growth strategy, reduce demand for our products and services, reduce the availability and productivity of our employees, service providers, and third-party resources, cause us to experience an increase in costs due to emergency measures, and otherwise adversely impact our business.
Investors’ expectations of our performance relating to environmental, social and governance factors may impose additional costs and expose us to new risks.
There is an increasing focus from certain investors, employees, users and other stakeholders concerning corporate responsibility, specifically related to environmental, social and governance matters, or ESG. Some investors may use these non-financial performance factors to guide their investment strategies and, in some cases, may choose not to invest in us if they believe our policies and actions relating to corporate responsibility are inadequate. The growing investor demand for measurement of non-financial performance is addressed by third-party providers of sustainability assessment and ratings on companies. The criteria by which our corporate responsibility practices are assessed may change due to the constant evolution of the sustainability landscape, which could result in greater expectations of us and cause us to undertake costly initiatives to satisfy such new criteria. If we elect not to or are unable to satisfy such new criteria, investors may conclude that our policies and actions with respect to corporate social responsibility are inadequate. We may face reputational damage in the event that we do not meet the ESG standards set by various constituencies.
Furthermore, if our competitors’ corporate social responsibility performance is perceived to be better than ours, potential or current investors may elect to invest with our competitors instead. In addition, in the event that we communicate certain initiatives and goals regarding environmental, social and governance matters, we could fail, or be perceived to fail, in our achievement of such initiatives or goals, or we could be criticized for the scope of such initiatives or goals. If we fail to satisfy the expectations of investors, employees and other stakeholders or our initiatives are not executed as planned, our reputation and business, operating results and financial condition could be adversely impacted. For example, in order to advance our mission, we recently launched our Coinbase Innovation Political Action Committee to support crypto-forward political candidates and initiatives. However, our political activities to further our mission may not be successful or may be perceived unfavorably by investors and the public and have an adverse impact on our brand and reputation.
Our management team has limited experience managing a public company.
Our management team has limited experience managing a publicly traded company, interacting with public company investors, and complying with the increasingly complex laws pertaining to public companies. Our management team may not successfully or efficiently manage our transition to being a public company subject to significant regulatory oversight and reporting obligations under the federal securities laws and the continuous scrutiny of securities analysts and investors. These new obligations and constituents will require significant attention from our senior management and could divert their attention away from the day-to-day management of our business, which could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
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Changes in U.S. and foreign tax laws, as well as the application of such laws, could adversely impact our financial position and operating results.
We are subject to complex tax laws and regulations in the United States and a variety of foreign jurisdictions. All of these jurisdictions have in the past and may in the future make changes to their corporate income tax rates and other income tax laws which could increase our future income tax provision. For example, our future income tax obligations could be adversely affected by earnings that are lower than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have lower statutory rates and by earnings that are higher than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have higher statutory rates, by changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, by changes in the amount of unrecognized tax benefits, or by changes in tax laws, regulations, accounting principles, or interpretations thereof, including changes with possible retroactive application or effect.
Our determination of our tax liability is subject to review and may be challenged by applicable U.S. and foreign tax authorities. Any adverse outcome of such challenge could harm our operating results and financial condition. The determination of our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment and, in the ordinary course of business, there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is complex and uncertain. Moreover, as a multinational business, we have subsidiaries that engage in many intercompany transactions in a variety of tax jurisdictions where the ultimate tax determination is complex and uncertain. Our existing corporate structure and intercompany arrangements have been implemented in a manner we believe is in compliance with current prevailing tax laws. Furthermore, as we operate in multiple taxing jurisdictions, the application of tax laws can be subject to diverging and sometimes conflicting interpretations by tax authorities of these jurisdictions. It is not uncommon for taxing authorities in different countries to have conflicting views with respect to, among other things, the characterization and source of income or other tax items, the manner in which the arm’s-length standard is applied for transfer pricing purposes, or with respect to the valuation of intellectual property. The taxing authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our tax treatment of certain items or the methodologies we use for valuing developed technology or intercompany arrangements, which could impact our worldwide effective tax rate and harm our financial position and operating results.
Further, any changes in the tax laws governing our activities may increase our tax expense, the amount of taxes we pay, or both. For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the TCJA, enacted on December 22, 2017, significantly reformed the U.S. Tax Code, reducing the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate, making sweeping changes to the rules governing international business operations, and imposing new limitations on a number of tax benefits, including deductions for business interest and the use of net operating loss carryforwards. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, further amended the U.S. federal tax code, including in respect of certain changes that were made by the TCJA, generally on a temporary basis. There can be no assurance that future tax law changes will not increase the rate of the corporate income tax, impose new limitations on deductions, credits or other tax benefits, or make other changes that may adversely affect our business, cash flows or financial performance. For example, proposed legislation before Congress may make changes to the U.S. tax law, including reduced benefits related to the taxation of foreign income and the imposition of a 15% minimum tax on book income. If enacted in their current form, such changes could adversely affect our operations in future periods.
In addition, the IRS has yet to issue guidance on a number of important issues regarding the tax treatment of cryptocurrency and the products we provide to our customers and from which we derive our income. In the absence of such guidance, we will take positions with respect to any such unsettled issues. There is no assurance that the IRS or a court will agree with the positions taken by us, in which case tax penalties and interest may be imposed that could adversely affect our business, cash flows or financial performance.
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We also are subject to non-income taxes, such as payroll, sales, use, value-added, net worth, property, and goods and services taxes in the United States and various foreign jurisdictions. Specifically, we may be subject to “digital service taxes” or new allocations of tax as a result of increasing efforts by certain jurisdictions to tax cross border activities that may not have been subject to tax under existing international tax principles. Companies such as ours may be adversely impacted by such taxes. Tax authorities may disagree with certain positions we have taken. As a result, we may have exposure to additional tax liabilities that could have an adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition.
As a result of these and other factors, the ultimate amount of tax obligations owed may differ from the amounts recorded in our financial statements and any such difference may harm our operating results in future periods in which we change our estimates of our tax obligations or in which the ultimate tax outcome is determined.
Our ability to use any current or future net operating loss to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations under U.S. or foreign law.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $826.0 million of U.S. federal net operating loss carryforwards, or NOLs, with an indefinite carryforward and $1.1 billion of U.S. state NOLs, primarily with a twenty-year carryforward. As part of the Bison Trails and other acquisitions, we have acquired additional U.S. federal NOLs of $47.6 million and U.S. state NOLs of $13.0 million as of December 31, 2021. Outside the United States, we have incurred additional non-U.S. NOLs in Ireland, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Realization of these NOLs, and any future domestic or foreign NOLs that we may generate, will depend on future income, and there is a risk that some or all of such NOLs could be subject to limitation or otherwise unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities, all of which could adversely affect our operating results. Similarly, additional changes may be made to U.S. and foreign tax laws which could further limit our ability to absorb these NOLs against future income.
Under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its NOLs to offset future taxable income. Future changes in our stock ownership, the causes of which may be outside of our control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code. Any future NOLs we generate may also be impaired under state laws. In addition, under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or Tax Act, future tax losses may be utilized to offset no more than 80% of taxable income annually. Therefore, we may be required to pay U.S. federal income taxes in future years despite any U.S. federal NOL carryforwards we have accumulated. There also is a risk that due to statutory or regulatory changes, such as suspensions on the use of NOLs at the state level, or other unforeseen reasons, our future NOLs could expire or otherwise be unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities. For these reasons, we may not be able to realize a tax benefit from the use of any future NOLs we generate, whether or not we continue to generate taxable profits.
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Fluctuations in currency exchange rates could harm our operating results and financial condition.
Revenue generated and expenses incurred from our international operations are often denominated in the currencies of the local countries. Accordingly, changes in the value of foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar can affect our revenue and operating results reflected in our U.S. dollar-denominated financial statements. Our financial results are also subject to changes in exchange rates that impact the settlement of transactions in non-local currencies. As a result, it could be more difficult to detect underlying trends in our business and operating results. To the extent that fluctuations in currency exchange rates cause our operating results to differ from expectations of investors, the market price of our Class A common stock could be adversely impacted. To date, we have not engaged in currency hedging activities to limit the risk of exchange fluctuations. Even if we use derivative instruments to hedge exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, the use of such hedging activities may not offset any or more than a portion of the adverse financial effects of unfavorable movements in foreign exchange rates over the limited time the hedges are in place, and may introduce additional risks if we are unable to structure effective hedges with such instruments.
If our estimates or judgment relating to our critical accounting policies prove to be incorrect, our operating results could be adversely affected.
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, as provided in the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates” in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The results of these estimates form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets, liabilities, and equity, and the amount of revenue and expenses that are not readily apparent from other sources. Significant estimates and judgments involve the identification of performance obligations in revenue recognition, evaluation of tax positions, inter-company transactions, valuation of assets acquired and liabilities assumed in business combinations, and the valuation of stock-based awards and crypto assets we hold, among others. Our operating results may be adversely affected if our assumptions change or if actual circumstances differ from those in our assumptions, which could cause our operating results to fall below the expectations of analysts and investors, resulting in a decline in the trading price of our Class A common stock.
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We may be adversely affected by natural disasters, pandemics, and other catastrophic events, and by man-made problems such as terrorism, that could disrupt our business operations, and our business continuity and disaster recovery plans may not adequately protect us from a serious disaster.
Natural disasters or other catastrophic events may also cause damage or disruption to our operations, international commerce, and the global economy, and could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. Our business operations are subject to interruption by natural disasters, fire, power shortages, and other events beyond our control. In addition, our global operations expose us to risks associated with public health crises, such as pandemics and epidemics, which could harm our business and cause our operating results to suffer. For example, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautionary measures that we have adopted have resulted, and could continue to result, in difficulties or changes to our customer support, or create operational or other challenges, any of which could adversely impact our business and operating results. Further, acts of terrorism, labor activism or unrest, and other geopolitical unrest could cause disruptions in our business or the businesses of our partners or the economy as a whole. In the event of a natural disaster, including a major earthquake, blizzard, or hurricane, or a catastrophic event such as a fire, power loss, or telecommunications failure, we may be unable to continue our operations and may endure system interruptions, reputational harm, delays in development of our platform, lengthy interruptions in service, breaches of data security, and loss of critical data, all of which could have an adverse effect on our future operating results. We do not maintain insurance sufficient to compensate us for the potentially significant losses that could result from disruptions to our services. Additionally, all the aforementioned risks may be further increased if we do not implement a disaster recovery plan or our partners’ disaster recovery plans prove to be inadequate. To the extent natural disasters or other catastrophic events concurrently impact data centers we rely on in connection with private key restoration, customers will experience significant delays in withdrawing funds, or in the extreme we may suffer loss of customer funds.
The requirements of being a public company, including maintaining adequate internal control over our financial and management systems, may strain our resources, divert management’s attention, and affect our ability to attract and retain executive management and qualified board members.
As a public company we incur significant legal, accounting, and other expenses. We are subject to reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the rules subsequently implemented by the SEC, the rules and regulations of the listing standards of The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, or Nasdaq, and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Stockholder activism, the current political and social environment and the current high level of government intervention and regulatory reform may lead to substantial new regulations and disclosure obligations, which will likely result in additional compliance costs and could impact the manner in which we operate our business in ways we cannot currently anticipate. Compliance with these rules and regulations may strain our financial and management systems, internal controls, and employees. The Exchange Act requires, among other things, that we file annual, quarterly, and current reports with respect to our business and operating results. Moreover, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures, and internal control, over financial reporting. In order to maintain and, if required, improve our disclosure controls and procedures, and internal control, over financial reporting to meet this standard, significant resources and management oversight may be required. If we encounter material weaknesses or deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting, we may not detect errors on a timely basis and our consolidated financial statements may be materially misstated. Effective internal control is necessary for us to produce reliable financial reports and is important to prevent fraud.
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We expect our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to formally attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting commencing with our second annual report on Form 10-K. We expect to incur significant expenses and devote substantial management effort toward ensuring compliance with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. As a result of the complexity involved in complying with the rules and regulations applicable to public companies, our management’s attention may be diverted from other business concerns, which could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. Although we have already hired additional employees to assist us in complying with these requirements, our finance team is small and we may need to hire more employees in the future, or engage outside consultants, which will increase our operating expenses.
We also expect that being a public company and complying with applicable rules and regulations will make it more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to incur substantially higher costs to obtain and maintain the same or similar coverage. These factors could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified members of our board of directors and qualified executive officers.
We might require additional capital to support business growth, and this capital might not be available.
We have funded our operations since inception primarily through debt, equity financings and revenue generated by our products and services. We cannot be certain when or if our operations will generate sufficient cash to fully fund our ongoing operations or the growth of our business. We intend to continue to make investments in our business to respond to business challenges, including developing new products and services, enhancing our operating infrastructure, expanding our international operations, and acquiring complementary businesses and technologies, all of which may require us to secure additional funds. Additional financing may not be available on terms favorable to us, if at all. If we incur additional debt, the debt holders would have rights senior to holders of our common stock to make claims on our assets, and the terms of any debt could restrict our operations, including our ability to pay dividends on our common stock. Furthermore, we have authorized the issuance of “blank check” preferred stock and common stock that our board of directors could use to, among other things, issue shares of our capital stock in the form of blockchain tokens, implement a stockholder rights plan, or issue other shares of preferred stock or common stock. We may issue shares of capital stock, including in the form of blockchain tokens, to our customers in connection with 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 trading prices for our common stock may be highly volatile, which may reduce our ability to access capital on favorable terms or at all. In addition, a slowdown or other sustained adverse downturn in the general economic or crypto asset markets could adversely affect our business and the value of our Class A common stock. Because our decision to raise capital in the future will depend on numerous considerations, including factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing, or nature of any future issuances of securities. As a result, our stockholders bear the risk of future issuances of debt or equity securities reducing the value of our Class A common stock and diluting their interests. Our inability to obtain adequate financing or financing on terms satisfactory to us, when we require it, could significantly limit our ability to continue supporting our business growth and responding to business challenges.
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Risks Related to Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock
The market price of our Class A common stock may be volatile, and could decline significantly and rapidly. Market volatility may affect the value of an investment in our Class A common stock and could subject us to litigation.
Prior to the listing of our Class A common stock on Nasdaq, there was no public market for shares of our Class A common stock. Technology stocks have historically experienced high levels of volatility. The market price of our Class A common stock also could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to the risk factors described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and others beyond our control, including:
the number of shares of our Class A common stock publicly owned and available for trading;
overall performance of the equity markets or publicly-listed financial services and technology companies;
our actual or anticipated operating performance and the operating performance of our competitors;
changes in the projected operational and financial results we provide to the public or our failure to meet those projections;
failure of securities analysts to initiate or maintain coverage of us, changes in financial estimates by any securities analysts who follow our company, or our failure to meet the estimates or the expectations of investors;
any major change in our board of directors, management, or key personnel;
if we issue additional shares of capital stock, including in the form of blockchain tokens, in connection with customer reward or loyalty programs;
issuance of shares of our Class A common stock, whether in connection with an acquisition or upon conversion of some or all of our outstanding 2026 Convertible Notes;
the highly volatile nature of the cryptoeconomy and the prices of crypto assets;
rumors and market speculation involving the cryptoeconomy or us or other companies in our industry;
announcements by us or our competitors of significant innovations, new products, services, features, integrations or capabilities, acquisitions, strategic investments, partnerships, joint ventures, or capital commitments; and
other events or factors, including those resulting from COVID-19, war, incidents of terrorism, or responses to these events.
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Furthermore, the stock market has recently experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities of many companies and financial services and technology companies in particular. These fluctuations often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations, as well as general macroeconomic, political and market conditions such as recessions, interest rate changes, or international currency fluctuations, may negatively impact the market price of our Class A common stock. In the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock have been subject to securities class action litigation. We are currently subject to stockholder litigation as described in the section titled “Legal Proceedings” in Part I, Item 3 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and may continue to be the target of this type of litigation in the future. Securities litigation against us could result in substantial costs and divert our management’s attention from other business concerns, which could harm our business.
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The dual class structure of our common stock has the effect of concentrating voting control with those stockholders, including our directors, executive officers, and 5% stockholders, and their respective affiliates. As a result of this structure, our Chief Executive Officer has control over key decision making as a result of his control of a majority of our voting stock. This ownership will limit or preclude your ability to influence corporate matters, including the election of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, and any merger, consolidation, sale of all or substantially all of our assets, or other major corporate transaction requiring stockholder approval.
Our Class B common stock has twenty votes per share, and our Class A common stock has one vote per share. Mr. Armstrong is currently able to exercise voting rights with respect to a majority of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock and, along with our directors, other executive officers, and 5% stockholders, and their affiliates, these stockholders hold in the aggregate a substantial majority of the voting power of our capital stock. Because of the twenty-to-one voting ratio between our Class B common stock and our Class A common stock, the holders of our Class B common stock, including Mr. Armstrong, collectively are expected to continue to control a significant percentage of the combined voting power of our common stock and therefore be able to control all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval until the earliest to occur of (i) the date fixed by the board of directors that is no less than 61 days and no more than 180 days after the date that the aggregate number of shares of Class B common stock held by Brian Armstrong and his affiliates is less than 25% of the aggregate number of shares of Class B common stock held by Mr. Armstrong and his affiliates on April 1, 2021, the date of effectiveness of the registration statement on Form S-1 for the listing of our Class A common stock on Nasdaq; (ii) the date and time specified by affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% of the outstanding shares of Class B common stock, voting as a single class, and the affirmative vote of at least 66-2/3% of the then serving members of our board of directors, which must include the affirmative vote of Mr. Armstrong, if either (A) Mr. Armstrong is serving on our board of directors and has not been terminated for cause or resigned except for good reason (as each term is defined in our restated certificate of incorporation) from his position as our Chief Executive Officer or (B) Mr. Armstrong has not been removed for cause or resigned from the position of Chairman of the board of directors; and (iii) the death or disability (as defined in our restated certificate of incorporation) of Mr. Armstrong, when all outstanding shares of Class B common stock will convert automatically into shares of Class A common stock. Holders of our Class A common stock are not entitled to vote separately as a single class except under certain limited circumstances. This concentrated control may limit or preclude your ability to influence corporate matters for the foreseeable future, including the election of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, and any merger, consolidation, sale of all or substantially all of our assets, or other major corporate transaction requiring stockholder approval. In addition, this may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our capital stock that you may believe are in your best interest as one of our stockholders. In addition, Mr. Armstrong has the ability to control the management and major strategic investments of our company as a result of his position as our Chief Executive Officer and his ability to control the election or replacement of our directors. As a board member and officer, Mr. Armstrong owes a fiduciary duty to our stockholders and must act in good faith in a manner he reasonably believes to be in the best interests of our stockholders. As a stockholder, even a controlling stockholder, Mr. Armstrong is entitled to vote his shares, and shares over which he has voting control, in his own interests, which may not always be in the interests of our stockholders generally.
Future transfers by holders of Class B common stock will generally result in those shares converting to Class A common stock, subject to limited exceptions, such as certain transfers effected for estate planning purposes. The conversion of Class B common stock to Class A common stock will have the effect, over time, of increasing the relative voting power of those holders of Class B common stock, including Mr. Armstrong, who retain their shares in the long term. Moreover, it is possible that one or more of the persons or entities holding our Class B common stock could gain significant voting control as other holders of Class B common stock sell or otherwise convert their shares into Class A common stock.
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The dual class structure of our common stock may adversely affect the trading market for our Class A common stock.
Certain stock index providers, such as S&P Dow Jones, exclude companies with multiple classes of shares of common stock from being added to certain stock indices, including the S&P 500. In addition, several stockholder advisory firms and large institutional investors oppose the use of multiple class structures. As a result, the dual class structure of our common stock may prevent the inclusion of our Class A common stock in such indices, may cause stockholder advisory firms to publish negative commentary about our corporate governance practices or otherwise seek to cause us to change our capital structure, and may result in large institutional investors not purchasing shares of our Class A common stock. Any exclusion from stock indices could result in less demand for our Class A common stock. Any actions or publications by stockholder advisory firms or institutional investors critical of our corporate governance practices or capital structure could also adversely affect the value of our Class A common stock.
Sales or distribution of substantial amounts of our Class A common stock, or the perception that such sales or distributions might occur, could cause the market price of our Class A common stock to decline.
The sale or distribution of a substantial number of shares of our Class A common stock, particularly sales by us or our directors, executive officers, and principal stockholders, or the perception that these sales or distributions might occur in large quantities, could cause the market price of our Class A common stock to decline.
As of December 31, 2021, we had 37,207,512 options outstanding that, if fully exercised, would result in the issuance of 6,101,017 shares of Class B common stock and the issuance of 31,106,495 shares of Class A common stock and 7,482,892 shares of Class A common stock outstanding subject to restricted stock units, or RSUs. All of the shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock issuable upon the exercise of stock options or vesting and settlement of RSUs, and reserved for future issuance under our equity incentive plans, have been registered for public resale under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. Accordingly, these shares will be able to be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to applicable vesting requirements and compliance by affiliates with Rule 144 under the Securities Act.
None of our stockholders are subject to any contractual lock-up or other contractual restriction on the transfer or sale of their shares.
In addition, certain holders of shares of our common stock will have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements for the public resale of shares of Class A common stock or to include such shares in registration statements that we may file for us or other stockholders. Any registration statement we file to register additional shares, whether as a result of registration rights or otherwise, could cause the market price of our Class A common stock to decline or be volatile.
We also may issue our capital stock or securities convertible into our capital stock, including in the form of blockchain tokens, from time to time in connection with a financing, an acquisition, investments, pursuant to customer rewards, loyalty programs, and other incentive plans, or otherwise. Any such issuance could result in substantial dilution to our existing stockholders and cause the market price of our Class A common stock to decline.
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If securities or industry analysts do not publish or cease publishing research, or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research, about our business, the price of our Class A common stock and its liquidity could decline.
The trading market for our Class A common stock may be influenced by the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business, our market, and our competitors. We do not have any control over these analysts. If securities and industry analysts cease coverage of us altogether, the market price for our Class A common stock may be negatively affected. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our Class A common stock, or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the price of our Class A common stock may decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our Class A common stock could decrease, which might cause our Class A common stock price and trading volume to decline. In light of the unpredictability inherent in our business, our financial outlook commentary may differ from analysts’ expectations, which could cause volatility to the price of our Class A common stock.
We are not obligated to, and do not intend to pay dividends on any class of our common stock for the foreseeable future.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on any class of our common stock, are not obligated to pay, and do not intend to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. We anticipate that for the foreseeable future we will retain all of our future earnings for use in the development of our business and for general corporate purposes. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors.
Our payment of any dividends will be subject to contractual and legal restrictions and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant. Moreover, agreements governing any future indebtedness of ours may further limit our ability to pay dividends. In addition, our ability to pay dividends is limited by law. There is no assurance that we will be able or that our board of directors will decide to declare any dividends on any class of our common stock.
Accordingly, investors may have to rely on sales of their Class A common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any future gains on their investment.
Provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law, and certain rules imposed by regulatory authorities, could make an acquisition of us, which may be beneficial to our stockholders, more difficult, limit attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management, limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees, and limit the price of our Class A common stock.
Provisions in our restated certificate of incorporation and restated bylaws may have the effect of delaying or preventing a merger, acquisition, or other change of control of our company that the stockholders may consider favorable. In addition, because our board of directors is responsible for appointing the members of our management team, these provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors. Our restated certificate of incorporation and restated bylaws include provisions that:
permit our board of directors to establish the number of directors and fill any vacancies and newly-created directorships;
require super-majority voting to amend some provisions in our restated certificate of incorporation and restated bylaws;
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;
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provide that only our Chief Executive Officer, the chairperson of our board of directors, or a majority of our board of directors will be authorized to call a special meeting of stockholders;
eliminate the ability of our stockholders to call special meetings of stockholders;
prohibit cumulative voting;
provide for a dual class common stock structure in which holders of our Class B common stock have the ability to control the outcome of matters requiring stockholder approval, even if they own significantly less than a majority of the outstanding shares of our Class A common stock and Class B common stock, including the election of directors and significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or other sale of our company or its assets;
provide that the board of directors is expressly authorized to make, alter, or repeal our restated bylaws; and
provide for advance notice requirements for nominations for election to our board of directors or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at annual stockholder meetings.
Moreover, Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, or the DGCL, may discourage, delay, or prevent a change of control of our company. Section 203 imposes certain restrictions on mergers, business combinations, and other transactions between holders of 15% or more of our common stock and us.
In addition, a third party attempting to acquire us or a substantial position in our common stock may be delayed or ultimately prevented from doing so by change in ownership or control regulations to which our regulated broker-dealer subsidiaries are subject. FINRA Rule 1017 generally provides that FINRA approval must be obtained in connection with any transaction resulting in a single person or entity owning, directly or indirectly, 25% or more of a member firm’s equity and would include a change of control of a parent company.
Our restated certificate of incorporation contains an exclusive forum provision for certain claims, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.
Our restated certificate of incorporation, to the fullest extent permitted by law, provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; any action asserting a claim that is based upon a breach of fiduciary duty; any action asserting a claim against us or any current or former director, officer, stockholder, employee or agent of ours, arising pursuant to the DGCL, our restated certificate of incorporation, or our restated bylaws; any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine; or any action asserting an “internal corporate claim” as defined in Section 115 of the DGCL.
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Moreover, Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all claims brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Securities Act or the rules and regulations thereunder and our restated certificate of incorporation provides that the federal district courts of the United States of America are, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, or a Federal Forum Provision, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum. Our decision to adopt a Federal Forum Provision followed a decision by the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware holding that such provisions are facially valid under Delaware law. While there can be no assurance that federal or state courts will follow the holding of the Delaware Supreme Court or determine that the Federal Forum Provision should be enforced in a particular case, application of the Federal Forum Provision means that suits brought by our stockholders to enforce any duty or liability created by the Securities Act must be brought in federal court and cannot be brought in state court. Section 27 of the Exchange Act creates exclusive federal jurisdiction over all claims brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the rules and regulations thereunder. The Federal Forum Provision applies to suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act to the fullest extent permitted by law. Accordingly, actions by our stockholders to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the rules and regulations thereunder must be brought in federal court. Our stockholders will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with the federal securities laws and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring or holding any interest in any of our securities will be deemed to have notice of and consented to our exclusive forum provisions, including the Federal Forum Provision. These provisions may limit our stockholders’ ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum they find favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and other employees. Alternatively, if a court were to find the choice of forum provision contained in our restated certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Not applicable.
Item 2. Properties
We are a remote-first company, meaning that for the vast majority of roles, our employees have the option to work remotely. As a result of this strategy, we do not maintain a corporate headquarters, but do maintain physical offices in major cities around the world for purposes of collaboration and team building. We currently lease facilities in various locations in the United States and other countries around the world.
We believe that our facilities are adequate to meet our needs for the immediate future, and that, should we need additional physical office space, suitable additional space will be available in the future.
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Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Securities Class Action Lawsuits
In July and August 2021, three purported securities class actions were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against us, our directors, certain of our officers and employees, and certain venture capital and investment firms. The complaints alleged that the defendants violated Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act, by making false or misleading statements and omissions in connection with the registration statement and prospectus that we filed in connection with our Direct Listing. In November 2021, these actions were consolidated and recaptioned as In re Coinbase Global Securities Litigation, and an amended complaint was filed. We dispute the claims in this matter and are vigorously defending against them. The plaintiff seeks, among other relief, unspecified compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. Based on the preliminary nature of the proceedings in this matter, the outcome of this matter remains uncertain.
In October 2021, a purported class action captioned Underwood et al. v. Coinbase Global, Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against us. The plaintiffs allege claims under Sections 5, 15(a)(1) and 29(b) of the Exchange Act and violations of certain California and Florida state statutes. Among other relief requested, the plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, unspecified damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. We dispute the claims in this case and intend to vigorously defend against them. Based on the preliminary nature of the proceedings in this case, the outcome of this matter remains uncertain.
In December 2021, a shareholder derivative suit captioned Shin v. Coinbase Global, Inc., was filed in New York state court against us and our directors, alleging breach of fiduciary duties, unjust enrichment, abuse of control, gross mismanagement, and waste of corporate assets, and seeking unspecified damages and injunctive relief. We dispute the claims in this case and intend to vigorously defend against them. Based on the preliminary nature of the proceedings in this case, the outcome of this matter remains uncertain.
NYDFS Investigation
Our subsidiary, Coinbase, Inc., which holds a Bitlicense from the NYDFS and is therefore subject to examinations and investigations by the NYDFS, is currently subject to an investigation by the NYDFS relating to its compliance program including compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and sanctions laws, cybersecurity, and customer support. Coinbase, Inc. is cooperating fully and has undertaken initial remedial measures, and may face additional remedial and other measures. See the section titled “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the discussion of legal and regulatory requirements applicable to our business and potential consequences relating to our failure to comply with such legal and regulatory requirements. Based on the ongoing nature of the investigation, the outcome of this matter remains uncertain.
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Other
We are also subject to regulatory oversight by numerous state, federal, and foreign regulators and we are and we may become subject to various legal proceedings, inquiries, investigations, and demand letters that arise in the course of our business. For example, we have received investigative subpoenas and other inquiries from various state attorneys general for documents and information pertaining to our business practices and policies, customer complaints, asset launches, certain ongoing litigation, and certain transfers of crypto assets. In addition, we have received investigative subpoenas from the SEC and similar subpoenas and demand letters from various state regulators for documents and information about certain of our customer programs, operations, and intended future products, including our stablecoin and yield-generating products. For example, in January 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued an investigative subpoena for documents and information related to certain of our business practices and policies, and the matter is ongoing. We intend to cooperate fully with such investigations. These examples are not exhaustive. We are not presently a party to any other legal or regulatory proceedings that in the opinion of our management, if determined adversely to us, would individually or taken together have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, financial condition, or cash flows.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.
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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market Information for Common Stock
Our Class A common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “COIN” on April 14, 2021. Prior to that date, there was no public trading market for our Class A common stock.
Our Class B common stock is not listed or traded on any stock exchange.
Holders of Record
As of the close of business on February 16, 2022, there were 330 registered holders of record of our Class A common stock and 11 registered holders of record of our Class B common stock. Since many of our shares of Class A common stock are held by brokers and other institutions on behalf of stockholders, we are unable to estimate the total number of stockholders represented by these record holders.
Dividend Policy
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We are not obligated to pay any dividends on the Class A common stock or Class B common stock and we currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings for use in the operation of our business and do not anticipate paying any dividends on our capital stock in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements, general business conditions, and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.
Stock Performance Graph
The following performance graph shall not be deemed soliciting material or to be filed with the SEC for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any of our other filings under the Exchange Act or Securities Act.
The graph below compares the cumulative total return to stockholders of our Class A common stock between April 14, 2021 (the date our Class A common stock commenced trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market) and December 31, 2021, with the cumulative total return of (a) the Nasdaq Composite Index, (b) the Nasdaq U.S. Benchmark Financial Services Index and (c) the S&P North American Technology index over the same period. This graph assumes the investment of $100 in our Class A common stock at the closing sale price of $328.28 per share on April 14, 2021, and the Nasdaq Composite Index, the Nasdaq U.S. Benchmark Financial Services Index, and the S&P North American Technology Index and assumes the reinvestment of dividends, if any.
The comparisons shown in the graph below are based upon historical data. We caution that the stock price performance shown in the graph below is not indicative of, nor is it intended to forecast, the potential future performance of our common stock.
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coin-20211231_g1.jpg
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities
In October 2021, we issued 93,959 shares of our Class A common stock to 50 accredited investors in connection with an acquisition.
In November 2021, we issued 45,605 shares of our Class A common stock to four accredited investors in connection with an acquisition.
Unless otherwise stated, the sales of the above securities were deemed to be exempt from registration under the Securities Act in reliance upon Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act (or Regulation D or Regulation S promulgated thereunder), or Rule 701 promulgated under Section 3(b) of the Securities Act as transactions by an issuer not involving any public offering or pursuant to benefit plans and contracts relating to compensation as provided under Rule 701. The recipients of the securities in each of these transactions represented their intentions to acquire the securities for investment only and not with a view to or for sale in connection with any distribution thereof, and appropriate legends were placed upon the stock certificates issued in these transactions. All recipients of the foregoing transactions either received adequate information about us or had access, through their relationships with us, to such information.
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Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The following table contains information relating to the repurchases of our Class A common stock made by us in the three months ended December 31, 2021.
Period
Total Number of Shares Purchased(1)
Average Price Paid per Share
October 1 – October 31, 2021959$17.77 
November 1 – November 30, 2021— 
December 1 – December 31, 2021— 
959$17.77 
___________________
(1)Represents shares of unvested Class A common stock that were repurchased by us from former employees upon termination of employment in accordance with the terms of the employees’ stock option agreements. We repurchased the shares from the former employees’ at the respective original exercise prices.
Item 6. [Reserved]
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the accompanying notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The following discussion and analysis contain forward looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove incorrect, could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include, but are not limited to, those identified below and those discussed in the section titled "Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Unless otherwise expressly stated or the context otherwise requires, references to “we,” “our,” “us,” “the Company,” and “Coinbase” refer to Coinbase Global, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. The information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into, and is not a part of, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Discussions of 2019 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2020 and 2019 are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and can be found in the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in our final prospectus dated April 1, 2021 and filed with the SEC pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4) on April 14, 2021.
Executive Overview
This executive overview highlights selected information and does not contain all of the information that is important to readers of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
2021 was a year of tremendous growth and development in the cryptoeconomy, as well as for Coinbase. The total crypto market capitalization at the end of Q4 was $2.3 trillion 𑁋 up nearly three-fold from approximately $800.0 billion at the end of 2020 𑁋 and hit a peak of $3.1 trillion in November 2021. Bitcoin and Ethereum prices reached new highs that were 247% and 457% higher, respectively, than prior peaks seen in 2017, with Bitcoin itself nearly reaching $1.3 trillion in market capitalization in Q4.

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For the year ended December 31, 2021, we generated $7.4 billion of net revenue, $3.6 billion of net income, $4.1 billion of Adjusted EBITDA, and 11.4 million MTUs. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we generated $1.1 billion of net revenue, $322.3 million of net income, $527.4 million of Adjusted EBITDA, and 2.8 million MTUs. In 2021, we saw an increase in all of our key business metrics compared to 2020, became the first publicly traded crypto asset trading platform, and made substantial progress in building a best-in-class infrastructure to enable easy, safe, and secure on-ramps and access into the global cryptoeconomy.
Key Business Metrics
In addition to the measures presented in our consolidated financial statements, we use the following key business metrics to evaluate our business, measure our performance, identify trends affecting our business, and make strategic decisions:
December 31,% Change
20212020201920212020
Verified Users (in millions)
89 43 32 107 %34 %
MTUs(1) (in millions)
11.4 2.8 1.0 307 %180 %
Assets on Platform (in billions)
$278 $90 $17 209 %432 %
Trading Volume (in billions)
$1,671 $193 $80 766 %141 %
Net income (loss) (in millions)
$3,624 $322 $(30)1,025 %1,173 %
Adjusted EBITDA(2) (in millions)
$4,090 $527 $24 676 %2,096 %
___________________
(1)MTUs presented above for the years ended December 31 are the average of each month’s MTUs in the fourth quarter. The annual average of MTUs for the years ended December 31, 2021, December 31, 2020, and December 31, 2019 were 8.4 million, 1.9 million, and 1.1 million.
(2)Please see the section titled “𑁋 Non-GAAP Financial Measure” below for a reconciliation of net income to Adjusted EBITDA and an explanation for why we consider Adjusted EBITDA to be a helpful metric for investors.
Verified Users
We define “Verified Users” as all retail users, institutions, and ecosystem partners that have registered an account on our platform and confirmed either their email address or phone number, or that have established an account with a username on our non-custodial wallet application, as of the date of measurement. Verified Users are an indication of our scale and represent a potential revenue opportunity for us. These customers have demonstrated an interest in our platform or direct intent to transact with crypto assets. Verified Users represent the top level of our customer acquisition funnel. We believe we have an opportunity to engage Verified Users and convert them to MTUs by marketing our growing suite of products and services. Verified Users may overstate the number of unique customers who have registered an account on our platform as one customer may register for, and use, multiple accounts with different email addresses, phone numbers, or usernames.
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Monthly Transacting Users
We define an MTU as a retail user who actively or passively transacts in one or more products on our platform at least once during the rolling 28-day period ending on the date of measurement. MTUs presented as of the end of a quarter are the average of each month’s MTUs in each respective quarter. MTUs presented as of the end of a year represent the MTUs for the last quarter of that year. The annual average MTUs for the years ended December 31, 2021, December 31, 2020, and December 31, 2019 were 8.4 million, 1.9 million, and 1.1 million, respectively. MTUs represent our transacting base of retail users who drive potential revenue generating transactions on our platform. MTUs engage in transactions that generate both transaction revenue and subscription and services revenue. Revenue generating transactions include active transactions such as buying or selling crypto assets through our Invest product or passive transactions such as earning a staking reward. MTUs also engage in transactions that are non-revenue generating such as send and receive. MTUs may overstate the number of unique retail users due to differences in product architecture.
Assets on Platform
We define “Assets on Platform” as the total U.S. dollar equivalent value of both fiat currency and crypto assets held or managed in digital wallets on our platform, including our custody services, calculated based on the market price on the date of measurement. Assets on Platform demonstrates the scale of balances held across our suite of products and services, the trust customers place in us to securely store their assets, and the underlying growth of the cryptoeconomy. Assets on Platform also represent our monetization opportunity for subscription products and services, including current products such as Custody, Stake, Borrow, and Lend. Assets on Platform generate fees that are recorded as subscription and services revenue when customers engage with these products.
The value of Assets on Platform is driven by three factors: the price, quantity, and type of crypto assets held by customers on our platform. Changes in the price and quantity, particularly for Bitcoin and Ethereum, or type of crypto asset held on our platform, can result in the growth or decline in Assets on Platform in a particular period. Our Assets on Platform by asset are as follows:
As of December 31,
202120202019
Assets on Platform:
Bitcoin40 %70 %70 %
Ethereum25 13 
Other crypto assets31 13 15 
Fiat
Total100 %100 %100 %
During the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, no asset other than Bitcoin and Ethereum individually represented more than 10% of our Assets on Platform.
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Trading Volume
We define “Trading Volume” as the total U.S. dollar equivalent value of matched trades transacted between a buyer and seller through our platform during the period of measurement. Trading Volume represents the product of the quantity of asset transacted and the trade price at the time the transaction was executed. As trading activity directly impacts transaction revenue, we believe this measure is a reflection of liquidity on our order books, trading health, and the underlying growth of the cryptoeconomy. Trading Volume on our platform is influenced by the price of crypto assets and Crypto Asset Volatility1. In periods of high crypto asset prices and Crypto Asset Volatility, we have experienced correspondingly high levels of Trading Volume on our platform. Our trading volume in future periods will depend on the relative availability and adoption of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Other crypto assets.
Year Ended December 31,
202120202019
Trading Volume (in billions):
Retail$535$73$35
Institutional1,13612045
Total$1,671$193$80
Trading Volume by crypto asset:
Bitcoin24 %41 %58 %
Ethereum21 %15 %14 %
Litecoin%%10 %
Other crypto assets52 %40 %18 %
Total100 %100 %100 %
Transaction revenue by crypto asset:
Bitcoin25 %44 %60 %
Ethereum21 %12 %11 %
Other crypto assets54 %44 %29 %
Total100 %100 %100 %
Crypto assets other than Bitcoin and Ethereum, or Other crypto assets, continued to contribute a greater share of Trading Volume during the year ended December 31, 2021. Approximately 55% of our total Trading Volume came from Other crypto assets, up from 44% in 2020. This trend is consistent with the overall crypto market where crypto assets other than Bitcoin and Ethereum comprised a larger percent of spot market trading volumes during the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. Additionally, we continue to add trading support for new crypto assets, which contributes to the increased trading concentration in Other crypto assets. In 2021 and 2020, we added trading support for 95 and 21 Other crypto assets, respectively.
During the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, no asset other than Bitcoin and Ethereum individually represented more than 10% of our Trading Volume or transaction revenue.
1Crypto Asset Volatility” represents our internal measure of crypto volatility in the market relative to prior periods. The volatility of crypto assets is measured on an hourly basis (using 10 minute price intervals within each hour) for each crypto asset supported for trading on Coinbase, averaged over the applicable time period (quarterly), then weighted by each crypto asset’s share of total trading volume during the same time period across a select set of trading platforms, in addition to the Coinbase platform, that operate in similar markets including itBit, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, bitFlyer, Binance.US, Binance, Kraken, Gemini, Bittrex, and Poloniex.
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Components of Results of Operations
Net revenue
Transaction revenue
We generate substantially all of our net revenue from transaction fees from trades that occur on our platform. The transaction fee earned is based on the price and quantity of the crypto asset that is bought, sold, or withdrawn. Transaction revenue is recognized at the time the transaction is processed and is directly correlated with Trading Volume on our platform.
Subscription and services revenue
Subscription and services revenue primarily consists of:
Blockchain rewards: We derive Blockchain rewards through various blockchain protocols where we control the staking validator address. These blockchain protocols, or the participants that form the protocol networks, reward users for performing various activities on the blockchain, such as participating in proof-of-stake networks. We earn Blockchain rewards in crypto assets.
Our Staking revenue is included within Blockchain rewards, except for delegation services that are offered as part of Coinbase Cloud and included in Other subscription and services revenue. We believe Blockchain rewards better represents the various monetization opportunities available to us through blockchains and protocols.
Custodial fee revenue: We derive custodial fee revenue based on a percentage of the daily value of customer crypto assets that we hold under custody in our dedicated cold storage solution. The value of crypto assets held under custody is driven by the same factors as Assets on Platform - the quantity, price, and type of crypto asset.
Earn campaign revenue: We provide asset issuers with a platform to engage with our users through education videos and tasks where users can earn crypto assets that they learned about. We earn a commission based on the amount of crypto assets distributed to our users.
Interest income: We earn interest income on fiat funds under a revenue sharing arrangement and on customer custodial fiat funds held at certain third-party banks, which is calculated using the interest method. Our interest income is dependent on the balance of such fiat funds and the prevailing interest rate environment. We also earn interest income on loans granted to our retail and institutional users.
Other: Other subscription and services revenue primarily includes revenue from Coinbase Cloud, which includes staking application, delegation, and infrastructure services, as well as revenue from subscription licenses.
Other revenue
Other revenue includes the sale of crypto assets when we are the principal in the transaction. Periodically, as an accommodation to customers, we may fulfill customer transactions using our own crypto assets. We fulfill customer accommodation transactions using our own assets for orders that do not meet the minimum trade size for execution on our platform or to maintain customers’ trade execution and processing times during unanticipated system disruptions. We have custody and control of these crypto assets prior to the sale to the customer and record revenue at the point in time when the sale is processed. Accordingly, we record the total value of the sale as revenue and the cost of the crypto asset in other operating expense, net. Transactions involving our sale of crypto assets represented 6.2% of our total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021.
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Other revenue also includes interest income earned primarily on our corporate cash and cash equivalents. Interest income is calculated using the interest method and depends on the balance of cash and cash equivalents as well as the prevailing interest rate environment.
Operating expenses
Operating expenses consist of transaction, technology and development, sales and marketing, general and administrative, restructuring expenses, and other operating expense.
Transaction expense
Transaction expense includes costs incurred to operate our platform, process crypto asset trades, and perform wallet services. These costs include account verification fees, miner fees to process transactions on blockchain networks, fees paid to payment processors and other financial institutions for customer transaction activity, and crypto asset losses due to transaction reversals. Transaction expense also includes rewards paid to users for blockchain activities conducted by us, such as staking. Fixed-fee costs are expensed over the term of the contract and transaction-level costs are expensed as incurred.
Technology and development
Technology and development expenses include personnel-related expenses incurred in operating, maintaining, and enhancing our platform. These costs also include website hosting, infrastructure expenses, costs incurred in developing new products and services and the amortization of acquired developed technology.
Sales and marketing
Sales and marketing expenses primarily include costs related to customer acquisition, advertising and marketing programs, and personnel-related expenses. Sales and marketing costs are expensed as incurred.
General and administrative
General and administrative expenses include personnel-related expenses incurred to support our business, including legal, finance, compliance, human resources, customer support, executive, and other support operations. These costs also include software subscriptions for support services, facilities and equipment costs, depreciation, amortization of acquired customer relationship intangible assets, gains and losses on disposal of fixed assets, legal reserves and settlements, and other general overhead. General and administrative costs are expensed as incurred.
Other operating expense, net
Other operating expense, net includes cost of our crypto assets used to fulfill customer accommodation transactions. Periodically, as an accommodation to customers, we may fulfill customer transactions using our own crypto assets. We have custody and control of the crypto assets prior to the sale to the customer. Accordingly, we record the total value of the sale in other revenue and the cost of the crypto asset in other operating expense.
Other operating expense, net also includes impairment and realized gains on the sale of crypto assets, realized gains and losses resulting from the settlement of derivative instruments, and fair value gains and losses related to derivatives and derivatives designated in qualifying fair value hedge accounting relationships.
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Other expense (income), net
Other expense (income), net includes the following items:
gains and losses on investments, net, which consists primarily of realized and unrealized gains and losses from fair value adjustments on investments;
realized impacts on foreign exchange resulting from the settlement of our foreign currency assets and liabilities as well unrealized impacts on foreign exchange resulting from remeasurement of transactions and monetary assets and liabilities denominated in non-functional currencies; and
interest expense on our Convertible Notes and Senior Notes.
(Benefit from) provision for income taxes
(Benefit from) provision for income taxes includes income taxes related to foreign jurisdictions and U.S. federal and state income taxes.
Results of Operations
The following table summarizes the historical consolidated statements of operations data:
Year Ended December 31,
202120202019
(in thousands)
Revenue:
Net revenue$7,354,753 $1,141,167 $482,949 
Other revenue484,691 136,314 50,786 
Total revenue7,839,444 1,277,481 533,735 
Operating expenses:
Transaction expense1,267,924 135,514 82,055 
Technology and development1,291,561 271,732 185,044 
Sales and marketing663,689 56,782 24,150 
General and administrative909,392 279,880 231,929 
Restructuring— — 10,140 
Other operating expense, net630,308 124,622 46,200 
Total operating expenses4,762,874 868,530 579,518 
Operating income (loss)3,076,570 408,951 (45,783)
Other expense (income), net49,623 (248)(367)
Income (loss) before income taxes3,026,947 409,199 (45,416)
(Benefit from) provision for income taxes (597,173)86,882 (15,029)
Net income (loss)$3,624,120 $322,317 $(30,387)
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The following table presents the components of the consolidated statements of operations as a percentage of total revenue:
Year Ended December 31,
202120202019
Total revenue100 %100 %100 %
Operating expenses:
Transaction expense16 11 15 
Technology and development16 21 35 
Sales and marketing
General and administrative12 22 43 
Restructuring— — 
Other operating expense, net10 
Total operating expenses61 68 109 
Operating income (loss)39 32 (9)
Other expense (income), net— — — 
Income (loss) before income taxes39 32 (9)
(Benefit from) provision for income taxes (7)(3)
Net income (loss)46 %25 %(6)%
Comparison of the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020
Revenue
Year Ended December 31,% Change
20212020201920212020
(in thousands)
Transaction revenue$6,837,266 $1,096,174 $463,005 524 %137 %
Subscription and services revenue517,487 44,993 19,944 1,050 126 
Other revenue484,691 136,314 50,786 256 168 
Total revenue$7,839,444 $1,277,481 $533,735 514 139 
Transaction revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased by $5.7 billion, or 524%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, due to the following:
Crypto Asset Volatility of 11.0 for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased 49% over the year ended December 31, 2020. Trading Volume on our platform is correlated with higher Crypto Asset Volatility;
an increase in retail Trading Volume of 633% for the year ended December 31, 2021, due to an increase in both MTUs and the average price of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Other crypto assets; and
an increase in the number of crypto assets supported on our platform, from 45 as of December 31, 2020 to 139 as of December 31, 2021. Our ability to expand our support of more crypto assets drove significant Trading Volume.
There are a number of factors that contribute to changes in crypto asset prices and Crypto Asset Volatility, including, but not limited to, changes in the supply and demand for a particular crypto asset, crypto market sentiment, macroeconomic factors, utility of a particular crypto asset, and idiosyncratic events.
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Subscription and services revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased by $472.5 million, or 1,050%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, predominantly due to the following:
an increase in Blockchain rewards of $212.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2021, mainly as a result of increased user participation in reward generating activities, predominantly Staking activities including ETH 2.0 Staking which was launched in 2021;
an increase in custodial fee revenue of $117.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2021, due to an increase in the average assets under custody of $99.0 billion over the same period. The growth in assets under custody was driven by new and existing customers, an increase of 72 assets supported by custody during the year ended December 31, 2021, and an increase in average crypto asset prices; and
an increase in Earn campaign revenue of $55.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2021, driven by both an increase in MTUs that engaged with Earn campaigns and an increase in amounts earmarked by asset issuers for distribution over the same period. Our first Earn campaign was launched in June 2020.
Other revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased by $348.4 million, or 256%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, driven by an increase in crypto assets sales revenue over the same period. We generated revenue from crypto asset sales where the transactions were fulfilled with our crypto assets to accommodate customers, primarily as a result of unanticipated system disruptions.     
For the year ended December 31, 2021, we experienced 16 unanticipated system disruptions, including an exchange disruption, which resulted in $305.6 million of other revenue, or 63% of revenue from crypto asset sales to customers, compared to 12 unanticipated system disruptions which resulted in $94.8 million of other revenue, or 71% of revenue from crypto asset sales to customers for the year ended December 31, 2020. While the number of unanticipated system disruptions increased year-over-year, during the year ended December 31, 2021, the number of disruptions generally declined quarter-over-quarter, with the majority of disruptions taking place in the first half of the year. A system disruption which occurred on May 19, 2021 as a result of unprecedented short term spike in Trading Volume as well as the exchange disruption on September 7, 2021 were primarily responsible for the increase in crypto assets sales revenue during the year ended December 31, 2021.
We continue to make significant investments in database and network infrastructure to support heightened trading volumes on our platform in order to reduce unanticipated system disruptions.
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Operating expenses
Year Ended December 31,% Change
20212020201920212020
(in thousands)
Transaction expense$1,267,924 $135,514 $82,055 836 %65 %
Technology and development1,291,561 271,732 185,044 375 47 
Sales and marketing663,689 56,782 24,150 1,069 135 
General and administrative909,392 279,880 231,929 225 21 
Restructuring— — 10,140 — (100)
Other operating expense, net630,308 124,622 46,200 406 170 
Total operating expenses$4,762,874 $868,530 $579,518 448 50 
Transaction expense for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased by $1.1 billion, or 836%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. Transaction expense is correlated with our net revenue. Transaction expense as a percentage of net revenue was 17% and 12% for the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively.
The increase in transaction expense for the year ended December 31, 2021, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, was predominantly due to the following:
an increase of $519.3 million related to miner fees for the year ended December 31, 2021. This increase was driven by an increase in crypto assets required to pay blockchain network fees such as Ethereum gas prices and an increase in crypto asset prices. Ethereum gas prices rose substantially due to congestion on the network as we saw a surge in DeFi volume throughout the year. We expect this congestion to stabilize and improve as the Ethereum network implements solutions to help reduce transaction congestion;
an increase of $206.3 million in transaction reversal losses for the year ended December 31, 2021, due to higher payment volume;
an increase of $138.8 million related to rewards paid or payable to users from blockchain activities such as staking for the year ended December 31, 2021;
an increase of $101.5 million in account verification fees for the year ended December 31, 2021, due to an increase in new user sign-ups; and
an increase of $96.4 million in payment processing fees for the year ended December 31, 2021, due to higher settled Retail Trading Volume.
Technology and development expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased by $1.0 billion, or 375%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020 predominantly due to the following:
an increase of $788.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2021 in personnel-related expenses due to a 129% increase in headcount growth, issuance of equity instruments in conjunction with business combinations, and higher payroll taxes as a result of increased exercises of stock options in conjunction with our direct listing of our Class A common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on April 14, 2021, or the “Direct Listing. In December 2020, we began granting RSUs to employees which increased our stock-based compensation expense compared to our option grants; and
an increase of $181.1 million in software and service costs for the year ended December 31, 2021, driven by continued investment in our products and platform. We expect that these costs will continue to increase in the future as we scale our teams and deliver new products and services for the cryptoeconomy.
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Sales and marketing expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021 increased by $606.9 million, or 1,069%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. Sales and marketing as a percentage of net revenue was 9.0% and 5.0% during the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively.
The increase in sales and marketing expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, was predominantly driven by the following:
an increase of $397.3 million in digital advertising spend for the year ended December 31, 2021;
an increase of $105.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2021 in personnel-related expenses due to a 164% increase in headcount growth and higher payroll taxes as a result of increased exercises of stock options in conjunction with our Direct Listing. In December 2020, we began granting RSUs to employees which increased our stock-based compensation expense compared to our option grants; and
an increase of $60.7 million in customer referral and promotion fees for the year ended December 31, 2021, largely due to new user incentive bonuses.
General and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021, increased by $629.5 million, or 225%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, predominantly driven by the following:
an increase of $341.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2021 in personnel-related expenses due to a 130% increase in headcount growth and higher payroll taxes as a result of increased exercises of stock options in conjunction with our Direct Listing. In December 2020, we began granting RSUs to employees which increased our stock-based compensation expense compared to our option grants;
an increase of $78.0 million in customer support costs for the year ended December 31, 2021, in order to respond to the increased customer inquiries during periods of high Trading Volume;
an increase of $64.0 million in corporate business taxes largely due to an increase in net income; and
$39.2 million of direct listing costs during the first half of 2021 associated with our Direct Listing.
Other operating expense, net for the year ended December 31, 2021, increased by $505.7 million, or 406%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, respectively, due to the following:
an increase of $304.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2021, attributed to crypto assets sold in order to fulfill customer accommodation transactions as a result of unanticipated system disruptions; and
$119.9 million net impairment on crypto assets decreasing below the carrying value of our crypto assets held during the year.
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Other expense (income), net
Year Ended December 31,% Change
20212020201920212020
(in thousands)
Other expense (income), net$49,623 $(248)$(367)(20,109)%(32)%
During the year ended December 31, 2021, we had other expense (income), net of $49.6 million loss compared to a $0.2 million gain for the year ended December 31, 2020. The change of $49.9 million in losses is largely driven by realized losses from foreign exchange of $61.4 million and interest expense on our Convertible Notes and Senior Notes of $29.2 million, offset by realized gains on investments of $19.1 million and unrealized gains from foreign exchange of $19.9 million.
(Benefit from) provision for income taxes
Year Ended December 31,% Change
20212020201920212020
(in thousands)
(Benefit from) provision for income taxes $(597,173)