Blockchain is no longer a geeky business

The Web3 of 2022 corresponds to the Internet of the 1990s, believes Coinbase’s Peter Hofmann.

Last week’s Web3connect conference in Geneva hosted a heavyweight in the world of cryptocurrencies: Californian company Coinbase, which employs over 3,700 people. This virtual currency exchange platform, just listed on the NASDAQ, demonstrates that the blockchain universe is no longer the prerogative of a circle of enthusiasts of new technologies: it has become a professional sector. Why is Coinbase interested in Switzerland? The explanations of its regional director Peter Hofmann.

What is Coinbase’s involvement with the Web3connect event?

We believe the Swiss digital asset ecosystem and Web3 are on track. Otherwise, Coinbase would not focus on this relatively small retail market given its population of around 8.5 million citizens. Our attendance at the conference is a clear signal that digital assets are becoming an accepted asset class in institutional financial services markets and that Switzerland plays an important role in promoting the adoption of digital assets in the institutional segment.

What is Coinbase’s role in the Swiss digital asset ecosystem?

Coinbase, which has been listed on NASDAQ since 2021, aims to demonstrate how mature the digital assets and blockchain space has become: it has achieved professional sector status. This is a crucial element for mass adoption. We can also help the Swiss ecosystem so that private and institutional users are able to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies in an easy, secure and compliant way. Additionally, with Coinbase Cloud Services, we support cryptocurrency developers so they can build apps more easily.

I’m sure blockchain shares the same fundamentals as other areas of innovation – we overestimate the short-term impact and underestimate the long-term one.

Do you think the fundamentals of blockchain are similar to previous technologies?

In all these years that I have worked in technology, I have distinguished different cycles of innovation. I’m sure blockchain shares the same fundamentals as other areas of innovation – we overestimate the short-term impact and underestimate the long-term one.

What would its long-term impact be?

We do not yet grasp its full potential. According to a comparison of internet adoption and cryptocurrency membership, the development of virtual currencies and blockchains would be somewhere in the 1990s, when we connect via analog modems. Use cases were slowly emerging. I would say this is where we are in the cryptocurrency and blockchain revolution.

What use cases are emerging around the blockchain?

Beyond the speculative cases, DeFi (note: decentralized finance) is emerging. But the road to its mass adoption is still long. DeFi, which is sure to become an effective financial market infrastructure in developed countries, will seek to replace legacy legacy systems. In less developed countries, DeFi could become the first accessible and efficient financial services infrastructure available.

Providing a more efficient and open financial infrastructure will also introduce new asset classes for new investors, at the intersection of Non-Fungible Token (NFT) and Internet of Things (IoT).

What’s your next field project?

We are working on the further internalization of Coinbase in combination with new products such as our Bitcoin / Ethereum futures, as well as the continued development of regulatory frameworks such as MiCA, which is an interesting development to keep an eye on.

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