Coinbase Says Screw It, We’ll Let You Buy Doge

Illustration for article titled Coinbase Says Screw It, We'll Let You Buy Doge

Illustration: Richard Drew (AP)

The cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase has caved. After a long silence to the hoards imploring the company to let them trade Dogecoin, they’ve decided to list the meme, adding a sheen of legitimacy to a cryptocurrency with limitless supply, which whales could squash with a whale-sized dump at any moment. On a call with investors on Thursday, CEO Brian Armstrong said that Coinbase aims to list it in six to eight weeks.

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The Doge fans have been wondering why Coinbase has been leaving money on the table. Doge now commands a heart-stopping trading volume and an equally terror-inducing current market cap of $72 billion—higher than 77 percent of companies listed on the S&P 500. Fees vary with flat rates for lower purchases, but Coinbase typically charges users a 1.49% fee on transactions made through your bank account. So if, say, Coinbase users bought $1 billion of Dogecoin and all HODLed, Coinbase would pocket $14.9 million. (This is if they don’t pay with a debit card or PayPal, in which case Coinbase gets 3.99% in a conversion fee.)

Armstrong didn’t stop at announcing Doge’s arrival on the platform. He added this wild forecast:

I think it’s going to be something, kind of, like apps in the App Store or on the iPhone where there’s eventually millions of these assets created over time and so we’re putting a lot of work and thought into how do we accelerate our pace of asset addition, and one of those is Doge, as you mentioned, which has been getting a lot of attention recently.

Getting-a-lot-of-attention-recently: sort of like CDs, Smash Mouth tickets, the Gap, TRIMSPA, and people running “executive success programs.”

The idea that cryptocurrency will have long-term value mostly hinges, at least for some analysts, on the idea of scarcity, that Bitcoin will be useful outside of the currency exchange trade, and once all the Bitcoin has been mined, you want to be holding the Bitcoin when everybody who missed out needs Bitcoin. Doge is the equivalent of endlessly printing money, with a current tangible value resting on Elon Musk’s ability to keep upping the ante, which could escalate to a Doge-funded space station at the rate he’s going. WallStreetBets doesn’t even want people talking about it because the market is “small accounts and pump & dumps.”

Let’s get a second opinion. Adam Zadikoff, COO of the crypto wallet BRD, told CNBC the following:

My guess is that [the rally] won’t last, especially for something like dogecoin which was never meant to be a payment system or a store of value. Yes, you can make a quick buck if you time it right, but timing the market is a terrible thing to try to do. It does not work.

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Consider investing in Pokemon cards.

World’s Largest Crypto Trading Platform Under Investigation by DOJ and IRS: Report

Illustration for article titled World's Largest Crypto Trading Platform Under Investigation by DOJ and IRS: Report

Photo: Martin Bureau (Getty Images)

Binance, the world’s largest platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service, according to a new report from Bloomberg News.

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The U.S. government is reportedly interested in the ways that crypto is being used for money laundering and other illicit activities, but Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao suggested Bloomberg has the story all wrong in a tweet early Friday.

Without directly acknowledging the story, Zhao tweeted that Binance had “collaborated with law enforcement agencies to fight bad players,” but hinted the story had, “somehow made it look like a bad thing.”

It’s not clear if any work that Zhao suggests he’s doing with U.S. law enforcement agencies would necessarily mean Binance couldn’t be under investigation. To put it another way, it’s entirely possible that Binance could be working with American cops while still under investigation by the IRS and DOJ.

Binance is officially banned in the U.S. because it sells securities that aren’t registered with U.S. regulators and the company insists that it tries to block Americans from using the platform. But the only hindrance to Americans getting an account, as crypto news site the Block has pointed out in the past, is clicking a button to say you’re not an American. It’s a bit like a porn site that makes users click a button swearing they’re 18+.

Binance was founded in China but moved operations out of the country in 2017 after the CCP banned many facets of cryptocurrency trading. Binance reportedly has an office in Singapore, according to Bloomberg, but is now incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a British-controlled territory where many companies set up businesses, if only on paper, to avoid paying taxes.

“We take our legal obligations very seriously and engage with regulators and law enforcement in a collaborative fashion,” Binance said in a prepared statement online.

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“We have worked hard to build a robust compliance program that incorporates anti-money laundering principles and tools used by financial institutions to detect and address suspicious activity,” Binance continued. “We have a strong track record of assisting law enforcement agencies around the world, including in the United States.”

Facebook’s Long-Stalled Digital Currency Could be Tested This Year: Report

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 23, 2019.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 23, 2019.
Photo: Susan Walsh (AP)

Facebook hopes to launch a trial of its long-stalled digital currency project by the end of this year, according to a new report from CNBC. The currency, first announced in 2019 as Libra and then renamed Diem after some bad publicity, will now be pegged to the U.S. dollar, provided the tech giant can actually get it off the ground this time.

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Facebook first announced plans for the digital currency in June of 2019 and was hit with immediate backlash from governments and consumer groups around the world that worried what would happen if a huge tech monopoly like Facebook competed with the world’s largest currencies. Facebook has roughly 2.8 billion active users on a planet of 7.9 billion people.

Facebook’s plan in 2019 was to launch the “blockchain” currency by early 2020, something that obviously didn’t happen after the tech company’s partner organizations like PayPal and eBay started to pull out after the wave of negative press.

But CNBC, and whoever leaked this Facebook news to the financial outlet, seem to hint that Facebook is taking a much more cautious approach this time, even if details are still extremely scarce.

From CNBC:

The Diem Association, the Switzerland-based nonprofit which oversees diem’s development, is aiming to launch a pilot with a single stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar in 2021, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person, who preferred to remain anonymous as the details haven’t yet been made public, said this pilot will be small in scale, focusing largely on transactions between individual consumers. There may also be an option for users to buy goods and purchases, the person added. However, there is no confirmed date for the launch and timing could therefore change.

What the hell is the Diem Association? It appears to be the next iteration of the Calibra Association, the supposedly independent organization set up by Facebook to oversee the currency back when it was called Libra.

When reached for comment about the CNBC story, Facebook’s Head of Communications for Australia, Antonia Sanda told Gizmodo by email, “looks like this could be a leak as there are no official announcements from the Diem site, but I’ll leave that for the Diem team to confirm.”

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Sanda provided Diem’s email address and wrote, “We now send all media queries direct to the Diem organisation, as it is separate from FB […] if you’d like to contact their team direct.” Gizmodo has not yet heard back from Diem but will update this post if we do.

Governments around the world are setting up committees and task forces to examine the pros and cons of creating their own digital currencies, with China, Japan, and the UK announcing their own explorations in recent months. And it’s no secret that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether have gained traction in recent years, with large companies like PayPal starting to get in on the action. PayPal announced last month it was launching a way for consumers to pay using cryptocurrencies at millions of retailers, handing the merchant fiat during the transaction.

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But will Facebook’s digital currency flourish after already experiencing one very embarrassing false start? Only time will tell. But you can bet that government regulators will be keeping a close eye on Facebook’s plans for the future of money, especially since most world leaders think CEO Mark Zuckerberg already has too much power.

Congressman Brad Sherman even told Zuck in a July 2019 hearing that his new digital currency—which Sherman mockingly called “Zuck Bucks”—could cause the next 9/11, apparently referring to the possibility that criminals would use Facebook’s new currency for illegal activities. And when that’s your starting point of conversation with politicians who could help decide the fate of your new business idea, it’s tough to see it getting very far.

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