Coinbase signals IPO in landmark for crypto industry
Coinbase is set to make history as the first major cryptocurrency firm to publicly list in the US, signalling its intent with a document to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The US’ biggest platform for buying, selling and trading virtual currency confirmed in a blog post that it had submitted a Form S-1, the document used by companies to register their securities with the SEC prior to a public listing.
The San Francisco-based company did not divulge whether it would seek a traditional IPO or instead opt for a direct listing, and said it expects the filing to become effective after the SEC completes its review.
Coinbase will not be the first cryptocurrency-based business to go public per se, but it is the first of its size to test the public market. Founded in 2012, Coinbase was one of the pioneering crypto exchanges and became the first crypto unicorn in 2017. It ranked at number seven on our recent roundup of the biggest crypto exchanges by volume, and boasts more than 35m users and more than $25bn in assets on its platform.
All eyes will be on Coinbase when it announces more details. It will be viewed as the benchmark for mainstream appetite of digital assets and open the doors for investors to gamble on the digital market without taking an active stake in the assets themselves.
The landmark filing comes amid a hot streak for both IPOs in the US and the value of Bitcoin, the most popular virtual coin traded on crypto exchanges, which continues to trade well above its previous peak after earlier this week punching through the $20,000 resistance mark for the first time.
Bitcoin value, via Coindesk.com
The digital currency has yet to dip below that line, hovering between $22,500 and $23,500 in the past 24 hours. Bitcoin has rocketed more than 400% in 2020 from a nadir in March as the coronavirus pandemic swept the world. Its recent ascent has created a halo effect boosting the value of other popular altcoins such as ETH, which added more than $60 to its value in the past two days.
Islamic fintech Wahed plans UK expansion: Hires expert GM
Wahed Inc has hired a leading industry expert to take Islamic finance forward in the UK marketplace.
Umer Suleman has been appointed as General Manager of UK operations for Wahed Inc.. His role will include overseeing Wahed Invest’s nationwide growth strategy and strengthening the firm’s position as a leading provider of ethically focused investment services.
Suleman’s track record includes over 15 years of regulatory, risk, and strategy consultancy roles, as well as advisory positions across a variety of businesses and sectors including positions at UKIFC, Daiwa Capital Management, and Ernst & Young (EY).
He also spent seven years at HSBC as Head of KYC Risk globally within their Global Banking and Markets business, Head of Business and Conduct Risk for MENA within Retail Banking, and headed up the CCO function for Digital (GLCM) within the UK with a global remit.
Wahed and the growing role of Islamic finance
The startup fintech was founded in 2017 and is an American company based in New York City. Since its inception, it has grown from strength to strength and in July 2019, launched the first exchange-traded fund in the US that was compliant with Sharia law.
Islamic finance typically refers to the way businesses and individuals raise capital in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law. It also refers to the types of investments that are permissible under Islam.
Wahed currently operates in 130 countries and has offices in Washington D.C, New York, London and Dubai. It has also developed an easily accessible digital platform that balances ethical finance with modern investments, attracting over 200,000 active clients from around the world with features such as free portfolio recommendations and no hidden fees.
Wahed UK expansion plans
According to reports, the UK is highly receptive to services in the Islamic finance sector and is also one of the fastest-growing markets globally. It has a three million-strong Muslim population and one of the most developed Islamic finance sectors outside of the traditional Muslim regions, with global population figures projected to double over the next forty years.
It is hoped Suleman’s leadership of Wahed will address the underbanked needs of the Muslim community while also serving the increasing number of retail investors currently seeking ethical alternatives to wealth creation.
Speaking about the new role, Wahed CEO, Junaid Wahedna, explained “Mr. Suleman’s appointment reaffirms our commitment to providing innovative and outstanding ethically driven financial services to a market that, historically, has been underserved.
“We’re delighted to welcome Umer to the team and firmly believe that with him at the helm, our operations in the UK will continue to go from strength to strength and provide customers seeking ethical investments with accessible, trustworthy and innovative solutions.”
The appointment follows on from Wahed’s recent investment round and its acquisition of the UK-based fintech Niyah.
These events will support the company in its plans to build an Islamic marketplace that meets growing demand for socially conscious investors – and not just those of Islamic faith.
The fintech firm also plans to utilise the UK’s position as a leading hub for Islamic finance as a springboard into other European cities, and believes it has a central role to play in providing Shariah-compliant services that address inclusion and inequality.
The Islamic finance industry is currently valued at around US$2.4trn and is expected to grow steadily by 10-12% over 2021 and 2022, having experienced rapid growth in recent years.
THREE reasons why Islamic finance is a growing sector
- The UK Muslim population is growing - and has been traditionally underserved by incumbent banks. The Muslim population is growing twice as fast the world’s non-Muslim population and Islamic finance address this group’s needfor Shariah compliant financial products.
- It encourages financial inclusion. According to the World Bank, financial inclusion is defined as individuals and businesses having access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
- It supports Sharia compliant products. Transactions that work with industries forbidden in Islam (gambling, usury and speculation) are forbidden. Islamic banking only works with businesses that adhere to their ethical and moral standards.
Image credit: Wahed Inc team