Every Finance Company Will Be A Crypto Company
March 6, 2022
Fintech In The Front, Crypto In The Back
by Harry Alford
Sooner rather than later, every finance company will be a crypto company. The trends are clear. Cryptocurrencies are gaining momentum, as an asset and a payment option.
For many reasons, it’s not hard to see why the finance industry is coming around to crypto. Traditional financial service providers want to build a bridge to the crypto economy for their customers looking for higher yield investments. Customers appear to be ready for banks to be their onramp to crypto. A December 2020 survey by Cornerstone Advisors showed that 60% of cryptocurrency holders would definitely use their bank if it offered them the opportunity to invest in digital assets. The same study revealed that 65% of banks and 76% of credit unions said fintech partnerships will be important to their business strategies. For the institutions that are taking longer than expected, it’s mostly due to general operational due diligence. When these institutions finally enter, they'll do so at scale. As crypto investor Mike Novogratz said, “The Herd Is Coming.”
Today, crypto adoption and investment are accelerating. According to Pymnts, nearly 75% of consumers view cryptocurrency as an investment opportunity. The study also found 60% of crypto holders want to transact with it. Global VC funding for blockchain firms surged to a record $25B in 2021. Over 1,000 blockchain deals were executed in 2021, surpassing 2020’s level of 662. Of those 2021 deals, 79% were early-stage investments. A few examples of finance companies leaning into crypto include headlines like:
Square changed its name to Block as it seeks to expand to new businesses like the blockchain
Robinhood to launch crypto trading internationally – Sees immense potential in crypto economy
Alexis Ohanian’s venture capital firm raises $500 million, doubles down on crypto startups
Still, I am amazed by how many finance companies and startups don’t have crypto as a part of their business pitch. I recently spoke with a Fintech founder and asked him if he’s considering offering crypto as an option for his customers. To my dismay, I learned that crypto wouldn’t be on his roadmap for at least 12 months. Turns out, his lack of consideration was not because of why, but a question of how. To this I replied, “Crypto mullet.”
A mullet is a hairstyle with the hair cut short in the front but longer in the back. The front presents as serious and confident, compared to the exciting, irreverent, and textured hair flowing behind. Business in the front, party in the back. To some, the description is analogous to crypto, in that the traditional finance front end will allow access to crypto for more conservative users. Fintech in the front, crypto in the back.
Bankless, a popular podcast, wholeheartedly embraces this thesis that finance companies will increasingly move towards crypto. In one of my favorite episodes, Bankless explains the “DeFi mullet” from the Fintech side of things and explores how financial institutions are leveling up with the infrastructure provided by crypto startups. As they explain, when you add crypto as a feature to your platform a few things happen:
Increased engagement across other products
Increased revenue generation
Participation at the bleeding edge of innovation
Increased market cap
Crypto mullets are playing out in front of our eyes across every sector of finance. Financial and commercial activity has moved in the direction of crypto, especially with Mastercard offering innovative crypto loyalty solutions, Visa’s crypto-linked card usage hitting $2.5 billion in its first quarter, and conferences, like Money2020, covering the sector more thoroughly.
According to The Block Research, traditional financial institutions want to distribute crypto products or use crypto as backend infrastructure due to the increased client demands. Some of the top institutions are not only hiring digital asset leadership and incubating projects, but also outsourcing their crypto infrastructure for trading, exchange-traded products, custody, and more.
Fintech startups, once viewed as the disruptors of traditional finance, are being disrupted. One Fintech using the crypto mullet well is mobile banking app, Current. Current aims to answer peoples' need for easy access to participate in the cryptoeconomy while building wealth. Late in 2021, Current announced plans to provide its 3M+ customers with hybrid financial products. Current has enlisted backend support from Coinbase Cloud in its bid to combine DeFi services with the best of its traditional offerings. Coinbase Cloud provides the infrastructure that allows Current to build products with a seamless user experience that blends high-yield DeFi with traditional finance applications. Current Chief Technology Officer Trevor Marshall told CoinDesk in an interview, “We’ve flirted with bringing crypto back into our project for a while now, but there were always obstacles in the way. When DeFi really took off in 2019, we were able to get over a lot of the technical hurdles.”
Fintechs like Current are abstracting away the complexities through our crypto infrastructure — while capturing all of the benefits of offering crypto. There are various ways finance companies can offer products on top of our node infrastructure to improve financial outcomes for customers. For one, by leveraging our scalable node infrastructure, companies can expand their product offering with a multi-chain staking service and provide staking for their customers, with integration support from Coinbase engineers throughout the development process and no coding required.
If finance companies don’t add crypto to their roadmap, then crypto-native companies will continue flooding the bottom of the existing market until relentlessly moving up and displacing their largest competitors. Finance companies are already faced with the innovator’s dilemma; most don’t know it yet. But with the blazing pace of innovation, that could change in a matter of days. Coinbase Cloud can get a finance company from A to Z quickly and easily.
Coinbase Cloud is the largest industry protector for staking and securing protocols with $30B+ assets staked on our non-custodial platform. Our all-in-one platform lets you launch and scale nodes across 25+ protocols, get real-time updates, and monitor your performance.
No matter if you’re an upstart Fintech or traditional financial institution, get the party started in the back by building for the Web3 era. We’ll focus on the heavy lifting so your team can focus on doing what you do best in the front. Our breadth of protocol support and speed to onboard new protocols means that we grow at the pace you need. Contact us today!