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Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong: Crypto Will Disrupt the Fringes of the Economy First

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:44 PM
P. H. Madore
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:44 PM

In a 45-minute long Ask Me Anything session conducted recently on YouTube, Coinbase CEO Brian Amstrong answered a lot of interesting questions, including questions about him personally. Like many of us, Armstrong says he was a nerdy kid growing up and was unpopular.

Imagine Brian Armstrong as a Nerdy Kid

He says his mother worked at IBM and the family had one of the earliest 486 models of computer, which he used to learn and experiment in technology. Primarily, Armstrong describes himself as a “nerd who likes to build things with technology.”

I was the kid who was trying to read a book or whatever while everybody was playing sports.

He addressed several other issues during the AMA, including the effect of trolls. Armstrong says that he has never been trolled by crypto people in real life. He thinks it’s part of internet culture for people to be salty online but friendly in person. Unsatisfied with his answer, he says:

How do you maintain your sanity in a world where the Internet exists is like a deeper topic.

Crypto Disruption Will Work Its Way in From The Fringe

Armstrong’s views on the future of crypto adoption are perhaps the highlight of the session, and he didn’t reveal them until the end. After talking about how he uses Bitcoin – he says he’s given dozens of people Bitcoin over the years, and in the early days it was as high as one whole BTC per person – Armstrong went into the adoption of cryptocurrency.

He describes payments as a wide range of things, with things like coffee being square in the middle. He doesn’t think crypto payments will disrupt small purchases first – in fact, he believes these will be the last type of payments for crypto to disrupt. Instead, Armstrong believes that crypto will work its way in “from the fringes.”

He said:

If you think about the most common transaction that happens int eh common, think about the most mainstream thing, like paying for a cup of coffee at Starbucks with a credit card. There’s a normal distribution of payments in the world and that’s square in the middle.

And I think that’s the last area that gets disrupted by digital currency. Digital currency is actually going to be used more on the fringes first and slowly move mainstream. The fringes are – […]

There’s power users of money. People that need to send $1 million to invest in something in 10 minutes somewhere else around the world. Or a developer who’s trying to script and automate distributions of payments to thousands of people for one dollar around the world. And then on the other side, you have people who are unbanked or de-platformed – emerging markets, Venezuela, this is kind of where crypto is playing.

Crypto is sort of playing most strongly at the edges – these power users and then the de-platformed or unbanked. And then I think it’s slowly going to work its way into the middle. That’s what we’re trying to do at Coinbase; we’re trying to build the crypto economy. Not just on-boarding, buy a little bit of a crypto and hold onto it, but increasingly connect people so they can do more things. Earn tasks. Can they do voting? Can they do staking? Can they do borrow/lend? Or start to buy products with crypto?

Coinbase Wants To Facilitate The Crypto Renaissance

Armstrong says the company is working to improve its Coinbase Commerce product so that people who already use Coinbase will be more aware of ways they can use crypto.

Ultimately, Armstrong is currently a tremendous player in the crypto world. If his vision is that crypto should disrupt the fringes before going mainstream, it’s likely that he will be at least somewhat correct. Thus we shouldn’t expect to see mainstream adoption in the short-term, but it’s a long-term reality.