Coinbase jumps 16% after saying it has no exposure to bankrupt crypto firms

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Coinbase reported a 27% decline in revenues in the first quarter as usage of the platform dipped.
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Coinbase said it had no counterparty exposure to several collapsed crypto firms, seeking to allay fears about the impact of a liquidity crisis in the industry on its business.

Coinbase “had no financing exposure” to Celsius, Three Arrows Capital and Voyager Digital, the company said in a blog post Wednesday. Each firm filed for bankruptcy protection after a plunge in digital token prices set off a cascade of liquidations in highly leveraged positions.

Shares of the company climbed 10% following the statement.

“Many of these firms were overleveraged with short-term liabilities mismatched against longer duration illiquid assets,” the company said.

“We have not engaged in these types of risky lending practices and instead have focused on building our financing business with prudence and deliberate focus on the client,” it added.

While Coinbase denied any credit exposure to Celsius, 3AC and Voyager, it says it did make “non-material investments” in Terraform Labs, the Singapore-based company behind failed stablecoin project Terra, through its venture capital business.

The update is an attempt by Coinbase to reassure investors it won’t suffer the same fate as some of its peers. The company’s stock has plunged roughly 70% since the start of 2022, as interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve shook investors in both crypto and stocks.

The crypto market has been in a state of disarray ever since the demise of Terra, a so-called “algorithmic” stablecoin that tried to maintain a $1 value using code. This led to liquidity issues at Celsius and 3AC, two companies that made risky crypto gambles using borrowed funds.

As cryptocurrencies started falling this year, investors wanted to take their funds out of firms like Celsius and 3AC. But a drop in the value of the assets held by such companies meant they were unable to process those redemption requests. As a result, Celsius, Voyager and others halted withdrawals before eventually filing for bankruptcy protection.

Bitcoin climbed above the $24,000 mark Wednesday, for the first time in over a month, alongside a broad recovery in crypto prices. The world’s top digital coin is still down roughly 50% year to date.

Investors are hoping the Fed will be less aggressive than feared with an expected hike in interest rates next week.

Central banks are racing to tame runaway inflation with tighter monetary policy, but this has spooked stocks and other risky assets — crypto included — which benefited from a flood of stimulus during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sophie Tremblay

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