COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A major trader of digital currency went live on the NASDAQ Wednesday, soaring and plunging in the first few hours of trading.
Although it’s an exciting day for digital currency, it doesn’t mark the end of dollars and cents, says Ohio State University professor Matt Sheridan, a senior lecturer at Fisher College of Business Department of Finance. However, he does point to China’s digital Yuan experiment, should the United States decide to create an e-dollar.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are traded along with other digital coins on Coinbase. The Initial Public Offering for Coinbase was $381.00, against the reference price point of $250 per share.
Coinbase shares quickly mirrored the volatility of crypto currently, bouncing up to $419 before plunging to $380 during the first few hours of trading.
“Coinbase is the largest U.S. crypto currency exchange,” said Sheridan. “It’s also the first crypto infrastructure provider to go public in the United States, which arguably helps to legitimize crypto assets such as Bitcoin. Really, you could look at Coinbase as the equivalent of selling shovels during the gold rush.”
Digital coins like Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin have volatility, making them too unstable to substitute for currency. When people sell goods and services, they need to know a currency will be worth about the same from day to day. For that, Sheridan said, you need a stable coin.
“I don’t think any of the crypto assets traded on Coinbase have the ability to displace the dollar today,” he said. “Bitcoin is a very volatile asset.”
China is experimenting with a digital Yuan, with drawbacks for its citizens and western nations.
“[The digital Yuan] erases privacy,” Sheridan warned. “The Chinese government will be able to see to track spending. They will have unprecedented access into citizens’ lives.
“One of the features China is beta-testing is the ability to program the currency with an expiration date. Think of the three rounds of stimulus with an expiration date.” If that was enacted here, says Sheridan, “That could spur consumption here in the United States.”
An e-Yuan has global implications which could grab power from the United States. “If countries can use the digital Yuan to settle transactions, it could reduce the amount of power of sanctions that it puts on other countries,” Sheridan said.
The next step for cryptocurrency in the United State would be the SEC approval of the first crypto-exchange traded fund. This has already happened in Canada where the fund quickly amassed over $1 billion.
“We’ve had a lot of movement to making crypto assets a little more mainstream during this pandemic,” Sheridan said. “Banks have come out and said they are getting involved in this space. PayPal has joined Square’s cash app in allowing their users to buy and sell crypto on their platform. Tesla announced they added $1.5 billion Bitcoin to their cash balance sheet, so there’s been a lot of different movement forward.
“Now there has been an announcement for a crypto council on innovation that includes Coinbase, Square, and Fidelity (the mutual fund company) that is going to try to drive the conversation around regulation and legislation,” he added.
“There are a lot of moving parts in this space, and it really is a great day for all of the crypto enthusiasts across the country, and maybe across the world,” Sheridan said.
Ordinary people can get involved with cryptocurrency, understanding that it will go up and down in value, by buying through Coinbase, which will hold a digital wallet for the purchases. PayPal, or Square’s cash app, are other ways that people can start buying and selling digital currencies.