Yet Westpac looks set to benefit from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies very soon. Perhaps to the tune of $500 million, no less.
How? Well, it’s complicated (and no, Westpac isn’t about to sell bitcoins itself).
Westpac is one of the largest backers of a venture capital fund by the name of Reinventure – “Westpac’s $150m venture capital fund committed to early stage ventures”. The two businesses are heavily intertwined, with Westpac telling us that:
“[By] working with Reinventure, Westpac gains deep insight into technologies and business models that may drive new customer experiences and disrupt traditional financial services. The Reinventure portfolio companies gain access not just to Westpac capital, but may strategically benefit from Westpac resources and expertise to enable the company to scale more rapidly
One of Reinventure’s early investments was a US company called Coinbase. Coinbase is now one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Coinbase tells us that Reinventure made an investment into Coinbase in 2015 during a Series C funding round. Well, it might be time to reap for Westpac.
Westpac set for a Bitcoin payday
According to Coinbase, the company is set to list on the US Nasdaq exchange. The listing will occur on April 14. Clearly, Coinbase doesn’t believe in superstition because that’s the same day the Titanic hit its iceberg. Its ticker code will be COIN for its Class A shares. As seems to be the norm these days, its Class B shares (which allow 20 votes per share) will not be publically traded and will remain with company insiders.
Coinbase has been chumming up the waters too. Just this morning, it released an earnings report for the 2021 calendar year. In this report, Coinbase reported 56 million verified users, trading volume of US$225 billion, revenue of US$1.8 billion and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITA) of US$1.1 billion.
We don’t yet know the listing price that COIN shares will go for. But according to a report in the Australian Financial Review (AFR), that will be released next Wednesday. The report estimates that Coinbase will be valued at between US$70-100 billion when it does go public. If that were the case, Reinventure would be looking at a profit of roughly $450 million on its original $50 million investment.
No doubt Westpac will be very pleased with its efforts if that does come to pass.