In brief

  • Coinbase has revealed how much Bitcoin it holds on its balance sheet.
  • The firm has been holding cryptocurrency in its treasury since 2012.

Crypto exchange Coinbase holds around $230 million in Bitcoin and $53 million in Ethereum on its balance sheet, according to data revealed in its S-1 filing on Thursday and adjusted for Bitcoin's recent price rise.

The firm also holds a range of other cryptocurrencies, including $48.9 million of stablecoin USDC and $34 million worth of other, unspecified coins. (The altcoin holdings were valued by Coinbase at $34 million on December 31, 2020, but may have increased since.)

This puts Coinbase fourth on the list of companies that hold Bitcoin as part of their treasury, according to Bitcoin Treasuries, a site that attempts to map how much each company holds of Bitcoin. It comes in behind business intelligence firm MicroStrategy, car maker Tesla and investment firm Galaxy Digital. MicroStrategy and Tesla have the lion's share, with $4.6 billion and $2.6 billion of Bitcoin respectively. Behind them, Galaxy Digital holds around $134 million.

Coinbase ranks just ahead of payments company Square, which now holds a total of $220 million in Bitcoin, and Bitcoin mining firm Marathon Patent Group, which holds $150 million of the cryptocurrency.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Brett Tejpaul, head of institutional sales at Coinbase, said the company has held Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on its balance sheet since it was founded in 2012. He said that the firm plans to maintain its investment in cryptocurrencies because it believes in the long term potential of the crypto economy.

Coinbase's Bitcoin investment may seem relatively small for the company, particularly since it has been holding Bitcoin for so long (in 2012, each Bitcoin cost between $5-15). However, an accounting issue provides one reason why the firm may have kept its purchases to a minimum. Since Coinbase is not an investment company, it would have had to record any declines in the value of its Bitcoin every year (reflecting badly on its earnings sheet) while it would have only been able to record a gain once it has sold that Bitcoin. (We have reached out to Coinbase for comment on this and will update if we hear back).

Coinbase's S-1 filing on Thursday revealed that the firm made a profit of $322 million in 2020—making it a rare profitable unicorn—as it heads toward its planned direct listing on the Nasdaq.