On Monday, February 25th, cryptocurrency exchange powerhouse Coinbase announced it would begin allowing inbound XRP transfers to Coinbase Pro, its platform for advanced traders and where the company traditionally rolls out new cryptocurrency listings before opening them up to the wider Coinbase product ecosystem.
“XRP trading will initially be accessible for Coinbase Pro users in the US (excluding NY), UK, supported European Union member nations, Canada, Singapore, and Australia,” the exchange said.
After XRP goes through four onboarding phases, it will be available for trading against the platform’s three base currencies, bitcoin (BTC), dollars (USD), and euros (EUR). The arrival marks a long-awaited milestone for the Ripple community, which has been clamoring for XRP to enter Coinbase’s influential stable of coins for years.
And, per the exchange, it looks like it’s only a matter of time until the third biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is unfurled beyond Coinbase Pro. The company said “XRP is not yet available on Coinbase.com or via our mobile apps” but that they would “make a separate announcement when that occurs.”
The expansion is a matter of when, not if, then.
New Listings Aplenty
The listing comes after Coinbase first announced in December 2018 it was exploring adding more than 30 additional cryptocurrencies to its ecosystem. These coins included top cryptoeconomy projects like XRP, EOS, NEO, DAI, Cardano (ADA), Aragon (ANT), ChainLink (LINK), Maker (MKR), OmiseGo (OMG), Augur (REP), Stellar (XLM), and Tezos (XTZ).
Over the last year, the exchange had already added new listings in Ethereum Classic (ETC), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Zcash (ZEC), and 0x (ZRX). The company had previously been one of the more conservative in the space, having only backed listings of bitcoin, litecoin, and ether before starting to eye wider expansion in the fall of 2017.
Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse had previously argued that an XRP listing would be fruitful for America’s top cryptocurrency exchange. “As we solve problems at scale for institutions, I think it’s in Coinbase’s best interest to participate in that,” Garlinghouse said last summer at the Future of Fintech conference.
Coinbase itself pointed to XRP’s institutionally-minded possibilities in its announcement of the Coinbase Pro listing.
“All accounts on this network can send or receive XRP to/from each other, while XRP can be used to send underlying fiat currencies between two parties,” the exchange noted.
“In this way, XRP can function as a bridge currency in transactions involving different currencies such as US dollars, Japanese yen, Euros, Francs, and others in use on the XRP network.”
Financial Incentives or Userbase?
Notably, the listing comes after Ripple reportedly offered Coinbase and competitor exchange Gemini “financial incentives” to have XRP listed on their platforms in 2017. Sources with knowledge of the matter said the exchanges respectively declined the propositions. Coinbase had apparently been offered an XRP loan worth $100 million USD that could’ve been paid back to Ripple over time.
In the end, the incentives that actually proved effective were Coinbase’s customers. XRP’s vocal legion of followers have long been lobbying the exchange’s leadership to add support for the settlements-minded cryptocurrency, and Coinbase has said it’s looking to embrace “One of the most common requests we receive from customers […] to be able to trade more assets on our platform.”
More skeptically, some analysts have pointed to the fact that it’s still an open question whether XRP will be slotted as an unregistered security in America by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
It’s not clear the Commission would act any time soon on that front, to be sure. But Coinbase’s legal team must feel confident that the cryptocurrency is not a security under federal law for them to be moving forward amid the uncertainty.