Armstrong Is a Crypto Powerhouse
As the 37-year-old CEO of Coinbase – one of the largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S. – Armstrong recalls a time when he wasn’t involved with digital assets, instead spending his time after university traveling and working remotely on an education startup in Argentina.
I had just decided, I’ve never been to South America. I want to travel for a year and try to work on this remotely as an adventure. Figure out what I want to do with my life. [It] was an interesting experience to see the financial system in another country like that that had gone through hyperinflation.
Armstrong says he first got into cryptocurrency when he took a job as a coder for Airbnb. He employer was sending funds to several landlords throughout Latin America, and Armstrong said the process often took too much time and incurred several additional problems, such as money failing to go through.
High fees, long delays, opaque. We’d try sending money to somebody in Uruguay and didn’t know how much would show up on the other side.
It was around this time that Armstrong’s interest in crypto was suddenly peaked. After discovering bitcoin, he saw that many of the issues associated with standard banking or money transfer processes could be resolved. Middlemen could be pushed out of the fray, and above all, there was an opportunity to give people more control over their finances.
Moving Up the Digital Ladder
This led to his position with Coinbase. He saw that crypto – being a relatively new financial entity at the time – couldn’t be kept or housed the way cash could, and that people were having a hard time understanding where – or even how – they could store whatever crypto units they had attained over the years. He says an exchange is designed to alleviate this problem:
If you are an individual and you want to store your own cryptocurrency, you’re not a financial service business, and there are companies, including us, who provide tools for people to store their own cryptocurrency and use it.
He says his biggest goal at the time of writing is to make the crypto industry safe for everyone, not just specific individuals. The company has been one of the first in instilling major-grade security protocols for its customers by allowing users to implement funds via bank wires as though they were a mainstream monetary institution. All funds are stored in vaults, not in hot wallets. It also offers insurance from a London-based firm, and has a security staff of more than 40 people.