Singapore wealth fund invests in crypto exchange Coinbase

Sebastian Kastner, lead engineer at HydroMiner, handles cable connections between cryptocurrency mining rigs on racks at the company’s mining facility near Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria, on Friday, Jan 19, 2018. (Bloomberg pic)

LONDON/NEW YORK: Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC was among investors that helped US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase raise US$300 million last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

While Coinbase said it garnered investment in its October funding round from firms including Tiger Global Management, Wellington Management and Andreessen Horowitz, GIC’s participation hasn’t previously been disclosed. GIC declined to comment, while an official for Coinbase also declined to comment.

With the foray into digital assets, possibly its first, GIC joins a select group of large sophisticated investors including Yale University willing to dip their toes into the crypto industry. Most institutional money managers have shunned digital assets because they’re largely unregulated and have been used to finance illicit trade.

GIC has more than US$100 billion of assets in over 40 countries and has investments in everything from government bonds to private equity.

Coinbase’s October funding round gave it a valuation of $8 billion, placing it among the ranks of the world’s most valuable startups. That’s all the more impressive given the collapse in crypto prices last year.

According to documents seen by Bloomberg late last year, the firm was forecasting revenue for 2018 of almost US$1.3 billion, a figure that largely comes from the commissions on trades on its platform, as well as gains and losses in its own crypto holdings.