In an interview with Coinbase’s Head of EMEA, Guillaume Chatain reveals details of Coinbase’s approach as an IPO in the traditional market. He also shared why he left JP Morgan for the crypto world, Coinbase’s transparency culture under CEO Brian Armstrong, and the exchange’s vision to become the Amazon of crypto.
After spending over 10 years at the famous Wall Street Investment banking company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Guillaume Chatain stepped into the world of crypto and blockchain. He joined Coinbase, the leading global crypto exchange, and contributed to the company’s success by introducing the dealer, a digital broker.
He is a now well-known figure in the blockchain industry and currently serves as the Head of EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) sales at Coinbase.
During the recent Paris Fashion Week in France, Chatain shared what changed his mind to have a sudden career change despite being so successful, he also shared his experience with Coinbase culture, and how the exchange is preparing to become the Amazon of the crypto world.
Here are some of the noteworthy points from the interview with Chatain:
Chatain’s belief in DeFi as the future of Finance
Chatain’s sudden transition to Coinbase could’ve come as a surprise to many. Despite being part of the successful traditional banking giant, JPMorgan, Chatain saw a ray of light in the blockchain world. He would stay up at night to read about the blockchain by printing out every piece of research and reading it.
Compared to Jamie Dimon, the spearhead of JPMorgan, who was quite pessimistic about cryptocurrencies and the emerging financial system, Chatain was an advocate for cryptocurrency as the future of Finance.
He said: “I really thought this was going to be the future of finance. This is what was going to be helping to remove a lot of friction and a lot of intermediaries that are present in the world of traditional finance.”
The more he read, the more he became drawn toward the blockchain’s infrastructure. Eventually, Chatain decided it was time to pursue where his heart belonged. During his research, Chatain had the great idea of building a smart contract-controlled marketplace for structured investments. So, he left JPMorgan and moved to London where he saw more opportunities to enter the crypto world.
However, his idea proved to be quite advanced as the blockchain was still in its initial stages. He said: “I spoke with the regulator in the UK because I thought if the regulator is not on board, it’s never going to work. And the FCA in the UK basically said, “That’s a great idea. Why don’t you come to build and do the first test as part of our FCA regulatory sandbox?”
During this time, Coinbase was emerging as a powerful cryptocurrency exchange. The company had openings for various positions in Europe. Seeing that his ambitions aligned well with the company, Chatain decided to join Coinbase as the Head of Institutional Sales for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Being one of the most active regions for institutional adoption, Coinbase has been making an effort to expand its business to Europe. Chatain explains: “From an institutional point of view, it’s very important for European clients to have a counterparty with a caliber of Coinbase.
He added: “I’m talking about a company that is publicly listed, a company that has proven over its nine years of existence that we are very good at safekeeping clients’ assets. We can do it at scale without ever losing their money.”
However, skepticism still surrounds Europe as UK regulators are still hesitant about the emerging digital economy. Chatain introduced Coinbase’s latest infrastructure that could clear away their doubts.
He said, “We’re also offering to our clients a full prime broker experience that goes beyond a simple access to Coinbase liquidity. We give our institutional clients access to a pool of liquidity that consists of multiple regulated exchanges and OTC counterparties, and we offer additional services such as financing, borrow, lending, analytics, and staking directly from cold storage.”
Chatain is quite optimistic about Coinbase’s future in Europe. He sees it as a significant region with various potential and opportunities.
Institutions are ready
Chatain’s confidence in Europe comes from his recent interactions with small and big corporations all over the world. As the Head of EMEA sales, he’s seen a sudden surge in popularity due to the increasing opportunities in the digital world.
Chatain said in the interview: “I can tell you that institutions are here, present. I’m dealing every day with corporate institutions like high-net-worth individuals and family offices, hedge funds, asset managers, and large corporates. We 10x’ed our institutional trading volumes last year.”
He also added: “We’re in a very lucky position of having so many inbound requests that we don’t have the bandwidth with my team, which by the way, grew 4x. And we still have to prioritize the largest opportunities over smaller corporations in terms of onboarding. Institutions in general kee showing a lot of interest.”
The reason for the growing interest in the blockchain world also comes from Coinbase’s recent transition to becoming a publicly-traded company. Compared to other exchanges that have been quite private about their business, Coinbase aims to become a transparent company and gain traders’ interest.
Coinbase IPO leads in corporations
Coinbase recently became an IPO, leading corporations to enter the blockchain industry. According to Chatain, the crypto exchange’s decision to become a public trading company increased its legitimacy in the market.
He believes this step is a turning point for the exchange as it has changed people’s perspectives about the blockchain industry as a whole.
After the listing announcement, Coinbase introduced a convertible bond to raise its capital through public trading. The firm was successful in raising the capital even more by dropping a 10-year bond that eventually became “oversubscribed.”
”Being able to access capital markets or the bond market is really showing that you have a lot of investors that believe Coinbase is going to be there for ten years, for the next ten years, and are willing to put some money in there. I think that’s even more significant than being a listed company.”
Chatain also shared that Coinbase experienced an increase in business relationships with various small and giant corporations around the world.
He said, “One example is a company, a trading company, who contacted us immediately after the public listing and saying like, “We’re just waiting for the company to be public to start engaging.” And since then, we have onboarded them.
So it’s been very positive in general as part of my day-to-day discussions with new prospects, just mentioning that we are listed, it makes a difference.”
Coinbase has proven to become an authentic crypto exchange for blockchain and the traditional market. Seeing the success of Coinbase in the public market, many blockchain-based firms are now considering entering the market as well.
Coinbase’s transparency culture
Chatain is highly impressed by Coinbase’s culture of transparency. He says that the CEO Brian Armstrong is highly involved with every decision made. Brain ensures that the crypto firm is transparent about its approach to the market.
He says, “Whatever you read on the Coinbase blog, whatever Brian (Armstrong, Coinbase’s CEO) is writing in his own papers, is super transparent. And when you start working at Coinbase, it’s exactly what is written on paper. So, that was very refreshing when I started.”
This is one of the biggest reasons for Coinbase to remain authentic in the blockchain world.
Chatain also compared his experience with JPMorgan and Coinbase in terms of transparency and leadership involvement, he said, “Coming from a bank like JP Morgan where everything is so huge that you have some access to top management, but it happens very rarely. At Coinbase, we have corporate meetings every couple of weeks, and Brian is always present. He’s always talking, and he is always super prepared and very transparent in what he’s doing, so I really love that.”
Coinbase to become Amazon of Crypto
Coinbase has been trying its best to bring in more tokens or crypto coins on its platform. Coinbase’s recent listing for new coins has become quite a hot topic among traders. In the interview, Chatain explained that the crypto exchange has been quite transparent in its approach to including more coins.
He said, “I would say to any founder that wants to list his token to go to Coinbase’s Assethub. Something that I love about Coinbase is we’re just transparent about everything: all the rules and the listing criteria are there.”
With its transparent culture and public listing, Chatain says Coinbase is ready to bring in more opportunities on its platform. He said, “Our ambition is to become the Amazon of crypto – offering all the crypto tokens that are available, as long as we’re authorized to do that from a security as well as a legal point of view.”
Guillaume Chatain’s optimism for Coinbase’s success as a publicly-traded company shows that the crypto exchange has everything planned out to lead the DeFi industry.
As Coinbase continues to expand in various regions and countries, more crypto coins and traders are expected to join the platform. Coinbase is slowly getting closer to its goal to become the Amazon of Crypto.