It happened. After weeks filled with headlines and anticipation ahead of Coinbase’s direct listing on NASDAQ, the stock is now live — although the launch didn’t prove quite as successful as many had expected.

About two weeks after the initial announcement, Coinbase gave its long-awaited stock market debut on Wednesday, securing the ticker symbol COIN. Although it is often referred to as an IPO, Coinbase actually pursued a direct listing. Unlike in an IPO, starting with a direct listing means current shareholders, such as early investors or employees, are able to sell their stock at market price immediately when trading goes live.

Many have been looking forward to the listing, as it is seen as a confirmation of ongoing Bitcoin adoption in the finance industry. However, after an initial rise to slightly above $420 during the first trading hours, the stock dropped soon thereafter; COIN closed its first trading day at about $323, which corresponds to a market capitalization of $63.5 billion. At press time, COIN sits slightly higher at $342.

The drop fuelled opinions from several industry experts, such as David Nelson, Chief Strategist of Belpointe, who on Wednesday said that  “it might be the right stock, but just the wrong price right now”, futher claiming he “told clients out there — both institutional and retail — if you want to play crypto, go out and buy crypto assets."

Some presume that Coinbase’s profit margins might shrink in the future as upcoming competitors catch up and onboard more users, which is why Nelson and others recommend investing in the space by directly buying cryptocurrencies instead. Exchanges make most of their revenue through the spread that occurs coordinating buying and selling orders, but as in the stock market, the more competition there is, the smaller the percentages one can charge per customer as the market drives down the spread.

While the company's market cap is now well below its initial valuation of $100 billion, it sits just below that of New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange (ICE.N) — but Coinbase’s valuation is still disputed. David Trainer, chief executive of stock research firm New Constructs, previously valued the firm at $19 billion.

Yet many are optimistic that COIN has a bright future ahead. In an interview this week, early Coinbase investor Garry Tan mentioned he thinks of Coinbase as “the Microsoft of crypto.” He was one of the first investors in Coinbase, turning $300,000 into almost $2 billion with that deal alone, which even exceeds the Bitcoin price increase during that same period.

While the long-term impact of Coinbase’s listing is to be seen, it has become clear that the firm is looking to enter the mainstream market on a high level. Just a week ago, Coinbase was revealed to be part of the so-called “Crypto Council for Innovation” — an attempt to form a lobby group to support the development of constructive Bitcoin regulations.

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