Cryptocurrency

Coinbase Lays Off 30, Shutters Chicago Office

Coinbase Lays Off 30, Shutters Chicago Office

Digital currency exchange Coinbase has shuttered its Chicago office and laid off 30 engineers, according to a report in Fortune.

The company had opened the office as part of a rapid expansion, and Coinbase said it was going to scale back and make a new “matching engine” targeted toward high-frequency trading.

“We have made the difficult decision to consolidate the matching engine efforts and thus wind down the matching engine team in Chicago. We will look to relocate a small number of Chicago-based matching engine employees to San Francisco,” said the company.

Even as crypto prices fell in 2018 and trading volumes decreased significantly, Coinbase continued to expand, building its employee roster to include 800 people.

A Coinbase employee said the Chicago closing was a setback, but the company continues to add new employees in other departments. The employee also said it was diversifying, adding custody services and over-the-counter trading.

Cryptocurrency saw a dramatic rise in value through 2017, when bitcoin reached $20,000 and other digital currencies saw extremely high valuations. The bubble burst in 2018, and many currencies saw their value drop more than 90 percent.

Those dramatic revenue dips hurt companies like Coinbase, which earns revenue from trading. Even with bitcoin slowly regaining value, companies like Coinbase are looking for other ways to make money.

The company, which is based in San Francisco, said it was going to keep a remote sales team in Chicago, and that it planned to expand to New York, Portland and London.

Earlier in April, Coinbase announced the launch of the Coinbase Card in the U.K., which is a Visa debit card that lets customers in the U.K. spend crypto as easily as money sitting in a bank account.

In a blog post, Zeeshan Feroz, chief executive of Coinbase U.K., said the Coinbase Card is funded by customers’ Coinbase account crypto balances, giving them the ability to pay in-store and online with bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and other digital tokens. Customers are able to use the card in millions of places around the world to pay for things via contactless, chip or PIN and make cash withdrawals from ATMs. When the customer uses the Coinbase Card, the crypto is instantly converted into fiat currency such as GBP.

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