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Brian Armstrong: The Online-Spending Revolution
Karl Mondon/Newscom23/25

Brian Armstrong: The Online-Spending Revolution

Before Brian Armstrong launched Coinbase, a user-friendly way to buy, sell and store online currencies like Bitcoin, the only way to purchase cryptocurrency was wiring money to an unregulated exchange in Japan or Slovenia. "It turned out the killer feature everybody wanted," he says, "was to buy and sell using funds from their bank." Coinbase's Bitcoin banking system has since allowed 11.9 million users to exchange more than $40 billion in digital assets. Already, some employees in nations like Argentina, where the currency is unstable, choose to receive salaries in Bitcoin. This year, Coinbase launched Toshi, a mobile-messenger app designed as a bank replacement, which offers a digital wallet and the ability to send messages and money to other users worldwide. "There's really this gold rush that's going on," says Armstrong. He ultimately sees Bitcoin – or one of its younger rivals – treated as a true global currency. And given crypto-currencies' inherent security and seamless exchange, Armstrong believes the next step is a thoroughly monetized Internet, where every "like" has a tiny amount of money attached. "If you're a moderator on a subreddit, you're just doing it because you're passionate," Armstrong says. "But in this new world, you can imagine thousands of people earning a living, either curating the content or managing the community or providing insightful answers to people. It makes the GDP of the whole Internet go up." BPE

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