Coinbase Paves Way for Big Institutions to Do More With Web3, DeFi, NFTs

“We're seeing corporations who want to participate on-chain in some way,” Coinbase’s Kevin Johnson told CoinDesk TV. “But they need a safe way to do that.”

AccessTimeIconSep 12, 2023 at 4:23 p.m. UTC

Coinbase, best-known for being one of the largest crypto exchanges for retail customers, continued its expansion into the professional space with the introduction Tuesday of a Web3 wallet designed to help institutions get into NFTs and other corners of decentralized finance, or DeFi.

Its Coinbase Prime division’s new wallet lets pros access crypto, NFTs, decentralized apps (dapps) and DeFi more broadly, all part of a push to help institutions interact with on-chain applications.

“More and more, we're seeing corporations who want to participate on-chain in some way, whether that's by doing an NFT drop, or, in some cases, even voting in DAOs,” Kevin Johnson, vice president of institutional sales and trading at Coinbase, said Tuesday on CoinDesk TV. “But they need a safe way to do that.”

The wallet enables clients to securely store tokens from supported networks, gain instant access to funds that they self-custody and interact directly with dapps and smart contracts, according to the announcement.

“But it goes beyond what normal wallets do because it actually integrates with the safety and security of their existing Prime account,” Johnson said.

“They're very concerned about not only the safety and security of their assets, but ensuring that they have the proper controls over who can access and who can make decisions with those assets,” he added. “So, we've seen that demand from clients and we knew that this was critical in order to bring them on-chain, and now they have that product.”

If accounts have a multi-user setup with different types of permissions and configurations, all of those can be applied to the wallet to ensure that that safety applies to their direct on-chain transactions as well, Johnson said.

The new product mirrors many of the features that Coinbase’s retail wallet has, but adds functions that are specifically required by institutions that require multiple team members to access the wallet.

“We're just giving the institutions the features that they require to participate in on-chain applications,” Johnson said.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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Helene is a New York-based reporter covering Wall Street, the rise of the spot bitcoin ETFs and crypto exchanges. She is also the co-host of CoinDesk's Markets Daily show. Helene is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News, YahooFinance and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.