Coinbase 101: What You Need to Know About the Crypto Exchange and Wallet

Coinbase is a popular crypto exchange based in the U.S. that offers high-level security as well as a wallet app for its users.
Updated Aug 10, 2022 at 3:57 p.m. UTC
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Mike Antolin was CoinDesk's SEO Content Writer for Learn.

Coinbase (COIN) is the largest crypto exchange by volume in the U.S., and is the world’s largest publicly traded crypto company. The exchange has made headlines with partnerships from the National Basketball Association to Meta (META) and most recently, BlackRock (BLK).

Coinbase is a centralized exchange, meaning it monitors transactions and secures assets on your behalf. As of writing, Coinbase offers support for buying, selling and storing over 200 cryptocurrencies including bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH) and other digital assets.

Beyond the exchange, Coinbase also offers a wallet, a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace and an institutional offering, Coinbase Prime.

What makes Coinbase different from other exchanges?

There are certain features that make Coinbase stand out from other exchanges on the market. Here are some of them:

  • Top-tier security: Coinbase focuses resources on maintaining the security of its customers and its network. Contrary to many cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase has not experienced major hacks that compromised its consumers' portfolios. Some of its most stringent security protocols are its two-factor authentication and a state-of-the-art encryption engine.
  • Cold storage: 98% of customer assets are stored offline using cold storage wallets that are not connected to the internet.
  • Crime Insurance: The policy protects Coinbase if it undergoes a hack, theft or breach on its crypto storages resulting in loss of digital assets.
  • 24/7 customer support: Apart from these, Coinbase also offers customer support on multiple channels and has a user-friendly interface.
  • Learn-to-earn crypto program: The app offers the opportunity to take courses about specific cryptocurrencies and earn rewards in that crypto for correctly answering quizzes.

Getting started with Coinbase

If you’re looking to open a Coinbase account, either download the app or go to coinbase.com in your browser and follow these steps:

  1. Create an account: The first step is to create a Coinbase account. You'll need to provide your name, email address and create a password.
  2. U.S. customers will need to verify their state of residence and enter a phone number to set up two-factor authentication (2FA).
  3. Verify your identity: Next, you'll need to verify your identity by filling out some basic personal information and (for U.S. customers) the last four digits of your Social Security number.
  4. Choose your payment method: Now you'll need to choose how you want to pay for your cryptocurrencies. You can at this point close out of the onboarding process and browse the platform to check it out. But if you do want to buy or sell crypto on Coinbase, you will need to connect a payment method such as a bank account, debit or gift card or set up a wire transfer.
  5. Start buying and selling: Once you've added a payment method, you're ready to start buying and selling cryptocurrencies. Coinbase makes it easy to buy popular coins including bitcoin, ether and dogecoin.
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Buying crypto on Coinbase (Coinbase)

Coinbase wallet

In addition to being a popular crypto exchange, Coinbase offers a wallet for storing your cryptocurrencies.

The Coinbase Wallet is available for both iOS and Android devices, and it's one of the most popular cryptocurrency wallets, surpassing over 10 million downloads. The wallet is secure and easy to use.

The wallet is a non-custodial (also known as a self-custody) wallet in which you keep control over your crypto and security keys. It is a hot wallet, which means it is connected directly to the internet.

Coinbase NFT marketplace

Coinbase launched its NFT marketplace on May 4, 2022, allowing users to buy, sell and collect NFTs on its Ethereum-based platform and aims to build an active community of buyers and sellers. Some of the NFT collectibles available are Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, as seen in Coinbase's Trending section.

The marketplace is compatible with both the Coinbase wallet and MetaMask wallets. There is a maximum of 10 addresses that can be connected to your marketplace account.

In regards to its fee structure, a buyer or seller needs to be mindful of gas (transaction) fees on the Ethereum network. As network congestion is determined by the number of transactions happening during a specific time period, gas fees will fluctuate. You generally will pay less in gas fees if you are willing to slow the transaction time.

Some of the creative works in the marketplace include:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Games

It is important to note that the Coinbase NFT marketplace is currently in beta, which means it is still undergoing user and usability testing.

Coinbase notable events and news

Coinbase has made headlines, both good and bad, since it was founded in 2012. Here are some of the key milestones, announcements and newsworthy events in the company’s evolution:

  • 2012: Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam found Coinbase.
  • 2013: Coinbase launches its first product, a bitcoin wallet.
  • Charles Lee, the creator of litecoin (LTC), is employed by Coinbase in August 2013. The price of LTC skyrockets soon after.
  • September 2014: PayPal (PYPL) and Coinbase partner to accept cryptocurrency payments on the former’s platform.
  • August 2015: Coinbase expands its bitcoin services to Canada, bringing the number of supported nations to 27.
  • The U.S. Internal Revenue Service submits a request to Coinbase asking for data on all customers who purchased cryptocurrencies in November 2016.
  • Users of Coinbase who made annual transactions of more than $20,000 in November 2017 are once more subject to information requests from the IRS.
  • July 2018: Coinbase begins listing tokenized equities after receiving clearance.
  • April 2021: Coinbase becomes a publicly traded company by joining the Nasdaq as a stock with the ticker COIN.
  • February 2022: The Coinbase crypto exchange crashes due to traffic overload following its advertisement during the Super Bowl.
  • June 2022: Coinbase releases a statement as part of its earnings report that the “crypto assets we hold in custody on behalf of our customers could be subject to bankruptcy proceedings.”
  • July 2022: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launches an investigation into Coinbase, alleging it allowed U.S. citizens to purchase unregistered securities. In a separate case, an ex-employee is charged with crypto inside trading by the SEC and the Department of Justice.
  • August 2022: Meta, the former Facebook, begins integrating NFTs on its Instagram platform through the Coinbase Wallet as well as Dapper.
  • Also in August: BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, and Coinbase partner to give financial institutions access to cryptocurrencies.
This article was originally published on Aug 10, 2022 at 3:54 p.m. UTC

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Mike Antolin was CoinDesk's SEO Content Writer for Learn.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Mike Antolin was CoinDesk's SEO Content Writer for Learn.


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