Coinbase is, in terms of trading volume, the second most used cryptocurrency platform in the world. Founded by Brian Armstrong, it quickly established itself as one of the market leaders. It was therefore only natural for us to present to you what you need to know about Coinbase , in order to allow you to see a little more clearly. What is the history of Coinbase, what are its specificities, its advantages compared to the competition? How to register and take advantage of its many advantages? We will explain everything to you !
Coinbase is a crypto trading platform that allows you to buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH). Many cryptocurrency-related products and services complement Coinbase’s offering.
In a few figures, Coinbase is:
The famous Coinmarketcap platform ranks Coinbase as the second largest crypto trading platform in the world, just behind Binance .
Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong , a former engineer at Airbnb , and Fred Ehrsam. The company is based in San Francisco, California (United States).
In its early days, the platform offered to purchase and sell Bitcoin (BTC) by bank transfer. The site reached its first million users in 2014. In March 2017, Coinbase obtained a license from the New York Financial Services Regulatory Authority (DFS). This allowed it to expand its services to two new cryptos: Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC). Later this year, Coinbase is adding Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
In April 2019, Coinbase introduced its crypto payment card first in the UK, then in Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands. In April 2021, the Coinbase platform took its first steps on Wall Street and became the first crypto exchange to be listed on Nasdaq.
To obtain its position as leader in the field, Coinbase has been able to set up a very complete ecosystem. Discover the main services offered by the Coinbase platform below .
Like any crypto exchange, Coinbase ‘s primary function is crypto trading. The platform allows you to buy, sell and trade cryptos.
The number of cryptos available on Coinbase is unfortunately not explicitly mentioned on their site. Various sources suggest a number of 50 cryptos, or even a hundred.
Let’s immediately mention a drawback of Coinbase : the platform offers little information if you do not have a Coinbase account. In fact, even once the account is initiated, the improvement is entirely relative. Once logged in, if you click on the “Trade” tab, you will find a very long list of cryptos. Please note, this does not mean that you can trade all these cryptos.
In fact, you can get some basic information like the current price and some historical data. But many coins on this list are marked “Not supported on Coinbase.” Unfortunately, you have to click on each crypto individually to find out if it is available for trading or not…
Coinbase has naturally developed solutions to allow you to store your cryptos. In fact, the exchange offers two different products:
Here again, Coinbase could improve the clarity of its offer because the two solutions are not clearly identified on the site. However, the platform has the advantage of offering two complementary products.
The hosted wallet is associated with the Coinbase app. This is the primary wallet where the cryptos you buy on Coinbase are automatically stored. It is a “hot wallet” or “hot storage”. This means that your cryptos are stored online. Despite all the asset protection systems, this storage mode remains relatively vulnerable to cyberattacks. This is why it is not recommended to leave large quantities of assets in this type of wallet.
The Coinbase Wallet solution , on the other hand, is a standalone non-custodial wallet. It is therefore independent of the Coinbase platform and can be used even if you buy your cryptos elsewhere. This wallet is “non-custodial” in the sense that it is a third party (or “custodian”) who ensures the security of the assets.
If the wallet allows you to store your cryptos, you are fully responsible for protecting your access information, including your private keys (or “seed phrase”). If you lose or forget this information, you will no longer have any means of accessing your cryptos. However, holding your private keys gives you full control over your cryptos. Unlike the hosted wallet, you actually own your assets.
The Coinbase Wallet stores over 4,000 cryptocurrencies, including all ERC-20 tokens, as well as NFTs. It is therefore a very complete solution. Both Coinbase wallets are free. Thus, Coinbase offers the possibility of combining these two storage solutions to meet all user needs.
Do you want to spend your cryptocurrencies for your daily purchases? Coinbase has the solution for you: the Coinbase Card . The Coinbase Card is a payment card that uses the Visa network. You can use it like any traditional bank card, at all Visa network points of sale or at ATMs. The card can be used with the PIN code or contactless.
So what is the difference with your usual bank card? The Coinbase Card is linked to your Coinbase crypto wallet. So, when you make a purchase, the necessary amount of the chosen crypto is immediately converted to the market price. This way, you keep most of your assets in crypto and only convert the amount corresponding to your expenses.
Coinbase offers yet another service that can be considered an alternative to traditional banking services. Indeed, you can borrow money on Coinbase. Unlike traditional lending institutions, Coinbase will not ask for proof of income or do any credit checks. But then, what does Coinbase use to lend you money? On your crypto assets!
Quite simply, Coinbase looks at the value of the cryptos you own and are willing to put up as collateral. In crypto lending jargon, we talk about collateral. Depending on the value of your collateral, the platform provides you with a certain amount. The amount of your loan can reach up to 40% of the value of your bitcoins.
The Coinbase crypto loan has the following advantages:
The Coinbase exchange has developed its own token that operates on the Ethereum blockchain: USD Coin or USDC. More specifically, it is a stablecoin . A stablecoin is a special type of crypto since it is designed to have a stable price. In fact, the price of a stablecoin is backed by a fiat currency such as the euro or the dollar. USD Coin is backed by the dollar. The value of a USDC is therefore always more or less equivalent to a dollar thanks to specific mechanisms.
Using a stablecoin allows you to protect yourself from the volatility of crypto prices. Let’s imagine that your crypto trading has paid off and you have realized a capital gain. To cash in on this added value, you might be tempted to exchange your cryptos for fiat money.
However, be aware that you will then be liable for a 30% tax on your winnings. In addition, when you want to buy crypto again, you will have to replenish your wallet with fiat, which induces delays and fees. Another solution is to exchange your cryptos for USDC. So you don’t have to pay any taxes. In addition, your money remains in your crypto wallet and you can be very responsive when you want to reinvest.
You now know Coinbase and its ecosystem better . Now find out how to trade crypto on the platform.
To use Coinbase services , you must first create an account on the exchange. The site has the advantage of being available in French, which makes registration easier. To create an account on Coinbase, simply fill out a form providing the following information:
To ensure a higher level of security, the Coinbase exchange implements two-factor authentication (2FA). You will therefore need to configure the Google Authenticator application on your smartphone. Each time you want to log in to your Coinbase account, you will need to enter your username and password, as well as a code provided by Google Authenticator.
In addition, Coinbase submits to the “Know Your Customer” (KYC) policy. These requirements are imposed by US law. In French, we could talk about the principle of “Know your customer”. To help Coinbase get to know you better, you will need to answer a few questions. The objective is to define your investor profile. Coinbase will therefore ask you about your sources of income, your profession, etc. Rest assured, this information is not sold to third parties.
You still need to provide some information to verify your account. Depending on the documents provided, you can pass two levels of verification. Your account level impacts your weekly buy and sell cap on the exchange.
To pass level 1, you must verify your phone number and provide an identity document that contains a photo (national identity card, passport or driving license). You will then have restrictions on your weekly trading volume.
To obtain level 2, you must, for example, provide proof of address. This additional verification allows you to free yourself from any transaction limits. You then have unlimited access.
You can now fund your account to use these funds for your future crypto trading. To do this, go to “Settings” then “Payment methods”. You can then add your bank details to link your account. This then allows you to fund your Coinbase account via SEPA bank transfer. The transfer amount may take 1 to 3 working days to arrive in your customer area. Alternatively, you can also use the Ideal/Sofort method to deposit funds.
If you already own cryptos on another wallet, you can transfer them to your Coinbase wallet. To do this, click on the Send/Receive button then Receive, and follow the instructions.
Alternatively, you can also link your Coinbase account to Apple Pay or your bank card (note, prepaid cards such as Revolut are not accepted). This way, you will be able to buy cryptos by paying directly by credit card. This method has the advantage of being immediate. However, card purchase fees are higher.
When you’re logged in to Coinbase , click the Buy/Sell button at the top of the page. You can then select:
Like all crypto exchanges, the Coinbase platform earns its money by applying fees to different operations. Coinbase charges the following fees:
It is important to note that the spread does not represent a fee per se. In fact, it is the price difference between the placing of the order and its actual execution.
Alongside these percentages, Coinbase defines a minimum fee threshold for each transaction. Thus, the minimum fee amount varies depending on the amount of the transaction:
In addition, the use of the Coinbase Card comes with a few fees and conditions :
Note: Until early 2022, free payments with the Coinbase Card were only offered for payments from USDC. Now, payments are free regardless of the crypto used.
To learn more, check out the guide to Coinbase withdrawals.
The Coinbase exchange is subject to US regulations. It is notably subject to the KYC policy as mentioned above. The platform offers one of the best levels of security on the market. Its robustness and reliability seem validated by 10 years of existence and millions of users around the world.
To ensure the security of its clients’ assets, stores 98% of funds in offline storage, also called cold storage. In addition, these storage spaces are geographically distributed across the world in order to limit the risk of physical piracy. From an IT point of view, cold storage offers better protection against cyberattacks than hot storage since they are not connected to the internet.
The remaining 2% of funds are stored online in hot wallets covered by insurance. So, if the platform is the victim of a hack that affects your crypto assets, you have the assurance of being reimbursed. Please note, this guarantee does not cover the fraudulent use of your connection details. If you misplace your password or someone uses it without your consent, the Coinbase exchange will not be held responsible. It is therefore strongly recommended to activate the double authentication function to limit this risk.
The Coinbase exchange submits to all regulations of the countries in which it operates. In the United States, Coinbase is authorized and licensed to conduct remittance business in most U.S. jurisdictions. The platform is also registered as a money services company with FinCEN (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). In the rest of the world, Coinbase is working to obtain the necessary licenses to comply with local laws regarding digital currency businesses.
Coinbase is a trading platform that we recommend! Indeed, it is a pioneer in the sector and has been able to adapt to changes in demand to now offer a set of services and products that perfectly meet expectations. Coinbase is a reliable, completely secure platform.
If registering requires passing KYC, the tool remains particularly pleasant to use. We are thinking of both the online platform and the applications developed by the house. In short, Coinbase is, in our opinion, a cryptocurrency platform that is worth your attention.
What we like
Recognized platform benefiting from 10 years of experience and millions of users
Interface partially translated into French
Wide range of crypto products and services including a payment card, crypto loan solutions, etc.
Free Visa payment card
What we don't like
No clear list of cryptocurrencies available for trading
Interface partially translated into French
Very limited access to the platform if no customer account
Relatively high trading fees
About the author
Fleming Airunugba has been learning about cryptocurrency and blockchain since 2017. He first began as a small investor and soon became passionate about the industry, the technological innovation and the evolution that it could bring to the world. He believes Bitcoin is the natural currency of the internet. Fleming has been an educational content writer in the crypto space for several years and aims at accurately delivering complex concepts.