Coinbase: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research July 29, 2023

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  • Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange platform where users can buy, sell and store various digital currencies securely
  • The company started with a focus on bitcoin and later expanded to support other popular cryptocurrencies
  • Coinbase prioritizes security and regulatory compliance, utilizing offline cold storage, two-factor authentication and obtaining licenses in multiple jurisdictions
  • The platform provides various services, including an advanced trading platform (Coinbase Pro), mobile applications, insurance coverage for digital assets etc.


Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange platform where users can buy, sell and store various digital currencies securely. It provides a user-friendly platform for individuals and institutions to trade digital assets. Founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, Coinbase has played a significant role in shaping the adoption and mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies. With its intuitive interface and robust security measures, Coinbase has attracted millions of users worldwide.

A Brief History

Coinbase's journey began in San Francisco, California, with the aim of creating a reliable and easy-to-use platform for buying, selling and storing cryptocurrencies. The company launched its services in 2012, initially focusing on bitcoin, the pioneering cryptocurrency. Over time, Coinbase expanded its offerings to include other popular digital assets like ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash.

The exchange quickly gained traction and secured significant investments from venture capital firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. This financial backing enabled Coinbase to enhance its infrastructure and expand its operations to cater to a growing user base.

What is Coinbase?

  • User-friendly interface. Coinbase boasts a user-friendly interface designed to simplify the process of buying, selling and trading cryptocurrencies. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced trader, the platform offers a straightforward and intuitive experience.
  • Asset availability. Coinbase supports a wide range of cryptocurrencies, providing users with ample options for diversifying their digital asset portfolios. Some of the popular cryptocurrencies available on Coinbase include bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), Ripple (XRP) and many more.
  • Wallet services. In addition to being an exchange, Coinbase offers a digital wallet service that allows users to securely store cryptocurrencies. The wallet incorporates advanced security measures, such as two-factor authentication and offline storage, to protect users' funds.
  • Trading features. Coinbase offers various trading features to cater to different user preferences. For beginners, Coinbase provides a simple buy/sell interface, while more advanced traders can utilize Coinbase Pro, a separate platform with advanced trading features and lower fees.
  • Mobile applications. To cater to the increasing number of users accessing cryptocurrency markets through mobile devices, Coinbase offers mobile applications for both iOS and Android. These apps provide a convenient way for users to manage their portfolios and execute trades on the go.
  • Regulatory compliance. Coinbase has prioritized regulatory compliance since its inception. The exchange has obtained licenses and registrations in multiple jurisdictions, ensuring that it operates within the legal frameworks of the countries it serves. This commitment to compliance has helped establish Coinbase as a trusted and reputable platform in the cryptocurrency industry.
  • Security measures. Security is a top priority for Coinbase, given the potential risks associated with holding digital assets. The exchange implements industry-leading security measures, including offline cold storage, encryption and regular security audits. Furthermore, Coinbase offers its users the option to enable two-factor authentication for an added layer of account protection.
  • Insurance coverage. Coinbase provides insurance coverage for digital assets held on its platform. This insurance policy helps protect users' funds in the event of a security breach or hack. However, it's important to note that the insurance coverage may not extend to all types of losses, so users should familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions.

Getting Started

The first step is to create an account. Coinbase provides a user-friendly interface, making it accessible to beginners. After signing up, users are required to complete a verification process to comply with regulatory standards. This process typically involves providing identification documents and verifying personal information.

To fund a Coinbase account, there are multiple options. Linking a bank account or credit/debit card to make deposits are popular methods. Coinbase also supports wire transfers for larger transactions. It's important to note that Coinbase may have specific deposit and withdrawal limits depending on account level and verification status.

Once an account is set up and verified, buying and selling cryptocurrencies on Coinbase is possible. The platform supports a range of popular cryptocurrencies. Coinbase also offers a secure digital wallet to store crypto, providing an added layer of protection.

Unique Aspects

One of the notable features of Coinbase is its emphasis on security. Coinbase stores the majority of its customers' funds in offline cold storage, which is not connected to the internet. This approach reduces the risk of hacking and unauthorized access. Additionally, Coinbase implements two-factor authentication (2FA) to provide an extra layer of protection for user accounts.

Another unique aspect of Coinbase is its commitment to regulatory compliance. As a leading cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase adheres to legal and regulatory requirements of the jurisdictions in which it operates. This compliance helps to foster trust and legitimacy within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Coinbase also offers a comprehensive suite of services designed to cater to various user needs. Coinbase Pro, the advanced trading platform offered by Coinbase, is aimed at more experienced traders and provides additional features such as advanced order types and charting tools. Coinbase Earn is another service that allows users to earn cryptocurrencies by participating in educational activities.

Furthermore, Coinbase has made efforts to bridge the gap between traditional finance and cryptocurrencies. The introduction of Coinbase Card enables users to spend their cryptocurrencies directly at merchants that accept Visa payments. This integration of cryptocurrencies into everyday transactions enhances utility and mainstream adoption.


  • Wide range of cryptocurrencies. Coinbase offers support for a diverse selection of cryptocurrencies, including popular ones as well as lesser-known coins. This allows users to access a broader range of investment opportunities and diversify a crypto portfolios.
  • User-friendly interface. Coinbase is renowned for its intuitive and user-friendly interface. It simplifies the process of buying, selling and storing cryptocurrencies, making it accessible to beginners and experienced users alike. The platform provides clear instructions and guides users through each step, ensuring a seamless experience.
  • Robust security measures. Security is a crucial aspect of any cryptocurrency platform, and Coinbase takes it seriously. The platform employs advanced security measures, including two-factor authentication (2FA), biometric authentication and offline cold storage for the majority of user funds. These measures help protect users' assets from unauthorized access and potential cyber attacks.
  • Insurance coverage. Coinbase provides insurance coverage for digital assets held on the platform. This coverage offers an added layer of protection in the event of a security breach or loss of funds. The insurance policy provides peace of mind to users, knowing that assets are safeguarded to a certain extent.
  • Mobile app. Coinbase offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices, allowing users to manage their cryptocurrency portfolios on the go. The app provides a convenient and secure way to access and trade cryptocurrencies, making it a popular choice for users who prefer mobile devices over desktop computers.


  • Limited control of private keys. When using Coinbase, users do not have direct control over private keys. Private keys are the cryptographic codes that grant ownership and access to cryptocurrencies. By not having control over these keys, users are reliant on Coinbase's security practices. This lack of control goes against the fundamental principle of decentralization that cryptocurrencies aim to achieve.
  • Centralized nature . Coinbase operates as a centralized exchange, meaning it acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers. This centralization introduces a certain level of counterparty risk, as users are ultimately trusting Coinbase to handle funds securely and execute trades accurately. It also means that Coinbase can exercise control over user accounts and assets, subject to regulatory requirements.
  • Transaction fees . Coinbase charges fees for various transactions, such as buying or selling cryptocurrencies. These fees can be relatively high compared to other cryptocurrency exchanges. While Coinbase offers a convenient and user-friendly experience, users should be mindful of the fees involved, as they can impact the overall profitability of trading or investing in cryptocurrencies.
  • Limited anonymity . Coinbase follows Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, which require users to provide personal information and go through a verification process. This means that users' identities and transactions are linked to their Coinbase accounts. While these regulations are in place to prevent illicit activities, they can compromise the privacy and anonymity that some users seek when engaging in cryptocurrency transactions.
  • Service outages. Coinbase, like any online platform, is susceptible to service outages or technical issues. In the past, the platform has experienced temporary suspensions and interruptions, causing inconvenience to users. Service disruptions can prevent users from accessing accounts or executing trades, potentially resulting in missed investment opportunities or delays in transactions.