Coinbase is the most popular online wallet in the world.


It's easy to buy, sell and store Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and Ethereum currencies safely.

You can link the wallet to its bank account (SCT) to buy currencies or convert currencies in euros or dollars.

Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum addresses are generated automatically for you to assign a label to each one : and when paying, you can more easily identify the source of payment bitcoins.

A mobile application (Android or iOS) is available to facilitate the purchases/sales bitcoins (scan QRCode).

For merchants, buttons or payment solutions are preconfigured and easy to implement.

There is now a referral system. When your friend buys or sells 100 $ of digital currencies, you both will obtain 10 $ of bitcoins for free.

February 2018 Update – Coinbase admits it overcharged a large number of users multiple times due to a bug in their system and are currently working on a fix. If you were affected you can email

Coinbase is reputed to be the world’s largest Bitcoin broker, currently serving a total of 32 countries (although this may soon drop to 31 as Vogogo, their Canadian payment service, shuts down).

In addition to direct sales of Bitcoin at, or close to, the current average market rate (plus 1.5% fee), Coinbase facilitates low fee (0.25% for takers) trading of both Bitcoin and Ethereum on its exchange platform, GDAX (the Global Digital Asset Exchange).

Coinbase offers the following additional services and benefits:

  • Instant purchase of up to $1000 worth of BTC per week for verified credit card holders.
  • A wide variety of fiat deposit and withdrawal options.
  • Instant transfers between Coinbase users.
  • A well-documented API for developers.
  • Well-designed and intuitive user experience.
  • Insured Bitcoin deposits.
  • A debit card from Shift Payments linked to your Coinbase balance.
  • Online and mobile wallet services, with multi-signature security option to prevent unauthorised movement of funds.

Coinbase is often recommended to newcomers as one of the easiest ways to acquire their first bitcoins. The company has invested a lot of time and money into making their user experience smooth and painless. Their extensive banking partnerships allow transactions to be made via EFT payment, ACH / SWIFT / SEPA transfer and, as a recent introduction, major credit cards and PayPal.

For these and similar reasons, Coinbase has experienced rapid growth since its founding in mid-2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam.


If Coinbase is so successful, why does it have such a bad rep?

It’s no secret that Coinbase attracts a lot of animosity, if not outright hostility. A “Coinbase” search query on Reddit’s r/bitcoin soon reveals endless user complaints, interspersed with relevant news. In response to either such post, no shortage of anti-Coinbase vitriol will be detected from the commentariat. The situation is similar on the BitcoinTalk forum and other discussion venues; mention Coinbase to Bitcoiners in person or on IRC, Twitter or Slack and you’re about equally likely to hear criticism as praise.

Now, a lot of people love Bitcoin for offering sanctuary from the grand and petty tyrannies of the banks and corporate payment services. Any company which re-introduces such “user experiences” will inevitably encounter heavy flak. In short, Coinbase is punished for often behaving like the most sinister of banks.

Such views must be tempered by the fact that, for years, Coinbase has served the market more reliably and faithfully than many (ex-)exchanges, failed or as-yet-unfailed, which could be mentioned. However, Coinbase has also pulled its share of questionable moves over its lifetime.


Forcible account closures are probably the most commonly held grudge against Coinbase. Due to the company’s tight integration with traditional banking laws, such closures are inevitable. For better and / or worse, Coinbase prides itself on its legislative compliance.

Coinbase was first to receive US regulatory approval. As a result, Coinbase has AML (Anti-Money Laundering) and KYC (Know Your Customer) practices much like any bank. You’ll have to provide a lot of personally-identifying information if you wish to avail yourself of Coinbase’s service.

Many Bitcoiners value privacy and object to such invasive measures. To quote a recent tweet by Andreas Antonopolous: “The biggest money launderers have banking licenses. The biggest terror financiers are states. Don’t buy the lie of KYC/AML.”

Expect Coinbase to track how you spend “their” coins and to summarily shut your account for the following activities:

  • Transactions related to adult services,
  • Bitcoin gambling, including skill-based gaming,
  • Sale or purchase of contraband through darknet markets,
  • Resale of coins on other exchanges, particularly those without AML / KYC,
  • Other arbitrary reasons which rub their algorithm the wrong way.

While your money will almost certainly be returned to your bank if Coinbase shuts your account, it will likely prove to be an inconvenient, frustrating and potentially costly experience.

Coinbase is also a member of the Blockchain Alliance, which aims to combat the use of Bitcoin for illegal (or unlicensed) purposes. As such blacklisting measures degrades Bitcoin’s fungibility – an important property of sound money – Coinbase’s policies are a matter of legitimate grievance to Bitcoin holders.

Note: if you enjoy the convenience of buying bitcoins from Coinbase but want to avoid blacklisting, check out our guide to anonymizing your Bitcoin spending!


If Coinbase gets anything like their claimed number of 4 million customers, it stands to reason that they’ll receive a proportionally high number of complaints. As a recent example, many users expressed their dissatisfaction with GDAX bugs and outages. Such complaints tend to spill over into social media due to the perception that Coinbase’s support staff will expedite their responses to publically-voiced grievances.


It’s no secret that Coinbase received millions in venture capital funding, totalling $106 million, received over 4 funding rounds from 23 different investors. Their seed round was in late 2012 and in early 2015 it had a Series C round. The identity of Coinbase’s investors, BBVA in particular, goes a long way towards explaining their close ties to traditional financial firms. Fred Ehrsam himself is a former Goldman Sachs trader. Naturally, such relationships do not sit well with certain, shall we say, “zealous” Bitcoiners, who consider banks the disease and Bitcoin the cure.


Coinbase formerly offered a generous affiliate program, whereby $75 was paid to anyone who referred a customer who went on to purchase $100+ worth of Bitcoin. However, Coinbase reneged on this deal without warning. Many hard-working affiliates, including 99Bitcoins, received a pittance for promotional work conducted for Coinbase.


For whatever motive, both Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam (Coinbase’s founders) felt compelled to wade into treacherous PR waters, to the detriment of their firm’s reputation. Their first major mistake was involving Coinbase in the acrimonious block size debate and their second was actively promoting Bitcoin’s main rival; the troubled, “Turing-complete” Ethereum.

Coinbase unwisely pledged its support to the failed Bitcoin XT / Classic project. Brian Armstrong raised hackles across social media with a number of ill-advised comments and announcements.


Next, Fred Ehrsam proclaimed the superiority of Ethereum, shortly before the spectacular failure of the DAO and Ethereum’s subsequent price crash.

It’s hard to imagine what Brian and Fred hoped to gain from their controversial statements and decisions but the resultant PR backlash will likely see them charting a more neutral course in future.


Perhaps most egregious of all their transgressions are Coinbase’s 9 patent filings for cryptocurrency-related “innovations.” These applications include the following:

  • “Bitcoin exchange,”
  • hot wallet for holding Bitcoin,”
  • tips button,” etc.

Such patents are obviously not Coinbase innovations and obviously clash with the open source nature and the philosophy of Bitcoin. Brian Armstrong apparently expects people to trust Coinbase, and to refrain from using any such patents to block competition. Frankly, no company, agency or entity can or should be trusted with legal authority over any aspect of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Bitcoin was designed to obviate the need for such trusted parties.


At times, it appears that Coinbase is more in the business of attracting investors than servicing clients or wisely developing Bitcoin. Given the foregoing, it’s impossible to recommend Coinbase without some caveats:

You should never rely on Coinbase to act as your wallet. This applies equally to every other exchange and third-party service offering to store your coins. The oft-repeated maxim is: if you don’t hold the private keys, you don’t own the bitcoins.

While Coinbase’s multi-sig Vault offers some extra security, as get to retain at least one of the keys, it’s still nowhere near as secure as storing your bitcoins personally. If you’re uncertain as to how to properly store your bitcoins in a cold wallet, consider the purchase of a suitable hardware wallet.

Don’t use Coinbase if you intend to use your bitcoins for anything “naughty.” To avoid future legal entanglements, your best option a decentralised exchange, such as LocalBitcoins or Mycelium Local Trader.

Finally, if you’re a Bitcoin holder or believer, before using Coinbase you should consider whether their actions, affiliations and incentives are properly aligned with the cure principles of Bitcoin, such as openness, decentralisation and fungibility.  While Coinbase may be a cheap, popular and convenient option, they’ve demonstrated a disturbing lack of regard for those unique properties which ultimately give Bitcoin its value.


It’s an admitted simplification to say that Coinbase isn’t for Bitcoiners but instead for cryptocurrency newcomers, Ethereum enthusiasts, venture capitalists and those with an abiding sentimental attachment to the reassuringly blue corporate colour schemes and wealth-peacocking of traditional banks.

A lot of people feel more comfortable entrusting their money to a service which makes Bitcoin appear more conventional and familiar. This is justifiable given that the surplus of investment in Coinbase (supplemented at the time of writing by a $10.5 Million njection from the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ) implies that the company is well-capitalized; a rich exchange tends to be a sound exchange. If you’re wary of leaving substantial sums of fiat or crypto on an exchange, Coinbase is probably one of the more secure options, although a thorough audit is the only way to prove that for a fact.

Write a comment

Comments: 5
  • #1

    Coinbase - Admin (Thursday, 15 March 2018 09:04)

    Updated User Agreement and Privacy Policy
    Effective March 21, 2018, we will be updating our User Agreement and Privacy Policy for services provided by Coinbase UK, Ltd. and CB Payments Ltd. By continuing to use our services on or after March 21, 2018, you agree to the new terms and conditions in our User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

  • #2

    Coinbase Team (Friday, 01 March 2019 13:13)

    Welcome to the family, XRP
    XRP is now on Coinbase! Sign in to buy, sell or convert XRP on Coinbase. Or learn more about it below.

    Check out XRP

    Get to know our newest addition

    What is XRP?
    XRP aims to be a fast, cost-efficient cryptocurrency for cross-border payments. Learn more on the official XRP website

    What is the current price of XRP?
    Check our charts for the latest exchange rates.

    Can I buy and sell XRP on Coinbase?
    XRP will be available for customers in most jurisdictions, but will not initially be available to buy and sell in the United Kingdom but customers can store XRP on Coinbase. See locations.

    Where can I learn more?
    Check out our complete list of XRP FAQs including important info on how to use an XRP tag to send and receive XRP.

  • #3

    Coinbase Team (Sunday, 01 December 2019 13:05)

    Hi there,

    Protecting your data and your privacy are essential priorities for Coinbase. That’s why we make sure to keep you informed of how and why we collect and use your data.

    At Coinbase, we believe it’s critical that we apply a clear and consistent framework for protecting your data that addresses and adheres to our worldwide obligations. For this reason, and in anticipation of new privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (or “CCPA”), we have consolidated our various privacy policies and requirements into a single Global Privacy Policy. This update will take effect on January 1, 2020.

    We have also taken this opportunity to make changes to the Policy to make it easier for you to understand the information we collect, use, and share.

    What’s new:

    Scope – We’re clarifying that this policy is applicable to all Coinbase customers, and that all customers will have the ability to access, modify, and make other requests with respect to their data.

    Purpose – We’re providing additional details about the information we collect, why we collect it, and your rights with respect to that information. Specifically, we outline our intention to only use your data to verify your identity, protect you from harm, enable our services, improve our products, and keep you notified of new developments (based on your preferences). We do not — and will not — sell your data to third parties without your consent.

    Transparency – We’re clarifying how we share information with our affiliates and service providers to provide a secure, reliable, and tailored customer experience.

    Please read the new Policy carefully and save this email for future reference. You can reference the current Privacy Policy here. If you have questions or concerns regarding this notice, please contact us. To learn more about our products and policies, visit

    The Coinbase Team

  • #4

    Coinbase Team (Sunday, 08 March 2020 18:27)

    On Tuesday, February 25, KNC began trading on Coinbase Pro. Support for KNC is available in all Coinbase’s supported jurisdictions, with the exception of New York State and the United Kingdom. Per previous launches, transfers opened during business hours, Pacific Standard Time.
    On Tuesday, February 25, KNC began trading on Coinbase Pro. Support for KNC is available in all Coinbase’s supported jurisdictions, with the exception of New York State and the United Kingdom. Per previous launches, transfers opened during business hours, Pacific Standard Time.

  • #5

    Coinbase Team (Sunday, 08 March 2020 18:28)

    On Tuesday, February 25, KNC began trading on Coinbase Pro. Per previous launches, transfers opened during business hours, Pacific Standard Time.
    Once sufficient supply of KNC is established on the platform, trading on the KNC/USD, and KNC/BTC order books will start in phases, beginning with post-only mode and proceeding to full trading should our metrics for a healthy market be met. Support for KNC will be immediately available in Coinbase’s supported jurisdictions, with the exception of New York State and the United Kingdom.
    KNC is an Ethereum token used for paying fees on the Kyber Network, a protocol that aims to make swapping digital assets and cryptocurrencies simple and efficient. The Kyber protocol aggregates liquidity from a wide range of reserves, powering instant and secure token exchange in any decentralized application.
    Please note that KNC is not yet available on or via our consumer mobile apps. We will make a separate announcement if and when this support is added.
    The Stages of the KNC Launch
    There will be four stages to the launch as outlined below. We will follow each of these stages independently for each new order book. If at any point one of the new order books does not meet our assessment for a healthy and orderly market, we may keep the book in one state for a longer period of time or suspend trading as per our Trading Rules.
    We will send tweets from our Coinbase Pro Twitter account as each order book moves through the following phases:
    Transfer-only. Starting on Monday, February 24, customers will be able to transfer KNC into their Coinbase Pro account. Customers will not yet be able to place orders and no orders will be filled on these order books. Order books will be in transfer-only mode for approximately 24 hours. We will communicate the exact timing for this phase via Twitter closer to the date.
    Post-only. In the second stage, customers can post limit orders but there will be no matches (completed orders). Order books will be in post-only mode for a minimum of one minute.
    Limit-only. In the third stage, limit orders will start matching but customers are unable to submit market orders. Order books will be in limit-only mode for a minimum of ten minutes.
    Full trading. In the final stage, full trading services will be available, including limit, market, and stop orders.
    One of the most common requests we receive from customers is to be able to trade more assets on our platform. Per the terms of our listing process, we anticipate supporting more assets that meet our standards over time.
    You can sign up for a Coinbase Pro account here to start trading. For more information on trading KNC on Coinbase Pro, visit our support page.