When it comes to sheer reach, San Francisco-based Coinbase is one of the biggest and most important cryptocurrency companies in the world. Accordingly, it’s particularly notable when the firm unveils new features, as these features will likely be seen and used by millions in time.
That’s why heads turned anew in the cryptoeconomy this week when the digital assets powerhouse revealed that Coinbase Wallet, the company’s dApp browser and user-custodied crypto wallet, was embracing support for sends between user-friendly addresses.
It’s out with the hexadecimal addresses and in with the usernames, then — a score for both Coinbase and users alike since the newly added support will make it easier and more attractive to transact through the Wallet app.
Control Your Keys? Use Them Easily Too!
Coinbase.com is the company’s flagship, consumer-facing digital brokerage website, around which the firm’s various other offerings have been built up. Yet the brokerage is centralized, and thus users who leave funds on the site are leaving those funds in Coinbase’s custody.
Formerly known as Toshi, Coinbase Wallet is the exchange’s answer to the ecosystem’s popular “Not Your Keys, Not Your Crypto” refrain — the app is non-custodial, meaning users remain in control of their keys through it at all times.
It’s a well-intentioned offering, to be sure, but the app has made use of the long, inscrutable hexadecimal addresses that have been a frustrating UX standard in the early cryptoeconomy. Not anymore, though.
In a blog post published this week, Coinbase Wallet and Coinbase Commerce product lead Sid Coelho-Prabhu outlined the two avenues of the Wallet app’s new human readable address support, one being a basic username system and the other being the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) dApp.
Coinbase Wallet users already create usernames upon downloading the app, but they previously couldn’t be transacted through. Now, thanks to Coelho-Prabhu’s team, these basic usernames can be used instead of addresses to readily send crypto back and forth.
Moreover, Coelho-Prabhu confirmed that Wallet was now supporting ENS names, which are like Ethereum’s version of Domain Name System (DNS) domains. The decentralized service allows you to attach human readable names, e.g. Vitalik Buterin’s vitalik.eth, to a particular Ethereum address.
Such support will help further pave the way for mainstream adoption of digital assets, Coelho-Prabhu said:
“We believe these improvements will make cryptocurrency much easier to use and help drive adoption with a more mainstream audience. Users can now easily send money to friends and business partners like they do with traditional payment apps, albeit globally and in crypto.”
What Comes Next?
This month, the San Francisco exchange opened a Coinbase Custody International office in Dublin and rolled out margin trading on Coinbase Pro. What else might the crypto giant have on its busy slate going forward?
Going back to human readable names, it’s hardly out of the realm of possibility that Coinbase.com and some of its other arms will eventually embrace usernames and ENS names, too. In the very least, it’s a possible wrinkle to watch in the months ahead.
Then of course there is the question of new token listings. In recent years, Coinbase has publicly disclosed the projects it has considered supporting on its platforms. Some of these projects have already been listed, some of them haven’t.
With that said, some of the more high-profile projects that Coinbase is reportedly interested in but that remain unlisted include Cardano (ADA), Enjin (ENJ), Golem (GNT), Decentraland (MANA), Maker (MKR), and Status (SNT).
This isn’t to say that these tokens will be imminent arrivals on America’s most popular crypto exchange. Rather, it’s just that these could be some of the biggest low-hanging fruits to next pluck.
William M. Peaster is a professional writer and editor who specializes in the Ethereum, Dai, and Biticoin beats in the cryptoeconomy. He's appeared in Blockonomi, Binance Academy, Bitsonline, and more. He enjoys tracking smart contracts, DAOs, dApps, and the Lightning Network. He's learning Solidity, too! Contact him on Telegram at @wmpeaster