WTF is… Coinbase?

3 min read

Coinbase is one of the easiest ways to get into the cryptocurrency market. When you ask people how they made their first purchase, this exchange is often the answer.


Coinbase logo

Founded in 2011 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ersham, Coinbase was launched with the main goal of being the most accessible cryptocurrency exchange. Their status as “early adopters” and their ease of use has positioned Coinbase as one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges today.

2017 was a huge year for them. They directly benefited from the meteoric rise in cryptocurrency, both in price and popularity. It became the go to resource for those looking to purchase cryptocurrency.

So why is it so popular?

Most exchanges would make you jump through hoops in order to sign up and purchase cryptocurrency. In most parts of the world, Coinbase was the only realistic option for beginners to purchase cryptocurrency

Users had the ability to purchase cryptocurrency via bank transfer or credit card (although some banks have restricted credit purchases since), allowing even the newest of users to easily purchase cryptocurrency.

For many, Coinbase was how they first got into cryptocurrency. By the end of November of 2017, they had 13.3 million users, priming themselves as the main cryptocurrency exchange.

Want to learn about other ways to purchase crypto? Check out our guide here!

Services & things to note

The whole goal is to make buying and selling cryptocurrency easy. However, there are a couple steps you need to go through in order to sign up for the platform. Because of anti-money laundering (AML) laws, you may have to go through a verification process in order to make a purchase.

Another important note is that Coinbase does take a 1-4% fee. This is typical of most exchanges, however some offer lower fees or other incentives.

Currently, Coinbase offers markets for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin. Additionaly, they do handle your private keys. Because of this, we recommend that once make your purchase, move your cryptocurrency to a wallet where you control the private keys. (Learn more about wallets and backing up your private keys.)

Coinbase provides support for merchants. They have also announced a new suite of institutional products aimed to attract investment that has normally been geared towards non-cryptocurrency markets. It’s a pretty big change and a big step for them. It’s called Coinbase Suite, and you can learn more about it here.

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