Coinbase aims to make it easier for ‘mom and pop’ to go on-chain

Taking away complexity from the user experience is the “north star” that the Coinbase team is following


Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong | Source: TechCrunch "775208327GB00107_TechCrunch" (CC license)


It’s still not easy enough for Mom and Pop to go “on-chain,” Santiago Santos says. 

While Mom and Pop probably won’t be hopping on-chain any time soon, Coinbase protocols lead Jesse Pollak agrees with the sentiment. “Historically, it’s been a pretty complicated process.”

If someone wants to use an on-chain application, Pollak says, it requires several steps, from getting a wallet to funding it and moving Ethereum to the right place.“ That whole process can take minutes. It can take hours if you’re relatively unsophisticated.”

On the Empire podcast (Spotify/Apple), Pollak talks to host Santiago about making things easier for the next generation of crypto users. Building layer-2 rollup Base, Pollak says the company is thinking about “how to get that next wave of adoption.”

“Our goal has been to make it so anyone can go from zero to doing something meaningful in less than 60 seconds on-chain,” he says.

“That’s going from having no wallet and scanning a QR code to having a funded wallet that can transact to buy your favorite on-chain song or sign up for an on-chain restaurant pass or participate in an on-chain community.”

Pollak admits there’s a “ton more work” to do to make the Base experience smoother, but that taking away complexity is the “north star” that the team is following, making the onboarding process “dead simple so that billions of people can actually come on-chain.”

Pollak foresees the flow of consumer usage to be a mix of both “managed experiences that are incredibly simple” and more diverse browser-based experiences that “bring in the entire ecosystem.”

“It’s not really possible to just curate and create first-party experiences for every product,” Pollak says. 

“Historically, Coinbase has really focused on building first party experiences,” he says, “but as we looked at what was required to bring the next billion people on-chain, what we saw was, that’s going to require millions of apps.”

“It’s going to require tons of things that maybe we can’t even predict.” For a vibrant and diverse ecosystem to thrive, Pollak says the team needs to focus on “empowering developers and letting everyday people use these incredible products that are starting to be built on-chain.”

Enabling a ‘thousand flowers to bloom’

Pollak says the team believes in an open and permissionless approach to development on Base. “It should be a place where there’s no single party that’s curating or controlling or dictating what can and can’t be done.”

“Base is open and permissionless. People will be able to put anything on there,” enabling “a thousand flowers to bloom,” he says.

“Maybe 900 of those flowers are incredible, but 100 of them aren’t so great.” The role of Coinbase and those who are building interfaces on top of Base, he says, should be to help build tools and services “that allow folks to distinguish which of those flowers do we wanna smell versus not.”

Pollak says Coinbase has already been building with this in mind. “If you go to [any] Coinbase product, you’ll see [decentralized applications], you’ll see ratings and reviews. You’ll see warnings if you try to interact with something that’s high risk.”

Read more: The ‘crypto degen crowd’ has settled in on Coinbase layer-2, Base

“That balance is really how we think about it,” he says. “Base aims to be open and permissionless, because that’s what enables the global on-chain economy.” 

Coinbase, he says, is more “curatorial” and focused on “providing a trusted experience and ensuring that the products and apps that we show to our customers are really ones that they know they can interact with, with confidence.”

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