Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you tell me more about these assets?
You can find information on the assets being explored at their respective websites:
Q: Why explore these assets at this time?
In evaluating these assets for exploration, we relied as much as possible on the criteria in our published Digital Asset Framework, but found that many of the criteria required communication with external parties to fully evaluate. Regardless, here’s what we found notable about each of these assets.
The Cardano protocol was created by Charles Hoskinson, one of the co-founders of Ethereum. Cardano’s Bitcoin-like Settlement Layer (CSL) mainnet is live and it has a functional wallet for its built-in ADA cryptocurrency. It has also taken a different technical direction from other blockchains on several axes, like its Ouroboros proof-of-stake algorithm, its use of Haskell, and its focus on formal verification. While Cardano’s Computation Layer (CCL) is not yet live, the project has published long-term roadmaps, has shipped working software, and appears to have a growing community.
Basic Attention Token (BAT)
Stellar Lumens (XLM)
Stellar is an open-source protocol for value exchange developed by Stanford CS professor David Mazieres, Rust language author Graydon Hoare, and Jed McCaleb. Lumens (XLM) are the native asset of the Stellar network. Stellar’s consensus protocol is different from proof-of-work in that it allows and requires individual nodes to choose the set of other nodes they trust as a group (a “quorum slice”) to give them accurate information about the state of the Stellar network. Stellar allows for the creation of anchors that can issue assets, use bridge servers to interface with existing banks, and follow Stellar’s compliance protocol. Initially funded by Stripe, Stellar’s board members include Khosla Ventures partner Keith Rabois, Stripe cofounder Patrick Collison, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, YCombinator President Sam Altman, MIT DCI head Joi Ito, and AngelList founder Naval Ravikant.
Zcash is a cryptocurrency which uses recent advances in cryptography to allow users to protect the privacy of transactions at their discretion. The distinction between Zcash’s “transparent” and “shielded” transactions is analogous to the distinction between unencrypted HTTP and encrypted HTTPS. In both cases, the unencrypted/transparent version of the protocol allows third parties to see metadata associated with the communication or transaction, while the encrypted/shielded version protects this information. The Zcash protocol has been live since 2016 and the development team has published technical improvements that may reduce the memory consumption associated with transaction privacy by 98%.
Q: What is the status on adding Ethereum Classic (ETC)?
We are underway with engineering work to add Ethereum Classic (ETC), and it is proceeding as planned. We are making this announcement so that we can begin the next phase of work to explore adding more assets to the platform.
Q: What is the status on adding ERC-20 assets?
We announced our general intention to support ERC20 assets in March. The BAT and ZRX assets are the first specific ERC20-based assets we are exploring for addition to the platform.
Q: How will you decide what countries to launch these assets in?
Regional support will depend on a case-by-case analysis that looks to legal, compliance, and other factors that are relevant to that jurisdiction. In some cases, you should expect certain assets to be available in other jurisdictions before coming to the US.
Q: Does this mean Coinbase has deemed these assets to not be securities under a particular country’s laws?
No. That legal analysis is ongoing and will vary by jurisdiction. As we only plan to launch assets which are compliant with local law, some assets may only be available in specific jurisdictions.
Q: Why is this just an exploration, rather than an announcement that Coinbase is adding these assets?
In an effort to be as open and transparent as possible, we’re announcing that our teams are exploring the feasibility of supporting these assets. This is consistent with our process for adding new assets. But unlike Ethereum Classic, which is technically very similar to Ethereum, these assets will require additional exploratory work that may result in one or more of them being listed only in specific jurisdictions, or not at all.
Q: Which Coinbase platforms will support these assets?
We have not made this determination at this time, but we hope to offer support for each asset across the widest variety of products in each jurisdiction.
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