Coinbase announced changes to its decentralized wallet product on Tuesday aimed at making the service more streamlined and easier to use. Chief among them is a new feature that allows Wallet users to send funds via a simple text message via Telegram or WhatsApp (or any other platform that can transfer a link).
The SMS feature is part of the crypto giant’s broader effort to make Coinbase Wallet, a decentralized product that is distinct from the custodial “wallets” people use on its exchanges, more useful to a wider range of people.
during an interview wealthChintan Turakhia, head of wallet at Coinbase, said the ability to send money via text message is part of the company’s vision of “economic freedom.” This also includes letting users send USDC stablecoins to each other for free.
While customers can already send USDC for free on the Coinbase wallet (coinbase is jointly owned with Circle), they must know the name of the recipient’s wallet address. The new text messaging feature removes this requirement and, for practical purposes, makes it easier to top up when texting friends or family in another country.
For those receiving USDC via SMS, the link will open directly in their Coinbase wallet, if the person does not have the link they will receive a one-click prompt to install the app and receive the funds if they do not have it open in their Coinbase wallet link) Funds will be returned to the sender after two weeks). Here’s a picture of the service in action – you can watch it step by step in the company’s blog post:
A notable feature of Coinbase Wallet is that since it is a software where the user controls the private key (the password to unlock the wallet), there is no need to complete a “know your customer” process before using it.
While this may sound like a regulatory headache, Coinbase says users, not the company, have ultimate control over their funds, meaning the activity is outside the scope of its responsibility. Coinbase added that its primary approach to targeting bad actors in this case is to block Coinbase wallets from being used in areas sanctioned by the Treasury Department.
At the same time, the company also launched a “simple mode” for the Coinbase wallet, stripping the service down to its core functionality of sending and receiving funds.
In addition to USDC, Coinbase wallet users can also use the new messaging feature to send Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But doing so would force customers to pay network fees, which in some cases could exceed the value of the transaction, or conduct transactions on so-called second-layer blockchains, which introduce additional complexity.
Coinbase also said it now supports fiat onramp, a banking service that allows users to transfer funds in and out of the crypto ecosystem, in more than 130 countries. This access, combined with an easy-to-use messaging service, could help increase the popularity of cryptocurrencies as a fast cross-border payment solution — something Coinbase and the cryptocurrency industry have long desired, but which saw slow progress in 2019. practice.
The new Coinbase wallet feature will begin rolling out on Tuesday and will be available to everyone by the end of the week.