Major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase today launches the mainnet of its homegrown Ethereum layer-2 network, Base. Unveiled in February, with a testnet live since early March, Base is a key part of the exchange's ‘secret master plan’, and will be integrated into a planned ‘Superchain’ alongside Optimism.
This marks Coinbase’s third venture into creating its own blockchain, after previously considering and rejecting the idea in 2018 and 2020. The company now feels Base will accelerate on-chain product development, bring more users into Web3, and increase investment in core crypto infrastructure.
“Base is a secure, low-cost, developer-friendly Ethereum L2 built to bring the next billion users to Web3,” Coinbase wrote in its official statement. It aims to simplify and secure decentralized application (DApp) building for greater access.
The network will host Coinbase’s on-chain products while remaining an open ecosystem for all developers. Base connects to Ethereum L1, other L2s such as Optimism, and L1s like Solana (SOL) for interoperability.
Developers can mint a free “Base, Introduced” NFT to commemorate the launch as part of the Onchain Summer promotional initiative.
Coinbase has decided not to launch a utility or platform token alongside the new network. This is likely to prevent any potential problems with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which would likely deem an investable asset launched by a publicly-listed U.S. financial technology company as a security.
Strategically, Base will join the ‘Superchain’ of Ethereum scaling solutions alongside Optimism, which is also built on the OP Stack. This collaboration aims to:
- Accelerate activity by bringing Coinbase's products and users into the wider ecosystem.
- Add value by contributing fees to Optimism's public infrastructure.
- Advance development through open-source tooling.
- Build interoperability between independent L2s.
Long-term, the goal is to progress from the existing rollups solution to more advanced scaling approaches laid out by Vitalik Buterin. This includes an early Superchain to sequence transactions across Base, Optimism, and other OP Stack rollups.
One solution praised by Buterin are ZK-rollups — a solution that many argue is superior to optimistic rollups since it requires no fund lockup time and produces extremely small cryptographic proofs decreasing on-chain clutter.
It remains to be Observed if Base can compete against alternative L2s like Polygon and Arbitrum. But the combination of Coinbase’s user base and integration into the Optimism ecosystem provides a strong starting point.