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Coinbase’s L2 Network “Base” and Its Role in “Superchain”

Coinbase has unveiled Base, its own Ethereum layer-2 network. The company sees Base as a key component of its “secret master plan”. The testnet of Base was started on Thursday. In the future the network is supposed to be a part of “Superchain”.

Coinbase, Ethereum and OP logos

Coinbase had considered launching a chain twice before: in 2018 and in 2020. Both times the company finally rejected the idea. A blog post from Coinbase says that this time the company decided to launch Base for three following reasons:

  1. Base will accelerate the development of Coinbase’s onchain products.
  2. Base will bring its customers into the cryptoeconomy.
  3. Base will increase Coinbase’s investment in core crypto infrastructure.

So what is Base?

“Base is a secure, low-cost, developer-friendly Ethereum L2 built to bring the next billion users to web3. Start building on the Base testnet today and stay tuned for the upcoming mainnet launch,” - says the official announcement.

The developers state that the network offers “a secure, low-cost way for anyone, anywhere, to build decentralized apps on-chain”. Its main goal is to simplify and secure the dApps building experience, thus increasing economic freedom worldwide.

The network is supposed to host both Coinbase’s on-chain products and an open ecosystem where anyone can build. Base is also interoperable with other chains: it provides access to Ethereum L1, other L2s, as well as other L1 ecosystems like Solana, so after starting on Base the developer can go anywhere.

You can mint “Base, Introduced”, a commemorative NFT that celebrates the initial launch of Base, for free.

The company says that Base will be the new home for the Coinbase’s on-chain products and an open ecosystem for millions of new decentralized apps. The vision of Base is to bring more than one billion people on-chain. The company has also announced the Base Ecosystem Fund, which invests in and supports early-stage projects building on Base.

Coinbase says that it has no plans to issue a new network token for this network.

What does it have to do with Superchain?

The network was built on the open-source OP Stack in collaboration with OP Labs and the Optimism Collective. Together they aim to form a “mesh” or “Superchain” that jointly scales Ethereum. Here are the main goals of the collaboration:

  • Accelerate activity in the Superchain: Base is the second L2 after Optimism Mainnet deployed on the OP Stack and intends to be part of the Superchain. Base will bring Coinbase’s onchain products and user base into the Superchain ecosystem, increasing activity in the Superchain while enabling Coinbase users to seamlessly interact with dapps and move assets across the ecosystem.
  • Add value to the Superchain: We will provide a percentage of the fees earned through transactions to the Optimism Collective to be a part of the Superchain, contributing back to funding the core public good infrastructure of both the Superchain and the broader cryptoeconomy.
  • Advance the developer ecosystem: We will continue to work closely with OP Labs and the Optimism Collective to make it easier for developers to build new L2s and rollups, and deploy their applications across the Superchain. For example, we will collaborate with the Optimism Collective to co-create primitives (e.g. for identity) that can be used on L2s that join The Superchain, including Base and Optimism Mainnet.
  • Build towards an interoperable cryptoeconomy: Base and Optimism Mainnet will both operate as independent L2s for the short-term, offering a suite of products for the cryptoeconomy such as swaps, lending, etc. Longer-term, we anticipate that there will be use cases that make more sense to deploy either on Optimism Mainnet or Base, giving developers flexibility to deploy on L2s that fit their use case in the best manner.

In 2023, companies are going to work towards progressing Base and Optimism Mainnet from a Stage 0 rollup to a Stage 1 rollup (here you can find definitions of the rollups stages from Vitalik Buterin). They are going to launch an initial version of the Superchain that can sequence transactions for Base, Optimism Mainnet, and any OP Stack rollup.

Rollups are one of the scaling solutions that help improve the transaction processing on the L1 mainnet. Rollups group a bunch of transactions, take the transactions out of the mainnet and process them off-chain, convert them into one single piece of data, and submit them back to the Ethereum mainnet.

How is it going so far?

When testnet was launched there were already some problems that were fixed according to Coinbase Web3 developer. The big nodes are joining the network (e.g. Blockdaemon and Infura) as well as early builders (e.g. HopProtocol). We’ll observe how the process goes and will keep you updated.

What do you think, will Base be able to compete with Polygon, Arbitrum and others?