Coinbase CEO Talks About Staking, Voting, Margin Trading, Lightning Network, and More

Siamak Masnavi

On Thursday (May 16), Brian Armstrong, Co-Founder and CEO of digital asset exchange Coinbase, talked about upcoming near and medium term changes to his firm's products and services.

Armstrong's comments came during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on YouTube, where he was answering the most popular questions from the crypto community on Twitter.

Here are the main highlights:

  • Price Alerts: This feature might "might be coming soon" to the Coinbase mobile app. Coinbase has been working on improving the support for price alerts in the web versions of its platform. Initially, users were given the ability to set price alerts manually (e.g. "alert me when Bitcoin price goes below $5,000"), but lately Coinbase has been experimenting with machine learning so that users are notified of significant price changes automatically.
  • Staking: This feature was recently added to Coinbase Custody (which is for institutional customers) to support Proof-of-Stake (PoS) cryptocurrencies such as Tezos (XTZ), but obviously retail investors are interested in this too. 
  • Voting (Onchain Governance): Not launched yet, but internally, it is being discussed, and more specifically how to make it as simple as possible for users.
  • Margin Trading on Coinbase Pro: This is a commonly requested feature. Several other trading platforms already have this, and it is a popular feature. Coinbase is trying to figure out the best way to do this from a regulatory point of view.
  • Remittances to developing countries: Setting up exchanges in such places (e.g. Zimbabwe) is often more difficult either because the regulatory environment is not well-established and/or due to a high amount of corruption. So, the best way to send money to these places might be to send crypto to the wallet of the recipient and then to ask him/her to either hold crypto until they need to spend it or to get it changed to fiat via a local exchange (perhaps, via a P2P exchange such as LocalBitcoins).
  • Coinbase Card: This debit card (which lets you spend your crypto -- which happens by the card automatically converting, at transaction time, from crypto to fiat -- at virtually any merchant that accepts contactless cards or Apple Pay or Google Pay) was launched in the UK last month, but customers in the U.S. are wondering when it will get launched there. Armstrong cannot give a date. 
  • Tax Reporting Tools: Armstrong that their tax tools "could be a lot better." Coinbase is looking into how it can help its customers pay less tax but it seems like it has not figured out yet the best way to offer tax advice without effectively becoming the customer's accountant or tax adviser.
  • Coinbase in Canada: Coinbase was operating in Canada a while ago, but due to some issues with their payment partner, they had to suspend that service, but they are hoping to return to Canada soon.
  • Support for the Lightning Network: 3-4 Weeks ago, Armstrong asked some of Coinbase's developers what was the coolest technology they were playing with during weekends. He got around 40 answers. The most common answer was the Lightning Network. That gave him "a lot of confidence" that this was something that Coinbase should support. However, he is not sure when this support will be implemented.