San Francisco-based U.S. cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase continues to advance its footprint in Ethereum’s growing decentralized finance arena.
On Wednesday, March 25th, Sid Coelho-Prabhu, the head of the exchange’s Coinbase Wallet mobile cryptocurrency app, announced the iOS version — and soon the Android version — would support direct integrations with select DeFi projects, giving users a new streamlined way to put their digital assets to work in the cryptoeconomy.
The non-custodial Coinbase Wallet already offers a dApp browser, so previously users have had to use that browser to access DeFi projects and review associated options, albeit one at a time.
Going forward, then, the exchange’s flagship wallet app will additionally offer a streamlined dashboard that will let users access multiple DeFi investment opportunities, all on the same screen. To begin with, supported projects include Compound and dYdX.
“You can now compare different rates from providers, easily deposit your crypto without opening a web browser, and view your balances on a simple, unified dashboard,” Coelho-Prabhu said.
The move comes after as the Coinbase Wallet team has been marching toward increased user friendliness as of late. For example, support for human readable addresses — including Ethereum Name Service (ENS) “.eth” addresses — was added to the app last month.
Moreover, the tighter DeFi embrace comes after Coinbase launched the USDC Bootstrap Fund last fall, an initiative that saw the exchange put 1 million USDC directly into Compound’s and dYdX’s liquidity pools, respectively.
Ethereum’s top DeFi projects are quite promising, for a variety of reasons. But they’re also young for now, which means they may still harbor unknown vulnerabilities or weak spots that could jeopardize users’ funds.
Coinbase making further advances toward DeFi is hardly surprising since the exchange knows as well as anyone how much potential these projects have, then, but at the same time the exchange wants its wallet users to exercise caution in the sector. On Wednesday, Coelho-Prabhu said:
“Before you get started, please be aware that DeFi lending apps are relatively nascent and come with risks. DeFi apps are programs running on the blockchain, and like any computer code they can potentially have bugs that cause you to lose money. Returns are not guaranteed and your deposits are not insured.”
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The new DeFi dashboard within the Coinbase Wallet might simply be chalked up to a basic user experience (UX) improvement project, to be sure.
However, the rollout does come after Coinbase seemingly ran into friction with Apple’s App Store last year over the Coinbase Wallet’s dApp browser, which can provide access to any audited or unaudited DeFi project’s front-end.
In December 2019, Coinbase Wallet users encountered an in-app message that warned its dApp browser could soon be disabled due to potential conflicts with an unspecified segment of Apple’s App Store policy.
In a follow-up comment, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong confirmed that Apple seemed to be moving against dApp projects at the time and decried the development:3
“This is an important area of innovation in finance, and many developers and early adopters of this technology have millions of dollars worth of crypto tied up in these financial applications, which they will no longer be able to use on Apple mobile devices if this app store policy continues.”
In this context, Coinbase Wallet’s new DeFi dashboard could give the app a more defensible moat against such friction in the future, since it is curated, limited, and so far only includes projects that Coinbase has direct connections to.
Accordingly, the dashboard could give Coinbase flexibility to keep some in-app DeFi services live even if Apple does eventually request that Coinbase Wallet’s unlimited dApp browser shutter over concerns about users accessing unaudited projects.