Coinbase launches wallet API to help integrate Web 2.0 devs into web3 world

Coinbase, the second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, has launched a new product to help onboard developers into web3, the company shared with TechCrunch on Wednesday.

It should be easier to go to a website or engage with a brand without having to leave their platform, Will Robinson, VP of engineering at Coinbase, said to TechCrunch. “We should allow people to onboard into web3, right there, so they’re truly in control of their assets in a contained experience.”

Coinbase’s wallet as a service (WaaS) is a scalable set of wallet infrastructure APIs that allow companies to create and deploy customizable on-chain wallets to their users. This means companies can natively integrate wallets directly into their apps so users won’t be redirected to separate applications to connect their wallets (like most web3 dApps today require).

“The current onboarding flow is sort of backwards for most regular people,” Robinson said. “At first, for some reason you need a crypto asset, then you should get a wallet 'cause someone told you to, then you have to find something to do with that wallet.”

Yet, that flow is something “people fall out of very often,” Robinson added. “But, if you invert that, what people really want is to use an application and engage with a brand. That’s the desire they start out with.”

The API-oriented product was built by the same team that created Coinbase’s wallet infrastructure for the rest of its business, Robinson said.

The WaaS allows users to access web3 wallets through Web 2.0 technology like usernames and passwords, as opposed to seed phrases (a sequence of random words needed to access a wallet). It also has multi-party computation capabilities, which keeps user assets safe by distributing information across multiple parties and key ownership, giving users full control over their assets.

“We built this product to be hard enough and suitable to even drive our own institutional retail businesses,” Robinson said. “And with this exposure as an API, a regular developer who may not be knowledgeable about crypto but is a web2 application developer [will be able] to integrate this capability into their app and let users directly onboard right where they are.”

Companies like Floor, Moonray, Thirdweb and Tokenproof are currently implementing Coinbase’s WaaS to allow users to access web3 experiences ranging from NFT marketplaces to token-based experiences.

“At the end of the day, we think this is something that can onboard the next tens to hundreds million users into web3,” Robinson said.