With the launch of its Ethereum layer-2 network, Base, Coinbase is launching its testnet.
As the second core contributor to Optimism’s OP stack, Base will be incubated within Coinbase but plan to be completely decentralized later on.
Jesse Pollak, protocol lead at Coinbase, told Blockworks that the company’s code will be completely open source, preserving cryptocurrencies’ critical, global, permissionless nature.
As Pollak said in an interview, “We’re collaborating with Optimism because we believe this must be decentralized and open to everyone.”.
Since there are no plans to issue tokens, Base will use ether as its native asset, which means users will pay for gas fees with ETH. Pollak plans, however, to eventually add USDC to the network.
“We are also excited about account abstraction — which is the ongoing effort to make it easier for users to use more powerful wallets,” Pollak said. “[This] will allow users to pay for gas in any currency they want, even if the cost is in Ethereum.”
“Account abstraction is something really powerful that will emerge in the next year,” according to Pollak.
Building the next super-chain is our vision
In its initial launch, Coinbase plans to run its own sequencer for Base, with plans to eventually decentralize the sequencer and sequence multiple chains simultaneously.
Sequencers are similar to validators; they order and execute transactions and submit them to the layer-1 chain, which is Ethereum in this case.
According to Pollak, the long-term vision is to provide chains with powerful interoperability.
In contrast to having one monolithic chain, which requires everyone to be in the same location, we can actually have many chains that work together to scale Ethereum.
According to Ben Jones, co-founder of Optimism, capital efficiency will improve as technology continues to evolve.
Right now, when you’re on the internet, you don’t worry about what tier two ISP you’re connected to; at worst, you’re yelling at Spectrum, but when you’re on the internet, you don’t have to worry about what grade your packets are being routed in…and that’s what the future will be like as well,” Jones said.
Jones continued, “That’s why we have this word super chain, which is cheeky, but it’s trying to say that it’s not about having multiple chains, but rather creating a cohesive network.”
The initiative aims to create technology that can be easily upgraded.
As a result of the OP stack’s modular design, Coinbase selected Optimism as a partner for its latest release of Base, Pollak said.
Despite the growing popularity of zero-knowledge (zk) technology, Pollak says the technology difference doesn’t define the product. Rather, it’s an implementation detail.
“In the future, we will likely have roll-ups that have both optimistic and zk components,” he said. “We must build the technology stack in a way that allows it to be easily upgraded.”
“The reality is that you have to build infrastructure that makes it good to run chains,” Jones said.
The right architecture opens up the possibility of things like the proof being modules we can add to and upgrade over time, Jones said.
According to Jones, modularity is not a limitation of the software, but rather a particular pipeline for deriving data layers.
“With the right proof systems, we can eventually do that with fewer sacrifices,” he said.
Brian Armstrong, CEO, has said as much.
In 2016, Armstrong in “The Coinbase Secret Master Plan” said the effort would be divided into four separate phases: Develop the protocol; build a digital currency exchange; create a mass market interface for digital currency apps; and finally develop apps that power an open financial system.
During the last few months, we have been stuck between [phases] three and four, where we have had consumer interfaces, but not useful dApps. The base is our bet that we can bring a billion users into the crypto economy if we build a better platform that makes it easier for developers to build useful applications.
Currently, Coinbase serves over 108 million verified users – and has access to over $100 billion worth of assets in its ecosystem, according to Pollak.
According to Pollak, “we couldn’t be more excited to build phase 3.5 of the secret master plan.”.