Coinbase aims to build infrastructure for handling future Bitcoin forks

By: Michael Harris
Michael Harris
Specialising in economics by academia, with a passion for financial trading, Michael Harris has been a regular contributor to… read more.
on Apr 6, 2018
Updated: Mar 11, 2020

US cryptocurrency firm Coinbase plans to add support for withdrawals of “Bitcoin forks” across its platforms, according to a blog post the company published on Thursday.

Coinbase said that the change, which will be implemented in the coming month, will allow customers to “more easily withdraw assets associated with Bitcoin Forks across all Coinbase Products”.

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“As always, we look at technical, operational, and legal considerations when deciding which Bitcoin Fork assets to support and will always state on our website which particular assets are supported,” the company added.

The announcement did not mention any specific assets that would be supported. Coinbase explained that its Custody product would support future Bitcoin forks and that it would likely support “more forked assets than GDAX and Coinbase for the foreseeable future.”

GDAX, the company’s cryptocurrency exchange, will add support for withdrawals of Bitcoin forks for assets stored on the platform at the time of the fork. However, this does not mean that those assets will also be added for trading, the blog post reads. Coinbase’s basic product, a crypto wallet with trading capabilities, will adopt a similar approach. In addition, Coinbase will only list forked assets for trading after they are listed for trading GDAX. However, “listing on GDAX does not guarantee listing on Coinbase”, the company said.

Coinbase’s handling of Bitcoin’s first major hard fork, Bitcoin Cash, last year went less than smoothly. Prior to the August 1 split, the company said that it would not support withdrawals of Bitcoin Cash following the event. However, after facing significant outcry from users the company changed its position and promised to enable BCH withdrawals by the end of 2017. Then in December, the company made an unexpected announcement that it was enabling BCH trading on its platforms.

Yesterday’s announcement suggests that Coinbase aims to build an infrastructure to ensure that a similar mishandling of forked assets will not happen in the future.

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