What is Base? 5 Key Features of Coinbase’s New L2 Blockchain

With the launch of the Base Mainnet on August 9, excitement is building around Coinbase’s Ethereum Layer 2 (L2) blockchain.

After launching the testnet in February, Base is described by Coinbase as a “secure, low-cost, and developer-friendly Ethereum L2 designed to bring the next billion users to the web3.”

But in an increasingly crowded field of Ethereum scaling solutions, what differentiates Base from other L2s?

This article will look at five key features of the new blockchain network that set it apart.

1. Base chain is built using OP Stack

To build Base, Coinbase turned to OP Stack, a modular, open-source framework developed by the team behind Optimism. As the Ethereum ecosystem ushers in a new era of rollup-centric development, OP Stack is a popular tool among L2 developers looking to deploy optimistic rollups.

The Core Mainnet will operate as a separate network from Optimism. But the decision to use OP Stack means there will be a high level of interoperability between L2s.

From the start, the Base development team worked closely with OP Labs, a lead developer of OP Stack. Additionally, the two projects are aligned in their approach to scaling Ethereum. With a shared vision of a decentralized and interoperable “superchain” of L2, Base is part of the continuity of a movement initiated by Optimism.

Emphasizing Superchain’s vision, Base developers have pledged to share the network’s transaction fees with Optimism Collective.

2. The base does not have its own token

You might be wondering what Base token does it use? But unlike other L2s, Base does not have its own dedicated network token and there are no plans to issue one.

Arguably, this tokenless design is only possible thanks to the support of Coinbase, which lends legitimacy to the Base chain. Unlike other comparable solutions, the project offered no token incentive to lock assets to Base.

Since the launch of Mainnet, the total value locked (TVL) on the Base blockchain has soared to over 61,000 ETH. In USD, this equates to a TVL of approximately $112 million. The majority of this has likely come from Coinbase as it seeks to increase liquidity on the network.

Total value locked to July-August base chain
TVL on Base (Source: L2Beat)

The decision not to issue a native base token follows a philosophy of staying as “close” to Ethereum as possible. And in an effort to attract Ethereum developers, Base sought to closely replicate its functionality while adapting its functionality to other L2s.

3. The Basic Chain was designed to host Coinbase products but has broader ambitions for the ecosystem

The development of Base was funded by Coinbase. And the crypto exchange operator intends to use blockchain to power various products in the future.

Yet despite this initial momentum, Base’s vision is to build an open ecosystem that will attract other applications. In this sense, it is similar to the BNB chain, which was born out of the efforts of crypto exchange Binance but now operates mostly autonomously from the company that built it.

Like Binance, Coinbase is one of the most recognizable crypto brands in the world. And Base intends to leverage this brand recognition to attract users.

Certainly, with $120 billion in crypto assets on the platform and millions of active users, Coinbase could generate significant value for Base. But if it wants to realize the dream of one billion Web3 users, it will need to demonstrate use cases that extend beyond the limited world of cryptocurrency trading.

To that end, Base has already welcomed a number of testnet participants. The Base team also issued an invitation to new builders to join the network.

4. The base is committed to decentralization

Coinbase’s involvement invites criticism that Base is “owned” by a private company. Yet, the crypto space is notoriously skeptical of blockchain projects that do not adhere to the philosophy of decentralization.

At the moment, the only sequencer in the Base network is Coinbase. In other words, the servers controlled by the firm are solely responsible for validating transactions.

However, Base has a roadmap for decentralization in the months and years to come. In the future, its operation and governance will evolve into something more analogous to Ethereum.

As an intermediate step, the first step will be to delegate the decision-making powers of the main Base developers. to a “security council” representing the main stakeholders. As the Base ecosystem grows, it will deploy more democratic governance mechanisms to represent the diversity of network participants.

5. Base supports account abstraction

In Ethereum jargon, there are two types of “accounts”. Contract accounts execute code upon receipt of a transaction. Meanwhile, External Accounts (EOAs) function as addresses that send and receive Ether.

Users interact with Ethereum using EOA, which is the only way to initiate a transaction or execute a smart contract. The concept of account abstraction describes situations where a user interacts with the network without owning the underlying account.

In other words, it allows third-party EOAs to execute transactions on someone else’s behalf. This means that users can engage with smart contracts without having to pay gas fees or worry about storing private keys.

Two companies, Gelato and Safe, have collaborated to facilitate account abstraction on Base. As noted in a Gelato blog post, the basic mainnet comes with an account abstraction SDK. The SDK will help Web3 developers easily integrate account abstraction into their applications.


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