Coinbase Wallet, one of the biggest self-custody crypto wallets globally, is launching a direct messaging feature so users can interact with one another through its platform, the company shared exclusively with TechCrunch.
Prior to the launch, the wallet allowed users to buy and sell crypto, bridge digital assets across networks, collect NFTs and connect with web3 and blockchain-based websites and applications, among other things.
Update: After publication TechCrunch amended this article to state that the Coinbase Wallet messaging service is not, in fact, onchain. Initial context provided by Coinbase’s PR firm included several mentions to the messaging product being onchain and that it would be available to Unstoppable Domains users, which it is not. After more conversation with Coinbase, we better understood the underlying technology and have updated the article. “The messaging is not happening onchain itself, but messages are sent via onchain addresses,” a spokesperson shared.
Wallet holders can send messages to and from Ethereum accounts including ones with CB.IDs, ENS domains or Lens profiles.
The wallet is available in more than 100 countries, according to Coinbase’s Q1 2023 shareholder letter. This means people can send funds across borders through one application, opposed to wiring funds from one bank to another, waiting days for the funds to go through, said Siddharth Coelho-Prabhu, director of product management at Coinbase.
It will also give NFT and POAP holders the ability to connect with others who own the same asset as them by directly messaging their address. This could open up the door for new connections that may have otherwise been lost. Separately, if you’ve been eyeing an NFT and want to make an offer to a holder, you could message the owner and potentially make a deal there, Coelho-Prabhu said.
To start, the messaging will be rolled out to the Lens protocol community, while anyone can gain access to it through QR codes of active users, Coelho-Prabhu shared. Each inbox is connected to single wallet addresses, so if you’re someone with a bunch of different crypto wallet addresses, you can have a number of inboxes on Coinbase Wallet.
“When you create a wallet in the future, it’ll come with messaging built in, so when you want to message someone, it’s fully activated and ready,” Coelho-Prabhu told TechCrunch. However, he said there’s no specific date available on when it’ll be implemented for all customers.
This new integration could become a pretty big deal for the crypto ecosystem, given that most — if not all — crypto wallets are today solely means to buy, hold, trade and transfer cryptocurrencies. But there was no way to message through wallets, meaning you would have to use a third-party messaging platform to interact with someone, confirm their details, then go back to the wallet to send or receive funds.
The encrypted messaging will be powered by XMTP, an open source messaging network. The inbox is portable, which means it can be taken with wallet holders across applications and will include future messages, interactions, payments and profiles, as well as past ones, Shane Mac, co-founder and CEO of XMTP, told TechCrunch. Chats from any of the applications that use XMTP, like Lenster, Orb and Converse.xyz, can be imported to Coinbase Wallet.
“It’s a fully private inbox inside of Coinbase Wallet, much like WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram inboxes,” Mac said. “But if you want to leave WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage in today’s world, you can’t take your messages with you, and this gives you portability and interoperability.”
“From my perspective, the convenience for anyone in crypto of having a unified app that allows you to message and transact makes life convenient and simple but also much more safe and secure,” Coelho-Prabhu said. “You won’t have to worry about if you’re actually talking to Punk6529, you can see their balances and transactions — and that level of safety, security and convenience is a big upgrade.”
On the topic of security and safety, its encrypted messaging makes it impossible for XMTP, Coinbase Wallet or anyone for that matter, to access someone’s messages through the wallet, unless they have the individual’s private keys, which decrypts the messages, Mac said.
The wallet also provides warnings to users on how to protect themselves and will also integrate transaction protections over time, in addition to letting wallet holders block malicious accounts, dApps and NFTs.
Coelho-Prabhu sees the adoption in two silos: one for people who want more “trustworthy interactions” to send funds, and for others who are early crypto adopters, native to the ecosystem and are looking for ways to be in touch with creators, leaders and other like-minded players in the space. “Even without crypto transactions, the idea that communication can happen under this paradigm is new.”
“I always say owning your communication can be bigger than owning your assets,” Mac added.