The Difference Between Coinbase vs Coinbase Wallet

Zac McClure
ByZac McClure, MBAReviewed byAlex MilesUpdated on February 20, 2024 · minute read
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  • Coinbase is a centralized platform to buy, sell, and trade crypto, offering convenience and accessibility for new crypto users. Coinbase Wallet provides users with self-custody of their crypto assets, empowering them to control their private keys and enabling interaction with DeFi protocols and NFT marketplaces. 

  • Having a Coinbase account does not mean you automatically possess a Coinbase Wallet. To manage your crypto independently, download the Coinbase Wallet app and create a new wallet.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Wallet: What’s the difference?

Coinbase and Coinbase Wallet, despite being products of the same company, serve different purposes in the realm of cryptocurrency. While Coinbase exchange facilitates buying and selling crypto assets, Coinbase Wallet is an application that allows users to interact with the decentralized web.

Here’s a brief summary of the Coinbase Wallet vs Coinbase debate: Coinbase exchange is a better option if you’re looking to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, Coinbase Wallet is a better option if you’re looking to manage your own private keys and interact with DeFi protocols.

What is Coinbase exchange?

Established in 2012, Coinbase exchange is known for its reliability and accessibility in the cryptocurrency market. It acts as a gateway for users to buy, sell, and trade various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and more. With robust security measures in place, such as offline storage for 98% of assets, Coinbase ensures the safety of users' funds while providing a convenient mobile app for managing accounts on the go.

What is Coinbase Wallet?

Coinbase Wallet is designed for users who prioritize self-custody and control over their cryptocurrency holdings. Offering support for multiple cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Coinbase Wallet provides users with centralized management of digital assets while granting access to decentralized storage solutions. Its mobile accessibility via iOS and Android apps enables users to manage their crypto assets conveniently from anywhere.

Is it better to use Coinbase or Coinbase Wallet?

The answer to the Coinbase vs Coinbase Wallet debate depends on individual preferences and objectives in the crypto space. For those seeking convenience and ease of use in trading cryptocurrencies, Coinbase exchange is the preferred choice. 

However, if you want to prioritize ownership of private keys and engagement with DeFi protocols, Coinbase Wallet offers more control and accessibility.

What are the benefits of a self-custody wallet?

Utilizing a self-custody wallet like Coinbase Wallet offers several advantages:

  • Ownership and Control: Users retain full ownership and control over their private keys, reducing the risk of losing funds in the event of exchange hacks or bankruptcy.

  • DeFi and NFT Interaction: Self-custody wallets enable users to engage with decentralized finance protocols and participate in the burgeoning NFT ecosystem, expanding opportunities for asset management and investment diversification.

Coinbase vs. Coinbase Wallet: Insurance

While Coinbase provides security measures for both its exchange and wallet services, it's essential to understand the insurance coverage offered:

  • Coinbase Exchange: Funds held in Coinbase's exchange wallet are safeguarded through a combination of assets, bonds, and fiat currencies. However, virtual currency is not secured by deposit insurance.

  • Coinbase Wallet: Coinbase Wallet offers insurance coverage under the vendor insurance policy, providing users with peace of mind in the event of a security breach. However, this coverage may not extend to instances of fund fraudulence.

Is Coinbase Wallet safe and legit?

Both Coinbase and Coinbase Wallet prioritize security to ensure the safety of users' cryptocurrency assets. With features such as cloud backup, insurance coverage, and regular security audits, Coinbase Wallet maintains a reputation as a secure and legitimate platform for managing crypto assets.

Are there any cons to using Coinbase Wallet?

While Coinbase Wallet offers numerous benefits, it's essential to consider potential drawbacks:

  • Limited Customer Support: Users may experience slow response times when seeking customer support assistance.

  • High Transaction Fees: Compared to other wallets, transaction fees for buying and selling crypto on the Coinbase exchange are relatively high.

  • Limited NFT Support: While Coinbase Wallet supports NFTs, its functionality is currently limited to Ethereum and Polygon NFTs.

Can you send money from Coinbase to Coinbase Wallet?

Yes, transferring funds from Coinbase exchange to Coinbase Wallet is straightforward:

  1. Access the Assets tab on your Wallet and select "Buy or Transfer" followed by "Buy or Transfer From Coinbase."

  2. Choose the crypto asset balance you wish to transfer funds from and enter the desired amount.

  3. Follow the prompts to complete the transaction and confirm the transfer of funds.

How do I convert crypto from Coinbase Wallet to cash?

Converting cryptocurrency from Coinbase Wallet to fiat currency involves the following steps:

  1. Transfer the desired crypto assets back to your Coinbase exchange account.

  2. Access the Trade section on Coinbase exchange and select the cryptocurrency asset you intend to liquidate.

  3. Navigate to the details screen for the chosen asset and select the "Sell" option to initiate the sale.

  4. Follow the prompts to complete the transaction and deposit the proceeds into your linked bank account.

Coinbase vs Coinbase Wallet FAQs

Here are frequently asked questions about Coinbase Wallet vs Coinbase, is Coinbase app and Coinbase Wallet the same, and Coinbase vs Coinbase Wallet.

Is Coinbase Wallet and Coinbase the same?

No, Coinbase Wallet and Coinbase exchange are separate products. Coinbase Wallet is a self-custody crypto wallet for managing private keys and interacting with DeFi protocols, while Coinbase exchange is a platform for buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies.

Is Coinbase Wallet safer than Coinbase?

Both Coinbase Wallet and Coinbase exchange prioritize the safety of users' funds. However, Coinbase Wallet offers additional security and risk mitigation features such as cloud backup and insurance coverage for added peace of mind.

Why should I use Coinbase Wallet?

Coinbase Wallet gives users complete control over their crypto holdings through self-custody and ownership of private keys. It also enables users to engage with decentralized finance protocols and participate in the NFT ecosystem.

Do I automatically have a Coinbase Wallet if I have a Coinbase account?

No, having a Coinbase account does not automatically grant you a Coinbase Wallet. You need to download the Coinbase Wallet app separately and create a new wallet to manage your cryptocurrency holdings independently.

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Zac McClure
Zac McClureCo-Founder & CEO at TokenTax
Zac co-founded TokenTax after his career in international finance and accounting at JPMorgan, Imprint Capital and Bain. He has worked in more than half-dozen countries and received his MBA from the UPenn Wharton School.
Alex Miles
Reviewed byAlex MilesCo-Founder at TokenTax
Prior to TokenTax, Alex worked as a Product Designer at Dropbox and before that Readmill (acquired by Dropbox). He holds a BS in Digital Information Design - Interactive Media from Winthrop University.

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