Base: Coinbase’s Ethereum Layer-2, Heres What You Should Know

BY Keisha Oleaga

August 04, 2023

The ever-evolving world of blockchain technology continues to be a hotbed of innovation, and one of the latest trends in this space is the implementation of Layer-2s, and Coinbase’s latest, Base.

Promising improved transaction speeds, scalability, and security, Layer-2s are shifting the paradigm of how blockchain networks operate. Coinbase, North America’s largest centralized crypto exchange (CEX), has announced the launch of “Base,” a new layer-two (L2) Ethereum chain utilizing Optimism. Let’s dive in.

Understanding Layer 2s

At its core, Layer-2s are a type of blockchain architecture. They build upon the foundational base layer (or Layer 1), which typically houses the protocol for a blockchain network like Bitcoin or Ethereum, adding another layer to handle transactions and smart contracts.

The concept of layered architecture in blockchain is not new; what sets layer-2s apart is how they’re designed to maximize efficiency and scalability without compromising security and decentralization. They tackle some of the critical challenges faced by base layer blockchains like network congestion, slow transaction times, and high costs.

How do they work?

Layer-2s operate by creating a second layer of protocols atop the main blockchain. Transactions that would ordinarily be processed on the primary blockchain are instead executed on this second layer. It’s like adding an express lane to a congested highway; transactions can be processed more quickly and efficiently, bypassing the traffic on the main road.

The completed transactions on the second layer are then batched together and added to the main blockchain as a single entry, reducing the load on the primary chain and significantly increasing the overall network’s capacity.

The notable part is that all of this is achieved while maintaining the decentralized nature and security of the blockchain. Transactions in the second layer are cryptographically linked to the base layer, ensuring the same level of security and trustless nature that the blockchain technology is known for.

What is Base?

Base is an L2 chain developed and operated by Coinbase, using the framework of Optimism – a layer-two scaling solution for Ethereum, and the second-largest L2 ecosystem after Arbitrum. Optimism’s primary objective is to tackle the blockchain trilemma – issues concerning scalability, security, and decentralization – by enabling interoperability and composability among its rollups, one of which is Base.

Optimism aims to evolve into a “superchain” of L2 chains, allowing Ethereum to scale up effectively. The superchain offers shared security and tools for developers to interact and create Optimism-compatible L2s, which works with regular wallets. Coinbase and Optimism have worked together for more than a year, contributing to the development of EIP-4844, an Ethereum upgrade that could drastically reduce L2 transaction fees.

What the future holds for Base

In July, Base became available for developers to test their applications on the new network. Starting now, users can transfer their ether (ETH) to Base, according to a Coinbase blog post. The update coincides with Coinbase’s upcoming second-quarter earnings report and the start of “Onchain Summer,” a series of events for creators and developers to create art or develop applications on Base. Participants include Coca-Cola, Atari, and the non-fungible token platform, OpenSea.

The launch signifies Coinbase’s strategic commitment to web3 and L2 adoption, eyeing potential future revenues. Given the increasing demands of blockchain networks – whether for decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or myriad other applications – Layer-2s are emerging as an effective solution to improve scalability.

Base recently announced that the mainnet will be open to all users on August 9, providing a comprehensive platform to explore the various possibilities within blockchain technology.

According to Base, “Our mission remains unwavering: ushering in the next million builders and a billion users on-chain.”

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