How Coinbase thinks about the Metaverse

Written by Brian Armstrong, CEO and Co-Founder, and Alex Reeve, Head of Identity Product

These days, everyone is talking about the Metaverse.

Primitive Metaverse platforms sell virtual land for millions of dollars. Billions more are invested in Metaverse startups. And Mark Zuckerberg recently rebranded his entire company to reflect the focus on building the Metaverse.

The term “Metaverse” is not new. It was first used by author Neil Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. But as technology improves, and we spend more of our lives online, more people are starting to think about the next step — and how the future could revolutionize both the digital and physical worlds. .

Recently, our team put together an in-house presentation about the Metaverse, who it’s working on, and how cryptography will help make it real. I thought the presentation was well done, so I’m sharing most of the slides here.

select metaverse

At Coinbase, our thinking about the Metaverse has been heavily influenced by venture capitalist and writer Matthew Ball (you can find his work here). Like Matt, we define the Metaverse as:

The future of the Internet: a large-scale, persistent, interactive, and interoperable real-time platform consisting of interconnected virtual worlds where people can socialize, work, interact, play and create.

The first version of the Internet, Web1, was about accessing static web pages. Web2 is interactive social experiences within closed ecosystems. Web3 will be about digital ownership in an open, decentralized environment.

Metaverse is the far evolution of Web3. In its most complete form, it will be a series of decentralized and interconnected virtual worlds with a fully functional economy where people can do anything they can do in the physical world.

Most importantly, the Metaverse is Not Same thing as gaming (an activity you can do inside the Metaverse), or virtual reality (a way of interacting with the Metaverse). It’s also not the same as Web3 (a distant ancestor of the Metaverse).

To illustrate, here’s how some of the current platforms stack up against our definition of the Metaverse:

Metaverse items

While a full Metaverse is still a long way off, it will be based on a foundation that is being built now.

Like the Internet today, the Metaverse will depend on hardware, infrastructure, tools, standards and regulatory frameworks – most of which are yet to be fully developed.

But unlike the internet today, there will never be just one Metaverse. There will be many Metaverses, and they will be interconnected. That’s why it will be important for any Metaverse to be untrusted – meaning people can interact directly without going through an intermediary – and without permission – which means anyone can participate without permission from a governing body.

To achieve this, the Metaverse will rely on the blockchain to transfer identity and ownership across virtual worlds, a certificate to verify, and payment bars that allow people to buy, sell and earn income within the framework of a decentralized economy.

Who is building the Metaverse today?

While we can’t build anything close to the full Metaverse yet, different companies and organizations are experimenting with different elements of it. Most of them fall into three categories:

The Metaverse ecosystem is still in its infancy: nascent and yet to be identified. This is her beauty, too. There is a lot of focus on gaming, mostly because it’s easy to monetize. But we’re getting glimpses of what the future might look like.


Identity defines who you are, what you can access and do, and how you are represented across the worlds of the Metaverse.

In the Metaverse, our identities must include an easy login, a unique identifier, an avatar that represents us, metadata that tracks us, and a certificate so that we can prove our identity. Here’s where each of those pieces are today:

Where Coinbase Comes From

At Coinbase, we want to help bring all the pieces of identity together – essentially creating an identity on the ramp to the Metaverse.

This is the idea from our work with ENS, which makes it possible to create a unique NFT username that turns into a wallet. Ultimately, this will allow users to carry a unique ID across different worlds in the Metaverse.

We’re also working on technology that allows you to purchase your avatar, define and maintain your public profile, and build trust. We are working on features like Sign in with [Eth/Coinbase], which may allow users to log into every application in the Metaverse.


At the end of the day, it’s not about expanding our business or making money. It’s about building an important part of the Metaverse ecosystem, and helping crypto grow in the right way.

We know that the Metaverse will exist, and we know that it will be a series of interconnected virtual worlds. Our goal is to make it easy for anyone to establish their identity and access those worlds in a simple, reliable and decentralized way.

If we succeed, it will allow the Metaverse to reach its full potential – and keep it free and open to all.

How Coinbase Thinks of the Metaverse was originally posted on the Coinbase blog on Medium, where people continue the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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