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Bitcoin micro-transactions without any fees? Yep, that’s the new Coinbase feature

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After recently announcing instant Bitcoin transfers for verified users, Coinbase launched a new feature: off blockchain micro-transactions between the platform accounts. And the best? These operations charge zero fees.

The first “user” to try the new feature was Coinbase’s CEO. Brian Armstrong sent himself 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 Bitcoin). According to a statement posted on the platform’s blog this Monday (5), the operation was super fast: it arrived instantly, it was confirmed instantly and, like you already know, it costed zero in fees.

This was possible because the transaction didn’t “touch the blockchain (…), instead it was sent directly between two Coinbase accounts“. Working around the blockchain system, which is currently almost reaching nine gigabytes, Coinbase managed to avoid registering these micro-transactions.

With this new feature, it’s now possible for Coinbase users to quickly avoid the traditional “miner fee” – between $0.05 – $0.01 at current exchange rates – in super small transactions. And everybody knows how big these small fees look when you’re transferring any value equivalent to less than $1.

This opens a big golden door for Bitcoin, which becomes a much better option to transfer small amounts of money when compared to credit cards and their humongous fees. “There is no reason that a base fee that high needs to exist today”, the Coinbase’s statement adds.

The new feature can shed a whole new light over mobile business and some related paid content, like apps or games. This field deals mostly with micro-transactions and its expensive fee structures. However, “Bitcoin has the potential to help this problem by generally lowering fees. But things get really powerful with off blockchain transaction (…), because it literally brings the fees down to zero”.

Coinbase finishes the statement with a look into the future. As stated by the platform, “nine out of 15 teams at the Bitcoin Conference hackathon used our API, and built some great apps with it”. Now, Coinbase’s team is “excited to see what the developer community can come up when combining free micro-transactions” with this API.

In a near future, Bitcoin users might be able to do things like “buy in-game credits without paying 30% in fees to the platform or payment processors” or even “pay for wifi internet metered by the minute if you just need to check one email”. In other words, this is probably the first big step towards a system that will boost a new mobile and online commerce business models.

Maria is an experienced journalist currently living in the UK. She has been writing about Bitcoin and the altcoin universe since 2013. She is also a member of the Lifeboat Foundation's New Money Systems Board and a big cryptocurrency supporter.

View all Posts by Maria Santos

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3 comments on “Bitcoin micro-transactions without any fees? Yep, that’s the new Coinbase feature”

  1. Stephen Lawrence

    er, at first sight this sounds like the first step towards “fractional reserve banking” albeit the “fraction” is quite high at 99.99%. Then it starts dropping….and dropping…and then becomes an essential part of the global bitcoin financial system….which then can’t be allowed to fail…and so on? Can someone see a difference? Could be put an effective limit on the “fractional reserve” and keep it as high as 99.99% so it didn’t distort the monetary supply but provided free “small” transactions?

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