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Ask HN: I have Bitcoin in Coinbase, what should I do before the forks?
68 points by r2b2 on July 19, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments
I have some bitcoin in Coinbase and I'm not a bitcoin expert, should I move my coins before the upcoming forks?

You don't have bitcoin on Coinbase you have an entry in a database that says Coinbase owes you X amount of bitcoins.

Yes it's a little more complicated than that but the analogy still stands.

Coinbase is a hosted wallet with no key control meaning that you do not have any control over the transactions of that wallet.

The other aspect of Coinbase is a nice interface for the GDAX exchange with about double the fees.

In either case if you care about the security of your investment create an wallet transfer the bitcoin into it and keep it offline.

For the fork you would like to use a node that is compatible with the proposal you support, if you have no opinions I suggest just accept the current leading consensus and be done with it.

What is a good way to create a personal bitcoin wallet?

p.s. I studied computer science, am reasonably fluent in computer security, but not a crypto or bitcoin expert.


Some self-education links at the bottom as well.

Depends on your level of paranoia. I use an encrypted file on disk to store a client and keys. I back this up offsite incase I get ransomwared. That's good enough for me.

The super paranoid roll dice to generate the private key, use a totally offline computer to convert those dice rolls into an address.

Blockchain.info, but not sure how they intend to handle the fork. May be best to set up a personal wallet using the mentioned link

Blockchain.info doesn't give you control over your own keys IIRC. Use an actual client, not a website.

I cannot find it on-line - but I have received a following message from Coinbase (<no-reply@coinbase.com>):

""" Dear Coinbase Customer,

The User Activated Hard Fork (UAHF) is a proposal to increase the Bitcoin block size scheduled to activate on August 1. The UAHF is incompatible with the current Bitcoin ruleset and will create a separate blockchain. Should UAHF activate on August 1, Coinbase will not support the new blockchain or its associated coin.

The User Activated Soft Fork (UASF) is a proposal to adopt Segregated Witness on the Bitcoin blockchain and could result in network instability. It is scheduled to activate at the same time as the UAHF.

To ensure the safety of customers’ funds, we will temporarily suspend bitcoin deposits, withdrawals, and buy/sell starting approximately 4 hours before activation of either fork.

If you currently have bitcoin in your Coinbase account, and do not wish to have access to UAHF coins or have immediate access to your bitcoin, you are not required to take any action.

If you wish to have access to UAHF coins or you wish to have immediate access to your bitcoin, you should send your bitcoin from Coinbase to your external address by July 31.

For more information on how to send bitcoin from your Coinbase account, please refer to this article: https://support.coinbase.com/customer/portal/articles/971437.

Thank you,

Coinbase Team """

This is very worrying. If a split happens each bitcoin will exist on two forked chains, that is it will become two coins - both will have some value (even if minimal). And now Coinbase announces that it will let users withdraw only one of them. What will they do with the other? Sell it somewhere?

Maybe the email is fake?

Update: Looks like on their blog they changed the message:

""" Customers who wish to access both blockchains at the time of the hard fork should withdraw their BTC from Coinbase since we cannot guarantee what will happen during the hard fork or when this access may be available. """ https://blog.coinbase.com/update-for-customers-with-bitcoin-... that sounds a lot saner.

That's odd. Coinbase was part of the New York Agreement[0], which are the group supporting the UAHF.

Both this email and the blog post make it sound as if Coinbase support the Core side, i.e. the UASF.

Can someone explain what I'm missing?

[0] https://medium.com/@DCGco/bitcoin-scaling-agreement-at-conse...

If I recall correctly, the New York Agreement is Segwit2x. UAHF is something else with little support.

Seems the implication is that if UAHF forks Coinbase (potentially) owns your UAHF coin. I wonder if and how the legal waters of this will be tested.

Move it to a hardware wallet.

"What happens to your bitcoins in case of a chain-split?" https://blog.trezor.io/trezor-advisory-uasf-chain-split-fork...

Having purchased two in the past couple of months, if you select the rush option (18 euros I think), you get it in 3-5 days (to US - other side of ocean probably faster) as opposed to getting it next month sometime due to demand.

I am not an expert but I think the split will ruin the magic. And if the first split occurs then why not a second one in 2-3 years? I see the split happening as a massive chance for quick cash for the big players( even though I can't prove it with fact, just my guts saying). I hope I'm wrong and continue living the dream.

Transfer them out to a paper or hardware wallet at a time when transactions are still visibly being hashed at a regular rate (overly cautious advice, but who's to say 100% that the miners don't decide to down tools for a day in protest?), but I'd suggest you do this a couple of days before August 1st to avoid the transactions being clobbered in the case of a fork.

Monitor the exchanges for a couple of days (you'll now be holding the coin on both sides of the fork), and when you feel the time is right to commit to one or either side, import your keys from the paper wallet to a wallet that supports the side of the fork you like the look of the most.

Basic advice is to hold, but hold safely - in a place that you have full control of your assets.

Do you have to commit to one or the other? Or could you transfer out from the paper wallet on both chains?

No - Your coins are safe under the single private key (i.e. wallet) on both chains, as all transactions prior to the fork are safely recorded on the blockchain for both forks (assuming the transaction out to the paper wallet was recorded to the existing single blockchain before the fork).

Your private key can be imported from the paper wallet to a wallet for both branches of the fork, meaning you'll have two wallets with the same amount of coin on each of the two blockchains - these can be sent independently of each other to wherever you like (as each branch of the fork will ignore the transactions of the other - in theory).

The only reason to commit to one of the two would be the perceived value of one over the other, and whether you want 'double' your eggs in one basket (perceived financial value ratio of one to the other notwidthstanding).

Again, the value of both will more than likely take a hit during (and for a while after) the fork, so please don't harbour illusions about doubling your investment overnight!

There will be plenty here on HN who know more about this however, so any corrections to the above are welcome.

Does anyone have an opinion on the Blockchain.info wallet? This is, what they wrote:


At this time Blockchain.info has no official stance on this debate. We are actively monitoring bitcoin network conditions and will work to minimize any potential impact to our users. In general, we follow the longest chain, as outlined in the white paper (https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf).

With that said you always have 100% control over your funds and private keys. Your wallet recovery phrase is compatible with any other BIP39/BIP44 wallet. So in essence no matter what happens you have control of these funds and can import them into any other wallet that our mnemonic/seed is compatible with. """

So when Bitcoin hardforks, coinbase is saying they wont "support" the new fork... but since they have the private keys, doesn't that mean they're essentially keeping all the hardfork coins for themselves?

I don't trade much. Pretty much just holding onto my btc parking it on Coinbase. I hear that slow transactions are part of the problem that led to the pending possible fork. That transaction fees have gone up. How much higher has it gotten, e.g. how much would it cost to move 1 btc from Coinbase to my Bitcoin-QT Core Wallet.dat and then how much to move it from Bitcoin-QT wallet.dat to a HW.1 hardware wallet? Thanks. Could the whole scare be to generate fees and sell hardware wallets? (Wish MtGox had made good while btc was lower.)

Strange, for two days now I've been trying to login to bitcointalk.org and get an invalid login. When I do the Ask a question for invalid logins I get invalid login again.

Generally it's not a good option to let them sit on somewhere where you don't control the keys.. I would advise transferring them to a paper or hardware wallet like a Trezor, cheers


It looks like if there is a hardfork then Coinbase will just keep your coins on the chain that they don't want to continue supporting. I would move coins to a wallet that you control (preferably something or somewhere not network accessible) beforehand so that you keep your coins on both chains.

I moved mine to my own wallet on Electrum https://electrum.org/#home

This is where I store my bitcoin. Is there anything I need to do or be concerned about with this fork for users who keep their bitcoin local?

As a side note, does anyone have a suggested wallet for storing ether?

MyEtherWallet is a sane wallet. They have their code in github so you can run locally, they have a .com website and a chrome extension. Personally I create some paper wallets and keep them safe, then I use MyEtherWallet chrome plugin for read-only access to the wallets. When I want to spend some ETH I scan the private key and spend immediately. All the excess funds form the transaction goes into another "locked" paper wallet.

Move it all to a wallet you control. You then get to choose when and where to spend/transfer it.

Personally, I went with a multitude of paper wallets.

Convert it to ETH

This is the play

If I move my coins from Coinbase to a Bitcoin-QT wallet, is there a chance that the blockchain the Bitcoin-QT maintains will lose if a fork happens? In that case would keeping the coins on Coinbase mean a higher probability they're remain good?

I would recommend transferring your BTC to a wallet that let's you manage your own private key such as https://strongcoin.com

You shouldn't keep it in coinbase regardless. I prefer the Nano Ledger S

I have coins in coinbase. Should I transfer them to a btc.com wallet?

Move it to a downloadable wallet on your machine.

And, as always, buy the dip.

By dip I assume you don't mean dual inline package which is an IC form where one can add or remove the IC from a socket, typically 8, 14, or 16 but larger sockets were used too.

If one puts one's btc onto a hardware wallet, e.g. HW.1, then the coins have been moved from the wallet on the computer or are they a copy of that which is on the computer?

Along the same lines, could we start describing the value of Bitcoin breaking through a price ceiling as Surface Mounting? :)

you can always convert it to another coin:


remain calm and sell sell sell sell!


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