UPDATE: Free Ross has indicated that their Coinbase account has since been reinstated.
Funds for Ross Ulbrichts legal appeal have reportedly been frozen when Coinbase shut down their account without notice.
Early Bitcoin pioneer and administrator of the controversial Silk Road open online marketplace Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence in prison. In order to cover legal costs to appeal his conviction, his supporters have raised Bitcoin donations under the banner of Free Ross. Many of those donations went to a Coinbase account rather than a wallet where his supporters directly controlled the private keys. According to Free Ross, that account has now been suspended, freezing a considerable amount of Bitcoin:
— Free_Ross (@Free_Ross) June 15, 2017
User complaints about Coinbase account closure is nothing new
Ross Ulbricht’s supporters are not the only ones to have complained about having their accounts frozen by Coinbase. Reports of similar account closures are a common theme on Reddit. In some cases this can be traced to a clear violation of their terms of service in order to comply with regulations imposed on Coinbase by government. In others, the reason becomes less clear.
For many users, usability trumps control over their funds
The reason that many users eschew control over their own funds when using a service like Coinbase is usability. Because of the smoothness of the platform, users are able to seamlessly buy, sell, and spend cryptocurrencies with a streamlined user experience. This overcomes a major adoption barrier, and many users either not thinking about the security of their funds, or aware but prioritizing ease of use instead, choose the simpler option.
In future developments, Dash aims to solve this major adoption hurdle by prioritizing user experience. With the Evolution update, users will have accounts with a simple username and password setup, pushing all the long cryptographic hashes to the background. Among many other features users will be able to easily send funds back and forth between friends, set up different accounts like savings and cash, and easily make purchases from a variety of merchants. Unlike current services, Dash Evolution will be protocol-level, and users will maintain control over their own funds rather than trusting them to another service.