Coinbase's liquid staking product provides investors access to on-chain yield with the ease and simplicity of remaining inside the Coinbase ecosystem.
Coinbase's liquid staking service allows users to earn staking rewards without locking assets or maintaining staking infrastructure. Users deposit their PoS assets into Coinbase's smart contracts and receive cTokens (i.e. cbETH) which represent ownership of the underlying staked assets plus any rewards accrued, minus any penalties such as slashing. The conversion rate between the cToken and the underlying assets thus changes as rewards accrue and penalties are incurred. Users can withdraw or redeem their stTokens back for their original PoS assets at any time, but must wait the duration of the unbonding period respective to each PoS chain. For ETH staking, redemptions are not possible until Phase 2 of ETH 2.0 merge and withdrawals are enabled on the beacon chain; until then, cbETH can be transferred or traded on exchanges. Following the merge, Coinbase will re-stake transaction fee rewards and any other sources of validator revenue to compound ETH staking rewards.
Coinbase generates revenue by charging a fee on the staking rewards earned by depositors. There are no fees associated with wrapping or unwrapping cTokens.
Passive holders of PoS assets like ETH can generate additional yield on top of their holdings by participating in the PoS validation mechanism to earn block rewards. The unlocked liquidity with cTokens can also be redeployed within a number of popular DeFi protocols to generate additional yield on top of the staking rewards.