Before Bitcoin Cash arrived, Coinbase made it clear that it had no plans to support a hard fork of Bitcoin and the resulting coins. That policy applied to its trading platform, GDAX, as well. So, customers who wanted to access Bitcoin Cash were told to withdraw their Bitcoin before the beginning of August.
However, fast forward to today and Coinbase announced that it will support Bitcoin Cash after all, in what looks like an attempt to appease the horde of angry customers that either did not get its original message or couldn't withdraw their Bitcoin in time for the hard fork.
"Over the last several days, we’ve examined all of the relevant issues and have decided to work on adding support for bitcoin cash for Coinbase customers. We made this decision based on factors such as the security of the network, customer demand, trading volumes, and regulatory considerations," says Coinbase.
Users started to complain on social media recently, accusing Coinbase of holding their Bitcoin Cash hostage and not properly informing them of what the hard fork would entail, and going as far as to threaten a class action lawsuit. This wouldn't have mattered as much had Bitcoin Cash been worthless after its creation on August 1, but in trading it peaked close to the $800 mark.
Everyone who had Bitcoin at the time of the hard fork was awarded the same amount in Bitcoin Cash in the process, so, for instance, if someone originally had 10 Bitcoin they would end up with 10 Bitcoin and 10 Bitcoin Cash after the hard fork. And that is a lot of "free money," as my colleague Wayne Williams put it. (Bitcoin, meanwhile, remained relatively stable at around $2,700, so the value of Bitcoin Cash wasn't subtracted from Bitcoin, but added instead.)
Those 10 Bitcoin Cash were worth nearly $8,000 then. It is still a lot of free money today as well, because Bitcoin Cash is now trading for around $327 based on the average listed on CoinMarketCap. This is the most optimistic scenario, mind you, because we are talking about selling the Bitcoin Cash at peak value, which is not something you can ever predict accurately, and having the Bitcoin moved to a wallet that supports Bitcoin Cash before the hard fork.
It is worth noting here that the vast majority of large exchanges do not support Bitcoin Cash at this stage, and neither do many wallets, but the list is slowly growing. Bittrex, Bitfinex and Kraken are among the largest exchanges that support Bitcoin Cash now.
Coinbase and GDAX will not offer full support for Bitcoin Cash, however. Users will only be able to withdraw Bitcoin Cash from their wallets and that feature is not expected to be offered soon. Coinbase hopes to have it ready by January 1, 2018, which applies to GDAX as well.
How happy users will be largely depends on the price they will be able to sell their Bitcoin Cash at when withdrawals are finally available on Coinbase and GDAX. Much can happen in the cryptocurrency scene in a matter of days. It's pretty much impossible to predict how a new coin will perform over the course of so many months.