One of the most popular entry points into the world of crypto is through what’s known as the learn and earn model. Coinbase and Coinmarketcap both offer free crypto in return for learning about newly traded currencies, but how do they live up to the promise?
To find out if these learn and earn platforms are worth it, we’ve compared the two leading providers.
They both employ a ‘learn to earn’ model designed to educate and promote cryptocurrency adoption rewarding users with cryptocurrency as they progress through education videos and answering simple questions.
We’ll look at the educational value of these campaigns, how reliable they are at paying out and whether the crypto rewards have proven valuable.
Coinbase is one of the world's most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, shortly to be listed in an IPO valuing the company at over $100bn. Coinbase Earn is the company's incentives program designed - in partnership with newly listed cryptocurrencies - to promote adoption by educating users and rewarding them with cryptocurrency for their time.
The first campaign was in early 2019 for a privacy coin called Zcash (ZEC) and in total there have been 16 educational promos with rewards following a familiar pattern and presentation style.
Each course educates users on a specific crypto protocol or cryptocurrency through a series of short videos, normally only 1 minute long, at the end of which is a single multiple choice question.
If you get the answer right you immediately receive a fixed ‘free crypto’ reward in the currency relevant to that particular course paid into your Coinbase wallet. The reward values are clearly stated, and always in dollars.
If you get the answer wrong, you can simply try again until you get it correct.
The videos have high production value, including narration, but are packed with jargon, and it is an almost impossible task to condense a complex subject into 60 seconds.
The questions are comically easy, which suggests that there isn’t a huge desire on the part of Coinbase to validate that the user has absorbed and understood the information.
There is no specific logic to the cryptocurrency projects added to Coinbase Earn. Inclusion will be driven by commercial logic, and presumably the willingness of the teams behind those coins to cover some or part of cost. Both Coinbase and the featured Crypto stand to benefit.
It’s important to note that Coinbase Earn is also intended to help acquire new Coinbase users, as to receive any rewards you have to register an account and go through their KYC process.
Be aware that there is a 24 hour wait for new customers to be eligible for Coinbase learn and earn, and not every country is supported, which is something you’ll only figure out once you have created an account, and gone through the laborious process of providing proof of identity.
A recent example campaign for Coinbase Earn is for NuCypher.
if you were to complete the course on NuCypher - a service for encrypted sharing of data on public blockchains. You can earn $3 worth of NU Tokens - $1 equivalent for each of three courses that last only one minute.
The funds are automatically added to your Coinbase wallet, and can be freely traded for other cryptocurrencies or withdrawn, though withdrawal fees and limits apply. For withdrawals, there is a fee of €0,15 for SEPA withdrawals. For Canadian users, there is a $1 fee to deposit or withdraw CAD.
For those unwilling to sit through a 60 second video, the answers are widely available online. When Coinbase first started running these learn and earn campaigns, the biggest opportunity for free crypto was from referring other users to register with Coinbase and participate in the campaign.
The referral element has now been discontinued, presumably because it seemed only to be fuelling free coin hunters rather than genuine new users, and the whole learning element became irrelevant.
In fact Coinbase have completely dialled down the number of learn and earn campaigns in general.
Those that have been patient enough to take advantage from the beginning, and hodled the funds, or maybe converted to bitcoin, will have enjoyed a significant increase in value. That is a good learning experience in itself, but the value of the content itself is probably less dramatic.
Coinbase Earn is undoubtedly reliable and trustworthy, and the content is well made, but it just skims the surface.
You can find a full list of the campaigns they offer at Coinbase Earn. .
Coinbase Earn set the bar quite high for the learn and earn model, in 2020 Coinmarketcap - having been acquired by Binance - rolled out their own version. employing a similar model.
Each user who watches a series of educational videos about a crypto project and correctly completes the quiz will receive some of that project’s cryptocurrency as a reward; note that unlike Coinbase, the rewards aren’t fixed (more on that below).
Unfortunately, the campaign was riddled with problems from the start. You only have to search Reddit and Twitter to see the sense of the issues.
The biggest issue CMC had was trying to create a seamless experience between their platform and Binance, that was crediting the rewards. Coinbase didn’t have that issue.
You need both a CMC account and a verified account at Binance; during the process of completing a course you have to provide details for both, which makes it a very disjointed process.
It that wasn’t off-putting enough:
Coinmarketcap responded to criticism, saying it takes their team time to verify that tasks have been completed and that all rewards will be handed out on a rolling basis.
On the positive side, the questions are harder than Coinbase and you cannot just retake the quiz, but the answers are of course available via a quick Google.
Considering the time, it may take some users to go through the content and complete the quiz the level of payout means that often the courses fail to come close to minimum wages and certainly well below withdrawal limits on Binance.
Let’s be honest. There isn’t a lot you can learn in one minute about an abstract new crypto project, the biggest take away is that there are a lot of new projects trying to use crypto incentives to provide better solutions to conventional problems.
If you want a foundational introduction to how cryptocurrencies work both CMC and Coinbase offer better content elsewhere on their sites, and of course Learn Crypto has a knowledge base and more detail on learning and earning free crypto.
In summary, the learn and earn approach is:
Overall, these platforms can provide those interested in learning about specific crypto projects with brief introductions which might whet the appetite and pay a small crypto reward.. They fill a gap in the crypto education market that connects blockchain knowledge to real-world use cases.
What you would have made if you had earned all available awards from Coinbase Earn as soon as available and hodled
On the other hand, they should not be considered ways to earn crypto quickly. The rewards they pay out tend to be nominal, and the wait times can vary significantly, with Coinmarketcap’s process being far from transparent.
Their success has also led to scam sites trying to take advantage of freecoin hunters, so be very careful that you are using official sites.
The most valuable lesson learned might come from figuring out how to turn a random coin into something you actually want. The process of converting, moving and mitigating transaction fees, will improve your knowledge of crypto.
You’ll also start to see patterns emerging in each of the new projects desperate for your attention, which don’t necessarily leave you thinking they are something you would actually use.
But they do make you realise that almost every area of centralised technology is going to get the crypto treatment, whether it adds value or not. And in the process there will be opportunities to earn free crypto simply if you're prepared to offer your attention.
The choice of whether to create an account at Coinbase, CMC and Binance simply to earn some crypto will come down to how much you value sharing your personal information. You’ll probably learn more once you’ve earned a few dollars worth of a new crypto and have to then move it or exchange it. In that sense it does provide value to the beginner, but in the way it is intended.
As is true of crypto in general, those that got int early will have made out like bandits but there is still likely good value in taking advantage of the opportunities to learn and earn at both Coinbase and Coinmarketcap, just do with your eyes open and expectations realistically set.