Autonomous AI “agents” will transact using crypto in the future, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong argued in an interview with Decrypt.

“There are going to be more and more AI agents in the future, which are essentially bots that are trying to perform various tasks out there in the world,” Armstrong said.

Those agents will need to transact in order to pay for services like information and API calls, he added. “It's hard to imagine a world where different AI agents are paying each other with Visa, or something like that,” Armstrong said, adding that they will likely use “a digitally native currency like crypto.”

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Armstrong also suggested that the “intersection of where AI and crypto may come together” could throw up other use cases, such as establishing the provenance of information.

“In the world of fake information out there being generated by LLMs, or images or videos of people that can spread virally, even if it's not real, I think crypto has a role to play there,” Armstrong said. Video, images and articles could be cryptographically signed to publishers’ ENS handles, he suggested, verifying that they came from an authentic source such as a recognized author or news organization.

Coinbase is already using AI tools, Armstrong said, in areas such as fraud prevention, customer support and other backend services. “We use things like Copilot, which is assisting our developers in writing code,” he said, adding that Coinbase engineers report that it’s saving them an average of an hour a day.

AI, he said, has a variety of potential uses including, “user interface design and even some forecasting; from a financial point of view FP&A functions could integrate this.”

The future of crypto

Armstrong also highlighted some areas of crypto that Coinbase expects to bear fruit in the coming year, including payments. “We've seen a couple of enabling technologies come together—stablecoins, layer-2 solutions like Base—that I think are going to make payments more and more viable,” he said, pointing to “sparks” of activity in emerging markets such as Africa.

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Decentralized social media is also “exciting,” said Armstrong. “Now that we have decentralized identity, with ENS, we can start to build a follower graph,” he said. “You can start to have every post that someone might make, whether that’s text, or images or video, be an NFT, essentially.”

A number of decentralized social media projects have launched in the past year amid the well-publicized struggles of legacy platform Twitter, including Bluesky, Nostr, Friend.tech and Lens Protocol.

Stablecoins, DeFi and NFTs have “a long way to go,” but can “help push crypto into the next wave of adoption,” alongside payments and decentralized social media, Armstrong said. “Each of those already has tens of billions of dollars locked up in them, so they're not brand new. But you know, how do we get that to be 100 million or a billion people using it every day?”

Edited by Stacy Elliott.

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