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Community angry after Coinbase taps USDC to celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day

In a bid to demonstrate cheap payments with USDC, Coinbase faced backlash from the Bitcoin community for not selling pizzas for BTC during Bitcoin Pizza Day.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase came under fire from the Bitcoin community for its unconventional celebration of Bitcoin Pizza Day, opting to sell pizzas exclusively for USDC instead of Bitcoin, triggering a wave of criticism.

On May 22, Coinbase launched its celebration by rolling out the Coinbase Pizza Truck in New York, offering pizza slices for $1. However, the only catch was that the exchange only accepted USDC, a stablecoin issued by Circle, Coinbase’s long-time friend, as payment, sparking controversy among Bitcoin enthusiasts.

While Coinbase’s move may have aimed to showcase the efficiency and transparency of stablecoin payments, the decision to exclude Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency being celebrated on the occasion, fueled furious outrage within the crypto community.

Despite the backlash, neither Coinbase nor its founder Brian Armstrong issued any public statements regarding the matter at the time of reporting. Former TechCrunch reporter Jacquelyn Melinek noted in an X post that she gets “the principle” of selling pizzas for Bitcoin but tried to defend Coinbase’s focus on USDC, citing lower transaction costs for businesses.

“Some people complained about Coinbase selling pizza with USDC instead of bitcoin on Bitcoin Pizza Day. I get the principle, but there’s a bigger message here: buying pizza with USDC makes transaction costs for business a few cents vs the usual 3% card fee.”

Jacquelyn Melinek

However, critics argued that Coinbase could have also accepted payments in Bitcoin through the Lightning Network, a layer-2 solution known for cheaper transaction fees, which the exchange has been promoting recently as a way for “low-cost BTC transfers.”

Bitcoin Pizza Day celebrates the first documented commercial transaction using Bitcoin.

On May 22, 2010, a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz famously paid 10,000 BTC (currently valued at around $700 million) for two pizzas, making it one of the earliest real-world transactions involving the cryptocurrency. The event is now celebrated annually as Bitcoin Pizza Day, symbolizing the beginning of Bitcoin’s journey towards mainstream acceptance as a form of currency.