Hank Stoever
part time nerd, part time gnar.

Coinbase desperately need a sandbox mode

posted almost 8 years ago - 1 min read

Coinbase is a popular Bitcoin payment processor. I love using them with Uludum, but there is a major feature they're missing:

Sandbox Mode!

Sandbox Mode is when you can interact with a payment service and mimick real-life payments without using real money. For example, when you're setting up payments on your website, you will undoubtably want to check that it works before you let the whole world send you their money. For an example of a company that does this splendidly, look no further than Stripe.

Stripe is a payment company that helps websites accept payments with credit cards. They offer a fantastic Sandbox mode that make it dead simple to tests payments without using real money. Their sandbox mode offers a few other fantastic benefits:

  • Declined card - granted, this isn't a possible scenario with Bitcoin, but the ability to test errors deliberately saves a ton of time. Imagine if you had to test that your system correctly handles errors by using an overdrawn credit card!
  • Separate Dashboard - Stripe provides a seperate dashboard for your sandbox mode. It's so nice to get a clean picture of your accounts without mixing "real" and "test" data.
  • Testing every possible scenario - this is similar to my first point, but Stripe's testing page offers a way to test things like failed bank transfers, disputed transactions, and more.

One of the wonderful parts of Bitcoin is it's complimentary testnet, which is a mimick of the real blockchain that developers can use for testing. I've heard rumors of Coinbase desiring to setup a sandbox mode using testnet, but until now no visible action has been made.

There is a workaround right now - just create a second account for testing purposes. This isn't optimal, as you still have to deal with 'real money' and having two seperate accounts isn't a very streamlined workflow.

Closing notes:

I'd love to hear more thoughts about this situation! Do you think that a sandbox mode isn't necessary with Bitcoin because it doesn't have to deal with things like chargebacks and declined cards?

If you, like me, think this is a big deal, reach out to Coinbase and let them know how you feel!

Edited since posting: I first posted that Bitpay did not have a sandbox or testing mode. I am wrong about that!

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