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Coinbase

Coinbase Review
Trader's rating 2.8
Editor's rating 4.1

Our Experience

 

When testing the direct purchasing service, provided by Coinbase, we were relatively satisfied. After entering our debit card details it was saved as a payment method. We must notе that our card was 3D-secured, which appears to be a mandatory condition. Having your card stored in the website, as opposed to having to enter the details a second time (which is the case with some websites, dealing with external payment providers) is a huge benefit.

 

Here is a preview of the order screen:

The commission charged was slightly lower than the maximum of 4%, and we had full price transparency. When compared to the 8%, charged by Bitstamp (for direct card purchases), this is obviously preferable. The rate at which we bought Bitcoin was around €14 off the current market price, at GDAX. This is quite reasonable considering the fact we are talking about a volatile asset, trading around  €6,500 at the time of purchase. We tried comparing it with the rate provided by other exchanges, but the price differences (especially since we are talking about EUR trading) were much wider.

 

Trading Accounts

 

 

Account type Initial weekly limit Leverage Fees
Standard €325 None Up to 4%

 

Coinbase is one of the leading US companies in the world of crypto currencies. It operates two separate brands. One of them is Coinbase, a more retail consumer oriented platform for buying Bitcoin with fiat currencies, much like Bitstamp. On the other hand, GDAX (Global Digital Asset Exchange) is a more advanced crypto currency trading platform. This review will be focused on Coinbase.

 

The company, security of funds

 

Company Country Regulation
Coinbase USA NY BitLicense

 

Coinbase operates out of the US, with many subsidiaries around the world. It was the third company to be awarded the New York BitLicense. The story behind this license is quite controversial. In short, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) wanted to make the Big Apple a “Bitcoin trading hub”, much how it is one of the major centers of traditional finance. The idea, dating from 2015 wasn’t met with much enthusiasm by the leading companies, as many of them preferred to avoid application. Among the dozen who did, Coinbase obtained the license in January of 2017. The entire process is apparently so time (and effort) consuming, a lot of other major players opted out of it, which makes the license borderline useless. 

 

When it comes to crypto exchanges, hacking is an important topic. That being said there haven’t been any major hacks at Coinbase, although numerous individual cases have been reported. Some involve the hackers going past the two-factor authentication barrier, which one would believe to be very secure.

 

As we mentioned above, Coinbase is the retail-oriented brand of the company. As such it accepts fiat currencies and allows an instant purchase of several coins (more on the list, later). The vast majority of user complaints against Coinbase involve the size of the commission fees which the company charges. They vary by region and payment method, but go as high as 4%.

 

In 2018, Coinbase acquired an e-money license from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which allows it to provide payment services in the UK and issue e-money. Abiding by the FCA requirements, Coinbase will be keeping clients in segregated funds and will observe operational standards on par with the other regulated financial institutions.

 

Additionally, Coinbase is backed by a lot of investors, including major players in “traditional finance”. This is another factor which fans of the decentralized aspect of crypto currencies do not enjoy. 

 

Trading conditions

 

Trading instruments (cryptocurrencies)

Only a few coins are available at Coinbase, but they are the majors – Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Don’t forget this is an entry-level service, which is aimed at people who are not that familiar with the world of crypto currencies. If you would like to buy less known coins (or altcoins), you could do that at another exchange, after transferring your newly acquired BTC/ETH/LTC there.

 

Weekly Limits

After verifying your e-mail, telephone, ID and credit card, at Coinbase, you can beginning purchasing coins. Our initial limit was €325 per week (via Credit Card). This may vary for you, based on your location (US clients will surely get a USD level). This level can be increased after you reach the maximum and some time has passed. This is done as a security measure and one should not feel frustrated about it.

 

Leverage

Coinbase does not offer margin trading. This is the more accepted practice, when dealing with crypto currencies. The forex brokers who offer Bitcoin trading, on the other hand mostly provide CFDs on it and margin trading is allowed. For a full comparison of trading crypto currencies on an exchange and with a forex broker read this post

 

Fees

The commission structure at Coinbase is one of its criticisms. If you decide to deposit via Credit Card, for instance, you can buy your chosen coin directly. While this may appear to be convenient, it comes at a price – for most countries the commission fee on such a purchase can go as high as 4%. 

 

Alternatively, you can fund your account with fiat currencies, which you can then use to trade. In that case the fees are set at 1.5%, which is pretty high. However if trading is what you are looking for, the company’s other brand – GDAX (as well as many others) are alternatives.

 


Trading platform

 

Coinbase does not provide a platform, as much as it offers an interface similar to an online banking application. Here is an overview (click to zoom-in):

 

 

There is a basic chart in the top section, allowing you to switch between the three supported instruments and multiple timeframes. On the bottom you have a column with all of your wallets with the company as well as a transaction history column. Overall, it doesn’t get any simpler than this. That being the case, we must reiterate, this is only the “real-money payments” brand of the company, while a more dedicated platform is also available at GDAX.

 

Methods of payment

 

When it comes to the methods of payment available at Coinbase, they include Bank Transfer, Credit/Debit Card and PayPal (only for US clients). While we discussed the transaction fees above, it’s worth pointing out that no additional fees are charged for crypto currency transfers to other exchanges or wallets.

 

Conclusion

 

Coinbase is one of the major players in the crypto currency space. The company is focused on allowing people who are not familiar with Bitcoin and allows them an easy way of acquiring crypto currencies. While there isn’t any trading platform to speak of, the company has another brand (GDAX) which provides exactly that. We feel it would be much better for Coinbase to honestly state their trading fees are higher, but you can use your account at their other platform, in a big banner upon account cration. Here are Coinbase’s pros and cons: 

 

Pros

Cons

New York BitLicense Few altcoins available
No major hacks yet High trading fees
Accepts Bank Transfers and Credit Cards  
Easy to use interface  
Ability to transfer crpyto to wallet  

 

Crypto Facilities

Crypto Facilities Review
Trader's rating 5
Editor's rating 3.8

Trading accounts

 

Account type Minimum deposit Leverage Maker Fee Taker Fee
Standard Undisclosed 1:50* -0.03% (rebate) 0.05%

* Trading conditions at this exchange are more specific due to the nature of the products available for trading. For more details check the full review.

 

Crypto Facilities is a platform for cryptocurrency futures trading. This makes them one of the options for miners, looking to hedge their exposure. The most well-known other similar platform is BitMEX

Warning: Several other companies have used Crypto Facilities' FCA registration number. As far as we know, their original website is the only one at which they operate. Here is proof of their disagreement and frustration with these scammers:



 

 

The company, security of funds

 

Company Country Regulation
CRYPTO FACILITIES LTD UK FCA

 

Crypto Facilities is registered in the United Kingdom and more importantly overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This is very unusual as the British watchdog usually doesn’t look at companies dealing in the crypto-space. That being said, this is derivatives trading company, and the crypotocurrencies are only the underlying asset.

 

While the FCA oversees a lot of companies (like forex brokers) and enforces a lot of rules, there are a few specifics in regards to Crypto Facilities. You are probably familiar with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), especially if you have read some of our reviews on forex brokers. This is a mechanism, which guarantees client funds, in case their brokerage goes bankrupt. As point 3.2 of the Membership Agreement at Crypto Facilities states, the FSCS does not apply, as your account balance is kept in cryptocurrencies, which are not yet defined as either “money” nor a “Specified Investment”. 

 

That being said, all of the client accounts are held in segregated cold-storage wallets, backed by Elliptic, an industry-leading crypto-security company. Additionally the blockchain settlement is insured by an “A-rated, Fortune 100 underwriter”. Given the fact the company is based in the UK, you probably have a pretty good idea of which insurer they are referring to, presuming you have any knowledge of that market. 

 

With such major security claims, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear that Crypto Facilities has not been hacked yet. In general, this company appears to be much more secure than a lot of the traditional cryptocurrency exchanges.

 

Crypto Facilities partnered with the CME group in order to provide two Ethereum indices. They are the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate (Ether Reference Rate), which will provide a daily benchmark price in U.S. dollars at 4 pm London time, and the CME CF Ether-Dollar Real Time Index (Ether Real Time Index), which will allow users access to a real-time Ether price in U.S. dollars. Price data is gathered from two of the most reputable exchanges: Kraken and Bitstamp.  Being connected with such an established derivatives trading institution, like the CME Group is a positive sign.

 

There aren’t that many user reviews on Crypto Facilities, which is understandable, given the relatively complicated nature of their offering. The few comments we found were all positive.

 

We feel the need to reiterate, trading on this venue is very different from other cryptocurrency exchanges. The company has even set-up a questionarie, which one must fill before being allowed to trade. This is done in order to protect unsophisticated enthusiasts from loosing their funds due to not understanding the nature of margin trading.

 

Trading conditions

 

Account types (cash and margin)

Before we begin discussing the trading conditions at Crypto Facilities, we must mention the accounts are only kept in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple. Additionally, before you begin trading, you must transfer coins (internally) between your main (cash) account and one of your margin accounts. The latter vary by trading instrument. While all of this seems very complicated, in reality it isn’t. Here is how the wallet interface looks:

 

 

Each of your secondary wallets serves as your trading balance for that particular futures contract. This provides a form of risk management, which is always appreciated. 

 

Trading instruments (cryptocurrencies)

Crypto Facilities supports Bitcoin (with the newly agreed upon symbol XBT, instead of the more traditional BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) futures trading. 

 

The currently available crosses can be seen in the previous screenshot, where three coins are traded against the USD and there is an XRP:XBT pair. 

 

In terms of maturity, contracts are weekly, monthly and quarterly (for some instruments).

 

Leverage

The maximum leverage ratio offered by Crypto Facilities is 1:50 for Bitcoin to USD trading. The conditions vary for different instruments and are a bit more complicated than the ones offered by other companies. Here is a preview:

 

 

Be sure to fully understand the meaning of all the terms listed here before you start trading. 

 

Margin netting, between long and short positions is available, presuming you trade from the same margin portfolio. 

 

We must mention, that there are other derivatives based on digital assets. These are the spot CFDs, available at some forex brokers. While Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most popular, Litecoin is also occasionally being offered. While these CFDs are linked to the current price of the asset in question and not the future value, they do have some further specifics. You can read all about them here, if you are interested.

 

Fees

The fees at Crypto Facilities are charged in XBT, ETH and XRP, in accord with the specific contracts. Here are the details:

 

We have to compare these fees with ones charged by the major competitor offering a similar service. The taker fee at BitMEX is 0.075%, while market makers get a 0.025% rebate, which makes Crypto Facilities the cheaper trading venue.

 

Summary 

 

While the above description of the trading conditions may appear complicated, here is a table, summarizing it all:

 

 

 

Trading platform

 

The trading platform at Crypto Facilities is web-based. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with cryptocurrencies, there is an argument to be made for desktop solutions.  The platform was updated to feature charting by TradignView (which is a top-tier third party provider) and have an interface which is generally cleaner.

 

 

The order book is arranged in two columns, which traders versed in traditional markets will prefer to the single column approach, used by many exchanges. 

 

Update: This section of the Crypto Facilities website is apparently taken down, but we will keep the following text. 

 

The “analytics” section off the website offers some extra features.. Here is how the index charting looks (The overall index allows comparison to the quotes provided by Bitstamp, Bitfinex, BTC-E, Coinbase and ItBit.):

 

 

And here is a preview of the futures curves, which allow one to see if the market is in a contango or backwardatiwon:

 

 

Our opinion of the Crypto Facilities platform is neutral. While it offers some futures-specific elements, the main trading window is less than ideal. Additional tools will probably needed for serious trading.

  

Methods of payment

 

The only way of transferring funds in and out of Crypto Facilities is the blockchain. Once you register an account, you are given Bitcoin, Etherum and Ripple wallets, to facilitate your trading. As mentioned above the control to specify how much to put into each margin wallet and how much to leave as “cash” is a neat feature.

 

Conclusion

 

Crypto Facilities is a London-based cryptocurrency futures trading platform, overseen by the FCA. While the they do not participate in the FSCS, they still follow other major rulings. The company’s overall security appears to be much higher than what is currently offered by other exchanges. That being said, trading at Crypto Facilities is not for everybody. The mere concept of futures trading is somewhat more complicated than the ordinary crypto trading. Add the volatility of cryptocurrencies on top of that and you get a potentially explosive combination. More experienced traders, as well as miners looking to hedge their “virtual crops” may find this to be one of their best options. Here are the pros and cons of Crypto Facilities:

 

Pros Cons
FCA-regulated (FSCS doesn’t apply) Complicated trading environment
Top-tier security features Accounts held in crypto
Blockchain settlement insured Only accepts blockchain transfers
Charts by TradingView  
Two-factor Authentication
 

 

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