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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  

 

itBit

itBit Review
Trader's rating 1
Editor's rating 4

Trading accounts and conditions

 

Account type Leverage Fees
Standard 1:1 *0.20% taker fee, 0% maker fee

*The OTC Trading desk for large orders charges a 0.10% flat fee per transaction.

 

itBit is a New York licensed US bitcoin exchange that offers services both to small retail and large and institutional clients. The service for smaller clients is called simply “exchange”, while the institutional service is called “OTC Trading Desk”. It is a “boutique service specializing in large bitcoin trades starting over 100 bitcoins”. It offers a deep orderbook, personalized trading support and competitive pricing. This service charges a flat fee of 0.10% per transaction. Additionally, itBit offers personalized service for active traders with a 30-day trading volume over 2,500 bitcoins.

 

Currently itBit offers trading only in Bitcoin against USD, EUR and SGD.

 

Unlike many exchanges who do not require verification at initial registration itBit does require immediate account verification, even before letting the users into their account. For the purpose one needs to provide a copy of government ID and proof of residence, which is more or less the industry standard. The verification process, particularly for foreign clients, takes a few days. For the institutional clients, there is a set of required documents that include incorporation or sole proprietorship proof.

 

ItBit does not offer leveraged trading, but there are cryptocurrency exchanges who do so, like Kraken, bitFlyer, Coincheck, Poloniex, etc. There is also a large number of forex brokers like IG, HYCM and easyMarkets, for example, who offer leveraged trading on CFDs on some of the most popular cryptocurrencies.

 

>> Forex brokers offering leveraged Bitcoin trading <<

 

The Company. Security of Funds

 

Company Country Regulation
itBit Trust Company, LLC USA  NYDFS

 

itBit is a New York based cryptocurrency exchange established in 2013 that operates legally in all 50 states, but also accepts international clients.

 

So far there are no unified rules and requirements for the US cryptocurrency exchanges, but the state of New York has introduced a license. In the spring of 2015 itBit has become the first US bitcoin exchange to get a charter from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) under the state banking laws. There are two major cryptocurrency exchanges who have a New York bitcoin license: Coinbase and its institutional platform GDAX.

 

itBit employs robust security measures, such as two-factor authentication, multiple layers of platform security and 100% bitcoin cold storage. The company adheres to the CryptoCurrency Security Standard (CCSS) , which is a set of procedural requirements for secure handling of bitcoins established by C4, BitGo Inc. Additionally, all USD assets,  FDIC-insured and all fiat and bitcoin customer assets are fully protected and backed by mandatory capital reserves. Furthermore, the funds of itBit’s US customers are held exclusively in regulated US banks and do not leave American soil. ItBit also provides its US customers with the 1099 forms for tax reporting. 

 

The exchange also is fully compliant with the US anti-money laundering and know-your-customer procedures and requirements.

 

Trading platform

 

We could not gain access to itBit’s trading platform. We noticed, though, that the exchange provides access to market data with charts, the order book and the bitcoin network with a hash rate, market cap, mining revenue and average confirmation charts to anyone who visits the site. We find this fairly convenient.

 

We also came across user comments that the mobile web interface of the exchange is quite slow, but this could be actually caused by slow network and not by the platform itself.

 

Methods of payment

 

The only payment method for fiat currencies itBit accepts, is bank transfer and nothing else. This is quite inconvenient, as the bank transfers, especially the international ones, are far from instant and come with hefty fees. There are also default withdrawal limits of USD $2, 500 daily and USD $15, 000 monthly, but they can be changed. This, however, is done through printing out, filling in and e-mailing a two-page from and we find this a bit tedious.

 

The fact that itBit does not accept payments with credit/debit cards is quite inconvenient, especially for international clients who must pay through the nose for bank fees and wait several days for their payment to be processed.

 

>> crypto exchanges who accept credit cards <<

 

Conclusion

 

The best thing about itBit is that it is a regulated and strict cryptocurrency exchange. It takes rules, regulations and security very seriously and this is a very good thing.

 

However, those who wish to remain anonymous or register and start trading quickly, should go elsewhere and look for exchanges that do not have such strict and lengthy verification requirements. Those who have nothing to hide, though, would be absolutely fine with itBit.

 

A plus of itBit is the offering of special services and lower fees for the large traders.

 

What we do not like about this exchange is the fact that it does not accept credit and debit cards as payment. This, as we said, is not very convenient for a number of reasons.

 

Another minus of itBit is the fact that it does not offer other cryptocurrencies, besides Bitcoin. For those interested in trading in more than one or another altcoin, most exchanges have a somewhat larger selection. There are also platforms like Bisq and LiteBit who have a pretty big portfolio.

 

Pros Cons
NY regulation No anonymity
Robust safety Bitcoin only
Special service for large traders No credit/debit cards accepted
Accepts fiat currencies  

 

 

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