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GDAX

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

Trading Accounts

 

Account type Minimum deposit Leverage Maker Fee Taker Fee
Standard Undisclosed 1:3 0% Up to 0.25%

 

GDAX, which stands for Global Digital Asset Exchange, is a company owned by Coinbase. While some of you may know Coinbase for the ability to purchase Bitcoin directly by Credit Card, GDAX is the other part of the company – the exchange aimed at traders. Trading fees at GDAX are much lower and margin trading is available.

 

The company, security of funds

 

Company Country Regulation
Coinbase USA NY BitLicense

 

As mentioned above GDAX is actually a part of San Francisco – based Coinbase. The company holds the New York BitLicnese, which is by its nature an interesting piece of legislation. The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) attempted to make the city a major Bitcoin trading center, the same way it hosts the world’s largest stock exchange. One may argue the idea backfired, as a lot of the key players backed-out of the 2015 proposal. This is due to the burdensome and slow regulatory procedure. As of the summer of 2017 only three companies have received the license and Coinbase is one of them.

 

When it comes to hacking, a major attack has not struck GDAX or Coinbase. That being the case, there was a “flash crash” in Ethereum prices, which raises suspicion. The coin was trading at around $317, when it suddenly spiked to an alleged value of 10 cents and quickly retraced. The company proceeded to halt trading and later claimed this was merely a “fat finger” - single large trader accidentally placed a market sell order, which triggered a chain of stop-loss orders to be executed. Here is а live video, shot by a trader, who has connected a MetaTrader4 platform to his GDAX account (the interesting thing happens around 2:50):

 

 

The public’s concerns, of course, come from the fact GDAX offers margin trading. The company could have manipulated the price, in order to wipe-out traders who were long. All of this is purely speculation.

 

 

Other than this case, the user reviews for GDAX generally match the ones for Coinbase. One of the major concerns of the fans of decentralization in the cryptoverse, is the fact a lot of the investors behind the project are well-established in the traditional financial sector.

 

Trading conditions

 

Trading instruments (cryptocurrencies)

Only three crypto currencies are available at GDAX, namelyBitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Trading is done against USD and EUR, with BTC/GBP also being available, alongside the crypto-crosses ETH/BTC and LTC/BTC.

 

Minimum initial deposit

There is no information on the minimum initial deposit at GDAX, which is not that unusual in the crypto currency sphere. On the other hand, most forex brokers have such a level and disclose it on their websites. For instance the FCA-regulated industry pioneers at IG (who also offer some coins as CFDs) proudly announce they do not have a minimum – you can open an account for as low as you want.

 

Leverage

Margin trading is available on GDAX, with a maximum leverage ratio of 1:3. While this may sound like nothing in comparison to the 1:500, which a lot of forex brokers offer, keep in mind such high levels only apply for fiat currencies, which rarely have price movements bigger than 1-2% per day. 

 

When it comes to crypto, the aforementioned broker IG offers 1:13 in leverage (a 7.5% margin requirement). For a full comparison between crypto-exchanges and forex brokers, who offer Bitcoin trading, read this article.

 

Fees

The costs of trading at GDAX are a lot lower than the ones available at Coinbase. When trading on the exchange, market “makers” (the people who place passive orders and wait for other traders to trigger them) do not pay a fee. Market “takers” (i.e. the “aggressive” traders who directly buy/sell with a market order) pay fees starting from 0.25% and going down for the bigger traders. Both of these levels (especially the free of charge passive trading) are very competitive.

 

Trading platform

 

The platform provided by GDAX, which is web-based, is a lot better than the one offered at Coinbase. That being said, we find the charting lacking when compared to the charts provided by TradigView (which other exchanges have integrated, as well as MetaTrader4, of course. Only a couple of predetermined moving averages are available, in terms of technical indicators. Here is a preview (click to zoom-in):

 

 

The order book is located at the left and the more bizarre design decision to place the “ask” column on top of the “bids” is made. While this may seem strange to experienced traders it does provide a nice graphical representation for beginners. The tape is located to the left, with the middle ground being taken by the chart (which is nothing special) and the open positions tab. 

 

Methods of payment

 

While Coinbase is obviously the main source of clients (and funds) for GDAX, money can also be sent directly to the exchange. This is a massive convenience tool, as accounts can be funded, without the need of paying the hefty Coinbase fees. That being said, Credit/Debit Card deposits can only be made via Coinbase, while GDAX accepts Bank transfers.

 

Conclusion

 

GDAX is a part of Coinbase and more specifically the part of the company, which is targeting more active traders. The fee structure is very competitive, especially with the free market “maker” trades. The selection of trading assets is not great, but the trading platform feels relatively nice (although charting is nothing special). Here is a summary of GDAX: 

 

Pros Cons
New York BitLicense Few altcoins available
Competitive trading fees Suspicion regarding the ETH spike
No major hacks yet  
Accepts Bank Transfers  
Relatively nice trading platform  

 

IC Markets

IC Markets Review
Trader's rating 4
Editor's rating 3.8

Trading Accounts

 

Account type/Platform Minimum deposit Minimum trade size Maximum leverage  Typical Spread Swap-free
(MT4) Standard  $200 0.01  1:500 1.1 pips on EUR/USD Yes
(MT4) True ECN $200 0.01  1:500 0.1 pips on EUR/USD + $3.5 per standard lot per side Yes
cTrader ECN $1000 0.01  1:500 0.1 pips on EUR/USD + commission of $3.00 per standard lot per side No

 

IC Markets offers its clients a choice of three live account types, available on two different platforms. The Standard account is a commission-free one, and True ECN one provides tighter spreads, but a commission of $7 round turn applies.


Micro lots are available for trade on all account types and, of course, the broker provides free Demo accounts, which are always appreciated by inexperienced traders.


What is more, IC Markets provides swap-free service to investors of Islamic belief, who are able to open Sharia-compliant accounts.


The Company. Security of Funds


Incorporated in Sydney, Australia in 2007, IC MARKETS is a NDD broker providing trading in more than 80 instruments, including a number of currency pairs, various CFDs on indices, commodities and futures, as well as precious metals. It also offers trading in some of the most popular cryptocurrencies - Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, Dash and Bitcoin Cash.


The company behind the IC MARKETS brand is International Capital Markets Pty Ltd., which holds an Australian Financial Services License and is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).


ASIC requires licensed companies to comply with various rules and to meet certain requirements. Clients’ money is to be kept in segregated trust accounts, separated from the companies’ operating funds. As for the minimum capital requirement, forex brokers must hold at least $ 1 million in order to prove their good financial standing and to operate legitimately.


Despite the regulation and the requirements set to Australian brokers, one should be aware of the risks of trading on margin. Returns and gains are not guaranteed. ASIC, the Australian Government nor any other person guarantees any funds in your account.


We would also like to point out that unlike many EU-based brokers, Australian ones are not covered by any compensation scheme. 

 

In 2008, IC Markets got a license from the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (‘CySEC’) and can now offer its services thoroughout the European Union and the EEA.


Trading Conditions


Minimum Initial Deposit
Traders are required to deposit $200 in order to open an account with IC Markets, which is an average initial amount. In comparison, Plus500 requires $100 and XM (holding, among others, also an ASIC license) demands just $5 from its clients as a start.


Average Spreads & Commissions

IC Markets offers variable spreads, the typical ones on its commission-free account amounting to 1.1, which is average. Spreads on the ECN accounts, on the other hand, are as low as 0.1 pips on EUR/USD on average, involving a commission of $6/$7 per standard lot round turn on the cTrader and MT4 respectively. So, trading costs of such account holders amount to just 07 – 0.8 pips, commission included, which is really attractive, especially considering that one can open such ECN MT4 account for just 200 bucks.


In comparison, XM also offers variable spreads starting from 0.0 pips on EUR/USD and applies commission of $5 on its Zero account, while spreads on its commission-free accounts start from 1.0 pips.


For further information, you may look up real-time spreads of 15 leading brokers here.


Maximum Leverage

Clients of IC Markets use leverage ratios up to 1:500 and such maximum leverage rate is considered high. Some jurisdictions cap leverage to significantly lower levels (i.e. 1:25 in Japan), because higher leverage involves higher risk of losses in excess of initial investments.


Most brokers usually offer leverage of up to 1:200 or 1:400, for instance global broker FXCM, also holding an ASIC license, provides leverage up to 1:400, and Plus500 – up to 1:200. Nevertheless, many brokers provide leverage ratios equal to or exceeding 1:500.


Trading Platforms


While most brokers provide just the MT4 and/or their in-house platform, IC Markets offers its customers a choice of three popular platforms: MetaTrader 4 (MT4), MetaTrader 5 (MT5) and cTrader. 


MT4 is the most widely used forex platform, available to the broker’s clients as Mac, iPhone/iPad and Android versions, as well as a Web Trader version. MT4 provides all the tools and resources a trader needs: a number of technical indicators, advanced charting package, wide range of Expert Advisers (EAs) and extensive back-testing environment. EAs are especially popular among experienced users, as they allow full automatization of trades, so traders may sit back, while the software does all the work.


If you are running EAs, it is vital that your platform is connected to our servers 24 hours a day. The best solution in this case is VPS and IC Markets has partnered with Commercial Network Services, NYCServers and BeeksFX VPS, to provide a customized low latency solution for their clients. The VPS seamlessly connects traders to the Equinix NY4 grid using cutting edge technology and providing excellent execution.


What is more, this broker provides Multi Account Manager MAM/PAMM options on MT4.

 

IC markets launched the MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platform in May, 2017. The MT5 sees a growing level of use recently, as MetaQuotes company tries to strengthen its presence on the market and ouphase its still more popular predecessor, the MT4.

 

In addition, IC Markets offers access to cTrader platform, which is custom-made for use in ECN environment. The IC Markets cTrader suite includes a PC, web and mobile versions, as well as automated trading software cAlgo.

Traders who are fond of automated trading are offered three more options with this broker: ZuluTrade, Myfxbook’s AutoTrade and Signal Trader's unique mirroring technology.


Institutional and high-volume traders (with minimum volume of $500 million per month) are also offered FIX API option to access market leading liquidity at affordable prices. The FIX Inside API can integrate the proprietary electronic and algorithmic client server, browser based, and mobile trading systems.


Methods of Payment


IC MARKETS offers its clients a variety of deposit/withdrawal methods: via credit/debit card, bank wire, BPAY, Neteller, Skrill, Webmoney, China UnionPay, FasaPay, PayPal and Qiwi.


What is more, this broker offers 10 flexible funding options in 10 different base currencies: AUD, USD, SGD, CHF, GBP, CAD, HKD, JPY, EUR, and NZD.


Conclusion


IC MARKETS is a reliable NDD Australian broker, offering competitive conditions for trading in a wide range of products on two platforms. To sum things up, here are the advantages and drawbacks with regards to IC MARKETS:

 

Pros  Cons
Low ECN spreads  No bonuses & rebates
Wide range of trading platforms & auto trading solutions  
ASIC-regulated   
High leverage levels available  

 

Country: Australia

Regulation: ASIC Australian Financial Services Licence Number 335692. 

Forex
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