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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  

 

KorBit

KorBit Review
Trader's rating 1
Editor's rating 3.8

Trading Accounts

 

Account type Leverage Maker Fee Taker fee Deposit Fee
Standard N/A Max 0.08% Max 0.20% Free

 

KorBit was the first Korean cryptocurrency exchange to offer BTC/KRW trading. They are an entry-level service (i.e. accept fiat currencies) but also offer a decent trading platform. The company is still one of the top-rated exchanges in the country, which drives relatively high trading volumes.

 

KorBit Advantages

 

Competitive fees –   The trading fees at KorBit are divided into the “maker” and “taker” category. Market makers are the traders who place a new entry in the order book, while takers are those who enter at the best available price. The fees at KorBit start from 0.08% and 0.20%, respectively. They can go even lower if you trade with bigger volumes. 

 

Cold storage – KorBit claims a majority of the coins they keep are kept in cold storage. This is a measure, applied by a lot of companies and drastically increases the security of wallets.

 

Several altcoins featured  – There are some alternative coins available at KorBit, but this is by no means the main benefit of the exchange (as is the case with Poloniex or Bittrex). The full list currently includes: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Calassic, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, Zcash, Monero, Augur and Steem. They are all traded against KWR.

 

KRW bank transfers accepted – Bank transfers from Korean banks are accepted at KorBit. More importantly, the company does not charge fees on any incoming transactions (although the banks involved in the process will). 

 

>> Purchase Bitcoin with a credit card<<

 

Credit cards are a much more preferable option for some users, although the commissions involved in the process can be pretty harsh. As an example Bitsatmp charges 8% on such transactions. 

 

 

Positive user feedback – While the non-Korean reviews of this exchange are relatively few in number, they are all positive. The company seems to operating legitimately, and with the competitive fee structure, most customers should be happy.

 

Nice trading platform – The web-based platform delivered by KorBit looks solid. Charting is provided by TradingView, which is always nice. Additionally the order book and tape (trading history), which are located below the chart also seem well-designed. Her is how they look: 

 

BTC/KRW chart. While the default template is simplistic it can easily be changed via the TradingView package.

 

The easy to read order book and tape.

 

KorBit Disadvantages

 

 

Focus on Korea – The issue, which a lot of locally focused exchanges have is also present at KorBit. They accept only Korean bank transfers and likely require such an account for the verification of your main trading account. The presentation in English, while not terrible is also not ideal.

 

 

Trading against KWR –  All of the trading activity at KorBit is done against the Korean Won (KWR). This may seem nice for local clients, but limits their ability for currency diversification and the option of quickly converting one coin into another.

 

Withdrawal fees – KorBit applies fees on withdrawals. They may not seem significant, but especially the ones imposed on blockchain transfers are annoying. Here is the list which also states all deposits are free of charge:

 

 

No leverage provided  – Margin trading isn’t supported by KorBit, which isn’t that big of a flaw. Cryptocurrencies are so volatile, that most traders don’t have the need to further increase the risks they are exposed to. For those of you who are willing to take even more aggressive steps, we must will recommend trading with as forex broker.

 

>>Leveraged Bitcoin trading brokers<< 

 

That being said, we must also underline the fact this style of trading is not suitable for long term investing. Trading with such brokers is done via the so called CFDs and is very different from going through a crypto-exchange. Read all of the important points here.

 

Conclusion

 

KorBit is one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea. The company has earned a solid reputation and is still very popular. That being said, their main flaw (from our perspective) is the domestic focus of this exchange. While they are not unique in that regard, as other Korean companies, like Coinone and Bithumb also operate in the same manner. 

 

The trading conditions at this exchange are solid – the instrument list features some altcoins, the platform is nice and the fees are up to date with the offers from other exchanges.

 

That being said, when dealing with cryptocurrencies, you must always consider the fact, there will be a certain level of uncertainty. Most veterans in the field would advice you to transfer any larger amounts of coins to a private wallet, whose private keys you control (or even a hardware wallet, like the Trezor or Ledger Nano). With that in mind, the forex brokers, which we mentioned earlier are often much safer alternatives. Click the link below for more details.

 

>>Tightly regulated Bitcoin forex brokers<<

 

And here is the final summary of this exchange (keep in mind, we are viewing it form an outside perspective, as we are not based in Korea):

 

Pros Cons
Competitive Fees Focus on Korea
Cold Storage Trading against KWR
Several altcoins featured Withdrawal fees
KRW bank transfers accepted No leverage provided
No deposit fees  
Positive user feedback  
Nice trading platform   

 

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