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Kraken

Kraken Review
Trader's rating 1.4
Editor's rating 4

Account type

 

Account type Minimum deposit Leverage Maker fee Taker fee
Standard Undisclosed 1:5 Max of 0.16% Max of 0.26%

 

Kraken is one of the most popular crypto currency exchanges. It is currently the world’s leader, in terms of Bitcoin to EUR trading volumes. 

 

The company, security of funds

 

Company Country Regulation
Payward, Inc, USA N/A

 

The Kraken exchange is operated by the San Francisco-based Payward Inc. The company is not under direct regulation by any agency, but this is not unusual in the crypto currency space (at least for now). 

 

The company’s overall reputation is pretty solid. It hasn’t experienced any major hacks yet. Furthermore, it was chosen as the platform, through which payments to creditors of ill-fated Mt.Gox received their claims. If you are not familiar with the case,  Mt.Gox was a huge Bitcoin exchange in Japan, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014, following a shady turn of events, which are another topic altogether. The company was then under special administration, which chose Kraken as a reliable partner, in order to facilitate payments to creditors.

 

Most of the coins on Kraken are kept in cold storage, with the exception of the ones currently used for trading, of course.

 

User reviews on Kraken are fairly mixed. Complaints vary from slow processing of deposits, lack of response by the customer support to stop-loss orders not triggering. While the latter is concerning the former two may be related to lack of staff, similarly to the issues which Poloniex currently has.

 

Trading conditions

 

Trading instruments (cryptocurrencies)

 

Kraken offers quite a few trading instruments. Although the exchange is most famous for its Bitcoin and Ethereum to cash (EUR and USD) markets, altcoins are also available. Here is a list of all the coins you can trade one way or another: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, EOS, Dash, Ripple, Monero, Iconomi, Zcash, Augur, Gnosis, Stellar Limens, Dogecoin, Melon. Kraken plans to add new coins in the future.

 

It is worth mentioning this is one of the rather few exchanges which provides trading Bitcoin against currencies like the CAD and GBP. Although majors in the forex market, these are not often provided at crypto-exchanges. That being said liquidity may be an issue.

 

Minimum initial deposit

 

No minimum deposit level is specified by Kraken. Although this is not unusual in the cryptoverese, forex brokers (some of which allow Bitcoin trading) specify this on their websites. As an example, the industry leaders at IG proudly claim they do not have a minimum deposit requirement.

 

Leverage

 

Leverage is only offered for some of the instruments at the Kraken Exchange. It varies from 1:2 to 1:5. These levels may seem low, if you are used to forex trading, where a lot of brokers offer 1:500 in leverage. That being said, even they provide lower levels for crypto currency trading. For instance, the FCA-regulated industry veterans at HYCM currently offer 1:10 for Bitcoin trading.

 

Kraken charges a fee for leveraged trading. It varies from 0.01% to 0.02%, based on the instrument and is applied every four hours. This is a hassle you will not have if you chose to trade Bitcoin with a forex broker. Do keep in mind there is a huge difference between the services provided by forex brokers and crypto-exchanges. For a full breakdown, read this article

 

Fees

 

Kraken charges different fees for market “makers” and “takers”. At the time of writing of this review, they are 0.16% for the makers and 0.26% for the takers (for the lowest volumes). 

 

For those of you who are unaware of what these terms mean, trading on an exchange is slightly different than, forex trading. If you want to buy a particular instrument, you can do this directly, by getting it from the lowest available ask price (offer). This is an “aggressive” entry, which takes away market liquidity and is connected to a bigger fee (the taker fee). On the other hand, you can place your own bid in the order book, which then has to be triggered by another trader, who would sell his asset to you. In this case, you are providing liquidity to the market and pay a lower fee (the maker fee).

 

Overall, the fees provided by Kraken are in line with offerings by other exchanges.

 

Trading platform

 

When it comes to the trading platform, Kraken provides their own solution for some of the functionality, while relying on TradingView for the charting, similarly to Bitfinex.

 

There is pretty detailed access to the short term market dynamics. The tape, includes a historical bid/ask chart, which can be useful. Here is a preview:

 

 

The depth of the market is also presented in an easy to understand manner. Here is a preview:

 

You can see the book on the right side, with a graphical depiction on the left. 

 

The charts, provided by TradigView are a good tool for technical analysts. They are available via a click of a button next to the instrument list. The chart pops-up as a small external window, which you can later move, resize and so on. You can create an entire layout (even on a separate monitor) of your PC can handle the hardware requirements of modern browsers. Here is a preview:

 

 

Kraken also offers a mobile app, which is currently only available on iOS. Hopefully an Android implementation will come soon.

 

 

Methods of payment

 

Fiat currency payments at Kraken are only done via Bank Transfer. There is a slight advantage, if you have a bank account within the European Economic Area, since the SEPA payment system is supported. Crypto currency deposits are also available, but instant real money options such as Credit Card, PayPal or Neteller are not.

 

Conclusion

 

Kraken is a US-based crypto currency exchange. That being the case, the company operates a lot with Europan customers, as it is the world’s leader in terms of Bitcoin to EUR trading volumes. Kraken is as reputable, as one can get in the cryptoverse, with no major hacks or scandals so far. The trading environment feels good, providing detailed tape-reading potential. Commissions are in-line with the current industry averages. Here are Kraken’s strong and weak sides:

 

Pros Cons
Reputable company, no hacks yet  Credit cards and Paypal not accepted
High Bitcoin to EUR liquidity  Mobile app available only for iOS
Solid charting, by TradingView  Recent negative user reviews
Commissions in line with the industry  
Bank Transfers available  

 

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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