Coinbase Exchange Review: Things you NEED to know before getting started

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Coinbase is one of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchanges. They are a US company founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam and their exchange services was officially launched in October 2012. Since then Coinbase has expanded to serving traders in over 42 countries, with more than 13 million users and earning over US$1 billion in revenue. Their huge popularity is mostly because they are one of the only few exchanges available to US citizens. But aside from that they are also a very reliable and have an excellent track record for security.

The Exchange offers different sets of services based on your trading profile: Coinbase– for retail users, Coinbase Pro– a professional trading platform for individuals, Coinbase Prime– for institutional clients. However for this review we will be focusing on Coinbase, the platform designed for retail users.

Coinbase

Key features

Main features include buying and selling cryptocurrencies, other cryptocurrency related transactions, converting from one type of cryptocurrency to another and storage.

Buying and selling cryptocurrencies on Coinbase is very straightforward, all you need to do is to log into your account and select the “Buy/Sell” option on the sidebar. Alternatively you could go directly to the trading page for the cryptocurrency you want to buy and sell or access the cryptocurrency through your account. For those who are on the go, Coinbase also offers an Android and iOS app so you can buy or sell wherever you want.

Buy/sell cryptocurrencies on Coinbase
Buy/sell cryptocurrencies on Coinbase

Users can also transact with cryptocurrencies on Coinbase. For example you can buy Reddit gold, buy items on Overstock.com, pay for Amazon or BestBuy gift cards or make donations using cryptocurrency.

You can also directly convert between different types of cryptocurrencies on Coinbase, such as from Bitcoin to Ethereum etc. without the need to first convert to fiat currency.

Finally, Coinbase has its own software wallet for both Android and Apple users. This allows users to store their cryptocurrencies in a separate location from their trading account. This gives users an extra layer of security in case the Exchange is hacked.

Coinbase wallet
Coinbase wallet

Which countries support Coinbase?

Coinbase is available in over 42 countries. Though the type of services offered in each country may differ. For example some countries do not allow users to “convert” between different cryptocurrencies, or to “buy and “sell” cryptocurrencies. Check out Coinbase’s services available for your specific country.

Which cryptocurrencies are listed on Coinbase?

Compared to other cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase has very few listed cryptocurrencies. Also, depending on your location, the option to buy or sell a specific cryptocurrency may not be available. Click here for a chart of the supported cryptocurrencies depending on your location.

In the last few weeks, Coinbase has been trying to stir up interest by teasing the possibility of listing one or more of 18 cryptocurrencies. These are cryptocurrencies with an already huge hype and following including Aave, Bancor, Ren and VeChain to name a few. However on 17th July 2020 the Exchange really surprised users by abruptly listing Algorand ($AGLO), a project which they had never mentioned they were considering listing in the past.

Despite this, cryptocurrency enthusiasts still went crazy as soon as they heard the news and prices for $ALGO pumped over 30% in a single day, pushing its market cap to an all time high of $283 million.

What payment methods are accepted on Coinbase?

Coinbase provides a variety of payment methods and traders can pay in their local currency. This avoids users having to suffer losses from exchange rates and inconveniences of currency conversion. However there are regional restrictions for payment methods. Below is a list of the accepted payment methods for various countries.

  • Bank deposit: Europe, US, UK
  • Credit/debit card: Available for most countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Europe, Mexico, UK and US (debit card only).
  • Paypal: Canada, Europe (most countries), US and UK

For other countries, check this list of accepted payment methods.

What fees does Coinbase charge?

Deposits are FREE on Coinbase. However if you want to withdraw or send, Coinbase will charge you the bank transfer, wire or network fees required to send you those funds.

For trading, Coinbase charges 2 sets of fees : a Spread Fee (around 0.5%) for each trade and a Coinbase Fee which is the greater of (a) a flat fee, the amount of which depends on the amount of the transaction; and (b) a variable percentage fee depending on your region, product feature and payment method.

For converting one type of cryptocurrency to another, Coinbase only charges a spread margin of up to 2%.

Is Coinbase safe?

Coinbase is licensed in the US, so users can be assured that they are well protected since Federal laws apply. The Exchange also has an insurance policy to protect users in case their cryptocurrencies are stolen due to security breaches, fraudulent transfers, hacks or thefts from employees.

Institutionally, Coinbase does careful background checks in its employees, as well has keeping up to date with the latest IT security features. Considering even hedge funds and investment firms use Coinbase’s custodian services, average users can be assured that their crypto assets are in good hands.

As for how Coinbase stores your funds, only 2% of customer funds are held in hot wallets. The remaining 98% are kept in secure cold wallets located in different locations worldwide.

As for account security, Coinbase requires their its users to use two-factor authentication. So when users log in, they will type in their password, and will need to input password information sent by SMS to their mobile phones or Google Authenticator. This is to ensure that it is really you who is logging into the account.

The Exchange also has an excellent track record and has not been hacked in the 7 years since it was launched.

Conclusion: Coinbase exchange pros and cons

Pros

  • Coinbase is one of the most secure cryptocurrency exchanges. They follow the industry’s best practices for security and are the trusted asset custodian for hedge funds and investment firms. They also have insurance to protect users from losses.
  • Availability in most countries, including the US with many payment options.

Cons

  • Coinbase only offers spot trading, unlike other exchanges which provide a whole suite of options.
  • Lacking in supported cryptocurrencies. They only offer 26 cryptocurrencies and some features such as selling are not even available in every country. Users must check carefully what features are supported for their particular location.
  • Famous or rather, infamous for crashing during high fluctuations in Bitcoin prices leaving users unable to trade.

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