It is without any doubt that some crypto platforms have contributed immensely to the crypto narrative over the years. One such platform is Coinbase. Popularly known as a cryptocurrency broker, Coinbase is one of the first crypto service providers to introduce a fully regulated exchange. As a result of its compliance-focused business principle and its decision to enable a simple crypto gateway, Coinbase has emerged as a juggernaut in the crypto industry.
Continue reading to know more about this budding ecosystem, its pros and cons, and why it is one of the top crypto exchange platforms operating today.
Coinbase is a popular first stop for beginners when they make their first cryptocurrency purchase. The brand has almost become synonymous with cryptocurrency. It was one of the earliest brokers and exchanges which enabled users to purchase cryptocurrencies. The business was founded in 2012 and now offers several solutions, including an exchange for advanced trading, custodian solutions, and institutional services.
Based in San Francisco, Coinbase enables users to purchase and store Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin with a broad range of payment methods. Users can fund their accounts with bank transfers, debit cards, or other payment methods. And although Coinbase became prominent due to its impressive crypto brokerage services, it has evolved to become a vast ecosystem offering a growing list of products. Among other things, Coinbase has a decentralized wallet ideal for DeFi users, a debit card service designed to ease crypto payment processes, and a commerce solution for businesses interested in accepting crypto.
Coinbase Pro is also available to more advanced traders. Here, users can avail of lower fees and have access to an order book, depth chart, and recent trades printing. While Coinbase instant buy option provides new users with a simple exchange interface, the Pro version offers sophisticated tools for an improved and fast trading experience. Both solutions combine effectively to establish Coinbase as an exchange infrastructure suitable for crypto traders, regardless of their level of experience.
Furthermore, it has a storage solution making it easy for users to store their cryptocurrencies after their initial purchase. Coinbase is very selective about supported coins and has a framework which it follows closely in their selection process. As such, the exchange is not as loaded as altcoin-focused exchanges like Binance. According to Coingecko, there are 54 tradeable coins and 162 trade pairs available on Coinbase Pro. In contrast, Binance features around 300 coins.
However, its tightly managed listing frame has not had a devastating impact on the growth of Coinbase. According to information on its official website, Coinbase processes a quarterly volume of $335 billion worth of trades and it is available in over 100 countries. With over 56 million users worldwide, Coinbase has managed to attract hundreds of millions as investment from high-profile investors.
How to use Coinbase to buy cryptocurrencies?
The easiest way to buy cryptocurrencies on Coinbase is to use the instant buy option. With this, you can buy bitcoin or other supported coins directly from Coinbase at a premium. Note that the prices of digital assets may be slightly above the market rate. However, since the instant buy option is very simple to use and compatible with fiat payment systems, newbies do not seem to sweat over the price discrepancies.
Depending on your present location, you can use your debit/credit card to buy digital assets. Other options include wire transfer, SEPA, ACH transfers, and bank transfers. Note that the fee for each payment method depends on the location of the buyer. Interestingly, we noticed that Coinbase charges up to 3.99% on all purchases processed via debit cards, regardless of the location of the buyer.
With the wide variety of payment methods offered, Coinbase charges high fees on the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies which vary per method. You should also check to confirm that the “Buy” and “Sell” option is available in your region.
Another important piece of information you need to confirm beforehand is the KYC requirements for users from your current location. Note that Coinbase runs a heavily regulated business and you have no choice but to comply with KYC and AML requirements. Depending on the number of cryptocurrencies you wish to buy, you may need to submit national identification documents, verify your phone number, and verify your address. Your KYC level determines the transaction limit imposed on you. For instance, fully verified US buyers have a $25,000 daily transaction limit. These limits also tend to be determined by your preferred payment method.
Once you have verified your identity and linked a suitable payment method, you can start buying cryptocurrencies. For a more advanced option, you can opt for Coinbase Pro. Here, Coinbase is simply an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. Therefore, the fees are way lower and the limits are much higher. Trading fees on Coinbase Pro start from 0.50% and may drop to as low as 0.00%, depending on the 30-day volume of the trader. Although the trading fee of Coinbase Pro is much lower than the instant buy option, it is high compared to alternative exchanges like Binance.
Always have it at the back of your mind that Coinbase is not big on user privacy. The exchange has incorporated strictly monitored operations that look to ensure that users comply with the AML regulations. Therefore, as long as your cryptocurrency remains under the care of Coinbase, it may track your crypto activities and freeze your account if you fail to comply with its rules. Coinbase may choose to freeze your account for the following reasons:
- You processed transactions related to adult services
- You participate in crypto gambling activities
- Transactions via the darknet
- Sold the coins on AML/KYC defaulting exchanges
- Any other activity that may not sit right with the transaction tracking algorithm
In light of this, you are always at risk of losing access to your Coinbase account, which is why it is advisable to transfer purchased coins into your hardware wallet. This will give you a lot more control over your coins. It is safe to say that Coinbase runs a crypto business that is against the ethos of cryptocurrency, and it is not the obvious choice for privacy-focused users.
In terms of security, Coinbase has proven to be exceptional at keeping hackers at bay. Since it launched in 2012, Coinbase has not suffered a security hack. This is an impressive feat for a crypto exchange that boasts over $223 billion worth of assets under management.
As part of its security infrastructure, Coinbase offers 2-step verification. While this is optional, you ought to activate and set a preferred secondary layer authentication process for logins and withdrawals. Another notable security solution is the FDIC insurance cover of up to $250,000 provided to users located in the United States. Since digital currencies are not considered a legal tender in the United States, this insurance applies to fiat deposited on the Coinbase platform only.
For its digital asset holdings, Coinbase adopts cold storage for over 98% of users’ funds. The remaining digital assets kept in the exchange’s hot wallet are fully insured. Therefore, the exchange will refund stolen funds in the event of a breach due to complacency on the part of Coinbase. This means that the exchange will not refund lost assets if the user is at fault.
As a result of the size of the Coinbase user base, the platform has had to incorporate more than one customer support channel. For one, users can call Coinbase support via phone whenever they notice that their account has been compromised. However, this option is not live phone support. Rather, it offers a means of disabling accounts in case of a security emergency. Preferably, users with other complaints can consult Coinbase’s help center or use the email ticketing service.
While researching the customer support of Coinbase, we found several complaints about the poor customer support culture of the platform. It is worth mentioning that this seems to be a recurring team for other reviewed crypto exchanges. Therefore, it is difficult to gauge whether these complaints are a broader reflection of the crypto industry’s approach to customer support. However, for a leading brand like Coinbase, we expected more.
What are the pros and cons of Coinbase?
Pros of Coinbase
It is simple to use
The interface and processes are user-friendly and straightforward for new users. Unsurprisingly, the design decision has helped Coinbase make a name for itself in the crypto community.
Coinbase is very secure
It is an impressive feat that Coinbase has managed to keep hackers at bay for so long. The incorporation of several solutions, including 2-step verification, has provided added protection for users.
Strong selection of cryptocurrencies
Coinbase is meticulous when it comes to coin listing. The exchange is never in a rush to join the bandwagon. Instead, Coinbase takes the time to evaluate a cryptocurrency and how it fits into its ecosystem before adopting it. Hence, the exchange houses a strong collection of coins.
It offers high liquidity
Coinbase has the infrastructure to process a high volume of trades seamlessly. This is why it is suitable for institutional investors.
Coinbase has a vast suite of crypto services
Apart from the exchange services, you can access a growing list of solutions designed to make life easier for crypto holders. Some of these services include a custodial solution, a card service, a decentralized wallet, and so on.
Cons of Coinbase
It tracks users’ activities
Coinbase does not run a privacy-focused business. It will track your activities with specialized algorithms and may disable your account if you are found wanting.
Coinbase does not support a large selection of coins
Although the framework of Coinbase as regards coin listing is commendable, it is also restrictive. Compared to similar platforms, the options available are not as expansive as you would expect of a large crypto exchange.
Customer support is poor
Coinbase seems to be focusing more on growth than the welfare of existing customers. The exchange is not doing enough to create more responsive and helpful customer support channels.