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Reviews/Coinbase

Coinbase

Van Thanh Le

Feb 5 2024

8 / 10

Summary

Dive beyond the hype. Coinbase: user-friendly but pricey, secure but with shaky support. Explore its strengths, weaknesses, and alternatives before you invest your crypto crown jewels. Informed decisions rule the crypto kingdom, not blind trust. Choose wisely, conquer boldly.

Pros

plus

User-friendly interface

plus

Robust Security Measures

plus

High Liquidity

plus

Vast Asset Variety

Cons

plus

High Fees

plus

Inconsistent Customer Support

plus

Technical Glitches

Coinbase Review Scores

8 check

Overall

Information

9 check

Security & Safety

Information

7 check

Fees & Costs

Information

8 check

Trading Pairs

Information

7.5 check

Payment Options

Information

8.5 check

Ease Of Use

Information

Coinbase Review in 2024

Ah, Coinbase. Remember when everyone was scrambling to buy Bitcoin in their pajamas, and centralized exchanges were the gateway drug? Yeah, those were wild times. Established in 2012, Coinbase has swiftly emerged as the leading cryptocurrency exchange in the United States in terms of trading volume. Some of its popular products include:

  • Coinbase Custody: Secure digital asset storage for institutional investors.
     
  • Coinbase Wallet: A popular app for storing and trading cryptocurrencies and digital collectibles from phones.
     
  • Coinbase Prime: Advanced cryptocurrency trading for institutional investors.
     
  • Coinbase Commerce: Helps businesses accept crypto payments at checkout.
     
  • USD Coin (USDC): A stablecoin pegged to the US Dollar, widely used in the cryptocurrency space.  
     
  • Coinbase Card: Enables US residents to make cash and crypto transactions via Visa.
     
  • Coinbase One: Subscription service offering trading fee discounts and analytics.
     
  • Coinbase Advanced: Formerly Coinbase Pro, now integrated with trading terminal, offering charting and customized orders.
     
  • Coinbase NFT: Platform for creating, discovering, trading, and showcasing NFTs, accessible with Coinbase Wallet.

But after years of hodling, trading, and (let's be honest) panicking, do you give it to Coinbase? If you're curious about the nitty-gritty details – fees, security, supported assets, the whole shebang – stick around. We'll dive deep in the next sections.

Key Takeaways

Coinbase, a notable name in the crypto exchange world, has its ups and downs. Here are the key takeaways from the review:

  • Asset Variety and Liquidity: Offers over 230 digital assets; strong in BTC/USD and ETH/USD trading volumes.
     
  • Security and Reliability: 98% cold storage; robust multi-factor authentication; regulatory compliance; thorough token security review.
     
  • Ease of Use and Interface: User-friendly, though account verification and occasional interface glitches noted.
     
  • Deposit and Withdrawal Options: Variety of methods for US clients; $25 withdrawal fee; occasional account suspension issues.
     
  • Fees and Charges: Varied fee structure, including trading fees, spread, and staking commissions.
     
  • Trading Tools and Features: Simplified for beginners; advanced options for experienced traders; staking services available.
     
  • Customer Support: Mixed experiences, with some facing slow or unhelpful responses.
     
  • Mobile App and Accessibility: Generally user-friendly, though occasional glitches reported.
     
  • Compliance and Regulation: Proactive in regulatory compliance, with recent settlements and improvements.

Coinbase's Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Extensive Asset Variety: Offers over 230 digital assets, providing a diverse portfolio.
     
  • Strong Security Measures: Implements robust security protocols including cold storage, multi-factor authentication, and regulatory compliance.
     
  • User-Friendly Interface: Features a streamlined signup process and intuitive interface, catering to both beginners and experienced traders.
     
  • High Liquidity: Records significant trading volumes, indicating strong market presence and reliability.

Cons

  • High Fees: Multi-layered fee structure that can be costly, especially for smaller transactions.
     
  • Inconsistent Customer Support: Reports of difficulty in reaching support and receiving helpful responses.
     
  • Technical Glitches: Occasional website and app glitches affecting user experience.

1. Asset Variety and Liquidity

Coinbase, a titan in the U.S. crypto exchange arena, boasts a diverse portfolio of over 230 digital assets. While this number may seem modest compared to Binance's extensive collection, it stands on par with Kraken, another U.S. competitor. 

The platform's liquidity for fiat pairs is nothing short of impressive. On January 11, 2024, Coinbase recorded a monumental $7.7 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) over-the-counter (OTC) trading volume, marking a historic second-highest level, especially following the green light for spot Bitcoin ETFs.

coinbase otc volume CryptoQuant.webp
Source: CryptoQuant

The exchange is a heavyweight in specific trading pairs, besides a $145 billion quarterly trading volume. For instance, it commands about 50% of the BTC/USD trading volume, occasionally surpassing $1 billion on days fueled by Bitcoin ETF excitement. Similarly, it holds a 55% dominance in ETH/USD trading, as per Kaiko's latest data.

kaiko coinbase.png
Source: Kaiko

Coinbase's role as the custodial partner for major asset management firms like BlackRock and Franklin Templeton underscores its reputation. However, this also hints at potential risks due to asset concentration. While the platform may not be the go-to for altcoin variety, its listing announcements often trigger a price surge, mirroring the “Binance effect,” which speaks volumes about its listing quality and influence in the market.

2. Security and Reliability

Coinbase stands out for its formidable security measures. Here's a breakdown of how they keep your digital treasures safe:

  • Cold Storage Prowess:  Coinbase Vault offers a secure option for storing larger amounts of cryptocurrency offline, with 98% of assets stored in physical vaults globally. It features enforced waiting periods for withdrawals, optional additional security measures, and the ability to set up multiple owners with withdrawal protocols. Withdrawals require approval and have a 48-hour waiting period. 
     
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Accessing your Coinbase account isn't a walk in the park for intruders. You'll need to pass through layers of security, including two-factor authentication (2FA) options like SMS, Mobile App, Google Authenticator, Duo Mobile, and Microsoft Authenticator. For those seeking Fort Knox-level security, there's even an option to add a physical key.
     
  • Regulatory Compliance: Coinbase isn't just about tech; it's about trust. Adhering to KYC, AML policies, and SEC regulations, it ensures a compliant and secure trading environment.
     
  • Token Listing Security Review: Each token undergoes a rigorous security assessment, focusing on custodiability risks. This means before a token makes its debut on Coinbase, it's been thoroughly vetted for secure storage and transfer capabilities.
     
  • DDoS Protection: The 'Checking if the site connection is secure' feature by Cloudfare isn't just a formality. It's a critical line of defense against DDoS attacks, ensuring you're a verified human every time you log in.

Despite a past SMS flaw leading to unauthorized fund transfers in 2021, Coinbase has since fortified its defenses. Plus, they offer insurance coverage against potential hacks, adding an extra layer of financial safety.

3. Ease of Use and Interface

Coinbase shines in user-friendliness, catering to crypto newbies with a streamlined signup process and intuitive interface. No jargon, just buy and sell buttons – it's like the Apple Store for Bitcoin. However, account verification can drag, taking longer than some competitors. Moreover, the fact that its support is limited for some countries and regions is not a cool thing at all.

The platform boasts helpful news feeds right on the homepage, keeping you in the crypto loop. Plus, switching between the basic and advanced trading interfaces is a breeze, catering to both beginners and veterans.

But like any handshake, there's a bit more to it than the first touch. Verification can take longer than some competitors, and the occasional Cloudflare hiccup might momentarily disrupt your flow. 

screenshot coinbase
Source: Coinbase

While trading generally feels smooth, with orders executed swiftly, plenty of users (including my friends and some Reddit guys) have encountered annoying transaction delays and accounts locked, which raise eyebrows.

screenshot reddit
Source: Reddit

Speaking of eyebrows, a personal anecdote: I once transferred $5,500 to Coinbase, only to watch my balance remain stubbornly at zero for a week. Panicked emails and frantic support chats later, I discovered it was a website glitch! My funds were already there, waiting patiently for me to hit the "withdraw" button, even though my balance displayed otherwise. It was a rollercoaster, but ultimately a reminder that even the “smoothest interfaces” in people’s mouths can have hidden bumps.

4. Deposit and Withdrawal Options

Coinbase offers a variety of ways to fund your crypto adventures, but the ease of withdrawal can be a mixed bag. Let's break it down:

Depositing

  • US Clients: You're spoiled for choice! Fedwire boasts instant deposits with no maximum limit, while ACH transfers are fee-free (though limited by your bank). International wires are also available, but require verification and a $25 fee.
     
  • Non-US/Non-EU Clients: International wires are your only option, with a $25 fee and similar verification requirements.

Withdrawing

  • Everyone: Prepare for a $25 withdrawal fee, regardless of method. The default daily limit is a generous $100,000 across all currencies.
     
  • US Clients: Fedwire is the fastest option, arriving within a day, but ACH transfers take 3-5 business days. Both methods share the $100,000 daily limit.

For crypto options, Coinbase recently integrated with Polygon and Solana, offering quick and easy crypto deposits and withdrawals for specific cryptocurrencies, with no minimum or maximum amount. However, caution is advised as large deposits can trigger account suspensions due to potential illegal fund concerns.

Keep an eye on your inbox for update requests from Coinbase. Failure to comply could turn your account into a digital Sleeping Beauty, as happened to some users in April 2023 (including one of my friends’). This once sparked debates on social media, highlighting the importance of staying informed and active on the platform.

coinbase email.png
My friend's email screenshot

5. Fees and Charges

Coinbase has a multifaceted fee structure. Here's a breakdown:

  • Network Transaction Fees: These vary based on network congestion and transaction batching, applicable for transfers off Coinbase.
     
  • Adding/Cashing Out: Fees depend on your chosen payment method.
     
  • Credit Transactions: Expect a flat 2% fee for selling BTC collateral for USD loans.
     
  • Trading Fees and Spread: Charges apply for buying, selling, or converting cryptocurrencies. These hinge on payment method, order size, market conditions, and your location.
     
  • Spread: This is baked into the quoted price for simple buy/sell orders and conversions. However, it fluctuates.
     
  • Advanced Trade: Direct order book interaction here means no spread.
     
  • Coinbase One: Offers fee-free transactions but includes spread in prices.
     
  • Coinbase Card: No transaction fees, but spread applies. Watch out for ATM operator fees.
     
  • Staking Services: No staking/unstaking fees, but Coinbase takes a commission from network rewards (35% for ADAATOMDOTMATICSOLXTZ; 25% for ETH).
     
  • Asset Recovery: Recovering unsupported cryptocurrencies sent to Coinbase incurs a network fee and a 5% recovery fee on amounts over $100.

A crucial tip: Avoid Simple mode for trading. Its fees, as well as the Advanced 1 tier, are notably higher (Limit order: 0.60%, Market order: 0.80%) compared to higher Advanced mode (≤0.4% maker, ≤0.6% taker for >$1,000 volume), tailored for seasoned traders. One user reported a stark difference: a $2.99 fee for a $100 bitcoin purchase in Simple mode versus just $0.60 in Advanced mode.

screenshot coinbase 1
Source: Coinbase

6. Trading Tools and Features

Coinbase is considered a user-friendly gateway into the world of cryptocurrency trading. Its platform is designed for ease, shedding complex jargon and intricate trading rules, ideal for newcomers. Here's a closer look at its trading tools and income-generating features:

  • Simplified Trading Experience: Emphasizing accessibility, Coinbase caters to beginners with its straightforward interface. I like the way it provides more insights just by comparing a cryptocurrency’s performance to the broader market’s, and the typical holding time of investors.
screenshot coinbase 2
Source: Coinbase
  • Advanced Technical Analysis: For the more seasoned traders, it offers futures trading integrated with TradingView charts, enabling in-depth market analysis.
     
  • Staking Services: A notable feature is its staking options for various cryptocurrencies. Users can earn up to 9.22% APY on coins like ATOM, ETH, and SOL. The process is hassle-free, with no transaction fees for staking or unstaking.
     
  • Learn and Earn Program: Although currently on hold, this program rewards users for expanding their crypto knowledge.

As far as I’m concerned, while Coinbase's earning options might seem narrower compared to its competitors, it's a solid choice for those valuing security and regulatory compliance.

7. Customer Support and Service

Coinbase's customer service, unfortunately, is the exchange's Achilles' heel. While you can reach them via email and phone for account-related woes, user experiences paint a mixed picture. 

The negatives are hard to ignore. Trustpilot paints a grim portrait with a 1.5-star rating, riddled with complaints about difficulty reaching support, generic responses, and frustratingly unaddressed concerns. My own $5,500 deposit fiasco served as a microcosm of this struggle. A week of automated replies and vague reassurances left me to solve the technical glitch myself.

That said, not everyone shares this sentiment. A small pocket of users report positive interactions, lauding the patience and politeness of the support team. Perhaps my friends and I just haven't stumbled upon these helpful reps.

It's worth noting that Coinbase does offer extensive self-help resources, including a comprehensive Help Center and active community forum on Reddit. Even when the support team is polite and patient, the lack of valuable responses can be frustrating.

8. Mobile App and Accessibility

Coinbase's mobile app is like that trusty Swiss Army knife for your crypto portfolio – accessible, versatile, and surprisingly intuitive. Seriously, even if your only digital experience is nailing Candy Crush levels, Coinbase's app won't leave you floundering. Its clean interface and straightforward navigation make buying, selling, and trading crypto feel like ordering takeout (minus the heartburn, hopefully).

Think of it as the PayPal of crypto – you don't need a PhD in blockchain to figure things out. But, like any trusty tool, it's not flawless. Some users have reported occasional glitches, like missing tokens or the app freezing. While a quick reinstall might do the trick, it's not a guaranteed fix. Thankfully, these hiccups seem rare, and my own juggling act between the Coinbase and Coinbase Wallet apps has been smooth sailing so far.

Create_New_Wallet_Mobile.webp
Source: Coinbase

Overall, Coinbase's mobile app is a win for accessibility. It's like having a crypto concierge tucked in your pocket, ready to help you navigate the exciting, and sometimes baffling, world of digital currencies. Just remember, even the smoothest operator can have an off day, so be prepared for the occasional glitch (and maybe pack a virtual chill pill, just in case).

9. Compliance and Regulation

Coinbase has earned respect for its adherence to regulatory standards, particularly in the realms of Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies.

In a notable instance, January 2023 saw Coinbase reaching a settlement with New York’s financial regulator. This agreement involved a substantial $50 million fine, coupled with a commitment to invest an additional $50 million in bolstering compliance measures. This move came in response to identified deficiencies in Coinbase's AML program.

December 2023 marked another significant moment when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declined Coinbase's request for new crypto rulemaking. This decision underscores the SEC's stance on the existing regulatory framework's suitability for crypto exchanges.

Post these regulatory encounters, Coinbase has shown a proactive approach. The company is not only rectifying the highlighted issues but also actively participating in the discourse for clearer, broader crypto regulations.

Our Verdict

While Coinbase boasts user-friendly features, top-notch security, and strong liquidity, its high fees, inconsistent customer service, and occasional technical glitches can be dealbreakers. Consider your priorities: do you value ease and security above all else, or are competitive fees and responsive support more important? Remember, informed decisions hold the key to a smooth crypto journey, regardless of your chosen platform.

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