Launching out of California in 2011, Kraken is one of the most well-known brands in the cryptocurrency exchange business. The platform has a first-mover advantage of sorts over the competition, given its only three years younger than the cryptocurrency that started it all, bitcoin.
Customers like using Kraken because it’s one of the few world-leading exchanges based in the United States. Many other cryptocurrency exchanges (most of which are based in Asia or Europe) like Binance are only now just opening up their doors to Americans. Kraken on the other hand, has a real foothold in the country.
One of the biggest reasons Kraken is widely respected in the crypto world is because the company helped process claims relating to the Mt. Gox exchange hack that occurred in the early days of bitcoin trading.
As for the platform itself, Kraken offers some of the lowest fees on the market, some of the highest trading volumes in the European market and over-the-counter and margin trading options that were new to the cryptocurrency industry when they first launched (there’s that first mover-advantage again).
Here’s your chance to learn more about one of the longest tenured crypto exchanges helping traders today, and the only one to have an animal as its logo (the word kraken is also another name for an octopus). This review includes a brief overview of the company, the currencies and countries it supports, the services offered, and the fees that go along with trading on the platform.
As mentioned, Kraken was founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell. The platform takes trades from customers in the United States, Canada, the European Union and Japan. While it certainly has a great presence around the globe and a great brand name among cryptocurrency’s earliest adopters, Kraken doesn’t do business in New York. That’s thanks to stringent laws imposed by the state’s BitLicense program which makes it really hard for any business related to bitcoin and digital assets to establish their operations in one of the world’s most populated states. Traders in New York looking to trade cryptocurrencies will likely be better off reading other reviews on Coinbase and Binance. Both platforms are also doing business across the United States and it might be easier for customers in New York to use either one of those options.
Kraken didn’t officially start accepting trades from customers until 2013, but since that time the organization has truly worked to earn and hold onto its fair share of the cryptocurrency trading market. One of the ways in which it does this that we’ll discuss later is through its 24/7 live customer support. Surprisingly, most exchanges fail in this category because of one of the basic principles of bitcoin. The idea that people should have the right to be their own bank. Kraken recognizes that although people certainly want control over their money they do want to know that they can ask somebody for help in case of a hack or issue.
Kraken has received well over $100 million in venture capital funding and the company’s latest funding injection rolled into its bank accounts in February of 2019. That means there’s lots of money available to not only covers support and security measures, but also to continue growing as a platform and offering more services to users.
Currencies Offered at Kraken.com
Kraken is one of the more impressive cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the industry when it comes to supporting many different types of digital currencies in many different trading pairs. The site also makes a wide variety of trading pairs available for margin trading. This means that customers can use their existing digital assets to borrow a higher volume of digital assets and try to amplify their gains. It also means being able to go short on a stock to try to capitalize on dips in the market. Kraken gives traders the opportunity to make money whether the market is in the middle of a bullish or bearish trend. Naturally this is all offered to customers at an interest rate. But again, if you exchanges compare to Kraken when it comes to the currencies offered and the options given to customers with all of the different pairings on the platform.
Here’s a list of all the cryptocurrencies traders can buy using fiat currency according to country of residence:
|Basic Attention Token||BAT||✓||✓|
|Tether (Omni Layer)||USDT||✓|
Here’s a list of crypto-to-crypto trading pairs:
|Basic Attention Token||BAT||✓||✓|
|Tether (Omni Layer)||USDT|
Here’s a list of currencies available for margin trading:
|Currency Pair||Base Currency||Quote Currency||Available Leverage|
|XBT/USD||Bitcoin||US Dollar||2, 3, 4, 5|
|XBT/EUR||Bitcoin||Euro||2, 3, 4, 5|
|BCH/USD||Bitcoin Cash||US Dollar||2, 3|
|BCH/EUR||Bitcoin Cash||Euro||2, 3|
|ETH/USD||Ethereum||US Dollar||2, 3, 4, 5|
|ETH/EUR||Ethereum||Euro||2, 3, 4, 5|
|ETH/XBT||Ethereum||Bitcoin||2, 3, 4, 5|
|ETC/USD||Ethereum Classic||US Dollar||2|
|ETC/XBT||Ethereum Classic||Bitcoin||2, 3|
|XRP/USD||Ripple||US Dollar||2, 3, 4, 5|
|XRP/EUR||Ripple||Euro||2, 3, 4, 5|
Other Kraken Services
More on Margin Trading & Spot Trading
Margin trading allows traders to borrow currency in order to amplify games or bet on a given currency to drop in price relative to the rest of the market. The reason that the call the margin traders because users borrowing to invest can usually only borrow up to a given margin. The more they borrow, the lesser the margin they have to handle swings in price. Borrowing several times a principle investment is possible, which can make traders a lot of money. But in those scenarios, the margin for error is small. That means a small drop in price on a bullish margin trade, or a small gain in price on a short sell may force Kraken to liquidate a customer’s position, resulting in a net loss. Margin trading in general is only for traders who are very experienced or have a very high risk tolerance.
Kraken also offers the traditional spot trades that most traders are used to. Spot trading just means trading and receiving a given commodity instantly or close to instantly. It’s the opposite of a futures trade where a trade happens at a price determined in the future.
Over-the-counter Trading at Kraken
Kraken offers over-the counter trading, but it’s not for everyone. Only traders moving for than $100,000 in volume on a regular basis have access to the OTC platform. The good thing about it is that OTC traders get one-on-one service from a qualified account manager. This ensures assets are acquired at the best possible price and that the transactions are handled accurately.
Loyal, large-volume traders are very profitable to platforms, so the fact Kraken’s brand has been around so long is good for their business and in a sense better for customers. The platform’s reputation is part of the reason things like customer support are so much better than that of competitors.
Dark Pool Trading at Kraken
One of the cooler features that Kraken offers is dark pool trading. Sound mysterious doesn’t it? Dark pool trades essentially allow a trader to maintain a high degree of anonymity than if they were to trade on the regular platform. Anybody looking to participate in this kind of trading should know that the fees are different, and that it doesn’t mean the trader is completely anonymous. All traders using Kraken have to identify themselves to some degree. However, anybody trading using the dark pool can keep more of their information to themselves meaning that a potentially large trade that might grab headlines are raise eyebrows can’t necessarily be traced back to a specific user by other individuals.
It’s a cool feature one can use to maintain more privacy, though perhaps not necessary for the average trader.
Kraken Payment Methods and Fees
Kraken offers both fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto trading. The two options offer their definite advantages. Kraken offers many different trading pairs for both fiat and crypto traders. However, getting money onto the Kraken platform can be quite the hassle. Read about the good and the bad of Kraken’s payment methods and fees below.
Fiat-to-crypto Payment Fees
Cash is king, unless you’re a trader on Kraken. The good news is that Kraken does accept cash, but only from Canadians. According to the support section on the company’s website, Canada Post is the only organization that would engage in a formal partnership with Kraken allowing Canadian traders to make deposits using cash in person or debit cards.
That means anybody trading in the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom or Japan is out of luck when it comes to using credit cards, debit cards, cash, PayPal or similar third-party payment providers to deposit money onto a Kraken account.
This means that the only way to get fiat money onto the platform is to use a traditional bank wire transfer. This can be costly and time-consuming. It can take up to 10 business days to deposit money and a wire transfer will usually cost a trader a minimum of $30 in banking fees just to get money onto the platform.
The funny thing is that as difficult as it is to transfer fiat money to Kraken, it’s actually very easy to trade fiat from all of the above countries directly for cryptocurrency against fiat-to-crypto trading pairs. There’s the upside to using Kraken for fiat. No other cryptocurrency exchange offers the ability to trade five different fiat currencies directly for crypto. In fact, no other crypto exchange reviewed here at CryptoRadar offers more than two fiat-to-crypto pairs.
Trading fees at Kraken range from 0% to 0.26%. As much as 0% sounds amazing (who doesn’t like getting something for free?), what Kraken charges a trader for an order depends on three different factors:
- The currency pair that is being traded
- The trader’s 30-day trading volume in U.S. dollars
- Whether the trader’s order is a taker or maker
Fees on other cryptocurrency exchanges also very depending on the currencies being traded because the owners of cryptocurrencies negotiate their own deals with exchanges. That’s why trading for certain coin can cost more in fees than another.
It also makes completely logical sense that Kraken would reward its most frequent traders, which is why if a trader’s 30-day volume is high, they pay less per trade. Fees earned is how exchanges make money.
Kraken also charges fees based on whether the trade is a taker or maker. Taking means accepting a trade that is available on the market. Making means offering a trade and making it available to the market. The fees differ based on overall supply and demand.
Kraken Buying Limits
Much like Binance and other crypto-to-crypto exchanges, the buying and withdrawing limits of a given Kraken customer depend on their level of verification. The more identification a trader provides in accommodating the KYC process, the higher their deposit, trading and withdrawal limits will be. Kraken calculates limits separately for fiat currencies vs. cryptocurrencies. They do the same thing for deposits and withdrawals. Limits are calculated using rolling periods, not just the 12 month calendar. This means:
- Daily limits consider the last 24 hours of activity.
- Monthly limits consider the last 30 days of activity.
- Annual limits consider the last 365 days of activity.
As mentioned before, Kraken separates itself from other crypto exchanges with its customer support. Few if any exchanges allow customers to actively pursue higher limits by contacting support. Fortunately, Kraken is one of those platforms. Individual Pro and Corporate Pro accounts are available for users looking to trade at a higher volume, but both require an application process. Customer loyalty, trading frequency and solvency are likely to all the considerations and getting one’s limits raised.
In general accounts are grouped into three categories: starter, intermediate, and pro. Starters can’t make any deposits or withdrawals meaning they have to verify their identities at least to some degree. Intermediate traders can trade up to $100,000 of cryptocurrency in a day and half a million in one month in general the average cryptocurrency trader won’t necessarily have to worry about going over these limits. Kraken allows some of the highest limits in the industry.
Between its issues with accepting different payment methods and the varying rules and regulations that govern cryptocurrency across the world, Kraken really doesn’t have that much room to operate in when it comes to supporting nations on a global scale. That said, as noted above, much of the Western world has access to the platform. We’ve already touched on the fact that the U.S. Dollar, Japanese Yen, Canadian Dollar, Euro and Great British Pound are all accepted for fiat-to crypto trades. Just because Kraken is limited to those fiats however, doesn’t mean that traders can’t trade from virtually any country as long as the transactions are going from crypto-to-crypto.
Kraken offers live support to customers! On a large retail platform outside of the cryptocurrency space, this would be considered an industry-standard. However, Kraken has the best support of any crypto trading platform. Consider for a moment that neither Coinbase nor Binance allow users to get in touch with a real person through live chat. There are roundabout ways to access people on those platforms, such as using a support ticket or email address, but Kraken actually lets users connect via chat.
That’s why CryptoRadar is rating Kraken as a top-notch customer service provider.
Naturally as one would expect that a platform leading the way in customer support would garner positive reviews from users. Kraken certainly does. Kraken rates an 8.4 out of 10 on Blockonomi, a 7.9 out of 10 at beincrypto.com and 7.8 out of 10 at 99Bitcoins. What’s also impressive about Kraken is that the exchange boasts a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor.com as an employer.
The platform is clearly dedicated to the service of both customers and employees. Though we didn’t name it the best in class, Kraken is certainly in the top 5.
Kraken vs. Other Cryptocurrency Exchanges (Binance, Coinbase, Bitfinex, etc…)
Kraken compares quite well to most other cryptocurrency exchanges facilitating trades below. The chart below details flexibility in trading options and transaction limits that can’t be matched by most other platforms. Not only has Kraken been around for a long time, the company has worked hard to grow its customer base and maintain the loyalty of its traders.
|Criteria||Kraken||Other Cryptocurrency Exchanges|
|Fiat-to-crypto capability.||Credit card, debit card and bank transfers accepted through third parties.||Kraken accepts fiat, most others require customers to have crypto already.|
|Coins Offered||24-30 cryptos available depending on trading options (fiat, crypto or margin trading)||Anywhere from 10-26 cryptos depending on the exchange.|
|Deposit & Withdrawal Fees||0%-3.99%||0.1%-3.99%|
|Deposit & Withdrawal Limits||From zero to $300 million depending on account type and verification level||upper limit up to two full bitcoins. Lower limit is a few thousandths of a bitcoin.|
|Trading Fees||0%-0.26%||anywhere from 0.1% to 1.49% on a trade.|
|Customer Ratings||8.4 out of 10 on Blockonomi, 7.9 out of 10 on Be In Crypto and 7.8 out of 10 on 99 bitcoins.||Most exchanges rank low on security and customer support, some rank higher in terms of offering a better fee structure and more cryptos.|
Frequently Asked Questions about Kraken
Is Kraken properly insured?
Insurance is one area where Kraken fails. Most crypto exchanges actually don’t do a good job of insuring customer funds. The alarming thing about Kraken is, the site offers no insurance at all. The company claims to have security tools that are best-in-class and while that may be true, offering no safety net is a huge downside. Coinbase far outweighs the competition in this category, but even more traditional-style trading platforms like Binance offer at least some insurance.
How do customers withdraw money from Kraken?
Kraken accepts SEPA transfers and bank wires for cash withdrawals. The easier and less expensive way to withdraw however is to simply send digital assets to a different wallet outside of the Kraken platform. No matter which platform is used for trading, transferring out fiat currency always costs more and takes longer.
How long does withdrawing from Kraken take?
Withdrawing from Kraken can take anywhere to 3 to 5 business days or 7 to 10 business days depending on the withdrawal method used. Keep in mind that in order to be eligible to withdraw, clients must provide a significant amount of personal identification. That’s especially true for traders who trade digital assets at a high-volume. Also remember that Canadian residents actually get the most flexibility when it comes to payments and withdrawals.
Is it safe to buy coins on Kraken and keep them on the platform?
Like many other exchanges, Kraken offers customers the ability to increase their buying and trading limits as their level of verification also increases. However, the only secure way to manage digital assets and guarantee they won’t be stolen is to keep them off line in a hardware wallet. We mention this in all of the reviews we’ve done on crypto exchanges, and we do that because it’s true. There really is no better way to secure digital assets.
Should You Use Kraken?
Yes! Kraken offers fantastic customer service options and supports many different fiat-to-crypto trading pairs. Some of the best on the market in fact. Of all the cryptocurrency exchanges we’re reviewing here at CryptoRadar, few have a longer history or better reputation than Kraken.
Although its restrictions on payment methods leave much to be desired, it’s clear that Kraken follows a forward thinking approach when it comes to securing customer assets, supporting them with service, and respecting the regulatory environment of governments all over the world.
They value, their brand, assets and customers, and for those reasons, Kraken is a totally worthwhile member of any trader’s crypto platform portfolio.