If you trade in cryptocurrency, then you have heard of Coinbase. It is a company headquartered in San Francisco, California. Coinbase was launched in 2012 and operates an online exchange for the purchase and selling of Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin. In this article, we will take a closer look at a handful of alternatives to Coinbase and what makes them different from this well-known exchange.
What made Coinbase popular in the early days of online cryptocurrency exchanges was that customers could use their country’s fiat currency to make purchases. Fiat currencies are your common currency where you live such as US dollars, British Pounds, Euros, etc. As the years passed, several new cryptocurrency exchanges went live online. To date, many of them provide options for buying Bitcoin but few allow this with fiat currencies. Coinbase was a leader in this technology as customers could just purchase Bitcoin with their existing bank account or credit/debit cards. Another bonus with Coinbase is that it serves 32 different countries and the fiat currencies of each are welcome for purchasing. The site is also FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insured for US dollars. As attractive as Coinbase is, it is not the perfect solution. Their website and app crash at times. There are several countries that it does not serve, and the fees charged by the company are higher than at other places. So, there are some alternatives to Coinbase as a result.
Here are a half dozen of the best alternative online exchange sites to Coinbase:
BlockFi has a lot going for it. It is supported financially by some of the biggest investors in the cryptocurrency world such as Coinbase Ventures, SoFi, and Winklevoss Capital. The iOs app that BlockFi uses operates smoothly and has an easy-to-understand and use interface. The site employs state-of-the-art security and uses Gemini as a custodian. Where BlockFi scores high points is that it permits users to borrow cash to buy or sell various cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereal, USDC, PAX, Litecoin, and more. Add to this the fact that users can earn up to 8.6% on their cryptocurrency, and BlockFi looks like an effective alternative to Coinbase.
CEX.IO went online in 2013. It is based in the United Kingdom. It supports trading of BTC and ETH and is available in 99% of the world’s countries and keeps expanding. The interface is clean, sleek, and very easy to navigate. CEX.IO accepts wire transfers in USD, Euro, UK Sterling Pound, and Russian Ruble. The site has a mobile app and uses two-factor authentication (2-FA), and Short Messaging Service (SMS) for added security. Users can purchase BTC or ETH with their credit or debit cards. There is also a 24/7 customer support department that can be easily reached for assistance.
Based in the United States, Gemini operates a trio of order-matching engines. They include ETH/BTC, BTC/USD, and ETH/USD. The service is limited to 46 US states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Gemini accepts wire transfers in USD from various banks in the areas it serves and has no fees on withdrawals and wire deposits (international banks may have fees for currency conversion). Gemini has personal accounts and also offers institutional accounts for large trading. The interface technology is user-friendly and easy for beginners to understand and use. Finally, Gemini complies with the NYSDFS (New York State Department of Financial Services).
Kraken went live in 2011. It is based in San Francisco, California, and is considered one of the largest global BTC exchanges. However, that’s not the only cryptocurrency Kraken focuses on, according to Cove Markets. The exchange has a reputation as being one of the best Euro-to-Crypto exchanges in the world. That is because it trades in far more than just BTC. The list includes ETH, DASH, LTC, XMR, XRP, and ten others. Customers can use one of five fiat currencies for purchases through wire transfers or SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area). Kraken employs 2-FA verification for security, uses PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) signing and encryption in their email program, and produces a master key for account recovery. The only downside is that it takes a long time for new users to have their accounts verified by Kraken, but that is also a good thing if you are patient.
LocalBitcoins is based in Helsinki, Finland. Launched in 2012, this is not your typical exchange as it is operated as a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform and has traders located in more than 15,000 locations around the globe. Customers register with valid email addresses to verify their identities and make purchases with cash or through payment portals including PayPal or SEPA. Direct bank deposits and wire transfers are also accepted.
Mycelium Local Trader is not a specific exchange but rather a LocalBitcoins-like service built into the Mycelium mobile app. It uses a customer’s GPS on their mobile phone to provide a natural connection to other traders and makes a seller's list. This permits traders to meet personally to execute a trade. There is security, and Local Trader holds onto information ranging from addresses and nicknames to trade histories and sold orders for tracking purposes.
As cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, expect to see more online exchange sites launched to address the demand for traders to buy or sell their cryptocurrency. This means that big players like Coinbase will find more competition in the marketplace, which is never a bad thing with any form of technology. Competitors are good as some offer great alternatives and inspire innovation that forces the original players to improve if they expect to continue having a market share. There are many alternatives out there to Coinbase. Expect Coinbase to evolve as more new exchange options go live. For now, if you need a different exchange than Coinbase, there are several good choices already and a few of them have been reviewed above.