Coinbase is one of the most popular ways to buy and sell Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum.
Coinbase Review Overview
Coinbase has a bold claim: the world’s most popular place to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. BTC, along with these two alts have always been a major part of the cryptocurrency market share and when you consider the statistics of this five-year old company, it’s difficult to challenge that claim.
Coinbase, as of 2017, has exchanged $4 Billion worth of Bitcoin, serving 4 million customers in 32 countries.
It’s easy to see why crypto newcomers would choose Coinbase. It’s relatively simple to use, it has built up a strong banking relationship with financial institutions and has gained a reputable standing among prominent investment firms. That, and its history of being the first exchange to get US regulatory approval, have made it very appealing to the typical first-timer keen to own their very first Bitcoins.
There are currently three cryptocurrencies available for exchange: BTC, ETH and LTC. You can choose to adjust the fiat currency to almost every currency in the world (even the now demonetised Zimbabwean dollar is still listed!).
The pricing is among the most competitive you’ll find and is usually very close to the market average.
Payment And Fees
Not all countries are allowed to perform exchanges here. Currently, Coinbase only supports users from Australia, US, Canada, Singapore and most of Europe, with limited payment methods as well as sell options unavailable to some in that list. You should refer to the list before deciding to open an account there.
Thanks to Coinbase’s significant relationships with financial institutions, supported users can use a wide range of banking options, in addition to credit/debit cards. PayPal is only available to US customers and only for Sell orders.
Most buy/sell transactions will incur a 1% fee plus a separate fee depending on your payment method. This varies from about 3% – 3.75% for credit card and PayPal, while bank transfers ranges from being free to $25. These fee rates are comparatively low when compared with other exchangers.
Things To Note
Despite (or because of) Coinbase being one of the oldest exchangers around, online forums and social media are rife with dissatisfied customers. Perhaps the hostility stems from Coinbase’s seemingly overt attempts at trying to centralise or regulate Bitcoin – a big no-no in the eyes of many Bitcoin advocates.
These attempts are perceived, among others, from Coinbases dogged attempts to verify its users, zealous freezing of accounts based on suspicion of what it considers to be irregular Bitcoin use. It’s a logical outcome from the company’s strong affiliation with institutionalised finance and it being a member of the Blockchain Alliance (which is actively against illegal/unregulated Bitcoin activity).
The PR fiascos of Coinbase founders Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam – first, involving themselves in the block size debates of 2015 and then aggressively pursuing patents on blockchain technology – further damaged their standing in the eyes of many Bitcoin advocates.
Whether or not you find this warrants the animosity Coinbase gets is really up to you.
Coinbase Review Summary
Crypto politics aside, Coinbase makes a rational choice for the newcomer living in supported countries. If you’re not concerned about privacy and don’t mind supplying the same documentation as you would to a bank, and don’t need to hide what you’re going to do with your Bitcoin, then you’ll like Coinbase’s low fees and quick settlement.