Kraken Review: Is Kraken a Safe Cryptocurrency Exchange?
Having launched in 2011, Kraken is one of the world’s longest operating cryptocurrency exchanges. In this Kraken review, we’ll answer your most pressing questions about the exchange and show you how it stacks up against its newer competitors.
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- Launched in 2011
- Based out of San Francisco, California, USA.
- Consistently a Top 15 Exchange in terms of trade volume.
- Available Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Litecoin, EOS, Monero, Stellar, Ripple, Zcash, Ethereum Classic, Gnosis, Augur, Melon, Doge, Iconomi.
- Deposit and Withdrawal Methods: Bank Wires, Transfers, SEPA transfers and Cryptocurrency.
- Trading Fees: 0.36% or less, see this page for more details.
- Average customer support.
- Official Website: Kraken.com
Kraken has been trusted by it’s users since 2011. In all this time, funds stored by the exchange have never been hacked or compromised (this does not include breaches of individuals Kraken accounts due to poor security by the user).
Kraken follows industry best practices including:
- Segregating customer funds from company operational funds.
- Keeping the majority of cryptocurrency funds stored offline in cold storage.
- Maintaining full reserves.
They also make it a priority to maintain legal compliance. Kraken’s website states, “Bitcoin’s legal status is still being defined, but Kraken takes a highly proactive and informed approach to ensuring legal compliance. Our approach is to operate conservatively, entirely within the bounds of current law, and to constantly monitor regulatory developments so that we can anticipate changes before they occur”.
For securing your personal Kraken account, the exchange offers the following security measures:
- 2-Factor Authentication via Google Authenticator or Yubikey
- Kraken “Master Key”, which is another 2FA passcode used for certain sensitive account actions.
- Global lock settings allowing you to prevent changes being made to your account for a set number of days.
Kraken’s Pros and Cons vs the Competition
Below we’ll compare how Kraken fairs vs the other cryptocurrency exchanges we’ve reviewed.
Pros of Kraken
1) Long-standing Trust
Having operated in good faith since 2011, Kraken has built up community trust over a far longer timeframe than many competitors. While there appear to be many great new exchanges, it’s definitely a positive that Kraken launched just two years after Bitcoin did.
2) Offers a Variety of Cryptocurrencies, While Accepting Fiat Currency Deposits/Withdrawals
Currently, most major cryptocurrency exchanges fall into two categories.
One group of these exchanges offers deposits, withdrawals, and trading in fiat currency (USD, EUR, GBP, Etc.), but offers few cryptocurrencies to trade.
The second group offers a large variety of cryptocurrencies to trade, but does not off any fiat currency support.
Kraken break this mold, by offering fiat currency trading pairs for most cryptocurrencies on their exchange, including.
- Bitcoin Cash
- Ethereum Classic
While this is certainly a nice advantage over the competition, you may end up wanting to just go with a cryptocurrency only exchange once you factor in Kraken’s cons (discussed below).
3) Fees Mostly on Par with Their Main Competitors
While Kraken’s fees aren’t particularly low, they are at least on par with their main competitors. Kraken uses a maker-taker fee schedule, that you can see in more detail here.
Cons of Kraken
1) Poor User Experience and Buggy Interface
Our biggest complaint with Kraken is the poor user experience we’ve had using the exchange.
A large contributor to this poor experience has been the user interface. Admittedly, this is a matter of personal opinion, although we’ve seen other users echo this sentiment on forums.
In our opinion, Kraken is hard to navigate, unintuitive, and just plain ugly. To illustrate this, take a look at what happens when you log in, then select the ETH/XBT (Ethereum/Bitcoin) trading pair in the dropdown menu.
Rather than taking you to where you can trade that pair, it keeps you on the overview page. You then must click “New Order” to actually be brought to a page where you can buy and sell your chosen cryptocurrency.
While the above is just our opinion, it’s a fact that we’ve experienced bugs when using Kraken including:
- Orders we placed not going through (stuck loading).
- Orders we placed going through, but the exchange not indicating that the order was placed. This ended up leading to us buying more of what we were trying to buy.
- In the past, some even more serious bugs were reported by other Kraken users including this Reddit post.
Considering Kraken has had more time than most exchanges to create a user-friendly, well-functioning platform, there’s really no excuse for the current state of the platform.
2) Strict and Time-Consuming Verification Process
It’s certainly a good thing that Kraken is complying with all required regulations, but the execution of their verification requirements has been an issue for many users. A quick google search will show users complaining about how long verification has taken for their accounts, especially for “Tier 3 Verification”.
If you’re looking to buy altcoins with fiat currency, then Kraken is a well trusted exchange you can use.
With that said, we prefer options like Coinbase, Gemini, and GDAX for buying Bitcoin and Ethereum. We’d then recommend trading those cryptocurrencies on exchanges like Binance or Bittrex to buy altcoins.
There’s a reason Kraken isn’t a top 5 cryptocurrency exchange, despite being one of the first to market, and we think it’s due to the poor user experience. We’d recommend avoiding it, until they make some updates and fix bugs.
- Community Trust Grade
- User Experience
- Available Cryptocurrencies
- Deposit/Withdrawal Methods
- Customer Support
Kraken is a well long-trusted cryptocurrency exchange, but their user experience leaves a lot to be desired.