Kraken is not just one of the largest, but also one of the oldest crypto exchanges. The exchange was established in 2011 but oppened its doors to traders just 2 years later. As Kraken blog reveals, today it serves more than 4 million clients in almost 200 countries and also was the first bitcoin exchange to have its market data displayed on the Bloomberg terminal.
Kraken is one of the "big three" bitcoin exchanges with the other two being Binance and Coinbase.
|Founder / CEO||Payward Inc., Jesse Powell|
|Headquarter||San Francisco, USA|
|Number of users||4,000,000+|
|Website language||EN, ES, FR, PT, RU, VI, TR, UK, JA, ZH-CN|
Kraken headquarter is in San Francisco, USA and it serves more than 4 million customers worldwide (except some of the restricted countries).
Creating an account
Signing up for an account with Kraken is one of the most thorough processes we have experienced in crypto space. This is how the registration form looks like (read about the additional requirements below the picture):
Source: Kraken.com registration form
You will need to enter email address (for an activation key or activation link to confirm), username, password and your country of residence. Except these basic information, Kraken will also ask for your full name, date of birth, your address and a phone number.
After passing the whole registration process, all these information will make you entitled to trade just crypto coins. Yes, that is right - you will not be able to either deposit nor withdraw any fiat currencies. Depositing and withdrawing fiat currencies requires providing additional information about the user - government issued ID, occupation etc. You can learn more about the various Kraken levels a bit later in this review.
To summarize the basic information about Kraken and its features:
|Restricted||Afghanistan, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Japan, North Korea, Tajikistan|
|New account||Name and surname|
|Country of residence|
|Date of birth|
|KYC for fiat||Scan of your ID|
|ID confirmation photo|
|Proof of residence|
|Fiat deposits||USD, EUR, CAD, JPY, GBP, CHF|
|Trading fees||mostly 0.26%|
|Withdrawal fee||bitcoin: 0.0005 BTC|
|ethereum: 0.005 ETH|
|dogecoin: 2 DOGE|
|Daily withdraw||Up to verification level|
|Mobile app||App store, Google play|
|Referrals||Yes, via intermediary|
|Other benefits||staking program (only XTZ)|
|margin and futures trading|
Kraken does not accept any credit or debit cards. The only exception are deposits in CAD done via Canadian post. But that is probably not something our readers would be interested in. Kraken's explanation to this surprising decision is: "Cryptocurrency transactions are nearly instant and practically irreversible. As such, the risk of fraudulent deposits from credit cards (and similar) are too high to take on for us right now."
Coins and trading
Kraken account offers 35 crypto coins for trading as of now. Interesting enough, Kraken belongs to the few exchanges which does not use BTC abbreviation for bitcoin. Instead, they use XBT. Here is its explanation: "XBT" is a new abbreviation for Bitcoin that is starting to come into use, and reflects its growing legitimacy as an international currency. The abbreviation "XBT" comes from the International Standards Organization (ISO) that maintains a list of internationally recognized currencies. The standard dictates that if a currency is not associated with a particular country, it should begin with an “X”, hence "XBT".
Kraken's web trading interface in its simple mode looks following:
Source: Kraken.com web interface
In the main row above the green buy button you can choose whether you intend to buy or sell, with the amount following. In this case we have decided to buy 0.05 BTC at the price of 6,160 EUR. The platform is set to "Limit" order so the order will be executed once the price reaches 6,160 EUR for 1 BTC. You can notice other buy and sell orders at the bottom of the screenshot. In this case other traders are willing to buy at 6,163.2 and sell at 6,163.3.
The interface may look quite simple, but as a matter of fact, we could not get used to it. If you decide to switch to professional version, just click the "Kraken pro" button in the upper right corner. It leads to a different, more professional interface:
Source: Kraken.com - trading interface "Pro" version
The "pro" version can probably offer you anything you would expect from such a large and well established crypto exchange. You can see the depth of the market as well. Anyway, neither the simplified interface nor the pro version are something we would feel comfortable with. But rating trading interfaces is quite subjective and can differ from person to person - so we prefer to leave it up to you and your own conclusion how you feel about it.
Advantages and disadvantages
Here is the list of main pros and cons we have found while using Kraken exchange:
|Well established exchange|
|Pro KYC enables deposits in millions USD|
|Margin and futures trading|
|Their support 24/7 with fast answers|
|Strong KYC identification required|
|Higher trading fees|
|No credit or debit cards accepted|
Source: Kraken.com, account - limits and identity requirements
Being the first level user, which they call "Starter" will not entitle you to any fiat deposits or withdrawals. You can only deposit, trade and withdraw cryptos. If you want to top-up your account with some fiat currency (like EUR or USD) then you need to deliver them additional documents and proofs. Anyway, the limits for the second "Intermediate" level are very interesting. Once you pass to the second level, you are eligible to deposit or withdraw 100,000 USD each day. Should you need to deposit or withdraw even more, than you need to proceed to the third level which is called "Pro". But pro level is for wealthy people and entities, requires AML verification and providing financial statements.
The final rating of Kraken.com is a bit difficult. From a view of common people there is not much Kraken can offer. The registration process is quite thorough and you need to deliver many personal information. They do not accept credit or debit cards, trading fees are a bit higher and once again - we could not get used to their trading interface.
The question we were asking all the time was - why should we choose Kraken over any other bitcoin exchange? Let's think about this. If you don't like the thorough identification process, then you would choose something like TradeOgre (which is btw. from the same country - California, USA). On the other side, if you are willing to provide all your personal information and ID scan, then why not choose Binance instead? Trading fees of Binance are 2-3 times lower compared to Kraken.
Thinking about Kraken.com, we have come to one simple conclusion. In our opinion, this exchange is suitable for enterprises and especially for institutional clients from the USA. Not every bitcoin exchange does accept US customers, while Kraken does. The fiat deposit and withdrawal limits for "Pro" level are in millions of dollars. And probably the most important fact for affluent clients is that Kraken is one of the largest crypto exchanges, operating in the business since 2011. If a company ever thought about moving to crypto business, then Kraken would be really a good choice. If you are thinking about creating a new account with Kraken.com, please consider using our referral link - this way Kraken will pay us some of their earnings for helping them grow.
Are you interested in reviews of other exchanges? Here is the list of our articles: Crypto exchange reviews
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