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Kraken Review: Why There's so Much Hype

Is Kraken the right cryptocurrency exchange for you? We explain the key features along with the pros and cons in this ultimate Kraken review.

  • Kraken
  • Dean Fankhauser
    By
  • Posted
  • Read Time14 minutes
  • Our score
  • Go to siteKraken

Kraken review

Our take

4.5

Did you know that Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange is currently the largest Bitcoin exchange in terms of liquidity and volume? Based in San Francisco, this veteran platform is fantastic for those who want advanced trading services. 

As a result, we don't recommend it for newbies or the faint of heart when it comes to understanding and taking full advantage of everything that a detailed crypto platform has to offer.

Nevertheless, for those who don't mind a full array of choices from their interface, there are few more comprehensive options. Keep reading our Kraken review to learn more about this fantastic platform and its evolution in recent years.

From an updated and streamlined layout to enhanced security, investing through this site now comes with greater peace of mind for customers. What are some of the other attractions associated with Kraken? From OTC options to margin lending, here's what you need to know.

Kraken Review: A Brief History

Founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell, Kraken is renowned for its wide range of features, low transaction fees, and top-notch security. The exchange was first launched in 2013 and has raised more than $100 million to date. 

Powell developed the idea for Kraken after visiting the offices of Mt. Gox, the world's largest crypto exchange. During the visit, Powell felt shocked by Mt. Gox's negligent safety features and overall lack of security. He could also see why the platform had received so much attention from hackers. 

As it turned out, Mt. Gox was inadequately run and at risk of losing its customers' money. With this knowledge of what not to do, Powell decided to construct an exchange that would function better and safer. By 2014, he opened the exchange, which he called Kraken. 

The same year that Powell founded Kraken, Mt. Gox got hacked, resulting in the loss of $460 million of its customers' funds. After the bankruptcy, Kraken stepped in to process the claims of those who lost funds during the event. Many new users first got introduced to Kraken this way. 

Powell remained committed to creating a platform that would prove secure and trustworthy for investors. To ensure this, Kraken forged strategic links with banks in Japan and Germany. Powell also pushed hard for a significant milestone, getting listed on the Bloomberg Terminal. 

The Bloomberg Terminal is a vital tool relied on by bankers all over the world. It sits on the desks of more than 325,000 of the world's most important financial decision-makers. This listing coup validated Kraken and brought it to the attention of major players. 

Issues on the Horizon

The platform launched by Powell quickly gained a reputation as an exchange that customers could trust. Yet, issues lingered on the horizon.

The exchange experienced problems in 2017. By January of 2018, Kraken had to close its site for a week as it urgently addressed these vulnerabilities.

Supporters of Kraken praised the company for confronting its problems head-on. But some became concerned that these problems persisted. To this day, some criticize the site for various reasons we'll discuss later.

That said, Powell has gone to great lengths to update and improve the site. Today, Kraken operates across the US (except for New York) and Canada.

It also functions in Japan and the European Union. Other key features that people love about Kraken include its 24/7 live customer service, high liquidity, and industry-leading safety protocols. 

In these areas, the platform is hard to surpass. The company employs a cryptographically-verified, independent audit to prove funds remain properly held. This audit provides reassurances for its customers and interested third parties. In this way, Kraken keeps full reserves of customer funds.

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Kraken Services to Know About

Kraken homepage

As we've already mentioned, Kraken isn't for beginners.

What is Kraken? It ultimately represents a sophisticated trading platform with spot and margin trading options for users with some previous crypto mileage. Because the interface comes with so many options, newbies could feel bewildered by all of the choices. 

For those with a crypto history, though, it's easy to fall in love with all of the choices. For example, Kraken offers Over the Count (OTC) services for high volume trades (in excess of $100,000).

OTC services are one-on-one, often with a dedicated account manager who handles all of your trading needs. Think of it like a concierge crypto investment service.

What else does the platform offer? Kraken keeps an order book not visible to the rest of the market known as its dark book. This feature permits users to set in play large transactions to buy and sell without showing their hand to other investors. 

Why is a dark pool so crucial to some traders? Because when outsized orders are made known to other traders, it can cause the market to shift unfavorably.

The result? Getting the price you want can prove challenging. Fortunately, you can avoid much of this unwanted movement with a dark pool. 

Kraken's services don't stop there. You'll also enjoy their staking service. This service permits users to receive a return on assets that might otherwise remain unused or held. 

Fiat Currencies Accepted by Kraken

Many platforms, particularly those for beginners, prove quite limited in the currencies they accept. But such is not the case with Kraken. When it comes to fiat currencies, Kraken accepts:

  • US dollars (USD)

  • Euros (EUR)

  • Japanese yen (JPY) 

  • British pound (GBP)

  • Chinese Yuan (CNY)

As you can see, fiat currencies are those supported by a government. They represent the legal currencies of nations worldwide. How much gets spent in each of these fiat currencies is known as the trading volume.

Kraken supports withdrawals and transactions made with SWIFT, SEPA, domestic, and wire transfers. The platform cautions that withdrawals and deposits could take between one and five days. 

That said, our personal experiences suggest that many transactions take little more than 24 hours. What about fees? Depositing most accepted cryptos is free. That said, there's a small address setup fee in some cases. 

As for SEPA deposits, they're free. If you're a European Union citizen, you'll find Kraken's services to be extra convenient. That's because you fall within the list of SEPA nations.

What about bank and wire transfers within the United States? These usually come with fees ranging from $5 to $25. For wire transfers outside of the US, plan on spending $10 in fees.

Kraken allows users to trade with six different fiat currencies. And you don't need to visit other exchanges before the trading begins. This functionality stands in stark contrast to businesses such as Bittrex, which only permit cryptocurrency trading. 

Find out more about the differences between various crypto exchanges

Common Kraken Cryptocurrency

Which cryptocurrencies does the company accept? You'll be impressed by the vast list. That's because the platform currently supports more than 38 different altcoins.

Kraken has even more available pairs. When it comes to pairs, the more popular they are, the more trading pairs they have. 

What are trading pairs? These are currencies that get paired and given a relative value, such as 1 Bitcoin (BTC) = 15,340 Euro (EUR). Think of pairs like money exchanges at airports where you'll see fiat currencies paired as 1 USD = 104 JPY.

Their selection includes coins like:

One of the nice things about Kraken is its one-stop-shop ability to meet customer needs.

Whether you want to stick with the big names such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, or you'd like to branch out, you've got options. Once you've learned the interface, you can explore these options without switching apps or platforms. 

Additional Cryptos Supported by Kraken

Kraken's very comprehensive selection of coins offers investors wishing to dabble in other cryptos serious room for experimentation. That said, you could get yourself into trouble with all of these choices if you don't have the experience to make savvy decisions. Here's a list of the altcoins they currently support: 

  • Algorand (ALGO)

  • Augur (REP)

  • Basic Attention Token (BAT)

  • Balancer (BAL)

  • Cardano (ADA)

  • Chainlink (LINK)

  • Compound (COMP)

  • Cosmos (ATOM)

  • Curve (CRV) Dai (DAI)

  • Dash (DASH)

  • Dogecoin (DOGE)

  • EOS (EOS)

  • Gnosis (GNO)

  • ICON (ICX)

  • Kava (KAVA)

  • Kusama (KSM)

  • Kyber Network (KNC)

  • Lisk (LSK)

  • Monero (XMR)

  • Nano (NANO)

  • OMG Network (OMG)

  • Orchid (OXT)

  • PAX Gold (PAXG)

  • Polkadot (DOT)

  • Qtum (QTUM)

  • Siacoin (SC)

  • Stellar Lumens (XLM)

  • Storj (STORJ)

  • Synthetix (SNX)

  • Tether (USDT)

  • Tezos (XTZ)

  • Tron (TRX)

  • Melon (MLN)

  • Waves (WAVES)

  • Zcash (ZEC)

This astounding list of cryptos gives you plenty of room to try out new coins. Although it may feel overwhelming to some, we need to place it in context. Today, more than 4,000 cryptos have already been invented. 

Myriad options make it challenging to choose the best one for your current needs. At the same time, oversimplified apps and websites limit your exposure to cryptos like those listed above.

If you're tired of having your selection of coins restricted by the platforms you're using, then Kraken may be right for you. 

Kraken Supported Countries

At this point, you may feel enthused about the idea of giving Kraken a whirl. You likely also have questions about which countries are supported by Kraken. Fortunately, the company's got a massive reach.

It's easier to list the countries where you can't transact in Kraken than it is to list the ones where you can. Nations where the platform doesn't operate include:

  • Cuba

  • Afghanistan

  • Iran

  • Iraq

  • Libya

  • Syria

  • Congo

  • Tajikistan

  • North Korea

How do American traders fit into the big picture? Kraken accepts US traders except for residents of New York and Washington. 

Kraken Fees

We've already touched on the fees associated with Kraken. But it's time to dive more deeply into the company's fee schedule. It boasts some of the lowest in the industry and a compelling reason for many investors to hop on board.

With Kraken, the fees you owe depend on your trading volume over the past 30 days. These fees are also generally based on the maker-taker model. That means makers who add limit orders to the platform pay lower fees than takers who complete existing orders.

Fees are as follows:

  • Stablecoin trading fees fall into the 0.2 percent to 0 percent range

  • Spot trading fees range from 0.26 percent to 0 percent

  • Dark pool fees come in at 0.36 percent to 0.2 percent

Because Kraken fees are volume-based, the more you trade, the less you pay on subsequent trades. Kraken uses this fee schedule to motivate traders to engage with the market. They also do this to drive maximum liquidity.  

What else do you need to know about fee considerations? They get charged on a per-trade basis as a percentage of the trade's quote currency volume. Some pairs get calculated based on the trade's base currency. In these cases, fees are specified when ordering using the Fee Currency option.

How are these fees measured? By applying the equivalent market value of the listed "Fee Volume Currency" at the time of the trade. Bear in mind that this currency may prove different than the pair's base or quote currency.

Kraken assesses discount tiers after each trade. So, you'll receive discounts after you earn them. The exchange designed these volume-based discounts to be attainable, so investors get rewarded for trades of varying sizes.  

For those who trade in large volumes, make sure that you give Kraken's OTC service a try. Yes, you'll pay a bit more, but it'll prove well worth it when it comes to personal experience. It also remains your most cost-effective choice overall.

Almost every one of Kraken's pairs follows the same fee schedule. This approach incentivizes market makers to ramp up liquidity. In turn, it makes it easier for you to see trades at your optimal price point.

Finally, Kraken's dark pool trading applies to all Ethereum/fiat and Bitcoin/fiat currency pairs. This pool provides investors who desire a smaller footprint in the crypto market with the chance to make trades without disrupting the ecosystem. This option proves well worth the extra fees you'll pay. 

Kraken Customer Support

As you can see, Kraken has set itself apart from the competition in many different ways. These include the system's advanced interface, use of nearly 40 cryptos, and improved customer support.

Kraken's website contains an extensive support guide to help customers navigate and utilize the site to its fullest. This guide covers every topic, from the basics like verifying your account to more complex processes like trading.

This complete support manual contains just about every bit of information you'll need to deal with issues related to using the site. That said, situations may still arise where you'd like to speak with a customer service representative. 

When such situations arise, simply submit a support ticket. Or you can talk with a live representative using the website's built-in chat. 

Kraken Reviews

What do traders familiar with the site and its customer experience have to say about Kraken? The overall consensus is favorable. Many reviews focus on the platform's core strengths, including its low fees, robust security, and varied features. 

That said, this Kraken review wouldn't be complete without addressing some of the criticisms that the platform has also received. Some of these prove quite scathing. For example, reviewers have called it a "tech scam" and a "lousy choice."

Others voice complaints about the number of steps you have to go through to invest on the platform. They also note problems with slow response time after submitting a support ticket. You should also know that the website has a "poor" grade on TrustPilot.

A Rebuttal to Kraken's Critics

Do these criticisms warrant any reason for alarm? First, let's discuss Kraken's reliability. As mentioned previously, the platform encountered problems in 2017 that led to it getting shut down for one week while these issues got resolved. 

What was the nature of these problems? The platform couldn't keep up with all of the people signing up to use it. It also faced a handful of cyber-attacks which highlighted vulnerabilities on the site.

The 2018 shutdown brought with it vital changes and restored consumer confidence. It also boasted improved security, a win-win for its customers. 

It's worth noting that although cyber-attacks occurred, Kraken has never been hacked.

Why? Because it stores the majority of its currency offline. The two-factor authentication we discussed earlier also deters potential hackers. 

The company's recent revamps stand to improve its online reviews. The level of support available to customers as well as platform stability, have both greatly improved. We look forward to seeing new reviews praising the site in the months and years to come. 

You must bear in mind that crypto exchanges have traditionally suffered from poor customer service. Why? Because these companies did not venture into FinTech to replace banking institutions. 

The last thing crypto exchanges want to do is act as banks. So, they've avoided listing information such as telephone numbers or physical addresses to prevent them from transforming into brick-and-mortar banking fixtures. 

Kraken: Past and Present

Reviewing Kraken requires addressing some hiccups from its past. Because it has been in the game for a while, it's undergone a noteworthy evolution over the years. 

Once scorned for its instability, the site has seen significant renovations over recent years. What does this mean for consumers? A smooth experience devoid of the site's infamous clunkiness. You'll also enjoy the company's increasing focus on customer service and security over the years.

Both of these factors set the company apart from the competition. They also represent the company's commitment to learning from the past and working hard to improve its interface and features. 

Today, you'll find a company committed to meeting customer needs while supplying them with a wide array of tools and resources. With this in mind, the platform stands strong today.

Many consumers are drawn to Kraken because the site offers such a wide selection of cryptos for trading. Unlike some sites, which only provide the most popular coins, Kraken goes the extra mile. It permits consumers to test out many lesser-known coins.

However, if all you're after is choice, you may wish to give another platform a try. For example, Binance lets users choose from more than 150 cryptocurrencies. It also comes more highly recommended than Kraken when you take into account ease-of-use and performance in reviews. 

Kraken App

Many individuals prefer mobile devices, so it's no surprise that Kraken has an app. How does this app stack up? We found Kraken app to be both intuitive and straightforward.

It permits users to trade on-the-go from their devices, providing them with a clear interface. That means you can enjoy the company's trading features from just about any device. 

Features such as the Kraken app will continue to streamline trading with this company. It'll also make using cryptos more common and convenient.

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Frequently asked questions about Kraken

We’ve compiled some answers to questions we often get. Should you have any other questions, feel free to reach out below in the comments.
Is Kraken Safe to use?

To safeguard the funds and privacy of their users is a number one priority of Kraken. They have a team of experts who have implemented multiple safeguards to prevent theft of money or information. 

Any users that decide to trade on Kraken can be rest assured as Kraken ensures that the cryptocurrency exchange is stable, has full reserves, and meets the highest standards of legal compliance. With two factor authentication and email confirmations to withdraw funds, along with round the clock monitoring for any suspicious activities, Kraken is committed to its mission of being the most secured crypto exchange in the world.

Is Kraken licensed or regulated?

Kraken announced in September that they received a U.S.bank charter. This is a first for any crypto company. They stated that Kraken Financial “will be the first regulated, U.S. bank to provide comprehensive deposit-taking, custody and fiduciary services for digital assets.”

They comply with legal and regulatory requirements in all he jurisdictions they operate in.

Kraken is registered as a Money Services Business (MSB) with:

CryptoFacilities Ltd. is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK's primary financial regulatory body. Reference number 757895.

In Australia, Kraken (as the entity "Bit Trade Pty Limited") is registered as a Digital Currency Exchange and regulated by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)

Payward Asia, Inc. is registered as a Crypto Asset Exchange Operator with the FSA in Japan. Registration Number: Director-General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau No. 00022

Is my Personal Data Secured?

Kraken's security team has ensured that the personal information of its users remains protected through their dedicated design efforts. It is not possible to access the encrypted sensitive client data of Kraken through their website. At the same time, it is almost impossible to decrypt the encrypted client data. A hacker will have to access multiple highly secured systems first to get their hands on the sensitive client data. 

When it comes to document security, all user documents are watermarked. Hence, these documents cannot be used elsewhere. For account-related security measures, the most likely scenario that can come true is the leakage of client-specific data. That, too, is only possible if someone manages to access a user's login credentials. Even in this scenario, Kraken has put a safeguard measure as very limited information is viewable.

What fiat currencies and crypto coins and tokens Kraken support?
Kraken supports seven fiat currencies and 54 cryptocurrencies. This number may be less for markets where the ability of trading in some fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies has been restricted by Kraken. The supported fiat currencies include USD, EUR, CAD, AUD, GBP, CHF, and JPY. As for cryptocurrencies, Kraken supports popular ones, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, among others.
How can I deposit funds to Kraken?

Kraken supports both fiat currency deposits and crypto-asset deposits. Depending on your resident country and verification level, the availability of fiat deposits and withdrawal may be restricted. Multiple fiat deposit methods are available for users, but it again depends on your residence. Users in the United States can deposit USD to their Kraken accounts via Fedwire, whereas users in Europe can fund their accounts via SEPA & SWIFT. Australian users can opt for bank transfers to fund their Kraken accounts. 

To deposit cryptocurrency supported by Kraken, you can select the cryptocurrency that you want to deposit and an address will be generated for it. You can either copy the address or scan the QR code and paste the address on the transfer page of the place where your funds are located.

Pros and cons of Kraken

  • When it comes to security, no exchange can outdo Kraken
  • Users who are new to the crypto world will find it quite easy to start trading on Kraken as it is beginner-friendly
  • Kraken is one of the most liquid crypto exchanges today as it is quite popular among both professional traders and crypto enthusiasts
  • Regulated in the US and they have a US banking license
  • Kraken is very transparent, and that is how it has become one of the most trustworthy exchanges in the world. In fact, Kraken is the first exchange that carried out proof of reserves.
  • There are 50+ cryptocurrencies on Kraken for buying and selling, which includes the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and much more
  • Kraken supports trading in six different fiat currencies, which gives Kraken an advantage over many other cryptocurrency exchanges that only supports 1-3 fiat currencies
  • There have been many complaints from Kraken users about the slow verification process of new users for intermediate and pro-level accounts
  • Kraken is suffering from the same issue that many multi-exchange platforms suffer from - sluggish customer support. But we have to give credit to Kraken as the company is trying its best to improve its customer support

The Final Say on Our Review of Kraken 

What's the final takeaway when it comes to this Kraken review? Powell's brainchild offers a comprehensive way to buy and sell in a wide array of fiat and cryptocurrencies. Although we don't recommend it for beginners, it contains all of the crypto bells and whistles.

For this reason, we highly recommend it for traders with more experience in cryptos. It's also excellent for individuals who wish to devote a serious amount of time to learning crypto but don't want to change platforms later. Because of its sophisticated features, Kraken will grow with those who use it.

Although the platform has faced criticism in the past, Powell continues to make essential updates and changes. These have improved the website's overall security and ease-of-use. For these reasons, Kraken is one of the best options that you can invest in. 

Are you interested in learning about other leading crypto platforms? If so, we've got you covered. Check out our list of the leading DeFi and CeFi platforms to offer crypto loans, lending, debit and credit cards, and more.

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