Overview of Kraken
Based in San Francisco, Kraken is one of the largest and oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, offering users the choice to trade popular coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The San Francisco based company currently serves over 9 million clients across over 190 countries, with a significant $290 billion quarterly trading volume. The platform boasts competitive exchange fees and is seen by many as a great place to go if you are new to the cryptocurrency world. At the same time, with access to many different coins, it is still good for seasoned investors seeking out low fees and great opportunities.
Kraken was founded in 2011 and became one of the first Bitcoin exchanges to be listed on Bloomberg Terminal. The business was founded by Jesse Powell and Thanh Luu, but it didn’t launch until September 2013.
Interestingly, the company was founded as a response to another Bitcoin exchange failing - Mt. Gox. Jesse Powell was working for this exchange and started to develop Kraken as a replacement for it. After Mt. Gox collapsed, Kraken was born.
What are the main services offered by Kraken?
Buy Bitcoin & crypto
Users that download the app and create an account will have access to over 185 different cryptocurrencies to buy and trade in minutes. You can trade with only $10 in your account, and there are three different account levels you can choose from:
- Starter - this is a basic account that requires no verification and lets you deposit and trade cryptocurrencies, but that’s all you’re able to do. You cannot deposit or withdraw fiat currencies - like dollars - unless you upgrade to the next account level.
- Intermediate - with some extra identification and verification, you can access an Intermediate account. This is still completely free, it’s just that you need to verify who you are to unlock extra features. With this account, you can now deposit and withdraw fiat currencies.
- Pro - this final level gives you larger account limits and exclusive access to an anonymous trading pool. It is largely reserved for serious traders.
Kraken also has an NFT service that lets you explore and trade different NFTs via a secure platform. It actually isn’t open as of writing this, but you can submit your email here to join the waitlist if you want to learn more. The general concept is that this will become a marketplace for NFTs, allowing you to create your own and sell them while also having the ability to trade with other users.
If you wish to take a slightly different approach to crypto trading, Kraken allows you to trade crypto and Bitcoin derivatives through Kraken Futures. It states that crypto futures are an agreement between two parties to buy and sell crypto at a set price in the future. This is a good way to access lots of different cryptocurrencies without actually owning them and to increase your leverage when trading.
This is an interesting feature that lets Kraken users watch over 2,000 crypto markets across many different exchanges. The idea is that you can look at and keep tabs on these markets, using the features provided by Kraken to analyze when it’s right to make trades.
Staking is a way for you to earn yield on your crypto investments. All you have to do is stake different cryptocurrencies and begin earning money. This is paid as interest, and the interest you can earn depends on the cryptocurrency you stake. Payments are made twice a week directly into your Kraken wallet.
How does Kraken make money?
Kraken makes the majority of its money from trading fees on its platform. Additionally whenever money is deposited, a fee is charged so the company can earn money. The same goes for withdrawals, and there are also fees whenever trades are confirmed. Unfortunately, there’s no way to escape fees in the cryptocurrency trading world. After all, these companies have to make money somehow.
What are the fees on Kraken?
There is a long list of fees on the Kraken platform, but they are said to be industry-leading. Certainly, when compared to other companies, the fees do tend to be a lot lower. Of course, fees are also different depending on what features of the platform you are using. For instance, there are different fees for the normal platform compared to Kraken Pro.
Instant Buy Fees
These fees are for anyone looking to buy or sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptos through the Kraken App:
- Kraken Fee: 0.9% for stablecoins & 1.5% for other crypto
- Payment Card Processing Fee: 3.75% + 0.25 cents
- Digital Wallet Payments Processing Fee: 3.75% + 0.25 cents
- Online Bank Transfer Processing Fee: 0.5%
Kraken Pro Fees
The fees on the Kraken Pro app are split into two categories: maker and taker. This is common amongst crypto platforms, and Kraken also differentiates the fees based on the 30-day volume of trades.
You can see the fees down below. The dollar values refer to the 30-day trading volume, while the first percentage is the maker fee and the second is the taker fee:
- $0 - $50,000 -> 0.16% 0.26%
- $50,001 - $100,000 -> 0.14% 0.24%
- $100,001 - $250,000 -> 0.12% 0.22%
- $250,001 - $500,000 -> 0.10% 0.20%
- $500,001 - $1,000,000 -> 0.08% 0.18%
- $1,000,001 - $2,500,000 -> 0.06% 0.16%
- $2,500,001 - $5,000,000 -> 0.04% 0.14%
- $5,000,001 - $10,000,000 -> 0.02% 0.12%
- $10,000,000+ -> 0.00% 0.10%
If you’re using the futures platform, you will also be subjected to maker and taker fees per 30-day trading volume on futures trades.
Kraken NFT Fees
When the NFT Marketplace opens, there will be a 2% transaction fee for each purchase.
Is Kraken safe to use?
Kraken states that its number one priority is to safeguard your funds, NFTs, and privacy. It notes that theft isn’t the only threat you may face when trading cryptocurrency; there’s also the threat of financial instability ruining your assets. As a company that was formed off the back of a failed Bitcoin exchange, it’s no wonder safeguards have been put in place to protect customers - and the business itself.
Kraken is the first major cryptocurrency exchange to have a Proof-of-reserves audit from an accounting firm. This report shows in real-time the cryptocurrency reserves Kraken has to meet customer withdrawal requests. Currently Kraken is fully reserved, meaning they have over 100% of depositor assets on their balance sheet.
Consequently, Kraken has assembled a world-class security team from across the world to keep people protected. All of the servers that the website is built on are stored in secure cages under 24/7 surveillance by armed guards and CCTV cameras. Only certain people have access to the physical servers, so there’s very little chance of something going wrong.
95% of all deposits are kept in cold storage. This means that they are stored in “wallets” that aren’t connected to the internet, mitigating risks associated with hackers gaining access to funds.
All of the sensitive account information on Kraken is encrypted, while access to the data is monitored and controlled. This is done to conform to data protection standards and ensure that your privacy is respected.
Some of the other key security features of Kraken include:
- Two-factor authentication
- Email confirmations for all withdrawals
- No phone/SMS account recovery
- PGP signed and encrypted email for secure communication
- Real-time monitoring
- SSL encryption
- 24/7 live chat and email support
- Penetration testing
There’s also a bug bounty program that encourages third parties to test the network and rewards people for finding bugs. Thus, fewer bugs should exist, leading to a more secure platform for everyone.
Overall, Kraken is definitely safe to use. It keeps your funds well-protected and ensures your privacy is a top priority while browsing the site and app. The company has not reported any major hacking events since its exception, which is incredible for a business in this industry. Any small reports of hacks have come from individuals who have had their accounts hacked. Unfortunately for these people, Kraken can’t be blamed as they were likely the victims of phishing scams that gave away vital account information.
Is Kraken regulated?
Kraken does comply with legal and regulatory requirements in all of the jurisdictions it operates. The business is regulated by FinCEN in the USA and FINTRAC in Canada.
It is also regulated by the FCA in the UK and the Australian Transaction Reports & Analytics Center in Australia.
In Japan, Kraken is regulated by the FSA, while being regulated by the FSRA in the UAE.
Does Kraken have deposit insurance?
Unfortunately, Kraken does not have deposit insured. It states on the website that “cryptocurrency exchanges do not qualify for deposit insurance programs because exchanges are not saving institutions.”
This could partially be why the platform has such stringent security measures in place. It recognizes that lots of additional care and attention is needed to protect users’ assets. Currently, it is working based on the positive track history of the company.
In what countries is Kraken available?
Kraken is available in all four corners of the globe, offering accounts for users in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America.
However, it also notes that the funding providers for Kraken might deny funding to certain geographical locations. It also mentions that certain regions are currently unable to use debit or credit cards. If you are going to use Kraken, you can click here to view all of the different countries and the specific payment options offered. This will let you know if you can use debit/credit cards where you live.
How do I open a Kraken account?
Creating a Kraken account is fairly straightforward and follows some simple steps.
Visit the Kraken website and click on the Create Account button in the top right. An email address, username, and password are required at this stage. Be sure to pick a username you’re happy with as you can’t change it.
An activation email is then sent to your inbox with a special activation key. Click the link in the email and your account will be activated. At this point, you can begin the verification process to determine your account level. If you want the full benefits of Kraken, opening an Intermediate or Pro account is suggested.
To do this, you need your full name, date of birth, phone number, physical address, occupation information, social security number, a valid ID (passport, identity card, or driver's license), and a photo of your face. If you want a Pro account, you’ll also have to fill in a KYC questionnaire and set up two-factor authentication. All of this is free; it is up to you what account level you wish to have.
How to withdraw from Kraken
Withdraw to bank account
Assuming you already have a Kraken account, you can withdraw to your bank account by following these steps:
- Log in to your Kraken account and go to the "Funding" tab.
- Under "Withdraw", select the currency you want to withdraw in and enter the amount.
- Enter your bank account information. Make sure this is accurate, as withdrawals cannot be reversed once they are processed.
- Click "Withdraw".
Your withdrawal will usually be processed and completed within 5 business days.
To withdraw crypto from your Kraken account you'll need to navigate to the "Funding" page then the “Withdraw” tab. From there, you'll select the currency you wish to withdraw and enter the amount. Finally, you'll enter your withdrawal address and confirm the transaction. Once the transaction is confirmed, the funds will be sent to your withdrawal address within a few minutes.
Note that once a crypto withdrawal is made, it cannot be reversed. Always double check that you are withdrawing to the correct address on the proper blockchain network.
What sort of customer support does Kraken offer?
You get 24/7 support via the Kraken website with a variety of different channels open to account holders. The support center provides articles and FAQs to help with the most common queries. For more detailed help, you can send emails or talk via the Live Chat option on the website. Unlike many other crypto platforms, it is notable that Kraken provides 24/7 telephone support as well. If you prefer speaking to an actual person, this can be very useful.