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Kraken crypto exchange review: Including Crypto 101 by Jesse Powell

Kraken is one of the most respected and recognised crypto-exchange platforms in the crytpo marketplace.

Kraken prides itself on its high level of security, its optimisation for everyone — from beginners to experienced traders, around the clock support, and offer high liquidity.

The Basics

Kraken supports a range of popular fiat and cryptocurrencies, enables fiat-to-crypto, crypto-to-crypto, and fiat-to-fiat trading, and trades upwards of $100 million USD daily. It offers margin trading, at varying maximum leverages depending on the pairs.


Kraken was one of the first crypto-exchange platforms, established in 2011. Its CEO and founder, Jesse Powell, however, has been working with digital currencies since 2001. Powell recognised the potential of crypto-exchange platforms, after helping out at Mt. Gox, following its 2011 hack.

Since Kraken’s inception, it has become somewhat of an innovator and powerhouse. In 2013 it partnered with Fidor Bank to launch the “world’s first cryptocurrency bank,” and in 2014, when Bloomberg Terminal first started to list Bitcoin pricing, Kraken was elected to provide the data. In 2015 it became one of the first exchanges to offer margin trading on Bitcoin, and a dark pool for anonymous trading. At the close of 2019 Kraken was valued at $4 billion USD.


Security and Regulation

Security is a core value of Kraken’s, undoubtedly contributing to its respected reputation. It has different levels of security, some mandatory and some optional. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is required to sign in, and encryption of sensitive data is standard, but there are options to set up a master key, and secure communication through email encryption. Finances use cold storage for 95% of deposits as protection, and their full reserves mean there is no withdrawal delay. Monitored continuously, the platform has a team dedicated to securing weak spots by attempting to attack the platform.

Kraken also prides itself on its rigorous approach to self-regulation and was an early participant in crypto self-regulatory bodies in the U.S. and Japan. It has its own ethos, which balances consumer protection with a crypto ecosystem that can flourish, and on occasion it has rejected government regulatory guidelines, meaning it cannot operate in those districts.

Beginner to Pro: Verification System

Kraken has a tiered verification system, which determines what you can do on your account, making it adaptable — for example, a corporation trading in high volumes will benefit from a Pro account which enables large withdrawals. However, if you have smaller amounts to trade, then a tier Starter or Intermediate account might be better suited. To gain access to a Starter account you can signup without a government ID, meaning initial signup is quick and easy, but upgrading to a higher account will likely require a few extra days for ID verification.

Account management

For high volume and consistent traders, whether you are an individual or an organisation, Kraken offers account management, to optimise consumers trading experience, a smart way to retain high-investment consumers, and ensure liquidity.

High Liquidity

Liquidity has become a selling point for different exchanges, and Kraken can put its money where its mouth is on its claim of maximum liquidity, particularly for bitcoin. At the time of writing, Kraken ranked fifth globally for crypto-exchange trading.

The App Finally Arrived

Historically, one of the greatest criticisms of Kraken was its lack of a mobile app, for on-the-go trading. It rectified this in October 2019, but was it worth the wait? The app scores high points for UI/UX, and generally gets favourable reviews for IOS users and slightly mixed reviews on Android.


Varied Fees

Kraken has a varied fee structure, for both maker and taker, favouring the high volume trader. For example, taker fees for >$50,000 USD are 0.26% of every 30-day trade volume, whereas for <$10 million USD it’s 0.10%, and waived completely for the maker. The fees aren’t particularly high and incentivise the platform for higher volume traders, but for some, this fee structure may be unappealing.

Ease of use

Although Kraken claims to be a beginner-friendly platform for all, many reviewers note that it could be easier for beginners in trading. It appears that high volume, more experienced traders, are its prime market.

Current Situation

Addressing security beyond the crypto space, Kraken Security Labs recently launched a data security website canisecure.com, teaching how to secure accounts across various social media and communication platforms.

With the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in job losses in the crypto sector, Kraken affirmed the resilience of both its platform and crypto ecosystem by announcing that it’s seeking to increase its workforce by 10%. They are interested in professionals with a variety of skills, not just tech, so it will be interesting to see what new initiatives and features arise as a result.

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