As far as reputation and prestige go, Kraken is indeed one of the best destinations for the trading of cryptocurrencies. Founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco, the exchange is indeed a true industry veteran. Its services are available to users across the US (with the exception of New York, which is BitLicense territory), Canada, the UK and most of the EU. Japan also belongs to Kraken’s preferred jurisdictions.
Kraken is apparently the largest cryptocurrency exchange by Euro volumes, but it obviously supports USD and CAD too, not to mention GBP and JPY. The operation is hands-down the easiest solution for most people in Europe to buy cryptos with fiat currency.
As mentioned above, the company was founded in 2011, but the actual exchange was only launched in 2013. In 2017, Kraken acquired Cryptowatch and launched a brand-new trading platform. A detailed timeline of the history of the operation is available on the About Us page of the official Kraken website.
In addition to supporting all the above-said fiat currencies, Kraken also offers margin trading (recommended mostly to their more experienced traders).
The corporate entity behind the Kraken brand is Payward Inc. based in San Francisco, CA.
Kraken’s security record has been rather stellar over the years. Through 2017, several DDoS attack-campaigns were launched against the operation, and while they did affect the quality of Kraken’s services, they failed to cause any sort of significant damage.
Long story short: if you are a crypto beginner living in any of the above-mentioned countries/regions, Kraken is probably your safe bet to purchase your first handful of virtual currency.
While in theory, Kraken only supports a single account-type, the multi-tiered verification options available at the site, break this up into no fewer than 5 different accounts. These accounts or rather: account-tiers are set apart by the size of trading fees and the deposits/withdrawals one is allowed to make.
From a practical perspective, a Tier 0 account is pretty much useless: at this account level, traders cannot make any deposits or withdrawals. Working it up to Tier 2 only takes some basic personal information though, like the country of residence, full name, date of birth and a phone number. For most beginners, a Tier 2 account will suffice, as it allows deposits of up to $2,000 per day, for a maximum total of $10,000 per month.
Proof of address and ID are only required for Tier 3 accounts, and the verification procedure for this account level takes longer too (a couple of days). Tier 2 verification can be completed within a few minutes.
The top account tier (4) is reserved for high-volume traders, who need to contact Kraken support to raise their account level to this tier.
The bottom line in this regard is that with relatively few personal details shared, and relatively quickly, rank-and-file traders can get down to trading bitcoin and a number of other supported cryptos.
Upon launching its new trading platform (in January 2018) Kraken offered its traders free trading. While the generous deal expired at the end of the month, Kraken’s fees are still some of the best in the industry.
Their trading platform – which is web-based and can be accessed at a click, straight from the homepage – is quite outstanding as well. While from a graphical perspective, it is a little peculiar, it is very powerful indeed and its charting capabilities are nothing short of impressive.
Scores of drawing tools and technical indicators can be used for analysis, and their parameters can be tinkered with individually. The time frames span a wide range, from 1 minute all the way to 1 week.
Deposits are only accepted through bank wires and bank deposits. Depending on the currency in the which the deposit is made, one can opt for EUR SEPA deposit or bank wires in USD, CAD, GBP, and JPY.
Besides the above-mentioned fiat currencies, Kraken covers an impressive range of cryptos too. That includes BTC, ETH, BCH, Dash, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, USDT, Augur, Ripple, ZCash, Monero, Melon, Dogecoin, and others. Various pairings are available for these assets.
Kraken support can only be contacted through a form, as well as through live chat. While the company (Payward Inc.) does have a phone number listed, you can probably not use that for support.
The exchange maintains full reserves at all times, so a bank-run sort of scenario is technically impossible. Top-notch encryption and cold storage take care of the day-to-day security challenges.
Kraken is definitely worth considering as one of your top destinations for crypto purchases if you live in the jurisdictions where it operates.