What is Kraken?
Kraken is an American crypto exchange, based in San Francisco. It has been around for like forever (which in the crypto world means since 2011). Kraken is regulated in the United States by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). This adds a layer of security and comfort to its users.
The crypto market generally refers to Kraken as a very reliable exchange. The exchange itself states that it exists for “those who demand fast execution, innovative features, exceptional support, and high security” and that it “always put the client first”. Kraken also promotes itself as the most trusted crypto exchange in the world.
FX-trading Possible at Kraken
In addition to offering crypto trading, you can also trade FX at this platform. This was made possible on 12 March 2020. Kraken hopes that this combined offering will enable their users to be “more agile and sophisticated” when trading across the markets on the platform. The following 9 pairs are the FX pairs available for trading from 12 March 2020:
Mt. Gox Assistance
An example of how the exchange’s reliability is that the bankruptcy trustee of Mt. Gox appointed Kraken to assist in processing the claims of the 127,000 creditors of Mt. Gox. Its duties in that process were the following:
- Aid in the investigation of possible lost or stolen Bitcoin
- Aid in the creation of a system to file and investigate claims
- Help to distribute Bitcoin and/or fiat assets to creditors
- Exchange Bitcoin to fiat currency when needed.
In February 2020, Kraken launched an OTC-desk function. With an OTC-desk (acronym for Over The Counter), you can execute larger trades without any risk of “slippage”, which is what we call price movements due to large transactions.
At Kraken, the minimum order size is USD 100,000, so it’s not for the small players. But if you have trades in that size, Kraken’s OTC-desk offers deep liquidity and a private, more personalized service. The service is primarily aimed at high net-worth individuals, institutions and crypto firms that need to fill large orders efficiently. The execution and settlement services are discrete, secure and ultra-competitive.
Kraken has a dedicated team of 11 professional traders throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, so that the platform can “understand your specific geographical market needs” and can trade and settle fast and efficiently around the clock. Kraken’s EU-team has traders located in London as well as dedicated account management and sales support to take care of all your trading needs.
Like most other platforms out there today, Kraken is also available as a mobile app. This means that you no longer need a desktop to access the crypto trading world. As long as you can download apps from App Store or Google Play, you’re good to go.
As the exchange is American, you can trade here if you are a US-investor.
Some Interesting Stats
The exchange was founded on 28 July 2011 and today offers trading in 30 cryptos. All of these are fairly big ones, so if you’re looking for a smaller/newer altcoin, Kraken is not for you.
Since its birth, Kraken has handled deals in total worth more than USD 140 billion. On the date of first adding these stats to the review (30 January 2019), its 24-hour trading volume was approx. USD 87 million. This placed Kraken on place 43 on the list of the crypto exchanges in the world with the highest 24-hour trading volume. So good, but not great (on the same day, Bithumb had a 24-hour trading volume of USD 1.4 billion). On the date of last updating this review (2 December 2021), the trading volume was USD 1.99 billion according to Coinmarketcap.
Kraken noted in an email to customers on 29 January 2019 that it had 4 million clients across almost 200 countries. This is very impressive market penetration indeed. In the same email, they announced a “new look”.
On 4 February 2019, Kraken also announced that it will now be possible to trade crypto futures at their platform. However, US-investors may not trade futures at Kraken just yet.
Kraken’s futures-offering was launched after the company bought Crypto Facilities, a trading platform that they themselves describe as a “world-leading, FCA-regulated” trading platform. The purchase price has not been disclosed but is allegedly above USD 100,000,000 – constituting one of the biggest acquisitions in the history of crypto. After the acquisition, you can now seamlessly move funds between Kraken Exchange and Kraken futures.
At Kraken, you can trade with leverage up to 50x on the top five cryptos. There are other platforms offering up to 100x and Coinbase Pro even offers up to 500x. At Kraken, there are no capacity restrictions and no ongoing interest charges. Kraken also highlights that there are “seamless transfers between spot and futures markets” and that they have a 30% revenue share. The latter meaning that the exchange pays out 30% of all the net fees that they have collected from their active traders, back to the traders.
This picture shows how strong the lev trading at Kraken has become lately:
Kraken Trading View
All exchanges have different trading views. And there is no “this overview is the best”-view. You should yourself determine which trading view that suits you the best. What the views tend to have in common is that they all show the order book or at least part of the order book, a price chart of the chosen crypto and order history. They normally also have buy and sell-boxes. Before you choose an exchange, try to have a look at the trading view so that you can see that it feels right to you. The below is a picture of the trading view at Kraken (before the redesign though):
Kraken Trading fees
Kraken’s trading fees for takers are 0.26%. This fee is ever so slightly above the industry average. The industry average is arguably around 0.25%.
However, the exchange offers a discount to makers, thus promoting the liquidity at the exchange. The maker fee is set at 0.16%. This is a strong competitive edge in the market and is especially beneficial for the investors not interested in picking up existing orders from the order book but rather prefers to “go fishing” with maker-orders.
Kraken Withdrawal fees
Withdrawal fees are typically a fixed fee of the relevant crypto you want to withdraw. This fixed fee is the same, regardless of how big the withdrawal is. For certain platforms, you can increase this fee to give the transaction a higher priority.
Kraken charges a withdrawal fee amounting to 0.00002 BTC when you withdraw BTC. This fee is substantially below the global industry average, which - the last time we made an empirical study on the subject - was 0.00053 BTC per BTC-withdrawal.
You can deposit money to Kraken in a very wide variety of ways. For instance, you can pay for cryptos at Kraken with Apple Pay and Google Pay (as of 21 September 2021). Simply choose the cryptocurrency you'd like to buy, enter the amount, and select Apple or Google Pay from the "Pay With" menu. If you don't yet have a card added, you can add one right from the Kraken app.
Another option you have when it comes to the deposits is to deposit (and withdraw) USD, EUR, CAD, GBP and JPY through Etana Custody (and CHF through Bank Frick in Liechtenstein). Etana offers currency conversion for a wide range of fiat currencies. Users of the Kraken platform can wire transfer almost any fiat currency to their Etana Custody wallet, and then exchange that into one of the five major fiat currencies that the Kraken platform supports, in order to fund their respective Kraken accounts.
You can also deposit and withdraw EUR via SEPA-transfers. Kraken’s cooperation with Liechtenstein-based Bank Frick makes this possible. The SEPA-deposit fees are EUR 0.15 and the SEPA-withdrawal fees are EUR 1.00 (so next to nothing, really).