Coinbase Review (2020)

Coinbase now supports GBP deposits and withdrawals through the Faster Payments network. This means that Coinbase’s biggest EU market can now buy Bitcoin (BTC) easier, quicker, and cheaper than ever before.

But what is Coinbase? How does Coinbase work? Why is this such a big deal? Is Coinbase the best way to buy bitcoin in the UK?

In this Coinbase review, we’ll be covering all of this:

Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages

  • It’s easy to use and perfect for beginners.
  • They’re reputable and trusted cryptocurrency broker and exchange.
  • Supports GBP deposits & withdrawals with Faster Payments.
  • Supports Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and more.
  • High liquidity and limits (which means you can make big purchases without any fuss).

Disadvantages

What Is Coinbase?

Coinbase was founded in June 2012 in the United States by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam.

Their mission is to: “create an open financial system for the world” to “bring about more economic freedom, innovation, efficiency, and equality of opportunity in the world”.

Here are some quick facts about Coinbase:

  • Support more than 100 countries (including the US and Europe).
  • Have over 30 million registered users.
  • Facilitated over £150 billion worth of trades.
  • Valued themselves at about £6 billion in April 2018, which is £4.6 billion more than they valued themselves in 2017.
  • Generated about £750 million in revenue in 2017.

In other words? They’re doing damn well.

How Does Coinbase Work?

When you buy or sell Bitcoin (BTC) or any other cryptocurrency with Coinbase, you’re dealing directly with them.

Some people think that Coinbase is an exchange (where you buy or sell to others), but they’re actually a brokerage (i.e. act as a middleman between buyers and sellers). Coinbase Pro (explained later) is the exchange platform which they offer.

Coinbase provides a simple platform that makes it quick and easy to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) in over 100 countries with transparent and competitive fees. Because of this, Coinbase is well-recommended across the crypto-community – especially for beginners.

Payment Methods & Fees

Payment MethodFunds AvailableCurrencyFees
Bank TransferAbout 30 minutesGBP1.49%
Debit CardInstantGBP3.99%
Credit CardInstantGBP3.99%
SEPA Transfer1-2 daysEUR1.49%

You’ll pay the lowest fees when buying Bitcoin (BTC) with a UK bank transfer. It’s not instant, but it’ll usually get processed in under 15 minutes. Most UK banks support Faster Payments, but you can check that yours does here.

Credit and debit card fees are cheaper than many alternatives too.

CompanyFees (Approximate)Website
Wirex1%Visit
Coinbase4%Visit
Uphold4.5%Visit
Coinmama10%Visit

Coinbase Faster Payments

Back in March 2018, Coinbase announced that they’d received an e-money license from the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

This means that Coinbase can now process GBP payments through a UK bank and utilise the Faster Payments Service (FPS).

That’s quite a big deal. Previously, UK cryptocurrency users had to make deposits and withdrawals to/from Coinbase in euros through SEPA transfers. This involved hidden fees (imperfect FX rates from sterling to euros) and delays (SEPA payments take 1-2 days). I know this was enough to put many crypto-newcomers off.

 UK Faster PaymentsSEPA Payments
CurrencyGBPEUR
RecipientsMost UK banksEU countries
SpeedUp to 2 hours1-2 business days
Availability24/7Mon-Fri
CostFreeVaries
LimitsHigh (usually £250,000)Varies

Zeeshan Feroz (Coinbase’s UK CEO) has said that: “having domestic GBP payments with Barclays reduces the cost, improves the customer experience…and makes the transaction faster”. The experience is now much more streamline than it used to be.

Coinbase Pro

Coinbase Pro Interface

A segment of the Coinbase Pro interface.

With Coinbase Pro, it’s possible to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH),  Litecoin (LTC), and more without paying much in fees. At most, you’ll pay just 0.5% in fees when using Coinbase Pro.

Coinbase Pro (owned by Coinbase) is an exchange platform aimed at traders and crypto-enthusiasts. Until recently, it was known as GDAX.

When you register for a Coinbase account, you’ll automatically become a Coinbase Pro member too. You’ll be able to login at Coinbase Pro with your Coinbase details.

These are the key differences between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro.

 CoinbaseCoinbase Pro
ServiceBrokerExchange
Target CustomersRetail investorsTraders & enthusiasts
CurrenciesBTC, BCH, ETH, LTCBTC, BCH, ETH, LTC
Ease of UseEasyHard
Minimum Purchase£1.990.001 BTC
Fees1.5%+Max 0.5%

Even though the fees are lower, I wouldn’t recommend Coinbase Pro to absolute beginners. It’ll probably just overwhelm you (unless you have a background in trading).

However, I would recommend taking the time and effort to learn how to use Coinbase Pro if you’re looking to buy or sell larger amounts. As illustrated below, Coinbase’s fees will add up.

 Fees (%)Cost (£) of £5000 Purchase
Coinbase (Debit/Credit Cards)4%£200
Coinbase (UK Bank Transfer)1.5%£75
Coinbase Pro (Maker)0.5%£25

Coinbase Limits

Coinbase selling limits

My Coinbase buying & selling limits.

With a fully verified account, I’m able to:

  • Buy up to £100,000 worth of cryptocurrency every week.
  • Sell up to £100,000 worth of cryptocurrency every week.

When you initially sign up, you’ll have lower limits.

You can check your own account limits here. On this same page, it’ll also show you what actions you can take to increase your limits. You can find more details about Coinbase account limits here.
If you need higher limits, then apply for it at the bottom of this page.

Coinbase Wallet

Coinbase host wallets for every cryptocurrency which they support.

These wallets have basic functionality (send and receive), support 2FA, and are perfect if you’re just starting to learn about cryptocurrency.

However, they’ll never be as secure as a properly setup external wallet. With hosted wallets like this:

  • You’re trusting that they’re keeping your funds secure.
  • They could block access to your funds (temporarily or permanently).
  • “If you don’t own the private key, you don’t own the Bitcoin(s).”

Because of such issues, hardware wallets are well-recommended across the cryptocurrency community. If you still don’t have a hardware wallet, check out our reviews:

Coinbase Vaults

Coinbase wallet vault

Coinbase also has ‘vault wallets’ for each cryptocurrency which they support.

These behave like normal cryptocurrency wallets, but with additional steps required to withdraw any funds:

  • Require authorisation from two email addresses.
  • Sends notifications to your email addresses and mobile.
  • Withdrawal delay of 48 hours.

If you’re not going to use an external wallet, then I’d setup and use these vaults. However, they’re a poor substitute for a properly setup external wallet.

Is Coinbase Safe?

Coinbase is it safe

Nothing is ever 100%, BUT Coinbase is a legit cryptocurrency exchange.

If all you want is an overview, check out this page.

Regulation

Over the last few years, Coinbase has been collecting financial licenses like Pokémon cards.

They’ve been getting cosy with regulators so that they can bring cryptocurrency to more and more people through their platform.

Coinbase is:

  • Licensed for money transmission in most U.S. jurisdictions.
  • One of only 9 companies which are been awarded a BitLicense.
  • Licensed by the FCA in the UK.
  • Compliant with financial services and consumer protection regulations, including the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA Patriot Act.
  • On their way to becoming a federally regulated broker-dealer.

Cryptocurrency Funds

Coinbase store 98% of customers’ cryptocurrencies offline in cold-storage.

These cold-storage backups are split and distributed around the world in safe deposit boxes and vaults.

Even if one portion of these backups was stolen, your funds would still be safe. Thieves would need to compromise multiple locations (and people) to steal the cryptocurrency. Because Coinbase has multiple backups of the same wallet, it’s also not an issue if they ‘lose’ one segment of their backup.

Coinbase store just 2% of customers’ cryptocurrencies in (insured) online wallets.

If the security of these online wallets is compromised, then customers would be reimbursed for any funds which are lost/stolen.

Their insurance policy only “covers any losses resulting from a breach of Coinbase’s physical security, cyber security, or by employee theft”. This means that if your individual account is compromised, then you’re NOT covered.

Fiat Funds

Coinbase store customers’ fiat currencies (i.e. a government-issued currency, like GBP) in separate accounts to the ones they use to run their business. Even if Coinbase went up in flames(!), any fiat currencies on Coinbase should be safe. They couldn’t be claimed by Coinbase or creditors.

USD funds are stored on behalf of US customers in US banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). If a bank where your funds are kept ‘fails’, you’re covered up to $250,000.

Unfortunately, UK customers aren’t protected in the same way by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Coinbase Mobile App

Coinbase mobile app

Coinbase’s mobile app (available on Android and iOS) is packed with all of Coinbase’s main features. You can:

  • Buy or sell Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
  • Access all your wallets on the go.
  • Send and request funds from your contacts, or through NFC and QR codes.
  • Monitor cryptocurrency prices.
  • Setup price alerts for lots of cryptocurrencies.
  • Protect the app with a passcode.

Why Do Some People Dislike Coinbase?

Some people don’t really like Coinbase. Here are a few reasons why:

Coinbase Alternatives

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Find the cheapest alternative to Coinbase in the UK with BittyBot. 

BittyBot crawls across popular UK and EU Bitcoin (BTC) markets and helps you buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) at the best possible price.

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Conclusion: A Great Way to Buy Bitcoin in the UK

With the introduction of UK faster payments, Coinbase is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to buy bitcoin in the UK.

If you’re looking to buy your first slice of Bitcoin (BTC) without getting ripped off, then Coinbase is your best choice. It’s absolutely perfect if you’re a beginner or non-technical user.

Ready to get started? Sign up now! You’ll get £7 of free Bitcoin (BTC) when you purchase £100 worth of cryptocurrency.

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