GDAX vs Gemini: Exchange Review: Are They Safe?

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AVG Rating: 8.5/10

GDAX and Gemini are two of the most prominent cryptocurrency exchanges on the market today. The both do millions of dollars’ worth of trading per day, primarily with assets in the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.

GDAX is the main exchange operated by cryptocurrency giants Coinbase. They are known for being able to accommodate both more and less experienced investors, and for the advanced trading options that they allow.

Gemini is an exchange launched in 2015 with a particular emphasis on security. Its creation was spearheaded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin brothers made famous for their role in the founding of Facebook.

They conceived of the exchange as a response to several significant hacking attacks on the digital trading industry. They saw that the credibility of the industry as a whole was being damaged and they sought to create a platform that counteracted investors security fears.

Comparing GDAX vs. Gemini

GDAX and Gemini are two different online exchanges that allow users to buy and sell a variety of different digital assets. Both exchanges are considered better suited to intermediate and advanced level users.

One reason for this is that the GDAX display can be intimidating to newer investors due to its constantly updating data and wide array of options. In addition to the normal buying and selling options, they also have tabs for stop orders, margin trading, and other advanced options.

Despite all of the information on their display, the GDAX design gets consistently good reviews. They are often complimented by veteran traders for their ability to fit large amounts of data on to the screen in an accessible, aesthetically pleasing way.

The Gemini design is certainly simpler and many prefer it aesthetically, however it is also somewhat less intuitive. There are some features that can be difficult to find if you do not know where to look, and the simple design can mask some confusing functions.

Funding Methods of GDAX vs. Gemini

Gemini and GDAX each offer several different ways that users can buy in. They both accept bank transfers, wire transfers and a variety of different cryptocurrencies. GDAX additionally accepts transfers from Coinbase, their parent company, which are free and immediate.

Options offered by GDAX vs. Gemini

The main functions of both of these exchanges are to allow users to act as either makers or takers, brokering deals for the range of currencies that they allow on their platform. As mentioned above, GDAX also has ways that users can lend on margin and place stop loss orders as well. Those specialized functions can be riskier, however they also provide other ways to maximize the earning power of your coin.

One option that Gemini allows that GDAX is not is an auction-buying feature. Users are allowed to bid on coins against other investors, potentially finding opportunities to beat the market price.

Another unique feature that Gemini offers is the ability to start trading before your funds have cleared. While most exchanges, GDAX included, have at least a brief waiting period while the transaction is approved, Gemini makes these funds available immediately so that users are able to lock in prices and take advantage of market changes as they happen.

Consumer Support

It is common knowledge that the customer support departments of most cryptocurrency exchanges leave much to be desired. Relative to the industry standard, both GDAX and Gemini have acceptable levels of customer support, using a support ticket system that tend to get responses within several days.

Both platforms also have extensive FAQ sections that can help resolve most of the common issues that users experience without needing to submit a support ticket. The majority of the comments found online about their customer support are positive, and our research team did not find any accounts of missing or ignored support tickets, lost funds, or other significant issues.

Trust

Both GDAX and Gemini are among the more trusted exchanges of this type found online. They have each done over 20 billion USD in trades overall and have FDIC insurance backing all of their users’ investments.

GDAX also earned extra trust from their clientele for their response to a 2017 incident involving a mass Ethereum selloff. A number of their users lost a significant amount of money due to the flash crash, however GDAX reimbursed many of the most affected accounts.

This was not a required gesture, however their willingness to do so impressed many people in the industry. One of the reasons that GDAX was able to make such a gesture was that they have some very powerful backers behind them, including the New York Stock Exchange and Andreesen Horowitz.

Security

Gemini was founded in the wake of the Mt. Gox hack, which saw users lose hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assets to online thieves. Their goal was to make the most secure digital asset exchange on the market so that users could invest with confidence, knowing that their funds were secure.

They use the Twilo two-factor authentication system, one of the more secure options currently available. There are very few accounts that can be found online of users getting hacked or losing access to their funds, which further supports their claims. There are no reports of their offline funds having been accessed by unauthorized agents.

GDAX is also known as one of the more secure exchanges overall, however there are several reports of more minor hacks that can be found online. There was a suspected attack in January of 2018 that saw hackers take both assets and personal data from users, however the extent of this has not been reported.

Both exchanges use offline cold storage systems that are multi-sig encrypted and backed up by hard copies. Only a small fraction of their assets are actually kept online at any given time, with estimates ranging between 1% and 2%.

Fees

Both platforms have similar fee structures in general, however there are enough peculiarities and differences that prospective users should examine the exact fee structures of each platform and compare them to the prospective types of trades that they will be performing.

The maximum trading fee for Bitcoin on both Gemini and GDAX is 0.25%, with lower rates offered based on increased trading volume. Gemini offers more favorable rates for Ethereum trading, with a 0.25% maximum fee vs. a 0.30% maximum fee on GDAX.

Gemini does have a surprisingly small daily ACH deposit limit of $500. They do not, however, place any such limits on crypto deposits and wire transfers. These deposits can sometimes take up to five days to get approval, which some users have complained about in the past.

GDAX’s deposit limits are governed by a selection of different factors including age, transaction history, and volume of trading. They have a 250,000 USD daily limit for wire transfers but do not place any restrictions on crypto deposits.

Both platforms have withdrawal limits set at 10,000 USD per day without any options to change or increase this limit. This limit is fairly standard across the industry and is used as a protection against fraud and extreme market fluctuation.

Offered Crypto

Both GDAX and Gemini have a somewhat limited selection of available currencies. While many exchanges today can carry dozens of different types of digital assets, Gemini carries only Bitcoin, Ethereum, and their derivative currencies.

GDAX carries those currencies as well, and they also offer Litecoin. There are often rumors that circulate claiming that GDAX will be adding another coin to their selection, however there have been no concrete announcements regarding this at this time.

Summary

There are quite a few similarities between these two platforms, and many users will get very similar results from using one or the other. They both carry a limited number of currencies overall, especially when compared with some of today’s more diverse asset exchanges, however they have solid reputations and are well respected by the investors that use them.

Despite all of their similarities, Ethereum-specific investors may see a significant difference between the two, as Gemini’s fees for ETH trading are generally lower. Their displays are also significantly different, and many past users have stated a strong preference for one or the other.

Gemini also has one of the best reputations for security amongst online exchanges, though GDAX is not far behind. Both are among the more trusted exchanges overall and are backed by powerful financial institutions that insure their customers’ funds against a number of different eventualities.

The other benefit that Gemini can offer that GDAX cannot is immediate trading before users’ funds have been completely approved, which may appeal to some traders. Others, however, may be more attracted to the advanced trading options or clean website design of GDAX.

Prospective users should examine their display options and consult the different fee structures to see which platform is better suited to their specific tastes and trading styles. Either way, users can be sure that they are dealing with one of the more trustworthy options in the market today.

Peter Lehmann

Peter is a blockchain investor and cryptocurrency writer at Vkool.com. Since 2014 Peter has advised blockchain startups and ICOs on content marketing, strategy and business development.

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