This review is part of a crypto exchange review series. Our last reviews evaluated Kraken, Binance, Bittrex, Huobi, KuCoin, Poloniex, and Coinbase Pro. We are publishing reviews for each of the top exchanges, so don’t miss any of these updates by joining our Telegram group.
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In every industry, there is an unsung hero. The cryptocurrency industry’s unsung hero is, without a doubt, Gemini. While it doesn’t pull the kind of volume that its Binance and Coinbase counterparts do, Gemini has been ahead of the curve in many respects.
Being ahead of the curve is something that Gemini’s founders, the Winklevoss twins, seem to have a knack for. Back in 2002, the twins co-founded Facebook predecessor ConnectU with Divya Narendra. Later, Mark Zuckerberg went on to steal the idea when he started Facebook. The twins sued and were awarded a paltry $65 million.
The sting felt by Zuckerberg’s plagiarism was surely soothed by the early investments the twins began making in Bitcoin around 2011. With the Facebook suit cash in hand, the twins bought 1% of all circulating Bitcoin for a cool $11 million. In today’s prices, that sage purchase is worth north of $2 billion.
An interesting contrast to note is that the Winklevoss twins made their billions investing in decentralized technologies whereas Zuckerberg, their nemesis, made his fortune in concentrating data and surveillance.
After investing in early cryptocurrency projects like Charlie Shrem’s BitInstant, the twins decided to have a go of their own by launching Gemini in New York City. Originally, Gemini only handled Bitcoin (like most other exchanges of its era), but over time it grew to include crypto blue-chips like BCH, ETH, LTC, and ZEC.
Most cryptocurrency exchanges have histories that read like soap operas. Drama, intrigue, betrayal, and mystery are all missing from the Gemini story, however. That’s because Gemini does one thing, and it does it well. It does consistent compliance.
You’ll find other exchanges operating in grey areas, straddling between lines, and trying to take the shortcut way to a digital asset listing. Gemini is the complete opposite of that – everything it does is done to the T and crosses the desk of a New York regulator.
Case in point is the 2016 announcement made by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. In what was a very mainstream event for cryptocurrency at the time, Cuomo declared that Gemini was the first and only fully-licensed and regulated ETH exchange in America.
That announcement led many to realize the depths that the exchange goes to ensure that every asset on the exchange is fully compliant. This approach has gone over well with institutional investors and those with the utmost concern for being on the right side of the law. Sure, there is certainly a place for Wild West exchanges like KuCoin – especially because of the sheer selection of assets on an exchange like that.
On the other hand, traders using Gemini can rest assured that their trades will likely stand the test of time in the eyes of tax collectors, regulators, and future laws that will use blockchain analysis to roll back the years. The sheer trust held by institutions for the Gemini exchange is made evident by the occasional legacy financial structures that partner with them.
The Bitcoin futures launch by the CBOE in 2017 was one of the formative milestones in the history of BTC trading and values. Which exchange is used by the CBOE as a peg for BTC contract prices? Yes, that’s right – Gemini.
Gemini’s services have been ahead of their time in other ways, as well. Investors using the Gemini platform aren’t only trading digital assets; they’re getting custody of those assets too. In 2018, Gemini became the world’s first and presumably only exchange to offer a fully regulated ZEC trading and custody environment.
All of this institutional talk may have given you the impression that Gemini isn’t easy to use – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Gemini is an extremely beginner-friendly cryptocurrency exchange. In some ways, it rivals Coinbase’s ease, but it isn’t quite there yet.
Don’t let that dissuade you. Gemini has created a clean trading environment for new and experienced traders alike, with huge blocks of unmistakeable text that directs you to exactly where you need to go.
Creating an account on Gemini is as simple as you’d expect. Just click the registration link in the upper right hand of the Gemini landing page, and you’re well on your way.
Remember, Gemini’s angle is that it is fully regulated and compliant with all New York securities and trading laws. So, don’t expect to get an account here without giving up a lot of your personal information. To that end, when registering, you’ll need to provide an email address, phone number, bank account details, and your ID.
Trading on Gemini necessitates a bank account. That’s because the only way to fund your account is from your bank – a debit or credit card won’t do, and neither will a transfer of stablecoins from another exchange. Of course, if you don’t want to fund with USD and are looking to simply trade crypto to crypto, you can do that without a problem by transferring BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, or ZEC from another wallet.
Once you’ve gone through all the necessary steps, you’ll have one last task ahead of you to buy crypto with cash: funding your Gemini account. Unless you have an institutional or upgraded investor account, your daily maximum funding allotment is set at $500.
You can buy Bitcoin and Ethereum within the space of a few clicks once you have everything up and running.
Some may take issue with Gemini’s scant selection of digital assets. While that’s understandable, it takes away from the fact that what Gemini does offer in rich supply are exchange features.
Gemini has never been hacked, stolen from, or otherwise compromised in any way during it’s more than 5 years of operation. That’s got plenty to do with network security, sure, but the real sweet spot is Gemini’s proprietary cold storage technique.
Exchanges that have gotten burned in the past have usually been taken out by emphasizing too much hot wallet storage. Hot wallets keep assets connected to a network, leaving them vulnerable to sophisticated hackers. Cold storage, on the other hand, is completely offline. Your Gemini-held assets are kept in air-gapped cold storage systems which means they never connect to the internet in any way.
Additionally, Gemini’s hot wallet stored funds are FDIC insured, so even if a hack were to occur, your digital assets would remain safe.
All of these security measures have earned Gemini a raft of accolades and security certifications including Deloitte’s notoriously difficult to earn SOC 2 title.
Gemini is the perfect exchange if what you want to do is buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Zcash. If those assets do not interest you, then Gemini has no place in your orbit. That caveat is necessary for helping you to understand the extremely specific nature of the Gemini exchange.
It serves a specific function and does it like no one else’s business. As long as your needs aren’t overly complicated in terms of digital asset offerings, then Gemini is a one-stop-shop full of amazingly liquid order books and a drool-worthy UI.
In our estimation, what really takes Gemini to the next level is its game-changing level of security. We never recommend leaving your funds on an exchange – but, if you were to do it, Gemini might just be the safest place to do it.
One suggestion we would make to the Gemini team is to make the fee structure more clear. There is an API fee schedule, mobile fee schedule, ActiveTrader fee schedule, custody fee schedule, and a web fee schedule. All of these fees combine to being the most complex and expensive fees we have found among any exchange in the market. Without a full conversation with a Gemini representative, it would be hard for anyone to understand what you will actually end up paying by using Gemini.
TOTAL RATING - 4
Gemini is king when it comes to simplicity, user experience, and security. However, many traders still remain deterred from joining this exceptional platform due to the limited selection of assets and high trading fees.
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