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Coinbase vs Bithumb: A U.S. vs South Korean Exchange Comparison

Read on as we compare Bithumb of South Korea with Coinbase, the world’s favorite cryptocurrency broker. Who will win on fees, purchase methods, security, and other various important metrics? Let’s find out. 

Compare Coinbase vs Bithumb Global

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Coinbase
489
Bithumb Global
USA Accepted?
YesYes
Trading Pairs
19250
7 Day Volume
$394,291,088

Fees

Coinbase Costs

Let’s be frank, Coinbase is expensive to use, but it’s thanks to their excellent user experience that most of their customer base can overlook the fees. No platform makes purchasing crypto easier than Coinbase, which is why they can justify the following charges:

When purchasing crypto, you must pay the greater sum of condition one or condition two:

  • Condition 1: a flat fee for transactions under $200 (USD):
    • $0-10 – fee: $0.99 | €0,99 | £0,99 | C$.99
    • $10-25 – fee: $1.49 | €1,49 | £1,49 | C$1.49
    • $25-50 – fee: $1.99 | €1,99 | £1,99 | C$1.99
    • $50-200 – fee: $2.99 | €2,99 | £2,99 | C$2.99
  • Condition 2: 1.49% of the total purchase via bank transfer or 3.99% for debit and credit card purchases

For crypto-to-crypto trades* most platforms have a fee between 0.1% and 0.5%, but on Coinbase, their fee is an astronomical 2%. On top of that, 2% is called ‘the spread,’ which is applied to trades and purchases and is a premium of 0.5% added to the actual market price. A total fee of around 2.5% is hard for many advanced traders to swallow, and that’s why Coinbase is targeted at first-time buyers in the industry.

Don’t forget; there’s also a 1% fee for withdrawing cryptocurrency, as well as a minimal mining fee.

*Note that crypto-to-crypto trades are transacted directly with Coinbase and not with other users on a typical exchange trading interface. For that trading experience, you will need to look for Coinbase Pro, a separate trading product. 

Bithumb Trading Fees in South Korea

As the leading cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, Bithumb has become a popular option for Asian traders. However, it also boasts an exciting trading fee structure for its Korean traders beyond its location. Rather than a flat 2% fee like Coinbase or a trading fee schedule like most exchanges, Bithumb in South Korea works on a coupon system. Users can purchase one of 10 coupons that offer different trading fees for 60 days, affecting all trading pairs. The coupons are paid for in South Korean Won (KRW), or users can trade without a coupon on the base maker and taker fee of 0.25%.

bithumb trading coupons

Bithumb Trading Fees for International Users

Every single trade has a fixed 0.1% fee, regardless of whether you’re the maker or taker, which is an excellent deal and aligns with rivals such as KuCoin and Binance. 

bithumb trading fees

You should also be aware of minimal withdrawal fees and mining fees for each cryptocurrency.

Winner: Bithumb offers lower fees and better trading options.

Sign Up and KYC Experience

Opening Your New Coinbase Account

create an account Coinbase screenshot
  1. Visit Coinbase.com and click the ‘Get Started’ button.
  2. Type in your name, email address, a secure password, and your country of residence.
  3. Accept the terms and conditions.
  4. Go to your email inbox and click the verification link inside your most recent email from Coinbase.
  5. Enter your password and phone number where indicated.
  6. Coinbase will send you an SMS with a 7-digit code to type into your browser.
  7. KYC checks will begin to verify your identity, asking firstly for your name, date of birth, home address, reasons for joining Coinbase, source of funds, occupation, employer’s name, and for U.S. users, the final digits of your SSN.
  8. Head to your email inbox a second time and click the link to verify your ID.
  9. You’ll have the option to provide a photo or scan of your passport, ID, or driver’s license, either via webcam or mobile phone.
  10. Now you need to wait. Sometimes, verification can take just minutes, but at peak times, it could be days.

 Starting Your Bithumb Journey

Be aware: Users outside of South Korea, including Americans, must use the Bithumb.pro website.

bithumb sign up screen
  1. Visit Bithumb.pro and click the orange ‘Register’ button at the top.
  2. Provide just an email and password to get started, then click the ‘send code’ button.
  3. Go to your email inbox and find an email from Bithumb with a sign-up code inside.
  4. Type the code into the box indicated on the registration form.
  5. Tick the ‘I have read Bithumb Global Agreement’ box and hit ‘Create Account.’
  6. You must set up Two-Factor Authentication, either via SMS or Google Authenticator, to proceed. Google Authenticator is safer than SMS, and most crypto exchanges now require it, so it’s a must-download app.

At this point, South Korean traders would be asked to do KYC checks, but you do not need to unless you later plan on purchasing cryptocurrencies directly from Bithumb. If you only wish to trade, you can skip KYC checks and deposit/trade up to 5 BTC per day by confirming your email address.

  1. To get KYC verified, log in to your account, click ‘Profile,’ and where it says ‘Lv.2’, click ‘Submit Information’
  2. Level 2 verification will ask for your name, date of birth, gender, ID type & certificate number, and pictures of your chosen ID card’s front and back. You must also submit a photo holding a piece of paper with Bithumb Global and today’s date written on it. 
  3. Now, you need to wait for confirmation, with some reviews saying that it’s quite slow

Winner: Not being able to deposit fiat currencies on Bithumb makes their sign-up process more similar to KuCoin and Poloniex, who can be seen as direct competitors. Coinbase, on the other hand, has much more strict identity verification procedures in place because their primary activities involve fiat currency. There’s no clear winner here. 

Ease of Use and Feel of Website/App

Coinbase: Sleek and Smooth

We should give a big round of applause to Coinbase for building the best and most convenient brokerage service in the crypto space. There’s perhaps nowhere better to convert fiat currencies into crypto, which is a testament to their developers’ work and their ambitions for the crypto community. With 45 million users, Coinbase has cornered the market when it comes to attracting first-time buyers — to the point where they’re almost a household name.

coinbase app trading screenshot

Many Coinbase customers enjoy the seamless purchase experience and sleek portfolio space to the point that they become Coinbase Pro traders once they’re ready to start exchanging assets.

Bithumb’s Low BTC Dominance

With low fees, high liquidity, a massive daily trading volume, and a live chat feature, many beginners feel very comfortable getting started on this platform. Buying Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many forks, like Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic, is incredibly easy and can be done directly with 35 different fiat currencies. Bithumb may be the biggest exchange in South Korea, but it’s just a speck compared to the sheer might of Coinbase, which is perhaps 50 times the size. Despite the exchange being much smaller, it still offers:

  • 224 coins
  • 296 trading pairs
  • Live chat in English
  • Innovative BG learning platform (more on this later)
bithumb trading spot
bithumb spot trading 2

Another interesting fact about Bithumb is that their BTC dominance is just 12.8%. This means 87.2% of the trading is non-Bitcoin. By comparison, Coinbase Pro BTC dominance is over 50%. This indicates that Bithumb Global may have better liquidity for altcoins.

Winner: This is Coinbase’s forte; however, many users wish they would be more transparent about their trading volume, which is not currently published. 

Deposit Methods

Making Deposits on Coinbase

Since Coinbase is in the business of making crypto-purchases easy, you won’t be surprised to learn that they offer a range of wallets for your deposits of fiat currencies. They know that if you make a deposit, you’re most likely going to spend it.

Here are the deposit methods for the U.S., EU, and the UK:

  • United States – Bank wire transfer, ACH network transfers
  • Europe – SEPA, iDEAL, Sofort
  • United Kingdom – Bank transfers, SWIFT

Deposit fees are not taken for SEPA and ACH transfers, but other methods may incur a charge. Of course, cryptocurrency deposits are free. Find out about your particular currency and deposit opportunities here.

New Fiat Deposits On Bithumb

Bithumb has recently introduced fiat wallets for Turkish Lira and Russian Rubles; however, no other fiat currencies are accepted for deposit.

Winner Coinbase, of course.

Instant Buy Options (Buying with credit and debit card)

Making Purchases On Coinbase

Users with debit and credit cards will be pleased to know that Coinbase features an excellent purchase platform for around 25 different coins. The fees for purchases over $200 are as follows:

  • Debit card 1.49%
  • Credit card 3.99%
  • The spread 0.5%
image 4

Different countries have different restrictions, which you can read about here. See the Fees section at the start of this article for charges on purchases under $200.

The Bithumb Brokerage

Once KYC verified, Bithumb Global users can make purchases with the following fiat currencies:

  • U.S. Dollar (USD)
  • Euros (EUR)
  • Australian Dollars (AUD)
  • Canadian Dollars (CAD)
  • British Pounds (GBP)
  • Indian Rupee (INR)
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Korean Won (KRW)
  • Russian Rubles (RUB)

As is typical with most cryptocurrency exchanges, the primary method for purchases is debit or credit card. However, Bithumb also offers some alternative payment gateways. This means that card charges are variable, as there’s no official payment provider. 

bithumb instant buy

Bithumb Global’s sales page lists around 20 cryptocurrencies, depending on your payment method and currency.

Winner: Unlike Bithumb, Coinbase has a flat fee for small transactions, making it more expensive for beginners or small volume traders. 

Trading Experience

Instant Trading On Coinbase

If we speak exclusively about trading, then Coinbase has an excellent service with a big caveat. Users can instantly trade between 50 different cryptocurrencies, but at 2% per trade, it’s 20 times more expensive than Bithumb. Coinbase, however, makes things so smooth and convenient that it’s hard to argue with this high fee. Their members do not need to make a trip to a traditional trading interface, which fills many newbies with dread, as they can use Coinbase’s foolproof converter. 

Coinbase competitor app
Trade through Coinbase’s excellent mobile app

For beginners who want to learn more about crypto, Coinbase offers an educational portal called ‘Earn’ that pays you in crypto to watch short video courses and answer questions.

Bithumb: Great Trading Volume and Markets

Bithumb offers traders access to one of the sleekest trading platforms in the industry without forcing them to go through KYC checks and part ways with their personal information. Trading some of the biggest market cap cryptos, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, and many other alternatives, is straightforward thanks to the effortless design. Great liquidity and trading volume show how popular the platform is right now.

bithumb trading markets

On the other hand, we found the platform buggy in regards to language. Of course, being from South Korea, you’d expect some bad translations, but instead, we were loading up pages in Korean, receiving emails in Korean, and struggling to move around the platform and trade without the whole site changing language. This problem seems to be resolved now, which is great for the international membership of around one million people; plus, any additional customer support issues can typically be resolved by live chat.

As mentioned before, Bithumb also offers an educational community platform called ‘BG Learning.’ This is something remarkable and is comparable to Coinbase’s ‘Earn’ scheme. Those who take part are rewarded with tokens in the cryptocurrency they’ve learned about, as well as being given votes to use to help promote new projects. When a growing project hits 10,000 votes on BG Learning, it gets listed on the exchange, providing community-based quality control.

Winner: Let’s call this a tie; they’re both innovating and doing a great job.

Reputation and Security

Coinbase = A Vault

Never hacked, never compromised, and globally accepted as the best place for beginners to buy cryptocurrency. Users even rate customer support highly.

Blundering Bithumb

If we compare Bithumb to Coinbase on the topic of security, it’s going to read very badly for them. Still, we must be true to the comparison and tell you how they’ve lost customer money three times, giving them a cruddy reputation in the industry.

  • July 2017: Hacked for $7m of Bitcoin and Ethereum, 30,000 sets of customer data, and made to pay $28m in government fines
  • June 2018: Hacked for $30m of Ripple by North Korea’s Lazarus group
  • March 2020: Hacked for $6m Ripple and $13.4m EOS.

Any further incident making the news could jeopardize Bithumb’s stake as a trustworthy company to trade with. 

Coinbase and Bithumb, who is the winner?

Coinbase, despite being more of a broker than a cryptocurrency exchange, wins this duel. When we compare Bithumb, it just doesn’t offer the same quality or products to users outside of South Korea. For those seeking a beginner-friendly trading alternative to Coinbase, it may be advisable to look elsewhere.

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Coinbase

U.S. welcome
Supports 30+ fiat currencies, well-trusted, earn free crypto.
19 Trading Pairs

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