Kraken, ranked as the 8th best cryptocurrency exchange in the world, is a worthy competitor in any crypto discussion, thanks to its user-friendly app, low fees, and solid security. Launched in the wake of the Mt.Gox hack, Kraken has always prioritized security as a result.
Can the same be said for Bitfinex? Ranked 6th in our best crypto exchange rankings, Bitfinex offers more coins and markets than Kraken, but does it offer a better overall experience? Are they as secure? Where will beginners feel most comfortable?
It’s time to bring these two heavyweights together.
Compare Kraken vs Bitfinex
|7 Day Volume|
Kraken Fees vs Bitfinex Fees
Like most cryptocurrency exchanges, Kraken offers a maker-taker fee schedule, as you can see below. The more you trade, the better your discounts. The total trade volume figure for the last 30 days updates after each trade, so traders need not worry about receiving their discounts. See the full schedule here, and read some trading examples here.
The fee schedule at Bitfinex is similar for makers, but is more expensive for takers, giving Kraken a small advantage. Fortunately for Bitfinex users who hold LEO, the native utility token of Bitfinex, there are discounts to be had, and they are pretty good at 25%. The more LEO held, the better the discounts. See more here, including margin, derivatives, borrowing, and crypto-withdrawal fees.
Winner: Kraken. They have slightly lower taker fees.
Sign up and KYC experience
Here’s how to sign up on Kraken
- Go to Kraken.com and click ‘Create Account’ in the top right-hand corner
- Provide an email, username, password, and your country of residence
- Agree to the terms and conditions and click ‘Create Account’
- Go to your email client and find an ‘activation email’ with a key that you need to copy and paste. The key will be a long jumble of numbers and letters
- Enter your username and password along with the key and click ‘activate account’
- Next, you’ll need to go to the ‘Get Verified’ page in your drop-down menu, found in the top corner of the user page after you have logged in
- You’ll need to choose an account type (see below). To have any dealings with fiat currency, you’ll need either an Intermediate or Pro account. Let’s go with intermediate for now
- To verify your intermediate account, you will need to provide Kraken with a photo of your government-issued ID, Proof of Residence, an ID confirmation photo (usually a selfie of you holding your ID), and your occupation. Verification should take less than 10 minutes
- Once verified, you can start adding funds to your account.
Thinking About Joining Bitfinex?
Here’s the process:
- Visit Bitfinex.com and select ‘Sign Up’
- Provide a username, email address, and secure password, as well as your time zone, a possible referral code, and some Captcha Text, then click ‘Open Account’
- On the next page, you will be asked to verify your email, so head over to your email client and click the confirmation link.
- In the new window that opens, you can log in using the username and password you provided
- Once inside, you will have options for increasing your account security, such as 2FA (recommended), withdrawals blocked on new IP addresses, a withdrawal confirmation phrase, PGP mail encryption, and more
- Next, you’ll be wanting to add some funds to your account, but it won’t let you until you are a fully verified user, so you should follow the prompt and provide your name, age, phone number, two forms of government ID, and a selfie holding your ID, a bank statement, and proof of your residential address
- Wait for confirmation, which can take 2-3 days
- Once verified, you can start adding fiat currency
Winner: Tie. The process is very similar, however, Kraken is quicker on average to get verified.
Ease of Use & Feel of Website/App
Kraken’s masterful app
Kraken earns a lot of respect for their high-quality app, with a clear interface and ultra-simplistic layout. Some argue that it’s the only app that can rival Coinbase for accessibility, and since Coinbase is more of a broker than an exchange, this is great news for Kraken. The web trading platform, however, is a different story, it’s stylised to look like an old Wall Street monitor running on Windows 95, and it’s simply not as intuitive and friendly as 95% of their competitors. There’s too much happening.
Bitfinex’s refined approach
Launching all the way back in 2012, Bitfinex is a veteran in the cryptocurrency exchange sector, having a lot of time to refine and tweak their website and app to make them easy to use. Despite this, the platform is more suitable for advanced traders than for beginners and offers more trading options than Kraken. Unlike Kraken, however, US customers have been barred from the service since 2017.
Winner: Tie. Kraken has a better app, Bitfinex has a better web platform.
Kraken supports many different options for sending fiat currency to the platform, though the methods differ for each currency, as explained below:
- USD – Fedwire, SWIFT, SEN
- EUR – SEPA, SWIFT
- CAD – Wire, SWIFT, Cash/Debit at Canada Post
- AUD – Bank transfer / Osko
- GBP – FBS, BACS, CHAPS, SWIFT
- CHF – SIC, SWIFT
- JPY – SWIFT
Most deposit methods are free, however, Kraken charges some small fees based on their agreement with the relevant payment provider. In the US, deposit methods take anything up to 5 days to clear. A full list of methods and fees can be found here, and a guide for depositing funds here.
Some cryptocurrency exchanges encourage users to deposit fiat currency as this naturally makes them more likely to use it to purchase cryptocurrency, bringing greater profits to the exchange. Bitfinex is a bit different. They have incredibly high minimum deposit limits with just a 0.1% processing fee so that they encourage big traders, professionals, and institutions to the platform. This system was introduced in the face of an increase in cyberattacks on the platform.
Here are the minimum fiat deposits (wire transfers only):
- 10,000 USD, EUR, or GBP
- 1,000,000 JPY
Depositing cryptocurrencies and stablecoins to Bitfinex is free.
Winner: Kraken. A minimum deposit amount of $10,000 cuts out a huge section of the beginner market.
Instant Buy Options (Buying with credit or debit card)
Users can buy, sell, and convert 54 different cryptocurrencies on both the Kraken website and in their app. Instant purchases can be made for free using the fiat currency that has already been deposited (in the currencies mentioned in the deposit methods section). If users wish to purchase cryptocurrency directly and bypass the deposit process, they can use their debit or credit card. The card fees are 3.75% of the total purchase, plus €0.25 per transaction. Users will also be charged for ‘the spread’ which is a markup that brokers place on top of the market price; Kraken’s spread varies from 2-10% depending on the cryptocurrency. This makes them quite a pricey choice.
Purchasing cryptocurrency directly from Bitfinex with a credit card is much simpler than depositing fiat currency (and much more convenient if you don’t have $10,000 to start with).
Users can purchase:
- Tether Gold
- Selected other ERC-20 altcoins
The minimum purchase is $25 and the fees are variable depending on the payment processor, purchase size, and payee country.
Winner: Tie. Kraken may be more expensive, but they also offer better options for instant purchases.
We tried the web trading view and we didn’t like it, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t. The design seems outdated and lacking the intuitive buttons and controls that their competitors have included. The mobile app, as we have mentioned, is absolutely fantastic and exists as a huge contrast to the web platform.
Whilst Bitfinex is targeted at more professional traders, or those with bigger trading volumes, the web platform is actually friendlier and simpler to use than Kraken. If users feel comfortable with Bitfinex’s web view, they’ll have no issue with the mobile app, which has the same feel and offers the same experience to users.
Winner: Bitfinex. Kraken has a more beautiful website, but when it comes to the trading platform, liquidity, and intuitive features, Bitfinex wins.
Reputation & Security
One hugely positive aspect of Kraken’s reputation is that they were one of the first exchanges to prove that they have all of their users’ money in a safe place, thanks to a ‘proof-of-reserves audit’. Proving that they hold all of the funds shows users that even if something goes wrong, they will be able to empty their account without a problem.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, however. They’ve faced many cyber attacks, surviving them all, yet a string of attacks in January 2018 forced them to close for a week and bolster their defenses. Kraken has never lost money or cryptocurrency through a hack.
Sadly for Bitfinex, they were the victim of the second-biggest exchange hack in history, with just under 120,000 BTC being stolen, worth over $3.5 billion at today’s rate. Coming back from such a devastating blow has not been easy, but Bitfinex managed to recover and survive in a situation where most exchanges would crumble.
Winner: Kraken. It’s going to take Bitfinex a long time for people to forget…
Bitfinex vs Kraken: Who is our winner?
This is almost too close to call, but Kraken is our winner.
These two platforms are neck and neck when it comes to deciding on a winner, but we are here to serve beginners who are new to the world of cryptocurrency, and for that reason, Kraken just edges it.
Kraken wins because of its superior security and mobile app, both of which can give users an increased level of comfort. Plenty of deposit methods plus slightly lower fees also nudge this tie in their favor.
Don’t count Bitfinex out though, for more advanced traders, they are an excellent platform that didn’t reach 6th in the Coin Clarity rankings without good reason.