Kraken vs Bithumb: A U.S. vs South Korean Exchange Race

*Please note that Bithumb no longer accepts customers outside of South Korea.

Welcome! Join us as we compare San Francisco’s Kraken exchange with Bithumb of South Korea. Both excellent crypto exchanges in their own right, which will come out on top? Let’s go to work and find out who reigns in categories such as fees, sign-up experience, instant buy options, security, and more.


Trading Costs On Kraken

For beginner and low-volume traders who are trading less than $50,000 in crypto per month, the trading fee is:

  • 0.16% for makers
  • 0.26% for takers

These fees are just below the industry average. How are the fees implemented? Read this Kraken guide.

Bithumb Trading Fees

Bithumb represents three different platforms: Bithumb, Bithumb Global, and Bithumb Singapore. The platform for traders in South Korea is Bithumb, whereas Bithumb Global is the exchange for international users (except Singapore).

  • Bithumb (South Korea) charges a maker and taker fee of 0.25%, which can be reduced by purchasing from a selection of discount coupons that last for 60 days
  • These coupons are only for traders in South Korea
  • Bithumb’s 0.25%/0.25% maker/taker fees are the same as their South Korean rivals Upbit *note that this exchange is temporarily unavailable* (also 0.25%/0.25%), but more than Coinone (0.1%/0.1%) and Korbit (0.20%/0.08%)

So, what about international traders?

  • Fees for makers and takers are fixed at 0.1% ‘forever’
  • Unlike Kraken, Bithumb Global does not offer the potential to reduce fees by increasing trading volume

Winner: Bithumb is cheaper for beginners; however, Kraken is more economical for large-volume traders.

Sign Up & KYC Experience

Starting Your Kraken Journey

create a account on kraken
  1. Head over to and click ‘Create Account.’
  2. Provide your email address, country of residence, and username and password for future logins.
  3. Accept Kraken’s terms and conditions and proceed.
  4. Go to your email inbox and find a new message from Kraken containing an ‘activation key.’ In the new window, type this activation key with your username and password. Click ‘Activate Account’ to move into your user portal.
kraken account types screenshot

Customers do not need to do the KYC process below. They are generously allowed to deposit and trade as much cryptocurrency as they wish, with daily withdrawal limits of $5,000 (worth of crypto). If you wish to deposit, trade, and withdraw fiat currencies, follow the route explained here:

  1. Within your dashboard, find the option to ‘Get Verified.’ 
  2. There are three account types – Starter, Intermediate, and Pro (see image above). We recommend verifying to the Intermediate level.
  3. You will need to provide certain documents, including a photo of your ID (passport preferred), proof of residence document (bank statement or utility bill), a selfie holding your chosen ID, and details of your occupation.
  4. While waiting for confirmation, you should set up a 2-Factor Authentication.

How To Begin With Bithumb

bithumb sign up screen

Below we have explained the route to joining Bithumb Global:

  1. If you’re a Korean citizen, head to Bithumb
  2. Find the orange ‘Register’ button in the corner
  3. On the applicant form, give an email address and password, then click ‘send code’
  4. Go to your email inbox and find an email from Bithumb containing a sign-up code
  5. Type this code into the sign-up form and accept the Bithumb Global agreement
  6. Click ‘create account’ and then set up 2-Factor Authentication via SMS or Google Authenticator (preferred)

Like Kraken, Bithumb does not enforce KYC checks for crypto-only activities; however, they do have a daily limit of 5 BTC for deposits and trades. Like Kraken, Bithumb customers must do KYC checks if they want to deposit, trade, withdraw, or make purchases with fiat currencies. Here’s how:

  1. Find ‘Profile’ in your user portal, click ‘Lv.2’ and hit ‘Submit Information’
  2. Provide your name, date of birth, gender, ID type, and certificate number, as well as photos of the front and back of your ID
  3. On a blank piece of paper, write ‘Bithumb Global’ along with today’s date
  4. Now you need to wait…

Winner: Both are pleasant sign-up experiences and take equal time to complete, so let’s call it a tie. 

Ease of Use and Feel of Website/App

Kraken’s Dubious Design

Kraken has many positives, such as:

  • Founded in 2011 and launched in 2013, proving longevity and reliability
  • Three well-designed, simple, and intuitive mobile apps
  • Careful designs reduce the potential for errors and increase user confidence
  • A range of excellent products, such as futures and margin trading
  • 7 fiat currencies included in their market pairs
  • 61 coins and 280 trading pairs
  • United States traders welcome
kraken trading view screenshot

But it’s not all groovy at Kraken. Their trading interface causes some division: 

  • The trading interface has a strange retro design that makes the information hard to digest
  • The 8-bit display and reversed layout may not be aesthetically pleasing to some
  • User reviews are mixed about whether the web interface is well-designed or not
  • Customer service reviews are poor

Bithumb: Low BTC Dominance & Education Rewards

  • Bithumb was founded and launched in 2014, whereas Bithumb Global went live in 2019
  • The iOS and Android apps are clean, well-designed, and easy-to-learn
  • The website and apps feature a live chat function in English
  • There are 224 coins and 296 trading pairs
  • BTC dominance, which gives a percentage of how much of the platform’s trading is in Bitcoin, is very low at roughly 12% (Kraken’s BTC dominance is over 50%)
  • Crypto derivatives such as BTC Gold are available, as are the well-known big market cap projects like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, and Ethereum Classic
  • Bithumb boasts a free educational platform called ‘BG Learning,’ where users are rewarded with crypto and can vote to screen new cryptocurrencies.
  • Russian Ruble and Turkish Lira fiat wallets have recently been added, as Bithumb tests out the potential for further fiat listings
  • Small crypto withdrawal fees
  • Traders from the United States are welcome

Winner: Bithumb wins this round.

Deposit Methods

Kraken Deposits

Kraken accepts this selection of currencies and methods:

  • USD – Fedwire, SWIFT and SEN
  • EUR – SEPA and SWIFT
  • CAD – Wire transfer, Domestic Wire, In-person cash deposits, SWIFT 
  • AUD – Bank transfer, Osko
  • GBP – BACS and SWIFT (Etana), CHAPS and SWIFT (Bank Frick)
  • CHF – SIC and SWIFT

SWIFT, SEPA, SEN, Bank Transfer, and BACS are all typically free to use, with minor exceptions. All information about deposit fees can be found here. Fees for withdrawals are described on this page.

Deposit Developments On Bithumb

Until mid-2020, Bithumb Global permitted only cryptocurrency deposits; however, with the introduction of Turkish Lira and Russian Ruble deposits and withdrawals via advcash, it seems they are moving towards greater acceptance of fiat trading services.

Winner: Kraken has far better deposit options for verified users.

Instant Buy Options (Buying with credit and debit card)

Kraken Purchases

  • 54 cryptocurrencies for direct purchase
  • 7 accepted fiat currencies
  • Debit and credit card both have a 3.75% fee + €0.25 flat fee
  • The spread varies from 2% to 10%, very high and unfriendly
  • Users can make free deposits (see the above section), making little economic sense to go down this route unless a credit card is your only option.

Buying On Bithumb

  • 35 fiat currencies accepted
  • 15 different cryptocurrencies for sale by USD at this time
  • Credit and debit cards accepted, with variable fees depending on the country and payment gateway

Winner: Kraken offers more coins for purchase, but Bithumb welcomes more fiat currency payment options. Let’s call it a tie.

Trading Experience


  • KYC-free trading
  • The web trader is not great, it’s slow, the design is all wrong, and for day-traders, it’s not recommended
  • Their closest competitors offer lower fees for beginners; however, Kraken’s fees start to reduce at a lower monthly trading volume
  • The mobile experience is fast, efficient, and enjoyable, contrasting from the web design. 
  • There’s a live chat customer support feature
  • Staking coins, margin trading, futures, and more all available
  • One of the most secure cryptocurrency exchanges ever designed


  • KYC-free trading
  • Lists all of the big market cap coins
  • The Bithumb platform in South Korea has much larger daily trading volumes than Kraken, but Bithumb Global is much smaller
  • Excellent liquidity for listed coins
  • Some language issues on the website
  • More than 1 million international traders
  • Excellent and popular mobile app
  • Margin trading up to 10x
  • A great cryptocurrency exchange interface

Winner: Like Kraken, Bithumb is one of the few crypto exchanges where KYC-free trading is possible. Bithumb’s 10x margin trading wins vs Kraken and their 5x offering. It’s too close to call.

Reputation and Security

Bulletproof Kraken

Gold star! Kraken has never been hacked and has a reputation as one of the most secure and transparent crypto exchanges in the market. Kraken also offers a great deal of security autonomy to users within their account settings.

kraken privacy policy

Feeble Bithumb

Bithumb fails massively in this department, especially vs Kraken. Here’s why:

  • July 2017: Lost $7m in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and 30,000 customer data sets. Forced to pay $28m in fines as a result of the incident
  • June 2018: Hacked for $30m Ripple
  • March 2020: Hacked for $6m Ripple & $13.4m in EOS

Winner: Kraken wins on security all day long.

Kraken, Bithumb, Kraken, Bithumb… Who Wins?

With daily trading volumes around 10% and better service in the United States, Kraken edges this comparison. If we compare Bithumb, they must work on their security features; however, low fees and plenty of markets win them bonus points.

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