For many Crypto users, Coinbase has become nearly synonymous with Cryptocurrency as they have a great reputation for being secure, regulated and very beginner-friendly. Many old school Crypto holders you speak to today will likely say that Coinbase was actually where they made their first-ever Crypto purchase as the exchange has been around since 2012 which is ancient in the Crypto game. Coinbase acted as many people’s “gateway” into Crypto, but is a long and proven successful track record enough to keep Coinbase in the number two slot as the second-largest Cryptocurrency exchange or does the up and coming, “rising star” exchange FTX have what it takes to “David and Goliath” the Crypto Titan and continue to take market share away from Coinbase?
Navigating the world of Cryptocurrency exchanges can be tricky, especially if you are looking to get into Crypto for the first time and are unsure of which exchange to choose. We hope that this article will help make your research easier in choosing which Crypto exchange is right for you by breaking down the key features and stats from FTX and Coinbase to help you along your Crypto Journey.
FTX vs Coinbase at a Glance:
|Headquarters:||Nassau, Bahamas||No Headquarters as of May 2020, previously San Francisco, USA<|
|Company Type:||Cryptocurrency Exchange, derivatives, Options, NFTs, prediction market, Earn, Leveraged tokens.||Cryptocurrency Exchange, Earn. Derivatives, Futures and NFTs plan to roll out in 2022|
|Spot Cryptocurrencies Listed:||275+||140+|
|Maker/Taker Fees:||Lowest: 0.00%/0.04% / Highest: 0.02%/0.07%||Lowest: 0.04%/0.00% / Highest: 0.50%/0.50%|
|Fiat Currency Support:||USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, HKD, SGD, TRY, ZAR, CAD, CHF, BRL||USD, GBP, EUR|
|Deposit/Withdraw Methods:||ACH Bank Transfer, Wire Transfer, PayPal, Credit/Debit Card||
USA: ACH Bank account, Debit/Credit PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay
GBP: SEPA, 3D Secure Card, PayPal (withdraw only)
EUR: SEPA, 3D Secure Card, Ideal/Sofort (deposit only) PayPal (withdraw only) Apple Pay (buy only)
Let’s take a closer look at each exchange individually, but first, we will cover an overview of our findings when we compared FTX to Coinbase.
Currency and Products Offered
When it comes to products offered, we gotta tip the scales to FTX here quite a bit as their product offering is far more robust than Coinbase. Coinbase is primarily a Cryptocurrency exchange with a few basic methods for users to earn passive income via staking, lacking behind the earn features offered by competitors such as Binance and FTX. FTX also offers derivatives and options trading as well as an NFT marketplace which is a real game-changer as many crypto traders are also NFT enthusiasts.
Coinbase has announced plans to roll out an NFT marketplace and derivatives trading in 2022 with their recent purchase of FairX, but you have to be left wondering what on Earth has taken so long and why they let their competitors beat them to the punch. Both FTX and exchanges like Binance have supported these products for a while now. Both FTX and Coinbase offer a Crypto debit card for US-based customers, if you are based in the US be sure to check out our FTX.US exchange review here.
As far as Cryptocurrencies go, FTX has a wider selection of altcoins which may make them the better choice for rare altcoin gem hunters and FTX also offers more markets for advanced traders such as Volatility and Prediction markets. If day trading is your thing, FTX has the edge here but if you are just looking for a really simple and clean place to simply buy and store Crypto then you really can’t go wrong with Coinbase.
For anyone who has ever used an online bank before or a brokerage account, you should have no issues navigating either of these platforms. They are both very easy to navigate and have an intuitive layout and design. When doing research for both of these platforms I found both FTX and Coinbase have a fairly robust knowledge base/self-help section which is more important than you may think! I can’t tell you how many issues are a simple knowledge base article away from resolving, though I did find the FTX knowledge base far easier to find the information that I was searching for as the search function returned more relevant articles.
If we really had to strip both of these platforms back I would have to say that Coinbase is a little more user friendly but this comes at the cost of having fewer features. The FTX platform has a lot of bells and whistles and is more robust for experienced traders which may be overwhelming to brand new Crypto users. Coinbase is very clean and has a minimalistic style, so if I was introducing my grandmother to Cryptocurrency, I would direct her towards Coinbase.
The number one criticism against Coinbase comes in the form of poor customer support (more on that later) and their fees! I am trying my best to remain unbiased here but there is no way to sugarcoat the fact that Coinbase has higher fees than most of their competitors in nearly every metric from trading fees to deposits and withdrawals. Though before beating them up too bad on this one, many users feel that the fees are worth the opportunity to use such a reputable and professional exchange that is fully regulated and compliance-friendly. If paying the least amount of fees is your main goal then you are definitely going to want to choose FTX.
Both FTX and Coinbase use a tiered pricing structure based on trading volume where the more you trade the more you save. Coinbase users don’t start seeing competitive trading fees until they are trading over 1 million dollars in volume and even then the prices are still higher than the average user will pay on FTX. As if the rock bottom maker and taker fees on FTX aren’t low enough already, we have even managed to sweet talk them into giving Coin Bureau readers a further lifetime 10% further fee reduction and your first $30 of fees covered if you sign up for FTX using our link.
FTX also offers further discounts for holders of their FTT token, the more you hold the better the perks. A breakdown of FTT discounts can be seen as follows:
For deposit and withdrawal fees, FTX takes the trophy here as well. Coinbase has free ACH deposits and withdrawals but charges $10 dollars for wire deposits and $25 dollars for wire withdrawals, €0.15 Euro for SEPA deposits and withdrawals, and £1 pound for Swift withdrawals. For FTX, there are no deposit fees and they only charge for withdrawals made in USD and BRL, so our European and UK readers rejoice! For our US readers, again, I would definitely say that FTX.US would be your best bet but if you are set on using the international FTX then you could be seeing a $75 dollar fee for any USD withdrawals under $10,000 and residents of Brazil who want to withdraw BRL are looking at a 0.3% + R$10 withdrawal fee.
Pro Tip: Be sure to check with your bank before depositing funds as they may charge additional fees. Make extra sure that you won’t have your card blocked if you are using a credit card and that you won’t be hit with a nasty cash advance fee. Those are things I have faced myself as my bank took a hard-nosed, anti-crypto approach blocking any and all crypto-related transactions (so naturally I changed banks). I have heard similar stories from many of my crypto comrades as well.
When it comes to Crypto exchanges it is really important not to fall into the “it won’t happen to me,” mindset as Crypto exchanges are notorious for hack attempts and many unsuspecting people were left pretty hurt after hacks did in fact, happen to them. It is important to disclose that Coinbase had suffered a hack in May of 2021 where over 6,000 Coinbase customer accounts were drained and Fox recently released an article in December of 2021 about a couple whose account was hacked and drained of $24,000 dollars even though they stated that they had two-factor authentication enabled and the account was password protected. It is not known how hackers gained access to the account but it is sad to see that Coinbase did not reimburse the couple as they do not cover unauthorized access to accounts, but they did reimburse the funds to the over 6,000 customers that were hacked in May as the fault was found to be in a 2FA breach on the Coinbase platform. To date, there have been no known hacks on FTX which is a good sign.
FTX takes security seriously, there is of course the industry standard 2FA option for logins, account changes and withdrawals (which should always be enabled) and FTX enforces a minimum password complexity requirement. FTX offers the additional security barriers preventing hackers from draining an account by allowing users to set a secondary withdrawal password and 2FA, so even if a hacker somehow gains access to your account, they will also need the secondary 2FA and password before they can do any real damage.
These features allow FTX users to boost the security of their accounts to Fort Knox level, preventing hackers from entry. In the unlikely event that a hacker manages to get past all that and gains access to a user’s account, that Fort Knox grade account can also turn into Alcatraz prison, preventing any unauthorized escaping of funds with 24-hour lock features, whitelisting withdrawal addresses and whitelisting IP addresses. FTX has also partnered with Chainanalysis to monitor suspicious transaction activity and the FTX team perform manual reviews for any suspicious or large deposits and withdrawals.
Hacks aside, Coinbase is no slouch when it comes to security either. They have over 10 years of experience perfecting their security systems and even offer custodial solutions where institutions trust Coinbase with hundreds of millions of their dollars worth of Crypto that Coinbase holds in cold storage on their behalf. Along with the standard 2FA, Coinbase also operates on a bulk cold storage policy where 98% of coins held by the company are located in air-gapped cold storage wallets. Coinbase is one of the few exchanges that offer FDIC insurance to US customers, FTX.US also has insurance policies in place to protect US-based customers. I was unable to find any official word on either of these exchanges offering insurance for the funds of international customers, but it has become common practice for exchanges to pull from company treasuries to reimburse customers when they lose funds due to breaches in the platform’s security as we have seen from both Coinbase and Binance in the past.
Customer support is another thing that is often seldom considered by exchange users until an emergency arises, and it really should not be overlooked. If you are experiencing a serious issue, the customer support time could be the difference between saved and lost funds. We’ve already mentioned the hack incidents which gave the Coinbase reputation a pretty serious black eye. What made this worse was that their customer support seriously dropped the ball after the incident as not only did these users lose their funds, but they were not able to reach customer support for days, or weeks in some cases as their support was overwhelmed.
You’d think they would have learned from this and scaled their support which they are getting better at to be fair, but there are still many complaints online about their poor support times. Both FTX and Coinbase offer email support, but FTX has an edge here as they can also be contacted across various social media platforms.
Though I would have to say to both of them, come on…It’s 2022 and much of the competition has made customer support great with live chat support, get with the times! Be very careful when contacting support on social media platforms as there are thousands of cases of people being tricked by users on social media pretending to work for customer support. Remember that no support member will ever ask for private keys or passwords, so if you are ever asked for personal information, anything other than usernames or emails, you are most likely talking to someone who is trying to gain access to your account.
That should give you a decent high-level overview of each FTX and Coinbase in a head-to-head showdown for some of the main important features. Read on for a deeper overview as we dive into each FTX and Coinbase.
What is FTX
FTX is a centralised cryptocurrency derivatives exchange that was founded in May 2019 by Sam Bankman-Fried (currently the CEO) and Gary Wang (currently the CTO). The headquarters were originally set in Hong Kong but likely due to regulatory worries, they moved the headquarters to the Bahamas in September 2021. FTX was able to explode in popularity and adoption in a short period of time, rising to the number 4 spot for the largest crypto exchange after an aggressive marketing and fundraising campaign.
FTX received backing in July 2021 in the form of $900 million dollars from over 60 investors including the likes of Paul Tudor Jones, Coinbase Ventures, VanEck with other notable players and VC firms such as Paradigm and Sequoia capital and the private equity group Thoma Bravo, giving FTX the whopping valuation of $18 billion dollars at the time and now worth an even more impressive $25 billion. Interestingly, one of the early backers of FTX was competing exchange Binance back in December 2019 but as of July 2021, the two exchanges have parted ways, likely because of their competing platforms.
FTX continues to gain global exposure, helping to pave crypto adoption for the mainstream and bringing crypto into the spotlight with their recent acquisition of the NBA arena where the Miami Heat play, becoming the “Official and Exclusive Cryptocurrency Exchange Partner of the Miami Heat,” and having the arena name changed to the appropriately named “FTX Arena.” FTX is also the first crypto company to sign deals with America’s Major-League Baseball, and signed the largest naming rights deal in eSports history, acquiring the naming rights for eSports organization TSM. FTX is making large strides in becoming a household name and placing itself firmly at the forefront of people’s thoughts when they think about cryptocurrency.
FTX was able to fufill a niche in the market which helped their meteoric rise in popularity as they are largely focused on the derivative and prediction markets, offering trading for futures, options, and volatility markets. In 2020, the exchange gained a lot of attention for issuing President 2020 futures contracts such as TRUMP-2020 and others which allowed traders to speculate on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. FTX has become a staple for day traders who enjoy speculating on a multitude of markets. FTX also recently acquired Blockfolio, an app-based portfolio tracking service for USD 150 million. This move was done with an intent to increase the exchange’s global retail userbase.
Thanks to the fact that the FTX platform was designed by traders, for traders, it is an easy to use and intuitive platform that’s a pleasure for experienced traders and easy to pick up for new traders.
FTX has excellent asset support with over 275 crypto assets supported which can be traded against 6 base currencies which are: BTC, USDT, BRZ, TRYB, USD and EUR. FTX also has excellent Fiat support for Fiat onboarding including USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, HKD, SGD, TRY, ZAR, CAD, CHF and BRL with support for TRY coming soon.
FTX exchange also has their exchange token, the FTX token with the ticker symbol FTT. The token is widely used within the FTX ecosystem and provides benefits such as discounts on trading fees, can be used to create leveraged tokens and provides staking rewards. The FTT token can be found on FTX (of course), Binance, Huobi, Bitfinex and others.
FTX offers some of the most unique trading products available in the Crypto markets while also meeting the needs of the average Crypto holder and trader.
Passive income is an alluring feature now being provided by many exchanges and FTX is no different. FTT token holders have the ability to stake their tokens for yield and additional rewards.
- Improved maker fee schedule: Stakers have a separate maker fee schedule that overrules the normal fee schedule. This is in addition to the standard FTT discounts.
- Bonus votes: FTX often takes polls from traders before launching a new financial instrument on the site. For instance, until January 11, 2021, traders could vote on which tokenized stock groups FTX should list next. FTT holders get additional votes on such polls.
- Increased SRM airdrop rewards: SRM is the native token of the Serum ecosystem. FTX is committed to dispersing 5% of the total supply of SRM to FTT holders over time.
- Increased referral rebate rates: In FTX’s affiliate program, traders who stake FTT receive a higher percentage of their referee fees.
FTX has become the “go-to,” place for futures traders with the highest number of futures markets available among their competitors. FTX has over 80 Cryptocurrencies in the futures section for traders to choose from and offers high leverage options for those experienced enough to utilize it. The futures contracts are divided into three types: maturity, perpetual and index.
FTX is more than a one-trick pony as they also offer their customers exposure to stocks. Popular stocks such as Apple, Tesla, and Meta (Facebook) can be traded, though it is important to note that these are not the physical stocks themselves, but a product that mimics the actual stock value on a real-time basis.
The Leveraged tokens offered are ERC-20 tokens that mimic the underlying token’s movement utilizing a predefined leverage level. If Ethereum moves up by 1% then the ETH/USD Bull 3x Long token would move up by 3%, but if it drops by 1% then the leveraged token would drop by 3%. The reverse applies for the ETH/USD Bear 3x Short token which can be traded if the trader feels the price is going to drop. There are 3 types of leveraged tokens: Bull, Bear, and Hedge. These tokens will automatically rebalance themselves meaning that the tokens will reinvest the profits and will sell some of the position to reduce leverage in case of losses.
I would not be a very good Crypto educator if I didn’t mention that leveraged trading is extremely risky and has resulted in more traders losing everything than winning, so please do your own research on leveraged trading before deciding to use it and know that this tool is generally utilized by professional traders.
Prediction markets can be thought of sort of like betting, where speculators can bet on the outcomes of global events such as elections. A popular one that traders loved speculating on was the previous Trump election in the United States.
BVOL tokens are ERC-20 tokens that track the volatility of the Crypto markets. BVOL tokens get their exposure to volatility by using FTX MOVE contracts and BTC-PERP contracts. There are two BVOL tokens: BVOL and iBVOL. BVOL attempts to track the daily returns of being 1x long on the volatility of BTC while iBVOL (inverse BVOL) attempts to track the daily returns of being 1x short of the volatility of BTC.
Security and Insurance
Security and insurance was covered earlier during the head-to-head comparison but just as a recap here are the security features offered by FTX:
- password strength and 2FA requirement for login
- 2FA and password option for withdrawals
- withdrawal lock after 2FA removal or password change
- Email notifications of any suspicious activity
- subaccount functions (allowing others to access account with limited permission)
- whitelisting IP addresses
- whitelisting wallet addresses
The exchange maintains an insurance fund to protect clients in the cause the auto-liquidation engine fails which is good as 101x leverage can quickly wipe out a user’s account, so users do not want the liquidation engine to fail. Users who use leverage of higher than 50x are required to pay slighter higher trading fees which will contribute to the insurance fund.
What is Coinbase
I am assuming that you have heard about Coinbase which is what brings you to this article today. As the largest US exchange, second-largest global exchange and the first Crypto exchange to go public, it is hard not to have heard of them. Along with Binance, Coinbase is the other “OG” exchange in the cryptospace and has its sights set on being the most regulation friendly crypto exchange, and the “go-to” for institutions and retail users who prioritize regulatory security, unlike their bad-boy rival Binance who is always in trouble from regulatory bodies for one reason or another. It is important to state that both FTX.US and Coinbase are regulated and legally operating within the confines of the US legal system, though on a global front, it is harder to navigate the regulatory waters to appease every country. Both FTX and Coinbase are the most friendly globally in terms of regulation, so if regulatory concerns are your main worry then I would highly recommend sticking to one of these two.
Coinbase in the News
There has been a fierce battle raging between Companies to become the most recognized brand in Crypto. We already mentioned FTX’s sponsorship deals, the exchange Crypto.com has been marketing very aggressively and Coinbase has not been sat idle either. Getting your brand in front of as many eyes as possible is a proven marketing strategy which is why Coinbase has signed sponsorship deals with the NBA, WNBA, NBA G and 2K League, going all-in on American basketball.
Coinbase has a nice selection of over 100 cryptocurrencies, which is less than FTX and many of their counterparts. One of the reasons that Coinbase lacks in Crypto support is that as a publicly-traded company, they need to be careful that the tokens they offer cannot be deemed as securities which many of the tokens launched in IDO’s and ICO’s could come under regulatory scrutiny. I am not sure what their excuse is for the lacking fiat support as they only offer fiat onboarding and offboarding for USD, GBP and Euro. Coinbase also does not have its own exchange token, one of the few exchanges that don’t which may or may not be a deal-breaker depending on what you are looking to get out of an exchange.
Coinbase Pro Trading Platform
While Coinbase makes buying and selling Crypto incredibly easy and provides a clean interface for new users or for those who prefer simplicity, Coinbase also has Coinbase pro which can be accessed via the same login credentials to access a more robust trading platform that is more suitable for day and swing trading. Here is how that looks:
Traders can place buy or sell market orders, limit orders and stop orders depending on their trading needs.
We’ve already covered the unfortunate hack cases earlier and provided a high-level overview of the security features on Coinbase, but let’s dive into the specifics, here are the security features supported on Coinbase:
- Phone number verification
- Two-Factor Authentication for login and crypto transactions
- Minimum password complexity requirement
- Address book and whitelisting addresses
- Multi-Email required Crypto Storage Vault feature
Both FTX and Coinbase are great choices for the average crypto user, though I would really have to give the edge to FTX for any serious crypto traders as they provide significantly more markets and options for trading. Fees are also important as they can really eat away at your moonbags so FTX blows Coinbase out of the water there as well. From my years in Crypto, I have noticed a trend of many early crypto users starting off with Coinbase, like a bicycle with training wheels, then end up moving onto cheaper and more robust crypto trading platforms with more features.
I do feel like Coinbase is the best choice for brand new users as it is in my opinion, the “least scary” exchange due to its simplicity, minimalistic outlook and lack of overwhelming features. I remember after being a Binance user myself for years, I signed up for Coinbase as my, “back up,” exchange and spent some time clicking around the platform convinced that there had to be another hidden menu or something with more features but nope, Coinbase is just a simple, no-frills, easy Crypto exchange, though that could be changing soon with derivatives and NFTs coming on board to Coinbase in the near future.
For full transparency, I mentioned Coinbase as my “backup,” exchange but quickly changed and primarily use Binance and FTX as my main exchanges due to the high fees on Coinbase. We also have a detailed review on Binance which can be found here. This may be just my opinion, but I also wonder why Coinbase has dragged their feet in rolling out and implementing new and innovative features. FTX has been incredibly innovative in their few short years on the market with great features and new products, and Binance has been blazing up a trail as well, all the while, Coinbase has not been very proactive in many of the same ways. I would think that they would be more competitive with things like their Coinbase debit card as even brand-new, start-up companies are rolling out crypto cards with more features than the Coinbase card.
This makes it easy to see why Coinbase has lost quite a bit of market share to competitors like FTX, Kraken and Huobi in recent years. I am assuming that much of this has something to do with the fact that Coinbase is now a public company and need to follow regulations more closely leaving their hands tied on many fronts. Also, as with many publicly traded companies, more speculation on my part, but there is a chance that Coinbase is more concerned about making their shareholders happy than their customers which isn’t very crypto-cool in my opinion. Another company that faced similar criticism was Opensea when they recently announced they were considering going public, they later backtracked on the statement after the outrage of their community as they were looking to do it in a way that goes against much of the ethos that makes the crypto industry great. I guess time will tell if Coinbase will keep their number two spot or if quickly adopted exchanges like FTX will take the mantle.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.