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Gemini Review

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What is Gemini?

Gemini was founded in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins, whom you may remember from The Social Network (2010).

After their $65 million settlement with Facebook, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss invested heavily in Bitcoin, among other ventures. They claimed to have purchased roughly 1% of the circulating supply, worth over $1 billion today.

Gemini - which is the Latin word for “twin” - is the Winklevoss’s way of continuing to play a role in the future of technology. The exchange currently operates in all 50 US states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, as well as 43 countries worldwide.


Since its launch, Gemini has carved out a lasting place for itself in the ever-evolving crypto landscape. It’s not the largest exchange out there - coming in at 17th on Nomics’ ranking of exchanges by volume - but it has established a reputation as one of the most secure and trustworthy.

Coinbase Compared

This table compares Coinbase to other popular exchanges.

  • Popular Exchanges
  • Coinbase
    • High liquidity and buying limits
    • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
    • "Instant Buy" option available with debit card
  • Coinmama
    • Works in almost all countries
    • Highest limits for buying bitcoins with a credit card
    • Reliable and trusted broker
  • eToro
    • Supports Bitcoin, Ethereum & 15 other coins
    • Start trading fast; high limits
    • Your capital is at risk.

    We do not promote, endorse, or earn commissions from the trading of securities of any kind, including CFDs, however, eToro requires that we provide you with the following disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 62% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Gemini received one of the first BitLicenses from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). The BitLicense - as well as the regulation of crypto in general - was a process that Gemini and the Winklevosses were involved in from the start. The twins see regulation as the first major hurdle to mainstream adoption of crypto. This playing by the rules strategy was won them respect in some circles, though there are those who argue that crypto should resist government intervention.

Nevertheless, the Winklevoss’s openness to regulation has definitely paid off for them. In 2017, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) - the largest options exchange in the world - launched the first ever Bitcoin futures contract in conjunction with Gemini. this was a major coup, and cemented Gemini’s reputation as the torchbearer of crypto’s integration with legacy finance.

At Gemini, we have been trying to build a bridge from the island of crypto to the mainland of finance for the past five years.


As part of this strategy, in 2019 Gemini launched an advertising campaign around New York City with slogans like “The Revolution Needs Rules,” “Crypto Without Chaos” and “Money Has a Future.”


The Winklevoss twins’ approach has always been one of regulatory compliance, to the degree required by the law and the demands of the market. Regulation, as they see it, helps build trust in an industry that is sometimes lacking in it, and that’s good for business - although some would argue that trustlessness is the whole point of Bitcoin, and the worst factes of the crypto world are no more shady than some of what goes on at Wall Street.

With all that in mind, is Gemini a good exchange for individual investors?

The short answer is: yes. A clean and customizable trading interface paired with low fees and overall transparency makes Gemini a worthy contender. Let’s take a closer look at what it offers.



What Are Gemini’s Fees?


Gemini’s trading fees are calculated off your 30 day trading volume, with greater discounts the higher it is.


Note: A *maker order* is one that adds liquidity to the market, i.e. it is not filled immediately and sits on the order book for a period of time. Limit orders are the most common type. These are subject to the lower maker fees. A *taker order* is one that is filled immediately. It takes away liquidity from the market. The most common type is a *market order*. These are subject to the higher taker fees.

These clearly laid out and flat fees (unlike Coinbase, whose fees disproportionately punish smaller buyers) make it easy to calculate the effect fees will have on your trading.

Combine this with the fact that there are no deposit fees (if sending a supported cryptocurrency or fiat via a wire transfer) and the result is that Gemini has one of the most attractive fee schedules on the market.

Gemini allows you to deposit money via wire transfers, or by linking your bank account to the exchange via Plaid. There are no fees charged by Gemini for either method, though your bank is likely to charge a fee for a wire transfer which can be up to or exceeding $25.

You can deposit a range of crypto to your account on Gemini. Supported assets include:

Gemini allows up to 10 withdrawals of crypto per month free of charge. After that, you will start paying a fee for each withdrawal. Fees for BTC and ETH are currently 0.001 of each. With Bitcoin’s price roughly 30x that of Ether this makes it 30x more expensive to withdraw BTC than ETH, so it’s worth being a bit strategic in your withdrawals.

Withdrawing fiat via bank or wire transfer will not incur a fee, and neither will withdrawing the exchange’s USD stablecoin: Gemini dollar.

What Localities Does Gemini Support?

Gemini suppports all 50 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., as well as more than 50 countries worldwide.


In North America and the Caribbean, these nations/territories are: Canada, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands.


In South America, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru are supported.


Gemini is available in just a few African countries, Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa being the three currently supported.


In Oceania, Australian and New Zealand residents can make use of Gemini.


30 European nations and two British possessions (Gibraltar & Jersey) are supported by Gemini.


How to Use Gemini

Gemini has a clean and simple landing page, where you can take a look at all the cryptocurrencies and digital assets supported on the platform.


If you click on “view details” you’ll be taken to the standard trading interface, which is similarly well-designed and functional.


On the left you have the option to Buy, Sell, or Create an Alert. You can also choose if you want to make this order just once, or have it recur on a daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.


This is all great if you’re looking to buy crypto with the minimum amount of hassle, using an exchange with a very intuitive interface.

If you’re looking to get deeper into the trading side of crypto, then Gemini’s Active Trader is for you.


This interface is much more involved, and allows you to choose the type of order you want to create, view the fee that your order will incur, and watch the orderbook tick back and forth (beware, it can be strangely hypnotic).


Verification

Before depositing or withdrawing more than $500, you will need to verify your identity.


This is the same Provided by Onfido verification with which you may be familiar from other exchanges such as Coinbase.

You’ll need to complete the verification in Gemini’s mobile app, where the desktop version will prompt you to switch if you attempt to do it in a browser.

Security

Before we talk about security, take a look at some of the other exchanges competing with Gemini.

  • Popular Exchanges
  • Coinbase
    • High liquidity and buying limits
    • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
    • "Instant Buy" option available with debit card
  • Coinmama
    • Works in almost all countries
    • Highest limits for buying bitcoins with a credit card
    • Reliable and trusted broker
  • eToro
    • Supports Bitcoin, Ethereum & 15 other coins
    • Start trading fast; high limits
    • Your capital is at risk.

    We do not promote, endorse, or earn commissions from the trading of securities of any kind, including CFDs, however, eToro requires that we provide you with the following disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 62% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Gemini supports a range of two-factor authentication (2FA) options. Text message authentication is enabled by default, though this is the least safe of the three main 2FA methods.


App-based 2FA (using apps like Authy or Google Authenticator is the next best option. Gemini has a guide for setting up Authy: target=”_blank” } to work with your exchange account.

The safest reasonable 2FA method is a security key. These are physical devices that you connect to your phone or computer in order to authenticate logins. This means that someone would need to have access to both your password and the physical key in order to gain access to your account.


If you decide that this is the right 2FA method for your needs, check out Gemini’s guide to setting up a security key.

Gemini API

Gemini offers a number of public and private APIs for those looking to work with their exchange data.


Public REST APIs provide market data such as: * current order book * recent trading activity * trade history Private REST APIs allow you to manage both orders and funds: * place and cancel orders * see your active orders * see your trading history and trade volume * get your available balances


In addition to these REST APIs, Gemini offers Websocket APIs that provide both all the public market data for a given pair (BTC/USD, ETH/USD, etc.) and private order data (your order fills, cancels, etc.).


If you’re looking to start automating your trading with Gemini’s APIs, be sure to take a look at their documentation. You’ll find code examples for dozens of commands and many pages of in-depth support.

Gemini also has a separate fee schedule for traders utilizing Gemini’s API for orders.

Gemini App


The Gemini mobile app does everything you’d expect. The dark theme is easy on the eyes, and it offers full functionality.

It’s available from the App Store as well as Google’s Play Store.

In May of 2019, Gemini announced a partnership with the payment network Flexa to allow users to spend their cryptocurrency at a range of major retailers.

Using the Spedn app (not a typo, based off the hodl pattern), users send crypto to their wallet on the app. When it comes time to pay, you simply create a barcode on the app and scan that at the register. The Flexa network converts your crypto to fiat currency and pays the retailer.

Gemini manages custody of funds deposited into Spedn, so if you trust your coins on the exchange, you needn’t worry about holding them in the app.


The network currently supports brands such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble, and Crate and Barrel. It doesn’t require them to install any new software or hardware, which is a big step toward the mainstream use of crypto as currency.

Users are able to spend Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Gemini dollar (GUSD).

Linking A Bank Account

As discussed abve, Gemini has very favorable fees for deposits and withdrawls (i.e. none, up to certain limits) and you can avoid the fee that a wire transfer might incur on your bank’s end by using Plaid.


The process is simple: you pick your bank from the list of supported partners and log in using your online banking credentials. You may be asked to provide an email or text message verification code based on the details you have on file with your bank.


Once linked, you’ll be able to deposit and withdraw funds to and from your Gemini account with zero fees.

Gemini vs Binance


Gemini has all of the technical features you would expect from a top-tier exchange. One thing it doesn’t have, though, is the greatest liquidity. CoinGecko’s ranking of exchanges by volume currently has Gemini coming in at number 52, with roughly $20MM 24hr volume.

An average of a bit over 1000 BTC changes hands every day on Gemini’s USD pair, compared to the 60,000 on Binance’s BTC/USDT pairing.

Binance has by far the largest volume of any exchange, making it the playground of choice for whales whose buying and selling actions can greatly affect the price. A large chunk of this trading volume is due to the wide range of trading products available on Binance, from margin trading, to futures contracts and quarterly options.

In addition to volume, Binance also has one of the largest ranges of tradeable assets. Its hundreds of trading pairs dwarf Gemini’s mere nine.

  • Popular Exchanges
  • Coinbase
    • High liquidity and buying limits
    • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
    • "Instant Buy" option available with debit card
  • Coinmama
    • Works in almost all countries
    • Highest limits for buying bitcoins with a credit card
    • Reliable and trusted broker
  • eToro
    • Supports Bitcoin, Ethereum & 15 other coins
    • Start trading fast; high limits
    • Your capital is at risk.

    We do not promote, endorse, or earn commissions from the trading of securities of any kind, including CFDs, however, eToro requires that we provide you with the following disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 62% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Fees on Binance are also exceptionally low. For beginners starting out with small amounts of capital, you’ll only pay 0.1% on maker or taker orders, with a 25% discount if you hold Binance’s native token (BNB) and use it to pay for fees. This 0.1% is compared to Gemini’s starting rate of 0.35% for taker orders and 0.25% for maker orders.

Clearly, Binance and Gemini serve different markets. Binance is aiming to be the biggest and the best, offering as many options to as many people as it can. While this has been a hugely profitable strategy for Binance so far, it has meant that they’ve run afoul of certain zealous regulators in the U.S.The main Binance website, with its massive list of trading pairs, is strictly speaking not available to U.S. citizens. Binance has developed an alternative for Americans which complies with all regulations: Binance.us.


This version has many less assets than the main Binance site, but still many more than Gemini.

Gemini has made it clear that they are going after institutional investors and those who want to do business with a very reputable and officially-sanctioned brand. For this reason, they do not need to offer all the obscure microcap coins that Binance does in order to attract customers. Gemini can simply focus on doing one thing and doing it well, making it easy to invest in the biggest cryptocurrencies and digital assets in the safest and most compliant way possible.

Check out our full review of Binance for in-depth information on the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange’s offerings, products, and fees.

Gemini vs Bitfinex


While Gemini is headquartered in New York, Bitfinex does not operate in the state, having chosen not to serve NY residents in protest of the “invasive” requirements of a Bitlicense that “would compromise the majority of our user base’s privacy.”

Another main difference between Gemini and Bitfinex is the range of trading products offered. Due to its regulatory requirements, Gemini cannot offer margin trading or leveraged products.

Bitfinex, however, is one of the largest crypto derivatives exchanges out there.


You can borrow and lend on margin, and trade perpetual swaps (open ended derivative contracts without an expiry date) without any problem on Bitfinex.

Open interest on Ethereum perpertual swaps in particular has skyrocketed toward $1B since the March 2020 market meltdown.

Source: @CarpeNoctom


If it’s a wider range of trading tools and the thrill of risky leveraged markets that you’re after, take a look at all of Bitfinex’s features.

Gemini vs Bitstamp


Bitstamp is an exchange based in Luxembourg that offers a lot to its European and global customers.

Founded in 2011, the exchange counts its long operating history as proof of its reliability, and also emphasizes that 98% of users’ funds are held in institutional-grade BitGo cold storage. This is targetting the same new-to-crypto crowd that Gemini does, as these users may not be sure which wallets and cold storage options are out there, and naturally want to make sure their funds are safe on an exchange.


For professional traders, Bitstamp offers an industry-leading API, a NASDAQ-built order matching engine, and will even assign a dedicated account manager to high-volume clients.

Though it is an EU-based exchange, Bitstamp also makes many services available to Americans, including ACH bank deposits and withdrawals just like Gemini. Bitstamp is the closest thing to a European Gemini out there: an audited, regulatorily-compliant exchange with options for beginners and intermediate partners alike.

Bitstamp’s fee of 0.5% for those with under $10,000 30-day volume is relatively high, especially when compared to Gemini’s fees of ~0.3% for the same level. Fees decrease as your volume traded increases. You can check out Bitstamp’s full fee schedule here.

Gemini vs Kraken

Kraken is a San Francisco-based exchange that first launched in 2013, developed by CEO Jesse Powell as an alternative to Mt Gox.


Kraken caters impressively to the beginner crowd, with a range of guides to crypto featured under the dedicated Kraken Learn module.


Right on the homepage is a graphic with the best pathways for beginner, intermediate, advanced, and institutional investors to get involved.

Kraken is clearly targeting all sections of the market, not just focusing on one to the exclusion of other customers. They have a wide range of offerings, including margin trading, staking (including 2% APR on USD deposits), futures trading (the perpetual swaps we went through earlier), and more.

Fees are slightly lower than Gemini, and follow the same volume-based structure.


All in all, Kraken is a very solid, U.S. based exchange that rivals Gemini for ease of use and beats it in terms of the range of crypto trading products offered.