Gemini Review (2020)

Gemini Review (2020)
  • Ease of Use
  • Beginner Friendly
  • Payment Options
  • Speed
  • Fees
4

Summary

Established in 2014, Gemini is the latest cryptocurrency platform to open its arms to individuals and institutions in the UK.

It supports Bitcoin (BTC) and more than 20 other cryptocurrencies via the Web Exchange or mobile app, with competitive fees of about 2% (if you buy or sell more than £150 with a UK bank transfer). Gemini’s cryptocurrency exchange (ActiveTrader) has lower fees (max 0.35%) but doesn’t currently support GBP trading pairs.

What is Gemini? How does it all work? What are the fees like?

In this Gemini review, I’m going to answer all these questions (and more) and explain why it’s now one of the best places to buy Bitcoin (BTC) in the UK.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Verification is usually quick (within minutes unless it requires manual review).
  • Fees of approx. 2% for all supported cryptocurrencies (on Web Exchange or mobile app), which is competitive with a number of UK alternatives.
  • Granted Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in August 2020.
  • Cryptocurrency stored in Gemini’s hot wallets is insured. Funds in Gemini Custody are insured too.
  • Available to individuals and institutions in the UK.
  • Browser-based and mobile apps (iOS & Android).
  • Customer service available via email, phone, or Twitter.

Disadvantages

  • Higher fees if you buy or sell less than £150 of a cryptocurrency (on Web Exchange or mobile app).
  • Access to Gemini’s ActiveTrader (which has lower fees) requires manual approval from its support team.
  • GBP trading pairs aren’t available on Gemini ActiveTrader just yet.
  • It’s possible to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) cheaper elsewhere.

What Is Gemini?

“Gemini is your bridge to the future of money”

Gemini was established in 2014 by the Winklevoss twins (Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss). It’s headquartered in New York City, but now has offices in Chicago, Portland, and London too (with a team of about 300).

Gemini’s mission is to “build a world-class, regulated digital asset exchange and custodian based in the United States” which has a “security-first” approach.

Gemini was recently granted an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in August 2020 and now allow UK individuals and institutions to buy numerous cryptocurrencies using GBP. You can learn a little more about how Gemini is regulated here.

There are some reviews on Trustpilot for Gemini, but it mostly seems like spam that hasn’t been moderated. I wouldn’t pay much attention to it.

They’ve recently won the:

  • ‘#1 Cryptocurrency Exchange’ in the 2020 CryptoCompare Exchange Report
  • 2020 Crypto AM Award for the ‘Best Custody Exchange’
  • 2019 Markets Choice Award for the ‘Best Cryptocurrency Exchange’

How Does Gemini Work?

Gemini allows you to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). You can access Gemini using your laptop with the Web Exchange or via its mobile app.

The Web Exchange and mobile app are simple, responsive, and easy to use. When you use either of these, Gemini is acting as a broker – which means you’re dealing directly with them.

For an overview of how to buy cryptocurrency using the Web Exchange, check out this post.

There’s also Gemini’s ActiveTrader. This is a “high-performance crypto trading platform” that gives you everything you’d want and expect – including advanced charting, multiple orders types, auctions, and block trading.

To get access to ActiveTrader, you’ll need to send an email to Gemini’s support team. I was granted access within about 24 hours of requesting it via email (and didn’t need to provide any additional information).

Unfortunately, you can’t buy anything with GBP on ActiveTrader just yet – but it sounds like it’s coming in the near future. You can find more details about ActiveTrader here or see it in action here.

What other services does Gemini provide?

Here are a few of the other things that Gemini currently provides:

  • Gemini Custody: Store numerous popular cryptocurrencies with Gemini’s custody solution, which is regulated, licensed, and regularly audited. Assets in Gemini Custody are covered to the value of $200 million, but you can purchase additional insurance to cover your assets too. There’s a 0.4% annual fee and a flat $125 withdrawal fee (charged each time).
  • Gemini Clearing: This allows two different parties to securely and efficiently make a pre-arranged trade (with Gemini acting as the trusted middleman).
  • Gemini Pay: This looks interesting but isn’t available in the UK right now. Working with Flexa (which helps retailers accept cryptocurrency), users in the United States can easily buy things with their cryptocurrency in-store.

Supported Countries

Gemini is currently available in 50+ countries. This includes the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, most countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), and more.

To check if you’re able to use Gemini in your country, check out this page.

What countries in the EEA are supported by Gemini?

These are the countries within the EEA that are currently supported by Gemini:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Supported Cryptocurrencies

Gemini currently supports 23 cryptocurrencies in the UK, which includes Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and other popular cryptocurrencies. You can find the full list here, or expand the section below.

Full list of supported cryptocurrencies

Some of these cryptocurrencies might not be available unless you have access to Gemini’s ActiveTrader exchange.

Gemini currently supports the following cryptocurrencies in the UK:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Chainlink (LINK)
  • Basic Attention Token (BAT)
  • Dai (DAI)
  • Orchid (OXT)
  • Maker (MKR)
  • Decentraland Mana (MANA)
  • 0x (ZRX)
  • Kyber Network Crystal (KNC)
  • StorJ (STORJ)
  • Paxos Gold (PAXG)
  • Compound Token (COMP)
  • Amp Token (AMP)
  • Balancer (BAL)
  • Curve (CRV)
  • Ren (REN)
  • SNX (SNX)
  • Uma (UMA)
  • Uniswap (UNI)
  • Yearn.finance (YFI)

Payment Methods

Gemini currently supports these payment methods in the UK:

  • UK bank transfers (via Faster Payments)
  • UK bank transfers (CHAPS or SWIFT)
  • Debit cards (excl. prepaid versions)

I’ve made two deposit with a UK bank transfer, but they are taking longer than I’d expect to credit (7 – 14 hours).

Buying cryptocurrency with a debit card is expensive, so I’d recommend you just stick with making UK bank transfers (more on that below).

Adding a UK bank account

You can link a UK bank account by selecting: Account > Settings > Funding Sources.

You can link your bank account using Open Banking, but this isn’t supported by all UK banks just yet.

Alternatively, you can just link your bank account to Gemini by making a deposit. Just tell them what account you want to link by providing some details and then send over GBP to the account details they provide.

Even if your bank supports Faster Payments, it can take a while for Gemini to process and verify the first deposit you make. You should get an email once it’s sorted.

Adding a debit card

You can add a debit card by selecting: Account > Settings > Funding Sources.

Before you can use a debit card to instantly buy cryptocurrency on Gemini, you’ll need to verify it. You’ll receive a couple of small transactions (between £1 and £1.99 in value), which you’ll just need to confirm with Gemini. Once you have, the charges will be reversed and you’ll be able to use your debit card to buy cryptocurrency on Gemini.

FYI: these micro-deposits might not immediately appear in your online banking portal. It might take 1-2 days for them to show up.

For more information, check out this page.

Limits

There are no limits on how much cryptocurrency you can deposit or withdraw from Gemini.

There are no limits on how much you can deposit or withdraw with a UK bank transfer. If it’s under $250,000, it’ll be sent via the Faster Payments Service (FPS). Over that point, it will be sent via CHAPS.

For debit card purchases, there’s a limit of $500 per day.

Gemini Fees

Trading Fees

The fees you’re charged on Gemini depend on how much you’re buying. In short, you’ll get the best rates on Gemini if you purchase more than £150 at once.

Order AmountTransaction FeeEquivalent % (Range)
Less than £7.50£0.7510% or more
£7.51 - £20.00£1.256.3% - 16.6%
£20.01 - £50.00£2.004.0% - 10.0%
£50.01 - £150.00£2.251.5% - 4.5%
More than £150.001.49%1.49%

On top of this, you’ll pay a ‘convenience fee’ of about 0.5% (or 50 basis points). This is added to the exchange rate that you’re quoted when using Gemini. This means that the lowest fees you’ll pay on Gemini are 1.99%.

I don’t like that these fees aren’t combined (as it’s easy to miss) or that you’ll pay higher percentage fees if you purchase smaller amounts of cryptocurrency.

I would also avoid using a debit card, as you’ll be charged an additional 3.49% (on top of the other fees you’d normally pay) if you do.

ActiveTrader Fees

Fees on ActiveTrader are much lower than the Web Exchange or via the mobile app, but the average user isn’t going to be granted access.

But anyhow, these are the fees you’ll be charged on ActiveTrader.

30-Day Trading VolumeTaker FeeMaker FeeAuction Fee
< $500,0000.35%0.25%0.25%
≥ $500,0000.25%0.15%0.20%
≥ $2,500,0000.25%0.15%0.10%
≥ $5,000,000≤ 0.15%≤ 0.10%≤ 0.10%

For more details, check out this help article.

Withdrawal Fees

In 2020, there are more places than ever that you can buy cryptocurrency in the UK with GBP. This has forced the market to become more competitive than it used to be.

Here’s what’s being charged by some popular alternatives in the UK.

ProviderPayment MethodTotal Fees (Approx.)My Review
Crypto.comUK Bank Transfer0%Crypto.com Review
KrakenUK Bank TransferUp to 0.26%-
Coinbase ProUK Bank TransferUp to 0.5%-
CoinJarUK Bank Transfer1.5%CoinJar Review
SolidiUK Bank Transfer1.5%Solidi Review
WirexDebit Card2.5%Wirex Review

Put into context, Gemini’s fees aren’t terrible. They’re near enough to most of the cheapest places that you can buy Bitcoin (BTC) in the UK.

But Crypto.com remains the best option in the UK for most people. To learn more about what they’re doing, check out my Crypto.com review.

Security

If you’re trusting a cryptocurrency platform with your money, then it’s important that they’re doing as much as they can to keep it safe.

And it’s evident that Gemini has taken a lot of steps to protect their platform from attack.

Here are some of the highlights from my research:

  • Gemini was the world’s first cryptocurrency exchange to complete SOC 1 Type 1, as well as SOC 2 Type 1 and Type 2, examinations. Together, this essentially means that Gemini has consistently demonstrated a high level of security compliance.
  • Most cryptocurrency assets on Gemini are kept in an offline, air-gapped cold storage system. Only a little is kept in ‘hot wallets’ to cover Gemini’s operational needs (e.g. handle withdrawals).
  • Private keys (required to spend funds) for cold-storage and hot wallets are generated on hardware security modules (HSMs) that have a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 (or higher) rating.
  • These HSMs are distributed across numerous secure and guarded locations. Redundancies exist in case facilities/equipment in an entire region become inaccessible.
  • Funds can’t be transferred from cold storage of hot wallets without multiple signatures (i.e. multisig).
  • Cryptocurrency stored in Gemini’s hot wallets is fully insured (by multiple parties).
  • You can secure your account with two-factor authentication (2FA) using Authy or a security key (e.g. Yubikey). You can also restrict cryptocurrency withdrawals to specific addresses.

Customer Support

You can get in touch with Gemini’s support team via:

I reached out to Gemini’s support team twice (on weekdays). I received a reply to my first message within about 24 hours, and my second within about 4 hours – which seems pretty good.

Customer satisfaction seems to be something that Gemini really care about, with prompt and accurate answers to everything I asked. However, you may be able to refer complaints you have to the UK Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if you can’t resolve it directly with Gemini.

Summary

“Gemini is a safe place to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrency — not because we say it is — but because of the measures we have put place to protect your crypto and the independent third parties that verify them.” (Source)

With the introduction of GBP deposits, Gemini is a great choice if you’re a beginner looking to get started with your first purchase or a crypto-enthusiast with a few miles on the clock.

Here’s what stood out about Gemini to me:

  • It supports more than 20 cryptocurrencies, which includes many of the largest ones available (e.g. BTC, ETH, LTC, etc).
  • The Web Exchange and mobile app are simple and easy-to-use. You can also easily setup price alerts or regular automatic purchases.
  • Fees are approx. 2% on the Web Exchange and mobile app, but you will be able to get lower fees on ActiveTrader (max 0.35%) once they enable GBP support.

Head over to the Gemini website to learn more or get started.

Or if you want to explore other options in the UK, check out this post.

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