Gemini Review (2021)
Ease of Use
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
- 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.
- 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 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 has been granted an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in August 2020 and 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.
- ‘#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?
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.
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.
Gemini currently supports 25 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.
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 it’s cheaper if you just stick with making UK bank transfers (more on that below).
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.
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 Amount||Transaction Fee||Equivalent % (Range)|
|Less than £7.50||£0.75||10% or more|
|£7.51 - £20.00||£1.25||6.3% - 16.6%|
|£20.01 - £50.00||£2.00||4.0% - 10.0%|
|£50.01 - £150.00||£2.25||1.5% - 4.5%|
|More than £150.00||1.49%||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.
Fees on ActiveTrader are much lower than the Web Exchange or via the mobile app, but you’ll have to manually request access before you can use it.
But anyhow, these are the fees you’ll be charged on ActiveTrader.
|30-Day Trading Volume||Taker Fee||Maker Fee||Auction Fee|
|≥ $5,000,000||≤ 0.15%||≤ 0.10%||≤ 0.10%|
For more details, check out this help article.
Here’s something I really like about Gemini.
Once you go over this threshold you’ll have to pay withdrawal fees like you would elsewhere. But not having to worry about withdrawal fees when you use Gemini is a big plus – as it can currently cost more than £5 to withdraw Bitcoin (BTC) from other places.
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.
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.
The closest alternative to Gemini is Coinbase.
UK residents have been able to use Coinbase to buy Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies with GBP for years. Like Gemini, you can deposit GBP using a UK bank transfer or use a debit or credit card to make a direct purchase.
Coinbase charges similar fees to Gemini. You’ll pay a fixed fee of 1.49% if you make a purchase over $200 (equivalent in GBP), but there’s usually at least another 0.5% hidden in the exchange rate you’re provided. If you buy less than $200 (equivalent in GBP), then you’ll pay higher fees. Head over to the Coinbase website to learn more.
A cheaper alternative to both is CoinJar.
With this, you can quickly and easily buy Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies with GBP via your browser or their mobile app. You’ll be charged a fixed fee of 1%, but I’ve found that the exchange rate you’re offered is usually about 0.2% to 0.5% higher than it should be.
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.