Exchange Review: Gemini

Gemini
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 3 stars
  • 60%

  • Gemini
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: November 4, 2016
  • Trades
    Editor: 58%
  • Funding
    Editor: 46%
  • Compliance
    Editor: 83%
  • Platform
    Editor: 64%
  • Help & Support
    Editor: 50%

Almost ten months after Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss revealed their plans to launch a fully-regulated Bitcoin exchange based in New York City Gemini was finally launched in October 2015, after being granted a trust charter by the New York Department of Financial Services.

Trades

Gemini is a pure Bitcoin exchange, meaning that there are no other cryptocurrencies available for trading. There is also only one fiat currency that can be exchanged on the platform, which is USD. The latter makes sense as Gemini is currently only available to a certain number of States in the U.S. Besides limited markets to trade in, there are also only limited tools available to do so. Both limit and market order have been enabled, but advanced order types such as stop orders are nowhere to be found. Margin trading and derivatives are not available either. The former features is mentioned in the knowledge base, but there is no mention of this possibly being added in the future. The cost of trading making up a lot, as trade fees are decent at 25 basis points (0.25 percent) per trade. The fees are accompanied by a very liquid platform, resulting in almost no additional costs due to bid-ask spreads. The best bid-ask spread is extremely low at just 2 basis points, and happens to be robust as well. Adjusting for slippage on a Bitcoin transaction worth $1,000 would only increase this number to 3 basis points.

Gemini Trade

Funding

Gemini only offers the option for USD funding, but at least this includes ACH transfers as a funding method. This transfer method is usually free, and Gemini does not charge any additional fees either. The exchange will charge a small (unspecified) fee for wire withdrawals on the other hand, while bank charges on this method of transferring will typically amount to around $15 for incoming (domestic) transfers or about $25 for outgoing transfers. ACH transfers are normally also faster than wire transfers, although they will still take up to one business day to be processed.

Compliance

On the 5th of October 2015 the New York Department of Financial Services officially announced that it granted a charter under the New York Banking Law to the New York-based Gemini Trust Company, LLC. Gemini became the second Bitcoin exchange to receive such a license, following exchange itBit which received a similar one earlier in 2015. The charter to operate as a trust also rules out that Gemini will be applying for a BitLicense as well, as a banking license brings an even stricter set of rules and regulations. The only reason that the compliance rating is not perfect is that, even though founder Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss know how to run a business, experience running a Bitcoin exchange only grows over time.

Platform

The platform looks like it has been designed with a strong focus on simplicity. The number of available buttons is very low, making the website extremely easy to navigate. The content on each page is also minimized, resulting in a rather pleasant user experience. Security has also been taken into consideration, as two-factor authentication is an obligatory option. Gemini also uses this information to verify the user’s location, and might not have had a choice in this matter. The speed and performance of the website is not as great (e.g. scoring around 50/100 on Google PageSpeed Insights), with pages taking up to several seconds to fully load. The performance on mobile screens is the worst, as the design was not made responsive and therefore not optimized for smaller windows.

Gemini Dashboard

Help & Support

The documentation in the help center is as minimalistic as the website’s design, which is not a good sign in this case. For example, the fees on market and limit orders are explained properly, but nothing explains these order types in more detail. Likewise, the order book receives no attention in the knowledge base. These features might be perfectly clear for the average or institutional trader, but to serve a broader target audience these basics should be present. Especially given the fact that the former features are about all the ones that Gemini offers. Furthermore there are only two sentences dedicated to explaining what Bitcoin is. The platform also lacks any form of risk disclosure with regard to trading Bitcoin. Last but not least the exchange can only be contacted by email for additional support.

Pros

• Regulated as a trust company
• High liquidity resulting in very low bid-ask spreads
• Supports ACH transfers
• Minimalistic design

Cons

• No margin trading/short selling
• No advanced order types
• Limited documentation
• Just one market to trade in (BTC/USD)