Last update: Apr 8, 2021
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Gemini Exchange Review: Is it Safe in 2021

One of the most recognizable and well-known crypto exchanges in the market is Gemini. This platform, founded by the Winkelvoss twins, is a fiat-on ramp for those new to the crypto industry. The exchange has gone out of its way to create unique, exciting, and innovative ways to grow its own market and the crypto market as a whole.

  • Gemini


    1. Operating Since 2016
    2. Currencies Supported 50+ cryptocurrencies
    3. Fees Dependent on 30-day trading volume
    4. Deposit methods Debit card, fiat currency, cryptocurrency
    5. Fiat currencies USD, AUD, CAD, GBP, and EUR
    6. Margin trading No
    7. Futures trading Yes

But, there are a few important questions we should ask. First, is it safe? And second, is it worth it?

In my Gemini review, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the platform, so you can be informed before you begin using it.

History

Gemini Exchange

Based in New York in the United States, Gemini was founded in 2015 by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. If the Winklevoss twins sound familiar, it’s probably because they are the twins that sued Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook. The pair took the money they won from the settlement and began investing in crypto, most notably, Bitcoin.

The name of the exchange, Gemini, is the zodiac sign for twins, which is a clever reference to Cameron and Tyler. Gemini is often considered one of the more secure exchanges in the industry, primarily because it offers various features that focus on user protection.

As a matter of fact, it’s so secure that it’s one of a handful of exchanges used for CBOE (Chicago Boards Options Exchange) futures settlements. Gemini is available in the US, the UK, Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, and many other countries.

Payment methods

Gemini is a fully functioning exchange for buying, selling, and trading digital assets. As a result, you can make deposits using both fiat currency and cryptocurrencies.

Fiat currencies

To deposit fiat currency, you’ll need to link your bank account to the Gemini exchange. The platform will verify your account, which allows you to initiate either a direct deposit, wire transfer, or ACH bank transfer and fund your Gemini account. If you happen to live overseas and don’t have access to USD, don’t worry. Start an international wire from your country, and Gemini will automatically convert your local currency to USD before it gets to your account.

Debit cards

Gemini recently announced a new feature is the ability to use your debit card to purchase digital assets on the platform. Once your account is verified (which we’ll cover in a bit), add your debit card by accessing your account through the website or via the mobile app.

If you’re not comfortable using the fiat currencies the site supports, like the US dollar, the United Kingdom Pound, the Canadian dollar, or the Australian dollar, you can use your debit card. Gemini accepts Mastercard and Visa debit cards. However, you should note that prepaid cards and credit cards are not supported.

Digital currencies

If you prefer to use digital assets to fund your account, Gemini accepts a wide range of cryptocurrencies. These include BTC, BCH, ETH, BAT, DAI, OXT, LTC, ZEC, and many other digital coins. You’ll have to use an external wallet to initiate a deposit to your unique Gemini account address.

Cryptocurrencies supported

Exchange At Glance
Gemini

Gemini is a regulated cryptocurrency exchange, wallet, and custodian that makes it simple and secure to buy bitcoin, ether, and other cryptocurrencies.

4.4/5
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You’ll have access to all the most popular cryptocurrencies when using the Gemini platform. Here are some of the coins the exchange currently supports:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Dai (DAI)
  • Chainlink (LINK)
  • Zcash (ZEC)
  • Basic Attention Token (BAT)
  • Orchid (OXT)
  • Compound (COMP)
  • Cardano (ADA)
  • Aave (AAVE)
  • Ox (ZRX)
  • Maker (MKR)
  • Polkadot (DOT)

…and many, many, more. These digital assets are all available through Gemini, no matter what platform you’re using. This includes their website, mobile app, and AciveTrader desktop trading client.

Gemini UI

Gemini fees

While Gemini offers many features and benefits for traders of all levels, its fee structure can be complicated. The exchange has different fees for various products, which are split into API fees, web fees, mobile fees, transfer fees, ActiveTrader fees, and custody fees.

Withdrawal and deposit fees

Gemini allows its users to withdraw and deposit fiat funds and cryptocurrencies. We’ve talked about ways you can deposit funds into your account, but I didn’t tell you that all deposits are free of charge.

But, if you decide to perform a transfer, the exchange will charge you 3.49% of the purchase amount. Similar to deposits, withdrawals are free on the platform as well. There are exceptions, however, if you’re making a substantial withdrawal. If you want to learn more about withdrawal fees, you can find the information here.

Mobile and website fees

Any order you place on Gemini’s mobile app or website will incur a transaction or convenience fee. All convenience fees are set at 0.5%, but the transaction fee depends on the transaction amount. As expected, the more you’re moving, the larger the cost. Gemini charges a specific dollar amount until you exceed $200, at which point each transaction will incur a 1.49% charge.

API and ActiveTrader fees

While Gemini’s mobile and web trading fees are on the higher side, you might want to think about trading through the platform’s ActiveTrader or API solutions. All orders placed on the exchange through either of these options are subject to fees based on the site’s rate schedule, found here.

The thing to know about ActiveTrader fees is that the site uses a 30-day trading volume tracker. This tracker determines how much trading you’ve during the previous month and charges the appropriate amount for each transaction.

Like many other sites, Gemini rewards those who do more trading, giving them better rates as they trade. If you’re a high-volume trader looking for a trustworthy and secure market, this exchange is a solid option.

The biggest downside, of course, is that if you’re newer to trading or you don’t make many trades in a 30-day period, you’re going to pay more for your transactions. Fair or not, this digital asset exchange aims its fees toward traders with more experience.

Custody fees

If you’re planning on purchasing crypto on the Gemini platform, you’ll want a place to manage and store your digital assets. Fortunately, the exchange offers custodial accounts for just such an occasion.

The accounts are closely regulated and provide high-level security and crypto storage. Unfortunately, it’s not free to store your coins. Here’s what you can expect to pay in custody fees:

  • Custody Fee – 0.4%, which is charged each year in the appropriate cryptocurrency
  • Minimum Balance Requirements – None
  • Setup Fees – No setup fee

Verification Process

Like most other cryptocurrency exchanges, you need to buy Bitcoin and other digital assets to create an account. Create your profile by visiting the Gemini website. The site is intuitive and easy to use so that you won’t get too confused.

Registration

You’ll see a “Get Started” button at the top of the site so you can get started with registration. Gemini asks for details about yourself, including your name, a valid email address, and a password. Once you’ve reviewed and agreed to the Privacy Policy and the User Agreement, you’re directed to create a profile.

The additional information you’ll need to provide includes your mobile phone number and your state and country of residence. Once that’s been delivered, you’ll receive a confirmation code on your smartphone. Enter this code to continue with the registration process.

Verification

Gemini’s verification process has four steps you’ll have to follow. The first step is setting up two-factor authentication, which is an excellent security feature any reputable exchange should have. Additionally, you’ll need to provide valid bank account information, along with a phone number you can use for verification purposes. Something to note, when giving bank information, be sure you use a bank that operates in a country that Gemini supports.

Be sure when you provide the banking info that you use your typical login credentials, which will aid in linking your bank account. Also, be sure that the name on your Gemini account coincides with the name on your bank.

Identification

Other popular exchanges, like Coinbase or Binance, require proof of identity to use the platform. Gemini is no exception. They’ll request photo identification like a driver’s license or passport to validate your identity. In addition to these documents, users need to provide a utility bill or bank statement for proof of address.

If Gemini does not support your country, don’t worry. You’ll still have the ability to create an account. With the exchange’s sandbox platform, all you have to do is submit your cell phone number to set up an account.

The entire verification process can take anywhere from 24-hours to three days. However, there are some features Gemini enables, so you can get started beforehand if you want. For example, you can deposit crypto and trade on the platform, but you won’t be able to withdraw anything until your account information is verified.

Security

Gemini is known in the industry as a trading platform that focuses on security measures. The exchange operates with a security-first mentality, focusing on three principles:

  • Protection against user errors
  • Guarding against insider access misuse
  • Defending platform from external harm

Cold storage

Most of the Gemini platform’s digital assets are kept in an air-gapped, offline Cold Storage area. A small number of coins are kept in a Hot Wallet that’s consistently online, but there’s no need for concern since it’s insured.

  • All hardware security modules (HSMs) are distributed geographically and kept in access-controlled, closely-monitored facilities.
  • Private keys are created onboard Gemini HSMs, then managed and stored there throughout their lives.
  • Platform HSMs require the cooperation and coordinated action of several employees to manage and operate.
  • A multi-signature scheme is used to eliminate points of failure while improving resilience to the compromise or loss of individual private keys.

Hot wallet

  • Gemini only uses HSMs that high high-quality ratings that meet regulatory standards.
  • The platform applies tiered, access-based roles to its production system. Multi-factor authentication is required for administrative access.

Account protection

  • Gemini requires all accounts to use two-factor authentication (2FA) when logging in or when making withdrawals.
  • Brute force attacks are countered with rate-limiting when certain operations on your account are performed.
  • Users can define approved addresses that restrict withdrawals to only approved addresses.
  • Hardware security keys are supported with WebAuthn, which means you can protect your account with strong two-factor authentication.
  • Encryption is used throughout the exchange to ensure all your private and sensitive information is safe, whether it’s static or dynamic.

Certifications and compliance

As a New York trust company, Gemini regularly submits to bank exams and cybersecurity regulations. These exams are managed by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Infrastructure

  • All data on the Gemini website is transmitted via Transport Layer Security (TLS) connectivity.
  • The platform partners with vendors that work to mitigate DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks
  • Internal aspects of the exchange have distinct access controls that the public cannot view
  • CSPs (content-security policies) and HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) are prominently featured and available with updated browsers.

Internal operations

  • If users want to move cryptocurrency from Gemini’s cold storage environment, multiple signatures are required.
  • Gemini employees must go through credit and criminal background checks and are subject to potential checks throughout their time with the exchange.
  • Remote-access employees must use public-key authentication through credentials that are kept on hardware tokens.
  • Company offices do not keep valuable content on-site. This includes private keys, which are kept offsite and distributed geographically while monitored through access-controlled buildings.
  • The Winklevoss twins are unable to jointly or individually move cryptocurrency from the Gemini cold storage environment.

Mobile App

Gemini Android and iOS

If you like to trade on the go, Gemini offers a mobile app that supports both Android and iOS. The mobile platform experience isn’t much different from what you’ll find in the browser version. Although the interface is more straightforward, you’re still able to perform certain functions like recurring orders and quick buys.

Gemini mobile is also handy if you want to send funds or check prices while you’re away from your computer.

While there are some differences between the web browser and the mobile app, the most significant advantage of using the mobile app is the ability to pay users via crypto. The mobile app supports payments in BTC, ETH, GUSD, and other digital assets as more than 30,000 retailers.

With this feature, called GeminiPay, users can use their crypto to buy goods and services from around the world, all right through their smartphone.

Conclusion

Gemini’s cryptocurrency exchange is arguably one of the more regulated and secure trading platforms in the industry.

The platform puts plenty of security measures in place, which means your digital coins are protected from hackers, cybercriminals, or anyone else with nefarious intents.

The platform offers its users an easy-to-use interface that doesn’t charge fees for both withdrawals and chargers. However, the platform isn’t perfect.

There are areas for improvement. For example, the exchange could support more cryptocurrencies, incorporate more payment methods, and implement more trading tools.

It’s your call what features matter to you most, though. If security is paramount and tops your must-haves list for a crypto exchange, Gemini might be the cryptocurrency trading platform for you.

author Andrej Ilisin

A serial entrepreneur working primarily with digital assets. He's the CEO of Sharp Capital, a company that focuses on growing online businesses. Andrej is also huge crypto, chess, and CrossFit enthusiast.