Kraken vs. Binance: Which Should You Choose? – Investopedia

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Kraken and Binance are cryptocurrency trading exchange platforms with millions of users. Both are on the top 10 list of largest exchanges by trading volume, with Kraken reaching fourth place and Binance in first. However, U.S.-based users must use Binance’s U.S. platform, called Binance.US., which ranks ninth on the list. 
The crypto exchange platforms offer advanced trading options, low fees, and mobile apps. Plus, both are geared towards intermediate or advanced users. However, Binance offers slightly lower fees, more variety in coins, and additional ways to add or withdraw funds. On the other hand, Kraken is known for its high security standards, recently won bank charter approval in Wyoming, and aims to go public in 2022. 
We compared Kraken and Binance by reviewing supported currencies, security measures, overall costs, and features to help readers choose a platform.
Unlike traditional brokerage firms, cryptocurrency exchanges are not members of the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC). Therefore, unless user terms specify otherwise, investors with cryptocurrency assets commingled on a custodial cryptocurrency exchange could potentially lose their funds as unsecured creditors.
Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is highly risky and speculative, and the markets can be extremely volatile. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. This article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.
An updated and shorter verification process
95% of assets kept in cold storage
Accessible to users in 48 U.S. states
U.S. users can’t deposit or withdraw funds via ACH
Beginners may face a learning curve
No standalone hot wallet
Low trading fees
Accepts deposits via ACH and debit card
Wide variety of coins
Less transparency around security measures
User interface may overwhelm beginners
Fewer options for U.S. residents
Unlike platforms such as Coinbase, Kraken and Binance cater to investors with some trading knowledge. They offer advanced trading features, allowing investors to place market orders, stake crypto, or perform many other types of transactions. However, specific transaction types, such as margin trading, aren’t available for U.S. users on Binance but are supported on Kraken. 
Furthermore, there are stark differences between the Binance and Binance.US sites. For example, U.S. residents won’t find details about the Binance Visa Card, have a rewards center for earning crypto, or see the Binance Academy on the Binance.US website. Instead, Binance.US is a pared-down site with an FAQ knowledge base and crypto exchange. However, both sites offer advanced charting options similar to Kraken.  
In comparison, Kraken is a U.S.-based exchange where international and U.S. investors use the same platform. While global users can access more transaction types and coins, the site feels less limited than Binance. Kraken offers the Kraken Terminal with advanced charting features for Kraken markets and a robust “Learn” section with videos, tutorials, and a podcast. 
Plus, Kraken offers a standalone platform called Cryptowatch. It’s a premium trading terminal with real-time data and charting on over 8,000 cryptocurrency markets. 
Kraken offers 69 coins, including three stablecoins: USD Coin (USDC), DAI (DAI), and Tether (USDT). It accepts seven fiat currencies, including USD, EUR, CAD, AUD, GBP, CHF, and JPY. U.S. investors are limited to 52 coins. 
Binance supports more than 500 coins for international users and several stablecoins like DAI, Tether, and Binance USD (BUSD). In addition, it accepts 19 fiat currencies, including USD, AUD, HKD, EUR, GBP, and INR. However, U.S. residents are limited to 47 altcoins and only USD fiat currency. 
Additionally, both crypto exchanges offer over 100 trading pairs and support popular cryptocurrencies, such as Ether (ETH), Cardano (ADA), Litecoin (LTC), Chainlink (LINK), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dogecoin (DOGE), and Monero (XMR). But, only Kraken offers U.S. residents Polkadot (DOT). 
While both platforms meet strict U.S. standards for the know your customer (KYC) rule, they approach security a bit differently. For instance, Binance doesn’t dedicate any space to disclosing details on its security measures. The company mentions in an article that “Binance only holds a small percentage of coins in its hot wallets,” with the rest in cold storage.
In contrast, Kraken stands out for its security measures and aims to improve security for the industry as a whole. It holds 95% of deposits in air-gapped, geographically distributed cold storage. In addition, they perform penetration testing, run a bug bounty program, and undergo a proof-of-reserves audit conducted by a third party. 
It’s also important to note that Kraken has been operating since 2013 and hasn’t been hacked. But Kraken and Binance have undergone distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks over the years. 
Yet, Binance suffered a large-scale security breach in 2019, resulting in the theft of over $40,000,000 in Bitcoin. More recently, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue service disclosed they are investigating Binance for illicit activity, according to Bloomberg. The outlet also reported that a blockchain forensics firm said, “more funds tied to criminal activity flowed through Binance than any other crypto exchange.”
So while both platforms offer two-factor authentication (2FA) and other common security measures, Kraken stands out for its commitment to transparency and safety for the cryptocurrency industry. 
Kraken and Binance both use the maker-taker fee structure, offering much lower fees than other popular platforms such as Coinbase. At first glance, you’ll notice that Kraken fees are higher than Binance, with maker-taker fees ranging from 0% to 0.26% versus Binance’s 0% to 0.10%. 
A new trader with a low trading volume would pay a maker fee of 0.16% or a taker fee of 0.26% on Kraken. The same investor would pay a maker fee or taker fee of 0.10% on Binance. However, Binance offers a 25% fee discount if you use Binance Coin (BNB) to pay your fees, and holding more BNB also reduces your fees. 
With that said, Kraken’s fee schedule is easy to read and understand, whereas Binance is more complex and varies by VIP level. Note that fees for Kraken Pro might be different than what’s detailed below, so you’ll want to check with the Kraken fee schedule directly.
The sign-up process is similar for both exchanges, with U.S. investors required to follow strict verification methods. However, Binance reports that advanced verification (L2) can take up to 15 days and many users say it’s taking much longer. In comparison, Kraken provides clear timelines for various levels, all of which take minutes, not days, except for Pro levels which can take up to five days. 
Although Kraken and Binance focus on users with at least some knowledge of crypto and investing, Kraken’s website and exchange are easier to navigate. It’s also simpler to search for and access help articles on Kraken. But, of course, if you’re new to investing, the charting options on both platforms can feel overwhelming. 
Binance offers a mobile app for its main site and another for U.S. residents. Similar to its web-based platforms, beginners may have a hard time navigating the app at first. But, overall, the user interface (UI) is pretty clean and user-friendly. Yet, the Binance.US app is still somewhat buggy, resulting in difficulties logging into the app. The UI for Binance.US is also less intuitive than the main site’s application. 
Kraken provides two mobile apps, Kraken and Kraken Pro. Both are highly rated by iOS and Android users and allow functionality similar to the web-based exchange. However, unlike Binance, Kraken responds to nearly all reviews or suggestions about their mobile apps and continually improves the user interface and user experience. 
Kraken is available to all U.S. residents, except those living in Washington and New York. On Kraken, U.S. residents can’t trade Ripple’s XRP and can’t hold, deposit, or trade the following cryptocurrencies
While U.S. residents can’t buy ENJ, MATIC, MKR, or ZRX on Kraken, it’s allowed on Binance. Currently, residents of 43 states can use Binance.US. Those living in the following states can’t use the platform: 
However, the biggest differences in access stem from the exchanges themselves. The Binance platform doesn’t meet U.S. regulations which led Binance to ban all U.S. residents from using it. The Binance.US platform offers far fewer features than the main website. In contrast, anyone can use the Kraken exchange; although U.S. users have fewer options than international customers, the differences aren’t as noticeable. 
Both crypto exchanges offer advanced trading options, low fees, and educational resources. International users appreciate the vast amount of cryptocurrencies available with Binance. But, U.S. residents will be less impressed with fewer choices. Kraken offers more transparency, prioritizes security, and provides a decent amount of currencies for U.S. users, although far fewer coins than Binance for international users. 
Kraken and Binance are crypto exchange platforms where investors can buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and tokens. International users can partake in futures trading or margin trading on both platforms, whereas U.S. residents can perform various other transaction types. However, Kraken supports margin trading for U.S. users, as well. 
Both platforms offer advanced features, perfect for active investors wanting to watch the market and track their investments over time. Kraken and Binance also support staking, where users earn rewards for holding onto various assets. 
Kraken is a trustworthy exchange that’s safe to use. The company prioritizes security, highlights security measures on its website, and is the “first digital asset company in U.S. history to receive a bank charter recognized under federal and state law.” Moreover, it’s been around since 2013 and hasn’t been hacked. 
The Binance.US site adheres to all U.S. regulations, but Binance has a somewhat troubling past. It moved its headquarters many times to areas with favorable regulations. Then, instead of tightening its security levels to meet U.S. standards, it forced U.S. residents to use a different, less robust platform. However, Binance has millions of users although it was hacked in 2019. 
Both Kraken and Binance provide quick verification methods with entry-level tiers, but the lowest levels may not offer many trading or funding options, depending on your location. Like other exchanges, U.S. residents will need to follow the verification process to trade. Once you’re verified, it’s fairly easy to send money via wire transfer to fund your account and start trading. 
Kraken and Binance offer many transaction types, and users unfamiliar with investing may benefit from learning about the kinds of transactions before attempting to complete them. In addition, to get the most from the platforms, it’s good to learn how to use the charts. And for Kraken users, the Cryptowatch terminal is an additional perk to track your currencies invested across multiple exchanges. 
People with no experience with cryptocurrency and investing terminology will face a learning curve on both platforms. But, Kraken offers a good-sized knowledge base with crypto guides and videos. They’re also more responsive to customer service inquiries than Binance. 
The Binance user interface is more busy-looking than Kraken, and the Binance.US platform lacks guidance about investing for beginners. They’re also less transparent about fees and security, so beginners may want to start with a simpler platform with fewer options, such as Coinbase
Kraken and Binance are alike in many ways, yet differences exist. First, we evaluated both platforms by looking at the features offered on the website and mobile apps, such as self-help information, advanced charting, and ways to earn crypto. Next, we compared supported fiat and cryptocurrencies available to U.S. and international users. Lastly, we explored each exchange’s approach to security and the overall costs associated with using the platforms.
CoinMarketCap. "Top Cryptocurrency Spot Exchanges." Accessed June 14, 2021.
Fortune. "Crypto Exchange Kraken Rethinks IPO Plans After Coinbase Stock Listing." Accessed June 12, 2021.
Binance. "Crypto Wallet Types Explained." Accessed June 13, 2021.
CNBC. "Binance Bitcoin Hack Over 40 Million of Cryptocurrency Stolen." Accessed June 12, 2021.
Bloomberg. "Binance Probed by U.S. as Money Laundering Tax Sleuths Bore In." Accessed June 13, 2021.
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