Kraken launched mobile app in U.S. for bitcoin and ethereum purchases

Less than two months after Coinbase made public debut, rival crypto exchange Kraken is bringing its mobile app to the US as retail investors flock to digital currencies.

Starting Wednesday, the new Kraken app will allow many users in the US to securely buy and sell more than 50 crypto tokens from their cell phones.

“This consumer app is our first major foray into supporting wider consumer adoption in a much simpler, more user-friendly interface,” said Chief Product Officer Jeremy Welch to CNBC. The app was launched in Europe earlier this year.

In terms of trading volume, Kraken is the fourth largest digital forex exchange in the world.

In a crowded field of cryptocurrency apps, Kraken claims to offer “the lowest fees in the industry”. It points out the quick review and onboarding times as the main benefit. The fastest onboarding and purchase test takes under a minute, depending on the user’s bank.

Outside of the US, Kraken is popular for its margin and futures trading offerings that are not yet available to US consumers. Kraken was founded in 2013 and claims to have 7 million customers. The trading volume in May increased more than sixfold compared to January.

“The past five months have been pretty unreal at Kraken,” Welch said. “We’ve seen an increase in new customers and all-time highs.”

The app doesn’t yet allow credit and debit card payments, but the company plans to expand its offerings in the coming weeks and months.

The company said it is not providing service to residents of New York and Washington due to “regulatory compliance costs”.

The entry into the US market takes place at a time of regulatory uncertainty and in the middle of a particularly volatile cycle. While the value of Bitcoin quadrupled in the last year, the price has fallen more than 40% from its high in April.

Officials, from US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, have raised concerns about the vicious use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Kraken CEO Jesse Powell previously told CNBC that he believes there could be a broader crackdown on crypto trading. Powell said the US is “more myopic” than other nations and “more vulnerable” to pressure from legacy established companies like banks, which “threaten to lose by making crypto a big deal”.

While crypto holdings on Coinbase are FDIC insured up to $ 250,000 per US customer, Kraken has taken a different approach.

In a notice to customers on its website, Kraken said that while the company “takes great care to protect customers’ assets from loss,” the exchanges should not qualify for deposit protection programs or act as cryptocurrency wallets.

Kraken is registered as a monetary services company with the US Treasury Department’s FinCEN and says it meets “legal and regulatory requirements in all of the jurisdictions” in which it operates.

Ahead of the May sell-off in the crypto market, Powell said the company was considering going public via direct listing in 2022, similar to the path that Coinbase has taken.

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