Why I Don’t Like Coinbase

Probably one of the first service names a bitcoin rookie learns is that of Coinbase. The internet is full of praise for ‘the world’s most popular way to buy and sell bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin’ and I guess we’re stuck with them at least for the time being. However there are multiple issues with the service that annoy me and prevent me from using it the way I want to. Here is what I have stumbled upon so far, I intend to keep this list of gripes updated.

General UX Problems with Enrollment

When you create an account with Coinbase, you are required to validate your account by submitting a photo ID. After going through that procedure three times with two different IDs from two different computers, my profile page was still telling me I needed to verify my account. Did anybody test how this works before pushing it to the public?

Frequent Service Outages

On their front page, Coinbase claim to have exchanged $6.2B worth of digital currency and to have serviced 8.2M customers. These are big numbers which many banks will be more than happy to achieve. Yet in a single week’s span, the Coinbase website has been down at least 5-6 times, and the system has been reporting multiple service degradations. For a company that wants to handle your money this is complete garbage.

Accepting Payments

A credit card payment took several retries to come through for no apparent reason. Besides, Coinbase charge monumentally large rates for credit card payments (sorry fellas, 4% ain’t normal!) which discourages credit card use. Moreover, they will not allow me to use a personal bank account to my name registered in Lithuania even though I live in Bulgaria (which is supported by Coinbase) and I am free to have a bank account in any EU country I fancy. So buying bitcoin with my credit card is expensive, and repatriating amounts in fiat currency is impossible. Nice stuff.

Non-Existent Support

After the verification of my Lithuanian bank account failed and Coinbase reversed the payment I made from it, I received a weird second automated message from them telling me that ‘a further review has determined that we are unable to clear your account’s ability to receive deposits at this time.’ This is probably just poorly formulated but if not it means I am not able to receive deposits, ever. What good is their service to me then?

That automated responder suggested that I contact [email protected] if I felt something was wrong, so I did. I got a reply that due to the high volume of support cases (geez, I wonder why…) this mailbox should no longer be used for support inquiries and that I should submit a ticket via the Coinbase support desk. So there I went, copy/pasting the same message and hoping for a quick resolution (Coinbase are promising 72 hours response time). That happened 8 days ago and I still have no reply. But I noticed that my first support request — the one I sent via email even though I wasn’t supposed to — was logged as a separate ticket. So through incompetence in configuring their help desk, Coinbase are likely flooding themselves with tons of tickets from people less patient than me.

Somebody might say, ‘But they grow so fast that their support can’t catch up’. But setting up a help desk in a way that minimizes your own workload takes one person and one brain.

All of These Bitcoin Addresses

Coinbase allow you to maintain a number of separate wallets for different currencies. If you want to accept payments, there is a link on your dashboard which says ‘Get Bitcoin Address’ and when you click on it, you are presented with a QR code and a text address. However, if you try that again later, or repeat the operation from another browser or device, you will get a different address. Coinbase are generating different bitcoin addresses each time. This is by all means a good practice, if only it is made known in advance! But I challenge you to find that documented anywhere on their website.

Bitcoin addresses are difficult to distinguish from one another, and the user should be able to specify if he wants to reuse an existing address or generate a new one: otherwise there is complete lack of control over incoming payments. While the Coinbase dashboard allows labeling addresses, it can happen only after an address has been generated. So I have to know where I pasted that address, then come back and look it up under ‘Tools’ (why not under ‘Accounts’, nobody knows), and only then put a label on it. Bad, confusing UI…


What is your biggest gripe with Coinbase? Let me know in the comments below.

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