A look at Gemini

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Tyler and Cameron’s exchange is alive but not exactly kicking, yet. Watch this space because we hope business will pick up for them.

Announced almost a year ago, Gemini (Latin for ‘hair product’) is the Winklevoss brothers’ big contribution to the bitcoin ecosystem. It’s a fully-regulated, BitLicense-compliant exchange, based in New York. The idea is clearly to bring a bit of Wall Street class to what is otherwise a pretty shady sector, full of anonymous operators and platforms that operate in a quasi-legal grey zones.

I decided to take a closer look at Gemini to see how they were getting on, a few days after their big launch.


The Winklevii very much like rowing, bitcoins and hair product, but not Mark Zuckerberg

I figured KYC (Know Your Customer) was going to be a big deal for these guys, and that they probably wouldn’t let me trade at all seeing as how they’re based in America and I’m in the UK. So I created an account, using a fake name and email address, naturally, and ticking the box to say I agreed with their User Agreement, which I might, though I don’t know for sure because I didn’t read it.

Then ‘Team Gemini’, as they call themselves in their email, sent me an activation token with which to verify my account. That’s where it got trickier, because then they wanted to set up 2FA on my phone. They asked for my country of residence, which I was asked to choose from a colossal list of countries, many of which I’d never heard of and suspect don’t exist. I was promptly told ‘Unfortunately, we are not operational in United Kingdom yet. Please opt in to be notified when we launch in your country.’

I toyed with a few other countries, but Vanuatu and Uzbekistan were no more welcome. So I selected US, and had to pick a state, many of which weren’t accepted either. I decided to live in California, since they’re apparently accepted, and was asked for my phone number. I don’t have one, so made one up. You can call me on +1 (938) 475-9387, by the way, if you like.

Turns out they don’t deliver Authy tokens to imaginary phone numbers, so that’s when I got frustrated and gave up trying to register myself. Instead, I scavenged around for feedback from other new users.

Here’s what Digiconomist says
‘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 cost of trading making [sic] 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.’

BitcoinX adds
‘Once you get past the registration process, you get to the Dashboard. The Gemini exchange is aesthetically pleasing and well designed, with a minimal and clean user interface. The Dashboard gives users real-time bitcoin price and market information including order book and transaction history. It appears at this time, there is no margin trading on the exchange, and only bitcoin is going to be exchanged. Gemini also has a public developers API.’

Others complain of limited liquidity. The fact that, at the time of writing, they’re doing less than 40 BTC volume in 24 hours is not encouraging.

TL;DR: punitive KYC, great UX, limited functionality, no users - yet.

The Winklevii will, of course, market the living daylights out of their exchange and have the fiat and bitcoin wealth to provide plenty of liquidity, should the mood take them. One can only assume they have something up their collective sleeves, because it’s a curiously underwhelming start otherwise.

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