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Coinmama was one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges to sell Bitcoin using a credit card back in 2013.
It started using only Western Union cash deposits, but expanded its services to credit cards as industry regulations lightened over the years.
Since then it has continued to grow and thrive, claiming proudly on its website that it is the fastest and safest way to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum.
But has it aged well? What are the benefits of using a credit card to purchase cryptocurrency? And does Coinmama measure up to some of the other large cryptocurrency exchanges? (Found out in our Exchanges Guide)
Coinmama is a fiat to cryptocurrency trading platform. It uses credit and debit card transactions coupled with cash payments via Western Union. They collect a lot verification information on their users, which I will discuss in detail later, but all information on the site is encrypted to keep it safe.
Users exchange either USD or Euros for a number of altcoins, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. For a long time, these were the only two coins offered by the service, but they recently expanded to include six more, bringing their total coin portfolio up to eight.
Once transactions have been completed, Coinmama sends all purchased currency to an offsite wallet of your choice. No funds are actually stored on Coinmama’s platform.
Coinmama has existed for five years and it has never been the victim of any large-scale cyber attack. That’s pretty impressive.
When it comes to privacy, you don’t have much. Users who crave the anonymity of most crypto exchanges (which typically want nothing more than your email address) will not be happy with the amount of personal information Coinmama requires. We will go into all of the identity verification requirements that the site has in a later section, but I will say here that it defies the word extensive.
Coinmama claims that all information saved on the website is encrypted, though they don’t go into detail on encryption levels. I would hope that whatever it is it packs a punch with the amount of personal information they’re storing on all of their users.
But still there are many who believe that most modern exchanges don’t do nearly enough.
“Cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges want to enjoy the same trust as the wider traditional financial services, but for this to happen they need to rise above the sometimes-dubious reputation of cryptocurrency’s past and be seen as ‘model citizens’ of the economy,” said John Devlin, P.A.ID Strategies principal analyst.
A saving grace of this site’s security is that no funds are actually kept on the site and they don’t keep logs of credit card information.
You don’t get to become a mainstay in the crypto exchange world for five years without doing something right. Coinmama does quite a bit for its users. The question is, do the pros outweigh the cons?
As I mentioned before, Coinmama stores no currency on its site. Because of that, there is an extra layer of security between your funds and malicious hackers. There are many dangers that go along with keeping your currency on an exchange’s local wallet.
Hackers could gain access to the site and drain your funds, the company could fold, taking much of their stored currency with them, or simple bugs in the system could cause an exchange to simply misplace your coins, as was the case in Brazil just earlier this year.
That’s why it’s always smarter to keep the bulk of your funds offsite, as Coinmama forces one to do. This sentiment was echoed by Litecoin founder Charlie Lee on his official Twitter account.
“As I’ve said many times, be smart and only keep on exchange coins that you are actively trading,” Lee tweeted. “It’s best to withdraw right after trading.”
Despite the plethora of identifying data that Coinmama holds, one piece of information it does not keep is your credit card number. While the company has never been hacked, it’s always better safe than sorry.
All funds sold via Coinmama are sold directly from the company’s holdings. They do not use any third parties or intermediaries. This simplifies the process and helps to fight against third party crypto scams.
It also speeds along the process exponentially. Other exchanges force credit card users to wait several days for their trade to go through. Coinmama’s sales are finalized within a few hours.
The nature of cryptocurrency is tumultuous. The market value of altcoins fluctuates by the second.
Because of this, many exchanges, like Changelly, will refuse to guarantee your final rate. At the end of your trade you might have more or less than what you counted on because of market fluctuations.
Coinmama stands by the price it quotes you, locking that rate in and making sure that you get what you’re expecting.
There’s always some bad with the good. Coinmama has some problematic issues, including high fees, and a one way trading system.
Because credit card transactions have a higher level of risk associated with them, many exchanges that accept this form of payment come with much higher rates. That’s why all of Coinmama’s combined credit card fees come in at over 10%.
When you consider that most exchanges have fees that range between 0.2% and 1%, this is a huge leap. The question then becomes, is the ease of using a credit card payment worth the added cost?
Coinmama wants a plethora of information to verify your identity. It’s something many seasoned crypto veterans may balk at, but the company claims that it is necessary to prevent fraud when dealing with credit card transactions.
Some common forms of identification that they accept include a driver’s license, a national identification card, and an international (non-US) passport.
It’s important to remember that you cannot trade altcoins on the Coinmama platform. It is fiat to cryptocurrency only.
By that, I mean that some exchanges allow you to trade Bitcoin for other cryptocurrencies. Coinmama does not. It only takes in USD and Euros via credit/debit cards or Western Union transfers.
Most exchanges allow users to both buy and sell cryptocurrency, but Coinmama is a one way street. Once you’ve purchased your coins, you will have to take them elsewhere if you’re looking to unload them.
This is an unneeded extra step in the crypto process. It’s far more convenient to do all of your buying and selling from one location.
Coinmama has strict limits pertaining to how much or how little you can spend on their platform.
For starters, users can spend a minimum of $60, or its equivalent in Euros.
On the other side off the coin, maximum limits are doled out by day and by month. A user’s daily limit is $5,000, and their monthly limit is $20,000.
Something that makes Coinbase different from exchanges is that it also imposes a lifetime limit. This amount is determined by the level of personal information you’ve given Coinmama. The more you’ve verified with, the more you can spend.
There are three levels pertaining to verification and maximum limits.
Coinmama claims that, as long as your identifying information and wallet address have been confirmed, they send your coins immediately after the transaction is fulfilled.
This process can take up to a few hours, despite the ease of Coinmama’s process. First, blockchain has to confirm the trade, then the payment method must be verified, which can take a while.
On the main page of their website, Coinmama claims that their process is just three simple steps.
You register, you verify, and then you buy your currency.
Let’s take this one step at a time.
First you fill out their sign up form. It’s pretty straight forward and standard, requesting only your first name, last name, email address, country and state.
Once you’re signed up, you have to confirm your email account.
They’ll send you an email that has a confirmation link in it. Click that link and your email is verified.
Now comes the not so fun part. Identity verification.
As you can see, there’s a lot they’re looking for.
After you’ve entered your full name, gender, phone number, birthdate and address, they want the details of your government issued ID.
Once this is done you’ll have to start playing the selfie game we mentioned earlier, making your face visible while holding up your ID and a time stamped note.
Coinmama verifies your information very fast, most often within the hour as long as you’re submitting during business hours.
Once you’ve been verified you can start buying currency using your credit card.
Coinmama charges a hefty fee, especially for credit card transactions.
All purchases carry an upcharge fee of 5.9%. That’s for credit cards, debit cards, and Western Union wire transfers.
Credit and debit card transactions are processed through a third party, which charges another fee of 5% on top of Coinmama’s fee.
That brings the total fees up to a massive 10.9%.
Coinmama has a very good online reputation. Despite the ID verification and higher than usual fees, most users respect their straightforward process and the ability to use their credit or debit card to acquire new currencies.
This is a Reddit thread about Coinmama from several years ago. If you know anything about Reddit, you understand how rare it is to see a thread go for this long without someone saying something negative.
The only slightly negative comment came from user error, and was retracted. That’s as glowing of a recommendation as I’ve ever seen an exchange get. Usually crypto reddit threads are filled with people writing the word “scam” in all capital letters with many exclamation points.
And it didn’t stop there.
This was another positive review on Reddit from just two months ago, calling Coinmama an underrated exchange.
Coinmama accepts credit and debit cards as well as wire transfers through Western Union.
All transactions are done in either USD or Euros. Coinmama accepts currencies from all over the world. There is no fiat currency they won’t exchange. However, all currencies will be converted to either USD or Euros for the transaction. These conversions could be subject to additional bank fees.
As we touched on earlier, Coinmama has no internal wallet and does not store any user funds on their platform.
We’ve extensively covered Coinmama’s identity verification policy up to this point, and the fact that the more information you’re willing to provide, the higher your lifetime maximum spending limit goes.
When uploading images of your identification, there are a few requirements when it comes to quality. Failure to adhere to them will result in your ID being rejected.
Coinmama is available in 226 countries worldwide. Even if your country is included in Coinmama’s service, transactions are only undertaken in USD and Euros.
In the United States, Coinmama is available, but only in 23 states.
Users can use Coinmama to purchase the following cryptocurrencies:
With no internal wallet and all funds sold from a central holding controlled by the company, Coinmama has a strong handle on security. It’s unlikely you’re going to encounter a scam on their platform, but is the enhanced security worth higher than normal fees?