Since its launch in November 2014, Uphold has developed a unique exchange for trading both digital and physical assets. It’s known as one of the few crypto exchanges that also supports commodity trading. It even became the first-ever financial service company to publicly share its reserve holdings in real time. In this review, we dive into everything you need to know about Uphold.
Uphold Exchange Key Information
|Site Type||Cryptocurrency Exchange|
|Deposit Methods||Cryptocurrency, Fiat|
|Withdrawal Methods||Cryptocurrency, Fiat|
|Available Cryptocurrencies||Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, Cred, Litecoin, Basic Attention Token, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Ripple|
Uphold offers a mobile app that’s available on both Android and iOS. Out of over 2,700 reviews on the Apple App Store, Uphold has a rating of 4.8 stars. According to one review on the App Store, there are sometimes a few issues with being able to access accounts.
On Google Play, the Uphold app has a rating of 4.2 stars with 2,260 reviews. Similar to the iOS app, some Android users in January 2019 have complained about the software update and said that the app isn’t as easy to use as it once was.
On the Uphold website homepage, there is a comparison chart showing the categories that this exchange is better at than its main competitors: Coinbase, Robinhood and Revolut. For example, the site states that Uphold allows its users to access seven different blockchains. In contrast, Coinbase only has five. The other two competitors have zero access to blockchains. Another area that this exchange emphasizes is the availability of four tradable commodities. The other three major competitors have no such option.
Uphold has a new listed feature that states users can access a 3 – 10 percent return on digital currency holdings. There are also two major upcoming features. First, Uphold users will be able to borrow by accessing low-cost credit, secured by digital currency holdings. Second, the site will provide you with the option to create debit cards. This will allow you to easily spend Uphold account balances with physical and virtual cards.
Security: Is Uphold Safe?
Overall, Uphold has a strong security track record. However, there has been at least one minor security incident in November 2018. Back then, Uphold sent out a tweet announcing that the exchange had not been hacked. Instead, its mail service account was compromised. Uphold later tweeted that the comprised account was a third party service and wasn’t related to its own inbound mail system.
Nevertheless, hackers tricked users by sending a phishing email that said anyone could send between 0.1 and 50 BTC to a specified address and get back 15 percent more. It isn’t clear how successful the hackers ultimately were. One report states that the hackers stole at least $2,200 from a total of two transactions. During this event, Uphold decided to temporarily suspend BTC withdrawals.
Additionally, some users have reported losing XRP on the platform.
❗️❗️❗️Uphold HAS NOT BEEN HACKED. Uphold’s mail service account may have been compromised. We are investigating, and suspending BTC withdrawals until we have been able to communicate with all members that would have received phishing email.❗️❗️❗️
— Uphold (@UpholdInc) November 21, 2018
Uphold Fees: Deposits, Trades, Withdrawals
Since Uphold offers support for all sorts of fiat and cryptocurrency options, its fee structure can be complex for newer traders. Opening an account and holding funds on Uphold is free. It’s also free when you fund an Uphold by depositing cryptocurrency or from another Uphold account. This means that all member-to-member transactions are free. If using a debit/credit card or China Union Pay to fund your account, a 3.99 percent fee applies.
Trading fees for fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies and metals vary greatly. The lowest amount is 0.65 percent for USD, EUR and GBP. The highest amount is 3.95 percent for Platinum (XPT). A full, up-to-date list of fees can be found here.
To move fiat funds off platform via bank transfer, the fee is $3.99. Third party costs may also apply. Examples include bank wire costs in some geographies or blockchain network fees. Crypto withdrawal fees can be reasonable, but only if you’re taking out a larger amount of funds. For example, for crypto withdrawals, Uphold charges a flat fee of $2.99, plus an additional fee in the crypto you want to withdraw. Two examples are 0.0003 BTC and 0.005 ETH. Although you can trade commodities on the exchange, you currently can’t deposit or withdraw them.
According to the Uphold website, the exchange supports 23 fiat currencies. This is an area where Uphold excels over the vast majority of exchanges. Most major fiat-to-crypto exchanges don’t support currencies outside of USD, EUR, GBP and CNY.
Uphold also supports trading of four precious metals: Gold (XAU), Platinum (XPT), Palladium (XPD) and Silver (XAG). It also supports nine cryptocurrencies. These include BTC, ETH, DASH, LBA, LTC, BAT, BCH, BTG and XRP. In total, Uphold has over 1,000 trading pairs. One of the innovative things about Uphold is the ability to use email to send Bitcoin (BTC) to people in over 150 countries.
Uphold is available in every nation in the world except for the Central African Republic, Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. For locations where Uphold is available, you’ll likely have to go through a verification process. This is because Uphold requires all users to become verified members when the cumulative value of their lifetime transactions (excluding the addition of funds to their accounts) exceeds $1,000 US dollars.
During registration, the exchange collects info like date of birth and phone number. For residents of China, you have to submit a government-issued ID number. To become a verified member, you need to provide the following three items: current residential address, government-issued ID (passport, national ID card or driver’s license) and a clear photo of your face.
Minimum deposits and withdrawals limits (and fees) depend on whether you are using a debit/credit card, bank transfer via ACH, bank transfer via SEPA or a cryptocurrency. As many users have pointed out, some fiat deposit methods can be costly. However, for cryptocurrency deposits, no minimum or maximum exists.
Customer Service Experience
Looking at sites like Trustpilot, Uphold boasts an overall rating that is much better than many exchanges. While Uphold excels in many areas, the negative reviews mostly focus on issues related to customer service requests. Account locks after filling out verification information or depositing funds appear to be common. Some users have reported that they have talked with multiple customer service representatives over periods of days or weeks and not been able to resolve their issues.
Still, many complaints listed on reviews are unfair. For example, some users gave bad reviews for long and/or inconsistent ACH transfer wait times. For the most part, this issue is outside of the control of Uphold or any other exchange. In most scenarios, this has more to do with the processing capabilities of an individual’s bank.
Security must be a paramount concern for cryptocurrency exchanges. In regard to the recent QuadrigaCX exchange scandal, where the founder Gerald Cotton allegedly died with private keys to $190 million, UpHold CEO JP Thieriot commented:
“While it’s certainly suspicious that an exchange would allow one man to hold $190 million, we can’t be certain that this was not the case. With all due sensitivity to the situation, an exchange’s cold storage being vulnerable in this way is bound to invite speculation of malfeasance. A fact pattern including $22m in frozen funds by the CIBC is also not encouraging.
Although we can’t say for sure whether users will be able to get their money back, it’s not promising to have to rely on somehow gaining access to the account by means other than using a private key. This brings to light the issue of private keys in general, and it’s one of the major reasons we added inheritability to our platform – to allow relatives to access private keys in circumstances like these.
Unfortunately schemes like this are not new to the space, and continue to tarnish the reputation of exchanges, and discourage new investors. If we want to make the leap to the mass market, we have to take steps to prevent issues like these from becoming commonplace.
Universal Protocol has alluded to the systemic problem by offering recoverability of private keys, though we never contemplated an event of this scale. While this may be potentially bullish for BTC, the bigger focus is on how these events impact the industry in the long run as we collectively aim for mass adoption.”