Comparing Kraken vs Upbit in 2024. Which Cryptocurrency Exchange Is Better?

Anton Ioffe - January 8th 2024 - 6 minutes read

In the dynamic world of cryptocurrency exchanges, where the balance of power is constantly shifting, investors and traders are perpetually on the hunt for the platform that not only leads the market but also aligns perfectly with their individual needs. As we venture into 2024, the competition has never been more intense, with industry giants Kraken and Upbit vying for supremacy. This article dives deep into the pivotal aspects that make or break user experiences: market position, trading volume, feature set, security, regulatory compliance, fee structures, and customer support. Journey with us as we dissect these titans' offerings, juxtaposing their strengths and weaknesses, to unravel which exchange might be the superior choice for your cryptocurrency endeavors.

Market Position and Trading Volume Analysis

In the dynamic world of cryptocurrency exchanges, Kraken and Upbit's market positions reflect their divergent focus and customer base. While Upbit has solidified its dominance in the South Korean market, capturing nearly 85% market share among the "Big Four" exchanges, Kraken's global presence is underpinned by an extensive range of trading instruments, offering over 650 pairs, including multiple fiat options such as EUR and GBP. Upbit's stronghold on the market has remained relatively uncontested, with its closest rival Bithumb making strides to push past the 20% mark. On the other hand, Kraken's international approach has afforded them a diverse user portfolio, although it operates within a more fragmented market where liquidity is heavily consolidated within a handful of global players.

Trading volume paints a revealing picture of user preferences and market liquidity on both platforms. Upbit's trading volume is largely driven by altcoins, with Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin (BTC) accounting for just 11% of their trading activity. This is in stark contrast to Coinbase—a comparable benchmark with a similar annual volume of about $330 billion—where BTC and ETH make up a significant majority of trades at 36% and 22%, respectively. Such disparity showcases the regional influence on trading behaviors, with Korean investors evidently favoring a broader spectrum of altcoins. Kraken's robustness in liquidity for the top 30 altcoins, combined with their resilience in market depth, indicates a balanced distribution of trading activity across major cryptocurrencies.

The market landscape of 2024 places Kraken and Upbit in unique positions when it comes to the concentration of market depth and trade volume. Global liquidity remains heavily centralized, with a few top exchanges, including Kraken, commanding the lion's share. Upbit's impressive command over trade volume in Korea, especially with an eclectic mix of tokens, reflects the regional appetite for altcoin trading, reinforcing its pivotal role in the Asian cryptocurrency market. Kraken's consistent market depth across the top 30 altcoins signals its capability to cater to traders looking for liquidity and stability in the major crypto assets, thus reinforcing its international appeal and competitive stance in the global market.

Feature Comparison: User Experience and Coin Offerings

When navigating Kraken's interface, traders of all experience levels find a seamless and well-structured environment. The design is user-centric, graduating beginners through educational resources to more complex trading tools as their confidence grows. The availability of a mobile app extends this experience to on-the-go portfolio management. Upbit, while it also presents a clean and navigable user interface, does so with a regional focus, potentially presenting a hurdle for global users due to language and currency considerations that are more locally centric than Kraken's diverse interface options.

Kraken's coin catalog is rich with a myriad of choices that span well-known assets and niche altcoins, enabling users to tailor their trading strategies across a wide spectrum. Upbit's curated selection, though not as extensive, is aligned with the trading habits and interests prevalent in its core Asian market. This thoughtful selection positions Upbit as a gateway to particular market trends that are especially relevant to its user demographic.

Whether one opts for Kraken or Upbit may be influenced by a variety of factors, including geographic positioning, linguistic ease, and specific financial interests. Kraken's international approach and comprehensive currency pairings make it an attractive option for a global clientele. Conversely, Upbit is particularly well-suited for market participants with a focus on or proximity to Asian economies and those seeking to engage deeply in the region's diverse altcoin landscape. Hence, the adequacy of either platform is contingent upon the unique requirements and objectives of each investor in the dynamic realm of digital asset trading.

Exploring Security Measures and Regulatory Compliance

When assessing the security measures of cryptocurrency exchanges, one cannot overlook the importance of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and cold storage of assets. Kraken, a U.S.-regulated exchange, has emphasized its commitment to security by storing a large percentage of its clients' assets offline, effectively reducing the risk of cyber-attacks. Similarly, Upbit, with a strong foothold in the South Korean market, complies with stringent security protocols, implementing 2FA and advanced encryption to safeguard user accounts and transactions.

Further solidifying the trust of the user base, exchanges like Kraken have gone beyond basic requirements and provided a proof of reserves, showcasing their financial responsibility to their customers. These steps reassure users about the safety of their funds and the transparency of the exchange. Upbit, not falling behind, maintains rigorous internal controls and stays under the watchful eye of the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), ensuring that they meet all necessary regulatory compliance standards.

The regulatory landscape for crypto exchanges dictates a significant portion of their reputability and stability. Kraken's multiple licenses across global jurisdictions and its compliance with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority in different countries set a precedent for operational excellence in the crypto industry. Meanwhile, Upbit was the first virtual asset service provider to register with Korea's FIU—demonstrating their leadership in regulatory compliance. Their adherence to these legal standards not only boosts user confidence but also anchors the platform's overall stability in a landscape that often sees regulatory shifts.

Fee Structures and Customer Support Services

Kraken and Upbit both offer competitive fee structures that cater to a wide array of users, from the casual investor to the active trader. Kraken's fee schedule is designed to benefit high-volume traders with a maker-taker model that starts from 0.16% for the maker and 0.26% for the taker, with the fees decreasing based on the 30-day trading volume. Deposits on Kraken are generally free, but withdrawal fees can vary depending on the cryptocurrency. In contrast, Upbit has a flat 0.1% trading fee, positioning it as an attractive option for those looking for simplicity in calculating transaction costs. However, users must stay informed of the withdrawal fees that are not uniform and can change based on network conditions and cryptocurrency type.

When it comes to customer support, Kraken is renowned for providing a wide array of educational resources to support its users, coupled with a strong focus on security and transparency. Support is available 24/7 through various channels including email, live chat, and phone, catering to a global clientele. Upbit, predominantly servicing the Asian market, also offers assistance through different channels but may not match the round-the-clock availability or the language accessibility provided by Kraken. Both platforms are forward in their approach to helping users, but the availability of support in multiple languages from Kraken might edge out the support services from Upbit for international users.

It is important for users to weigh the pros and cons regarding support and fees for their specific needs. While Kraken offers extensive customer support and a volume-based fee structure that may be advantageous for active traders, Upbit's straightforward fee policy could be more attractive for less frequent traders. Response times and quality of interactions with support teams inevitably impact the overall service experience and should be considered when choosing between these two cryptocurrency exchanges. Thus, users would benefit from evaluating the level of support they require and calculating the true cost of trading, factoring in all the associated fees, ensuring their choice aligns with their trading habits and support needs.


In the highly competitive world of cryptocurrency exchanges, Kraken and Upbit are vying for supremacy in 2024. This article compares the two exchanges based on market position, trading volume, features, security measures, regulatory compliance, fee structures, and customer support. Key takeaways include Kraken's global presence and extensive range of trading instruments, while Upbit dominates the South Korean market. Kraken offers a seamless user experience and a diverse coin catalog, while Upbit caters to specific market trends in the Asian region. Both exchanges prioritize security and regulatory compliance, and offer competitive fee structures. Kraken provides extensive customer support in multiple languages, while Upbit's support may be more limited. Overall, the choice between the two exchanges depends on individual needs and preferences.