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How We Test

Here at CoinJournal, we have a responsibility to recommend products and services that we truly believe will help our readers make better investment decisions. This means that it is incumbent on us to screen, test, and review anything that we promote on our website.

This page unpacks our testing process for the purposes of transparency, so you can see how we arrive at our decisions. 

The Review Process

We employ a standardised process in order to conduct fair, consistent reviews across all products. This process consists of five steps, which begin prior to the test beginning and extend past the point of completion.

  • Research. We first dive into a product’s claims, offerings, and reputation. This gives us an idea of what they do and how they are perceived. This includes reviewing forums, other reviews, trust aggregators, and other user reports online.
  • Test. We then sign up to use the platform in question. We believe this is an essential part of reviewing a service, as it’s the only way you get a realistic picture of how it functions. 
  • Write. One of our expert team then writes a comprehensive report of their own experience and the research they conducted, adhering to a structure that includes every crucial detail our readers need to know. 
  • Edit. CoinJournal’s editorial team then reviews the work, ensuring factual accuracy and easy reading. We believe it is imperative that writing on cryptocurrency makes it easier to understand—not more difficult—so this is an important step.
  • Update. Crypto moves faster than virtually every other corner of the financial world, so we act fast to keep information up to date. Our team have their fingers on the pulse of the crypto space, so new information is added as and when it becomes available.

What We Test

This section expands on the “test” aspect of our review process. We test a number of factors when reviewing cryptocurrency products. The applicability of each test varies depending on the product in question, but broadly speaking, this is what we look at during our reviews.

Sign up process

Signing up is the first contact people have with a crypto platform, making it an important step. We find out what information the reader will have to provide, what KYC requirements they will need to fulfil, how easy verification is, and what kind of account they will be able to register for. For wallets, this will also include seed phrase management and how it is handled.

Funding your account

Another crucial part of onboarding new users into crypto, we review how easy it is to add funds to your newly created account. We look at the number of available payment methods, whether there are deposit limits in place, deposit fees, and the ability to deposit different currencies and crypto tokens. 

Available assets

We thoroughly review both the assets that are available to trade on each platform as well as the number of different trading pairs. For example, are fiat purchases available in currencies other than USD? Are there multiple crypto-crypto pairs for certain coins? Is this a “blue chip” platform, or do they offer a range of more obscure altcoins? Are NFTs available?

These factors determine the usability of the platform for various different user groups: first-time Bitcoin buyers have different needs to altcoin scalp traders. 

For wallets, we will review the number and variety of assets supported by each wallet.

Ways to trade

We examine the various ways users can get exposure to the cryptocurrency market using each platform. This can vary depending on the reader’s jurisdiction, and we make it a priority to dispel any confusion that may arise from this. We look at whether a platform offers:

  • Spot trading
  • Margin trading
  • Leveraged trading
  • Futures
  • Options
  • CFDs
  • Spread betting
  • Perpetuals
  • ETFs
  • Indices

Fees

Fees vary massively between different platforms, so we aim to give our readers a fair idea of what they are likely to pay throughout the purchasing process. We look at the following:

  • Trading fees. These may come in the form of a bid/ask spread, a flat rate trading fee, a percentage commission, or a combination of these. Trading fee structures can often be opaque, so we aim to explain what a user can expect to pay in real terms.
  • Deposit fees. Making a deposit may attract a fee in and of itself, although this is rare—costs here are usually attached to the user’s chosen payment method. We aim to dissect the most cost-effective payment methods for each platform.
  • Withdrawal fees. Almost every platform charges some sort of fee for fiat withdrawals, but this is also often dependent on the payment method use for the withdrawal. Accordingly, we also investigate the best ways to withdraw capital from a given platform.
  • Network fees. When transferring cryptocurrencies between wallets, trading accounts, or other addresses, network transaction fees are likely to be incurred. While these can be unpredictable, we do our best to alert our readers to their existence so that they can be factored into total expected costs. 

Speed and interface

We actively test platforms to see how they feel when in use. This includes the speed and responsiveness of the platform, how easy it is to navigate, how easy it is to place trades, and how well the platform caters to traders in need of an advanced toolkit.

Similarly, we evaluate whether a platform is well-suited to beginners. Here, we look for stripped-back interfaces, uncomplicated language, and clear signposting to help newbies make their first purchases.

Location and regulation

We also review where each platform is headquartered, and whether it is subject to national or international financial regulations. This can affect whether KYC/AML compliance is necessary, and can influence whether or not anonymous purchases are possible. 

We tend to err on the side of well-regulated platforms, due to their higher levels of perceived safety, and we do our best wherever possible to outline clearly the levels of regulatory compliance of each platform we cover. 

Cross-platform compatibility

We examine the various platforms readers can use to access each service. This can include a web-based app, a mobile app, a desktop program, and so on. Being accessible for as many users as possible is imperative, so we assess how easy it is for users to trade in any situation. 

Security

Security is at the forefront of investors minds, particularly for those new to cryptocurrency. For this reason, we thoroughly investigate the security and safety assurances made by each platform to help assure our readers that they can invest with confidence. 

We check the availability of extra precautions like 2-factor authentication (2FA) in various forms (physical, mobile, email, or others), anti-phishing measures, biometric password protection, as well as data protection and insurance measures carried out by the platform itself. 

We also research each service’s security history, as we believe it is important that users see the full picture when choosing a platform. If somewhere has suffered a breach or hack in the past, they should know about this when making their final decision.

For wallets, we look at how seed phrases and recovery are managed, as well as any track record of hacks, phishing attacks, or data breaches.

Staking

Where available, we investigate the staking options offered by various exchanges, brokers, and wallets. Factors here include the range of assets available to stake, different types of staking (network staking vs. DeFi staking, for example), and the returns available depending on the given lockup period. 

Additional features

Nowadays, trading platforms, wallets, and other crypto apps come jam-packed full of extra features to try and one-up the competition. We test all of these features too, to ensure that they function as advertised.

Some examples of these include NFT marketplaces, DeFi features like staking pools and liquidity pools, token swapping apps, and social trading networks. We evaluate whether these provide value to users, and try to work out who can benefit the most from using them.

Education and guides

A super important factor for beginners and those looking to learn more about the cryptocurrency space, we evaluate the level of support and educational material offered by each service. 

Educational content can cover everything from how to use the platform, to trading strategies, to high-level discussions of cryptographic technology and even philosophy—all of this can help make users feel at home on a platform. We look at whether this material exists, and how extensive it is.

Support

Customer support is a welcome cushion in an industry as new as cryptocurrency, and can help to reduce the intimidation faced by many first-time investors. We review the availability of support of different types, which can range from email support, to live chat options, to telephone hotlines. 

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