With so many start-ups and new projects in the blockchain space, not to mention the lack of regulation, it’s hard to decide where to go to buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. You want to, but aren’t sure who to trust among the dozens of cryptocurrencies exchanges and peer-to-peer marketplaces. Where can you go to learn which companies are reputable and secure.
If you’re reading this review then you’ve found one source of information. I can tell you that XAPO has been in business for quite some time (in blockchain terms), and while there have been some online complaints, overall they are considered to be trustable. In fact, they have been able to raise $40 million from investors, so this at least shows their legitimacy and the trust they have from the business world.
Xapo Review: Key Information
Xapo was formed in 2014 in Palo Alto, California by Wences Cesares, a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience in building and selling technology based businesses. Xapo grew very quickly and soon moved its headquarters to Switzerland to take advantage of the neutrality and regulatory stability offered there. Later the company relocated its headquarters to Hong Kong, which remains the global headquarters, with the original office in Palo Alto still operating as well.
As for the founder and CEO of Xapo, he began his career as the founder of the very first ISP in Argentina while he was still in his 20s. After that he formed an online brokerage called Patagon, which was later sold for $750 million.
He is joined at Xapo by President Ted Rogers, a veteran of the finance industry. The COO of Xapo is Frederico Murrone, who was also CTO at Patagon, and followed Cesares when he sold that company anf moved on to form Xapo.
As for the advisory team at Xapo, it consists of Lawrence Summers, who was Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton; Dee Hock, who founded Visa; and John Reed, a former Chairman and CEO of Citibank.
For you, all of this simply reinforces the fact that Xapo is being operated in a legitimate fashion by entrepreneurs and businessmen who have decades of experience in finance and technology. They all have sterling reputations, and you can be certain they won’t do anything with Xapo that would tarnish those reputations. They are all transparent, and considering the lack of good information for many unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges these days, this transparency should instill a level of trust.
XAPO Review: How to Use Xapo to Buy Bitcoin
If you’re interested in buying Bitcoin through Xapo you’ll be happy to know that it’s a pretty straightforward process. It begins with the signup form that asks you for your name, an email address, and a password. Following that there will some questions about yourself that will need to be answered (and they are pop-ups so if you have an adblocker you’ll need to disable it for this step). Once that’s done you’ll receive a verification email with a link to click to confirm your account.
The next step in the process is to confirm your mobile phone number, and this needs to be completed to unlock your wallet. Once your mobile number has been added to the account you can go ahead and setup 2FA security in the “Security Settings”. It isn’t mandatory, but it is recommended.
And to comply with Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering regulations you’ll next need to upload a copy of your drivers license or other government ID, as well as proof of residence documentation. Those documents will be reviewed by the Xapo team and once you’re approved you’ll be all set to buy Bitcoin with your fiat currency.
XAPO Review: Is Xapo Safe?
Any Bitcoin service is going to face scrutiny and discussion about the safety and security of the platform. There are three primary areas that need to be examined in any Bitcoin based service; these are company legitimacy, safekeeping of funds and personal account security.
Company Legitimacy – When it comes to legitimcy Xapo has created an excellent reputation for itself over the past several years. The company is incorporated in Hong Kong, and has global offices and customers. Sure, you’ll find online complaints about Xapo, but in nearly every case these complaints are vague and lack any details that would enable you to confirm the legitimacy of the complaint.
Safekeeping of Funds – Xapo claims to, “Combine the convenience of an everyday Bitcoin wallet with the security of a deep cold storage vault.” What is a “deep cold storage vault” for Bitcoin, and how does it work?
You can think of the Xapo vault as being similar to a safe deposit box. It allows you to move your Bitcoin out of the web wallet (where it is vulnerable to hackers) and into an offline wallet. Once your Bitcoin is offline there’s no way for anyone to access them. And Xapo makes that process very simple and easy, especially in moving into cold storage. Moving back out of the vault requires several layers of security, maintaining the safety of your funds. This process will take up to 48 hours to complete, after which the Bitcoin will be back in the web wallet, where they can be spent of transferred to some other wallet.
The vault comes with several features to improve security, such as private key segmentation and multi-factor authentication. Any funds sent to the vault are encrypted and then broken down before storage on external drives and paper, which are physically located in several locations. This level of security can be frustrating if you’re in a hurry to get your Bitcoin, but it is meant to provide a higher level of security that keeps your Bitcoin safe from hacks and thefts.
Personal Account Security – Personal account security is also taken very seriously, because your Bitcoins will only ever be as secure as your account. You create a password and PIN when you create your Xapo account, and you can also activate 2FA authentication after verifying your account (highly recommended).
Xapo is known for its security measures, and that’s because it prioritizes security above all else. The extra steps required to create an account only add to the security of the company, and you can feel safe providing this information as it is all stored offline.
The Xapo Debit Card
One of the big draws of Xapo was the existence of the Xapo debit card, which allowed users to spend their Bitcoin or withdraw cash from an ATM seamlessly, without making any conversion themselves from Bitcoin to fiat currency. Unfortunately Xapo had to discontinue the Xapo debit card on January 4, 2018 after their card provider lost its support from Visa. Xapo is planning on resuming the Xapo debit card service as soon as possible.
Xapo Review: Customer Support
Customer support at Xapo is one of the main areas where you’ll find complaints online. They provide support via email (email@example.com), Twitter (https://twitter.com/xapo), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/xapoapp) and through a support ticketing system. The problem is that some users have complained that support is extremely slow. Others have been unable to connect with support because the ticketing system is only available to those who are logged into their accounts – which means users who have suspended accounts have no way to use the ticketing system.
I just want to note here that almost every cryptocurrency exchange has numerous online complaints. The customer service across the entire industry tends to be quite subpar, so this is an area where everyone can improve.
Xapo is a global platform and works in nearly every country in the world. In addition, the team at Xapo has worked very hard to ensure as many fiat currencies as possible can be accepted on the platform. This means you can buy Bitcoin with the usual USD, EUR, GBP and JPY, but you can also buy Bitcoin with far less popular fiat currencies.
Buy and Sell Limits
There is no publicly available information about purchase limits at Xapo, but I can say you’ll need to have your account fully verified before making any purchases. There are fees involved in buying and selling on the Xapo platform, but they have improved recently, and I’ll go into further details regarding fees below. It previously wasn’t possible to sell Bitcoin through Xapo, and they directed you to use their debit card instead
Sending Bitcoin from Your Xapo Wallet
Bitcoin purchased at Xapo can then be sent to any Bitcoin compatible wallet. This is done from within the Xapo web wallet, and there are fees when sending. These fees differ depending on whether you’re sending internally to another Xapo wallet or externally and are also based on the size of your transfer. You can see the fee schedule here. Xapo does have a minimum outgoing transfer of 0.00005975 BTC.
Receiving Bitcoin to Your Xapo Wallet
Receiving Bitcoin is just as easy as sending Bitcoin from your Xapo wallet. Simply log into your Xapo account to get the wallet address and use that address as the “send to” address from wherever else you’re sending coins.
Xapo Review: Fees
The Xapo wallet and vault are free to use, but there are some transaction fees you’ll encounter when using Xapo to send or receive from outside the Xapo ecosystem. Outgoing transactions from your Xapo account to an external address will be charged a standard fee of BTC 0.00002575 or you can choose to pay a higher priority fee of BTC 0.00003602 in order to have your transaction processed more quickly! These fees are dynamically calculated at the time of the transaction, so you should see the fee page to know the current accurate fee.
Additionally, incoming bitcoin transactions to your Xapo Wallet equal to BTC 0.00008962 or less are subject to a special processing fee of BTC 0.00005975 so as to cover the transaction cost of the bitcoin network. This special processing fee will be automatically deducted from the respective transaction.
Xapo Review: Public Opinion and Online Reviews
If you look online you will find negative reviews for Xapo, which isn’t unusual in the crypto space for a company that’s more than 4 years old. They striking thing you’ll find with many of the negative reviews is that they really lack in depth and detail, and could be posted by anyone at all as they give no insight into how the problem occurred, or any proof of a real problem. Conversely, the positive reviews are often more in-depth, and you can tell that the person was an active Xapo user at some time.
On the Google Play store the Xapo app has over 34,000 reviews and a 4-star rating, while the Apple store has just over 200 reviews and a 2.7-star rating. It’s a strange disconnect, but I have some doubts over the Apple ratings as I didn’t see any reviews posted in 2018, and I’ve seen other websites claiming over 360 reviews posted to the iTunes store.
Xapo Review: Conclusion
Xapo is well known for its security, with the Wall Street Journal saying Xapo is: “Building the Fort Knox for Bitcoin.” So you are almost certain to find safety and security with Xapo. As far as I know they’ve never had a hacking loss.
Certainly there have been complaints about the exchange, but the negative reviews seem incomplete in many cases. And those that are complete are generally pointed at the customer service team and their slow response to issues. That’s not acceptable, but too be fair you’ll find slow customer service response at nearly every cryptocurrency exchange. Fortunately that has begun to change, and if even 1 or 2 exchanges improve, most of the rest will as well to keep up. Some of the complaints revolve around slow withdrawals, but in a good number of those cases the delay can be expected based on Xapo’s own security rules, and if they’re keeping things secure that’s nothing to complain about.
The Xapo Debit Card was an excellent addition to their services, so I can only hope they find a way to bring it back as it makes spending Bitcoin so much easier – pretty much no different than spending money in your checking or savings account.
So, if you value security and don’t mind extensive verifications and some delays when withdrawing you’ll appreciate what Xapo is doing. And if they ever bring back the debit card they’ll be even more attractive.