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Review of Shakepay mobile bitcoin wallet

Shakepay Review: A Truly Easy Way to Buy Bitcoin in Canada

Shakepay in Brief

Shakepay is a mobile wallet and peer-to-peer marketplace that is only available in Canada. Low fees, fast transactions and an easy-to-use interface have made the Shakepay app popular among its early users. But is it right for you? Our Shakepay review will tell you everything you need to know.

Pros

  • Fast, simple verification.
  • Easy peer-to-peer exchanges.
  • Solid bank relationship.
  • Now supports ether transactions.
  • Shakepay covers mining fees on ether and bitcoin withdrawals.

Cons

  • Low volumes expand buy/sell spreads.

Update: Shakepay recently added support for ether and addressed customer concerns about the spreads between buy and sell exchange rates. The article has been updated with this new information.

What is Shakepay?

Shakepay's mobile feaures
Source: Shakepay

History

Shakepay’s first incarnation was as a bitcoin prepaid card and payment service. The company rolled out an invite-only alpha program in March 2016. Customers could order plastic or virtual prepaid cards that automatically converted their bitcoin holdings into local fiat at the time of purchase. Mobile apps provided the same service at tap-to-pay terminals.

By October, Shakepay development rolled out its beta phase as well as the Shakepay mascot, a red panda (which happened to be blue).

Three months later, in January 2018, Shakepay had to cut off all its customers. The company fell foul of credit card issuer Wavecrest’s troubles with Visa. This is the same issue that hit almost every other company around the world offering bitcoin prepaid cards.

A Phoenix rises in Montreal

In February 2018, Shakepay emerged from the ashes along with its (blue) red panda. Starting out as a beta program, the new service delivered a peer-to-peer marketplace and bitcoin wallet through new mobile apps.

“Shakepay is the fastest way for Canadians to buy and sell digital currencies directly from their mobile phones,” Shakepay CEO Jean Amiouny said in the press release.

Related: The Complete List of Cryptocurrency Exchanges for Canada – 20+ Exchanges

Leadership and investors

Shakepay’s co-founders, CEO Jean Amiouny and CTO Roy Breidi, guided the company through its rise, fall and rise again. Both attended McGill University.

Shakepay’s major investors are Silicon Valley-based Boost VC, China’s Amphora Capital and Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab.

Protecting customers’ coins

Legal and regulatory compliance

Shakepay has received a license as a Money Service Business from Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). As a result, the company must verify its customers to comply with anti-money-laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations.

Related: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Laws in Canada – The Complete Guide

In a Reddit post announcing the new service, Shakepay explained that it has partnered with a Schedule 1 bank. The term “partner” may mean the company is working with one of the few bitcoin-friendly Canadian banks. If so, Shakepay is on firmer ground than many other crypto companies in the country.

Coin listing policies

Shakepay has not revealed what it takes for other coins to become part of the service. At first, Shakepay was only a bitcoin service. The company did not dive into its rationale when it added support for Ethereum at the end of July.

Network security

Because Shakepay is a custodial service, it has to hold its customers’ assets in a mix of hot and cold wallets. All Shakepay says is that “the vast majority” of the assets are in offline cold wallets.

All communication between the apps and Shakepay’s servers are made through Secure Socket Layer connections. The servers themselves use AES-256 to encrypt customer data.

Customer support

Shakepay has a support site, although the content is limited. Support is also available through Shakepay’s mobile apps.

Shakepay reputation

Reaction to Shakepay on the forums has been positive. Redditors liked the service and described the experience with words like “seamless” and “fast” and “very happy”.

Even the owner of competing crypto firm ezBTC said: “I give my props to Shakepay.

One of the biggest sources of complaints from Shakepay users has been the size of the spread between dollar-based buy and sell prices. Other companies might have shrugged off the complaints on Reddit, but Shakepay was brutally honest in acknowledging this weakness in its service:

“We’re working day and night on this issue. It’s really important we get this resolved ASAP now that ETH is live and we’ll likely have some updates by the end of the week. Thanks for letting us know and keeping up the pressure with posts like these, we’re glad to have folks like you care.”

Shakepay went on to explain that, given the low liquidity of bitcoin/Canadian dollar trading, the spreads of 7% are inevitable. The company is developing systems to do the trades on BTC/USD markets which will bring the spreads down.

How to Join Shakepay

Who can join?

Only Canadian residents can use Shakepay.

Verification

Individual accounts

When customers first sign up with Shakepay, they go through an instant verification process. Name, address and date of birth are all that’s needed for Shakepay’s verification provider to confirm customers’ identity from their credit scores.

If for some reason the instant verification does not work, then customers must go through a more traditional verification process. Customers must provide an e-bill from a utility company or a benefits statement. They must also provide an e-bill from a credit card company, bank or mortgage provider. Scans or photos won’t work, these have to be PDF downloads. Finally, the customer must provide a selfie holding their government-issued ID.

Business accounts

Shakepay does not offer business accounts.

What Can You Trade on Shakepay?

Shakepay will support ether soon.
Shakepay’s wallet stores Canadian dollars, bitcoin and ether. Source: Google Play

Cryptocurrencies

Originally just a bitcoin service, Shakepay just added support for ether.

Fiat currencies

Shakepay only supports Canadian dollars.

Currency exchanges

Shakepay customers can exchange bitcoin and dollars as well as ether and dollars. You cannot exchange bitcoin and ether.

The app also lets Shakepay users send bitcoin, ether or dollars to each other.

Advanced trading

There are no advanced trading options.

Trading Tools and Fees

Trading interface

The Shakepay app has a clean, easy-to-navigate interface. It opens with a summary of your holdings.

Shakepay digital wallet
Source: Google Play

The exchange interface is just as simple. Shakepay handles the peer-to-peer matching behind the scenes so all you have to do is enter the amount of dollars you want to spend.

Canadians use Shakepay to buy bitcoin with dollars.
Source: Google Play

Shakepay users can transfer bitcoin, ether and dollars.

Shakepay users can swap dollars and bitcoin with each other
Source: Google Play

A history of all of your transactions is available in the app — a handy feature for tax time.

Your trading history in Shakepay
Source: Google Play

Mobile app support

Shakepay is only available as mobile apps for Android and iOS. The Android app has a 4.5-star average rating with overwhelmingly positive reviews from three dozen users. Customers respond in particular to the app’s ease of use and Shakepay’s low fees. The iPhone app has not received enough reviews to get a rating.

Deposits and withdrawals

Fiat currencies

You can deposits dollars into the Shakepay wallet or withdraw dollars to a bank account by using Interac transfers. The nature of the Interac system means the transfers could take an hour to complete.

Digital currencies

The Shakepay apps are digital crypto wallets and work just like any bitcoin wallet for deposits and withdrawals. When it first launched, the ether wallet only supported withdrawals, but ether deposits should go live soon.

Transaction fees

Shakepay charges a 1.75% fee whenever you buy or sell bitcoin. Since the transaction is always between two Shakepay users, the company gets 3.5% for every transaction.

Other fees

Shakepay covers all mining fees for bitcoin withdrawals and covers the gas fees for ether withdrawals.

Shakepay charges a $20 fee on wire transfer deposits and withdrawals less than $10,000. The fee goes away if you move an amount larger than $10,000.

All other funding methods are free of fees, and so are transfers of bitcoins or dollars to other Shakepay users.

Final Word

Shakepay had already built a lot of goodwill with its prepaid card business and that carried over to its relaunch. Canadians who want a fast, easy and affordable way to buy bitcoins with their dollars will find a lot of reasons to migrate from Coinsquare and QuadrigaCX.

For new traders

Shakepay provides a low-stress way for people new to the scene to make their first bitcoin and ether purchases. The app’s simple interface and quick currency transfers make Shakepay a good first choice.

For advanced traders

Shakepay isn’t trying to be an advanced crypto service. All the same, experienced crypto traders may find the simple, well-executed app serves a purpose as their daily bitcoin and ether wallet.

 

Christopher Casper

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