What is GDAX?

August 30, 2022
Knowledge Center » Blog » What is GDAX?

If you've been in the crypto game for some time now, you might remember the GDAX exchange. It was one of the leading technical-focused trading platforms during the 2017-2018 crypto boom - but what happened to it? Well, it's still around, it just changed names.

GDAX was originally developed by Coinbase. Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, first developed a product by the name of Coinbase Exchange in 2015 after going through a capital raise. Coinbase was positioned as the professional platform of coinbase as Armstrong wanted to build out more complex features for users that were looking for a little more data around their trades.

Eventually, as Coinbase Exchange grew in popularity, the leadership team of Coinbase decided to change it's name for the first time, to GDAX, which stood for Global Digital Asset Exchange.

The GDAX exchange grew, becoming the internet's preferred technical oriented exchange at the time, but another rebrand was coming - following the crypto boom in 2018, Coinbase rebranded the technical exchange into Coinbase Pro to better align the platform with their brand. For all practical purposes, Coinbase Pro is just a reskinned and rebranded version of GDAX with nearly identical features. However, let's take a closer look at just what GDAX did right back in the day.

What was different about the GDAX Platform?

The basic coinbase platform existed back when GDAX was around - and actually, Coinbase at the time was essentially just the dumbed-down retail version of GDAX in many senses. GDAX at the time had advanced trading capabilities, one of the foremost was the ability to see volume of buy-sell orders in real time, something that is common in today's modern technical-focused exchanges, but something that was unique at the time. Coinbase as a platform also didn't offer limit orders at the time, rather that functionality was relegated to GDAX, so users that wanted any functionality more than just simple buying and selling in real time would need to use the professional platform.

While Coinbase today offers hundreds of digital assets, that wasn't the case in it's early days. For the most part, investors could really only trade bitcoin, ethereum, and a few altcoins and forked coins off these main chains. For users looking to trade a wider variety of crypto, they would need to have turned to GDAX, which incorporated hundreds of digital assets. Of course, these assets were later incorporated into the main Coinbase platform as the company tried to keep their basic exchange platform competitive with other exchanges like FTX and Binance.

Should you upgrade? Coinbase or Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX)

Coinbase is one of the world's most popular crypto exchanges, but in recent years competition has grown from the likes of FTX and Binance. However, before we talk about Coinbase alternatives, let's take a look at whether you should use Coinbase or Coinbase Pro if you do decide to trade on Coinbase platforms.

Remember, Coinbase Pro is essentially the modern version of GDAX, so you can expect this to have more advanced technical features and functionalities.

It's important to remember that both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro at their core are exchanges, so if you plan on holding your crypto for long periods of time, you'll want to think about moving your assets to a wallet, or cold storage. Take a look at our article here to learn about some of the best crypto wallets.

One of the biggest advantages for Coinbase as an exchange is it's user functionality and clean UI. In many ways, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro (Formerly GDAX) are the Apple of the crypto exchange market. All of the functionalities of the exchange are organized in a very easy-to-use manner, ready for any experience level, from beginner to expert.

That said, Coinbase Pro, their premium offering, has a few capabilities that set it apart from the basic offering:

  • Advanced order types
  • Lower fees (See our exchange fee guide here)
  • A higher number of digital assets
  • Advanced Technical Analysis tools
  • Real-time market data

If any of these functionalities seem like something you'd like to have in your crypto exchange platform, then you might want to consider upgrading to Coinbase Pro and take advantage of these features that were previously highlighted on GDAX. But, what about other exchanges, what are some Coinbase alternatives you might want to consider?

Coinbase Pro vs. Other Exchanges

The biggest benefit for Coinbase Pro versus other exchanges is that your deposits in USD are FDIC insured for up to $250,000. The other major benefit of Coinbase is their storage and security protocols. Nearly all assets Coinbase holds are held off blockchain, and there has never been a Coinbase hack, leading many to consider Coinbase the most secure crypto trading platform.

Some of the downsides to coinbase draw back to KYC, or know your customer, a concept requiring identity verification. By proxy of necessitating this, many fear that Coinbase may cooperate too heavily with the IRS and other regulators in heading over PII information. For many crypto enthusiasts, this takes away some of the decentralized anonymity that crypto and digital assets present, but for most of the client base that would be interested in using Coinbase in the first place, this generally isn't a huge concern - especially coupled with the added benefit this brings, FDIC insurance.

Some of the biggest competitors to Coinbase are Binance, Kraken, FTX, or Gemini. Each of these platforms have similar features, but the biggest difference is going to be the fees and cost. You can take a look at what exchanges have the cheapest crypto trading fees here.

About Trevor English

Trevor is a technology journalist & engineer who has made a career out of engineering and technical communication. His work has appeared on Curiosity, BBC, Interesting Engineering and other sites across the web. Originally the Chief editor for Interesting Engineering back in 2016, he now works with software & tech companies, aiding them in content marketing and technical communication. Currently living in Texas, he’s also a published children’s book author and producer for the YouTube channel Concerning Reality.

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