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On coinbase.com I tried to sell some bitcoins and was told I had to register a bank account. I'd have expected that only if I were trying to withdraw dollars, euros, etc., from coinbase. On mtgox one can sell bitcoins and have dollars in one's account. Is that impossible on coinbase? If so, how long does it take to move dollars to coinbase from a bank account and buy bitcoins? If the price of a bitcoin goes up to what looks like an absurdly high price and I suspect it's a bubble that will burst, I might want to sell bitcoins and then 12 hours later, buy more at a lower price. But if it takes a few days to get money back and forth between coinbase and a bank account, and it that must be done in order to do such trading, then coinbase is not the place to do it.

So what can and cannot be done there?

  • Before you consider trading on Mtgox you might want to read about the problems people have been having lately when trying to withdraw USD from them. – user10927 Dec 16 '13 at 17:19
  • I just registered my bank account with Coinbase and bought $500 of Ethereum. I was surprised when i found out that it would take a week before I could use the Ether, like trade for Ripple which was my intent. 5 bus. days later I and saw that the withdrawal from my ban but my Coinbase account was still showing pending and that it would be two more days before the Ether would be available. I wanted to invest more but didn't want my money locked into any cryptocurrency so I transferred another $500 into a USD wallet on my Coinbase account so when the funds become available I can trade in seconds. – Alan Fisher Jul 19 '17 at 18:34
  • @AlanFisher : Might that have meant five business days, not including weekends? – Michael Hardy Jul 19 '17 at 18:41
  • Yes, I was going to say that but ran out of char's. I initiated the transfer on Thursday the 13th @ ~4 PM. Funds were withdrawn on the 17th and will not be released to me until the 20th. – Alan Fisher Jul 19 '17 at 18:59
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Coinbase unlike Mt.Gox is not a bitcoin exchange, it is a bitcoin wallet with the option of buying or selling bitcoins using a US bank account. You can store bitcoins on the site but not USD.

This is primarily done for legal reasons. When you allow people to trade currency with each other instead of just being a currency dealer you open yourself up to a whole world of regulatory problems. Namely people would have to be extensively verified and new anti money laundering systems would have to be put in place to comply with FinCEN.

  • You can now hold USD on Coinbase. Read my comment on this thread for more info. – Alan Fisher Jul 19 '17 at 18:54
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Every time you buy or sell on Coinbase, you initiate an ACH transfer. These ACH transfers take 3-7 days to complete, and many traditional banks post limits on the amount of ACH transfers you can have in a day/week/month. Too many and your bank activity will be flagged as suspicious, your funds may even be frozen.

Trade exchanges like Bitstamp and Mt. Gox function similarly to brokerage accounts. They are non-insured hot wallets that allow you to quickly trade fiat for btc without having to initiate several ACH transfers a day. You fund the exchange and they hold and track your money until you are ready to cash out. These will be your best options for frequent trading.

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If you're day trading, you can use Coinbase's trading platform, GDAX, which is much more efficient and inexpensive than their broker/exchange system.

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