Coinbase is an online bitcoin exchange. Historically, after linking a bank account, bitcoins were purchased at Coinbase by placing an order, and then waiting several days for the funds to clear your bank. Recently, however, Coinbase added the ability to keep USD on deposit in a “USD Wallet” with Coinbase, so that purchases made from those funds are executed instantly.
To give this a try, I initiated, on June 2 and from within Coinbase, an ACH transfer of funds from my bank account into my USD Wallet at Coinbase. The website reported that funds would be available on June 9 — seven days later.
I make lots of ACH transfers between financial institutions, many of which clear in a single business day. Confused as to why the Coinbase transfer could take so long, I decided to research the ACH mechanism to understand if there were any technical justification. From what I read, if the receiving financial institution is the one that initiates the ACH transfer, it should indeed clear in a single day. And if there’s a third-party intermediary involved, it should take no longer than three days.
So I emailed Coinbase, asking for an explanation, and wow have I been disappointed in their responses.
First, “Runa” sent me a long boilerplate text about why bitcoin purchases aren’t instantaneous, given that they first have to wait for funds to clear from the underlying bank transfer. I replied that I didn’t ask about bitcoin purchases; I asked about a transfer of USD from my bank to my USD wallet at Coinbase.
Runa then replied that she’d need to escalate the issue to her supervisor.
A couple days later, amazingly, I get an email from Erik, explaining—get this—that the delay I’m seeing on bitcoin purchases is due to the delay on the underlying bank transfer. Grrrrr!
So now I’ve got two irritating issues with Coinbase:
- Why a USD transfer takes seven days, when it should take one.
- Why Coinbase support personnel can’t seem to take the time to even read the support requests that they respond to.