Shakepay Review: Is It Legit and Safe? Pros and Cons

Published: 23rd June, 2024 | Last Updated: 30th June, 2024

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

In this review, I will walk you through all there is to know about Shakepay. Together, we will look at Shakepay’s features and pros and cons. I will compare Shakepay fees to other crypto exchanges in Canada and how they stack up against competitors regarding deposit and withdrawal methods.

We will look at how many people are using Shakepay, what coins you can invest in, and where they stand out. Finally, I will look at the team behind Shakepay and why they decided to call it Shakepay in the first place.

This review is part of my series on the best Canadian crypto exchanges.

Overall Rating 3/5

Shakepay is a money app that is trying to be the Cash App or Venmo of Canada. You can easily send fiat and cryptocurrencies to friends and family who use the app. Shakepay allows you to deposit Canadian dollars instantly and for free and buy BTC and ETH at the press of a button. The app offers quirky incentives such as rewarding you in Satoshis when you shake your phone (hence the name), giving you bonus rewards for depositing your salary directly into their app and giving you 1% cash back in bitcoin for using their prepaid virtual VISA card.

On the downside, Shakepay is limited to Bitcoin and Ethereum only. If you are a trader, you’ll be disappointed that you can’t set limit orders like you can with other Canadian crypto exchanges. Another drawback is that Shakepay charges a hefty spread on transactions, which I calculate to be between 1.2-2.7%. Other crypto exchanges in Canada tend to charge less than 1% on transactions. This fee covers transaction costs for moving or cashing out your crypto.

Unlike other crypto apps, Shakepay covers the blockchain network fees when you move your crypto to another address. If you make frequent transfers in BTC and ETH and only care about those two digital assets, then Shakepay could be for you.

Shakepay Pros and Cons at a Glance

Pros

  • No withdrawal or deposit fees
  • Free Prepaid Visa with 1% cash back
  • Quirky bonuses
  • No commission
  • Impressive security measures
  • Easy to use
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • Only offers BTC and ETH
  • It’s expensive with spreads at 1.2-2.7%
  • Collects personal information
  • They own your crypto
  • Not for traders e.g. no limit orders

Background Check: Is Shakepay Legit? 

Shakepay Homepage
Source: Shakepay.com

Shakepay was launched in Montreal in 2015 and serves more than 1 million Canadian customers. The company holds a Money Service Business by FINTRAC and is registered as a Restricted Dealer in all Canadian provinces and territories. This means Shakepay can legally solicit business from Canadian customers. 

Features

  • You can store Bitcoin, Ether, and cash.
  • Offers a Prepaid virtual visa card to spend the Canadian dollars you have on your account
  • Available in French and English
  • Available as a mobile app on Apple App Store and Google Play Store and as a website
  • Includes passwordless authentication
  • No deposit or withdrawal fees
  • Option to send money instantly to other Shakepay users using their tag
  • You can set up recurring buys.

Pros

#1. There are no fees for transfers

The biggest benefit to using Shakepay is that you don’t need to spend money on network fees when transferring crypto to other addresses.

Usually, when you move Bitcoin or Ethereum to another address, such as a wallet or crypto exchange, you must pay a network fee.

This fee rewards the validators and miners of a blockchain for verifying transactions. It’s one of the incentives they have for doing their job.

You usually have to pay this fee regardless of which platform you use to transfer your crypto. Except in the case of Shakepay, Shakepay covers the cost of this fee on your behalf.

If you plan on moving crypto frequently, this is a great benefit.

However, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I will explain how Shakepay recovers this cost in the fee section.

#2. Prepaid Visa Card

The Shakepay app allows you to set up a prepaid Visa card.

This virtual card can be used to pay for stuff online and in stores.

It uses the Canadian dollar balance available on your Shakepay account to make the payments. The card offers the following incentives.

  • 1% cash back on transactions.
  • An additional 1% cash back on your first $5,000 in spending
  • You can set up a squad with up to 5 other people. Whenever they use their Shakepay card, you get rewarded with additional Satoshis. Over a year, this YouTuber earned $155 this way
  • Shakepay will pay for your purchase randomly, creating a social media buzz around their brand. They call this getting Shakepaid. 

#3. Quirky Bonuses

  • Those who download the ShakePay app through a referral link can earn a few satoshis daily by shaking their phone. You need to shake daily and the longer you maintain your streak the more satoshis you earn.
  • ShakePay will randomly reward some people with Bitcoin bonuses when they do this. 
  • They also do frequent promotions and contests on social media.

#4. Commission-free trading

Unlike other crypto platforms, Shakepay doesn’t charge a commission when you buy or sell crypto. Instead, it charges a spread on the price of the asset. I will explain this more in the cons section.

#5. Security

The Shakepay crypto exchange stores most of its funds in cold storage, meaning hackers cannot access them remotely.

They publish a Proof of Reserves & Security Report on their site and have taken out an insurance policy against funds being stolen.

Withdrawals require multiple people to sign off, not just the founders and customer funds, which are segregated from company funds. 

When you use Shakepay, you are encouraged to set up two-factor authentication.

Alternatively, they will send you an email, SMS, or push notification with a code to verify a withdrawal.

In addition, you can lock access to Shakepay using your Face ID, PIN, or pattern. 

You can also turn on a setting in your account to confirm transactions via email as an additional security precaution. I highly recommend you do this. 

You will also receive emails about transactions, logins, and password changes, and the app limits the number of logins that can be attempted.

In addition, you’ll see a unique anti-phishing code at the bottom of each account activity email. You can paste this code into the Shakepay app to verify that this email was indeed an authentic communication from Shakepay.

#6. User-friendly interface

The main benefit of using ShakePay is its simplicity. The user interface is easy to use.

On the home page, you can find how many Canadian dollars, ETH, and BTC you own.

Buying and selling crypto happens at the press of a button, and you can set up recurring buys by selecting the auto-buy feature. 

Users are encouraged to pay their utilities and other bills through the app.

You can buy as little as $1 worth of bitcoin.

#7. Customer service

While I have not used the customer support tab, people are giving good feedback about Shakepay’s support on Reddit. You can reach out to the customer support team via chat.

Keep in mind that there is no option to call them and they will never contact you. 

Cons

#1. Only offers BTC and ETH

Bitcoin and Ethereum

Unfortunately, Shakepay only allows you to buy and sell Bitcoin and Ether.

The main narrative is that Bitcoin is the ultimate store of value.

Later, they figured ETH was too big to ignore.

If you are looking for a broader range of digital currencies to invest in, then you need to use a different exchange. 

#2. It’s expensive

While Shakepay does not charge a commission and covers network mining fees on your behalf, they charge a hefty spread.

When you buy Bitcoin on Shakepay, they will charge you slightly more than the market rate, and when you sell Bitcoin, they will give you a slightly worse price.

When I calculated the spread, it was between 1.2-2.7%. 

The spread is dynamic, and Shakepay needs to be more transparent about how much it costs the user.

#3. You need to share your personal information

As a regulated platform, Shakepay is required to collect your personal information by law.

This means you will need to verify your ID and share personal data such as your name, email address, home address, and phone number.

This is to comply with anti-money laundering regulations.

It also implies that Shakepay will report your profits to the CRA. Canadian citizens are required to pay tax on any capital gains they make from trading crypto. 

#4. Custodial

When you store your crypto on Shakepay, they hold your private keys. There is no way to access them if they go insolvent or run off with your funds.

This holds for most crypto exchanges.

However, there is a saying in crypto: “Not your keys, not your crypto.” Hence, you would be better off sending your BTC and ETH to a hardware wallet. 

#5. No limit orders

If you are a trader, then Shakepay is not for you.

Limit orders are a type of order that executes only when the price of the assets reaches a limit price.

For example, you can buy Bitcoin only if it drops to $30,000. You could set a limit for the purchase of $30,000.

This way, your order will only be executed if it reaches the limit price of better. 

Funding options

Shakepay accepts the following deposit methods, provided you have a Canadian bank account:

  1. Interac e-Transfer. This is instant and free. The maximum amount you can transfer is up to 10K Canadian dollars.
  2. For amounts exceeding $10K, you need to make a wire transfer. Shakepay does not charge for this, but your bank might. Wire transfers take two business days.
  3. It offers direct crypto transfers from another wallet or exchange.
  4. Direct deposits of your payment or salary. Also free.

Background

Source: Shakepay.com

Shakepay was founded in Montreal in 2015 by Jean Amiouny, the CEO, and Roy Breidi, CTO.

When they first started the company, they wanted to make it easy to spend bitcoin using the Shakepay VISA card.

This was because everyone thought Bitcoin’s use case was to be a medium of exchange rather than a store of value. Over time, they pivoted to making an easy-to-use app that makes it incredibly easy to save in Bitcoin. 

Jean holds a bachelor of engineering from McGill University. After a brief stint at Booz & Company, he co-founded an online payments company called White Payments, which was later acquired. Shortly after, he co-founded Shakepay, where he has worked for nine years. 

Roy is also a McGill graduate. He studied computer engineering and, after a couple of years at Morgan Stanley, joined Shakepay as a founder.

Shakepay has more than 75 employees and operates in all provinces and territories of Canada.

The company has raised over $44 million from investors, including QED Investors, BoostVC, Box1, Golden Ventures, Bogaroo, and Broadhaven.

Alternatives to Shakepay

Here are some alternatives to Shakepay

  • Newton: often considered a direct competitor to Shakepay, Newton charges lower fees and offers a broader selection of coins
  • Kraken offers more than 250 coins and more security settings. See Is Kraken Good in Canada?
  • Coinbase is the largest exchange in the US and holds a license in Canada. See Coinbase Canada Fees
Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

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