DEFINITION of Uphold
Founded as Bitreserve in 2013 and later changing its name, Uphold is a leading cloud-based digital currency platform. It allows users to transact across more than 30 different currencies and commodities, including a number of prominent digital currencies and precious metals. Through Uphold, users can also hold and convert their holdings with ease thanks to the platform's so-called "cloud money" service.
BREAKING DOWN Uphold
Uphold was launched in 2013 and is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina. Founder Halsey Minor created the company out of a sense of frustration with existing financial services companies. Uphold launched a private beta program in May of 2014 and became open to the public later that year. The company retains its goal of making money both free and easy to use, inspired in part by the lack of financial transparency made clear by the 2008 financial crisis.
Uphold removed all transfer fees for verified members in June of 2015. This dramatic repositioning of its model helped to launch Uphold into the ranks of the most popular digital exchanges of its time. Prior to this adjustment, the company charged a 0.45% commission on conversions between bitcoin and USD. At the same time, Uphold launched an application programming interfaces platform called Uphold Connect. This launch was part of an effort to grow the company beyond its bitcoin-based roots into an open platform which would facilitate many types of currency exchanges and transactions on many different devices.
In July of 2016, Uphold revealed a new pricing structure which did away with the prior .05% withdrawal fee. This structure also updated exchange rates and continued in the company's efforts to improve transparency.
According to the Uphold website, the company maintains a number of priorities which give it a competitive edge over peer exchanges. First, Uphold aims to provide instantaneous and low cost transactions, allowing users to buy, sell, hold, and convert money from any location. The company aims to be transparent, ensuring "visibility, assurance and control over your funds, in real time." Further, Uphold strives for a global reach, giving users the "freedom to send money to and from any ember, across town or across borders." Finally, the company sets a goal for itself of remaining innovative, including further development on its Open API.
Uphold is a membership-based service. Members "have access to the full range of benefits that comes with easy, instant and fair financial services." The company claims to have "tens of thousands of members from over 174 countries." Uphold also provides account options for businesses and developers, in addition to standard individual membership accounts.
Membership in Uphold is free to establish. Members enjoy a range of benefits, including the ability to fund and withdraw by bank transfer or bitcoin, the option to fund an account by debit or credit card, free member-to-member transfers and payments without any limitation on the size, amount, currency or frequency of said transfers and payments, low-cost currency conversions which are both unlimited and instant, as well as tools, tips, and product information.
While opening and operating an account through Uphold is free, members who are inactive or have not conducted any transactions for 90 days or more will be moved to "inactive" status, meaning that they will begin to incur inactive account fees. Funding an account by bank account, bitcoin, or through another Uphold account is free. There is a 3.99% fee for using a debit or credit card or China Union Pay. Conversions and purchases are assessed a "flat fee based on the mid-market rate." Members moving funds off of the Uphold platform via cryptocurrency pay a fee of $2.99, while members moving funds via bank transfer pay a fee of $3.99.
In recent years, Uphold has established itself as a viable option for cryptocurrency investors as well as those in need of traditional financial services. As of this writing, Uphold offers transactions in bitcoin, dash, litecoin, ripple, bitcoin cash, ethereum, BAT, bitcoin gold, and more. Uphold also offers several dozen fiat currencies as well as a small assortment of precious metals.
In March of 2018, Uphold made headlines by adopting ripple (XRP), offering Uphold members zero transaction fees on the first 5 million XRP purchased through the platform. This could be seen as an expansive move into the XRP market, particularly given that Coinbase, one of the most popular digital currency exchanges in the world, does not yet offer XRP.
Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.