Bitcoin Exchange Guide Best Reviews and Ratings
There are many bitcoin exchanges available on the web. These allow customers to convert physical money into Bitcoins and vice versa. Increasingly, they are offering a greater number of services, including a wider range of both fiat and cryptocurrencies, and various trading tools.
Since the fall of MtGox, many traders have become wary of these exchanges as they are uncertain how reputable they are and whether their money is safe. Some of the major bitcoin exchanges today are Bitstamp, Coinsetter, Coinbase, BTC-e and Cryptsy. You will find Detailed Reviews of each Below.
CEX.IO provides sufficient security and is one of the more well regarded bitcoin platforms around the world. CEX.IO users have a high degree of confidence and trust in the company. Depending on the account type, CEX.IO may require additional forms of identification to verify and validate the account. CEX.IO offers the following accounts.
- Individual Business
Multiple account types are made to suit users’ needs and extend deposit and withdrawal limits. Individual Business and Corporate types also get priority assistance and special trade conditions.
These extra measures impact security of user accounts and also place certain limits on the amount of daily and monthly transactions and deposit amounts allowed. Furthermore, CEX.IO adheres to the local regulations and ensure customers follow standard anti-money laundering and know your customer policies established by many governments around the world.
CEX.IO is an international leader in the Bitcoin community that continues to provide bitcoin enthusiasts with effective products. Originally, CEX.IO operated as a bitcoin miner but now has become one of the leading Bitcoin Exchanges.
Legal Compliance. CEX.IO is officially registered in UK. They have obtained a Money Services Business status in FinCEN (USA) and possess a PCI DSS certificate that allows them to store and transmit payment card data.
It is also one of the first exchanges to accept credit card payments (credit and debit)
- Accepts multiple fiat currencies (USD/EUR/RUB) and many others
- Fund accounts through traditional payment processing methods and online bank transfers – Payment Cards, SEPA, Bank Transfers
- Supports instant buying/selling for Bitcoin and Litecoin
- Highly Liquid and Low Spreads
- 0.2% transaction fees on all trading pairs
- Designed to support day trading
- Over 600,000 active traders on platform
- Trading API available – 3 API’s: Rest, WebSocket and FIX
- Mobile app available –IOS and Android
- Supports two factor authentication
- Offers multiple account options from individuals to business
- 24/7 support
Coinbase has set itself apart as a very professional and easy-to-use service that covers several major aspects of the bitcoin ecosystem, rather than focusing on its bitcoin exchange alone. It is one of the highest-profile bitcoin companies in the world and has attracted significant VC funding. Coinbase have also made efforts to secure their services, and have recently hired security experts from Facebook and Amazon partly to reassure the public after MtGoxs bankruptcy. In February 2014 Coinbases accounts were audited by Blockchains Chief Security Officer Andreas Antonopoulos, who was satisfied that the company was being run according to best practices and that the appropriate allocation of bitcoins was being kept in cold storage.
Verification of banking to link your account to Coinbase can take several days, but after this transactions are fast and straightforward. Coinbase do not offer limit orders or other trading tools
Coinbase has emerged as the foremost integrated wallet, exchange and business service. Based in San Francisco, it was launched in June 2012. Unlike other exchanges, it combines the ability to buy and sell bitcoins for US dollars with wallet software that allows customers to store, send and receive bitcoins. (Instead of acting as a true exchange, coins are bought and sold between users and Coinbase itself, rather than user-to-user.) Additionally, Coinbase offers merchant services so that businesses can accept bitcoins as payment. This wide-ranging approach has led to strong demand and the company now has more than 1 million customer wallets. Coinbase are a one-stop shop for bitcoin business and transactions, which has earned them the name the PayPal of bitcoin.
- Popular and professional bitcoin exchange and wallet service
- Dollar deposits through linked bank account
- Majority of customer funds kept offline in bank vaults
- Wallets fully protected with AES-256 encryption
- Merchant tools available
- $100+ million in external investment
- Strong reputation for security
- Bitcoin-only no alternative cryptocurrencies offered
- No advanced trading tools
- Most Reputable and Secure Exchange by Far
- FREE $10 in Bitcoins When you Signup and Buy at Least $100 Worth!
Kraken places a strong emphasis on proving they are operating within a recognised and approved legal framework, to the extent that is possible with existing regulation. The parent company recently raised $5 million in venture capital funding and has a partnership with a German bank for fast withdrawals and deposits.
At the same time it also passed a rigorous proof of reserves audit, verifying that the exchange held more than enough funds to cover customer deposits – a critical step following the MtGox bankruptcy. Representatives have stated they plan to hold regular audits in the future.
Kraken is a relatively new but highly professional bitcoin exchange, based in Europe. It is billed as a ‘Forex meets bitcoin exchange’ platform, and the site offers advanced trading tools that are suitable for more sophisticated and professional investors.
Kraken is well-regarded and can be considered as an up-and-coming player in the bitcoin exchange space. Although it is strategically positioned, at the present time it is not as popular as some of the larger exchanges such as Coinbase and Bitstamp. This means that liquidity is lower than it could be and the spreads are higher than some traders will want to accept. Nevertheless, it is a safe and well-run site that should give users every reason for confidence. As well as bitcoin, traders can buy and sell a limited range of altcoins.
• Professional and sophisticated exchange suitable for pro-traders
• Dollar and Euro denominated trading and deposits
• Low trading fees
• Bitcoin, Litecoin, Namecoin, Dogecoin and Ripple trading
• Moderate liquidity and high transaction speeds
• Advanced trading tools available
• Strong commitment to security and due diligence
• Extensive legal and regulatory framework
• API available
In order to remain as reputable as possible to the authorities and to its users, Bitstamp complies with AML regulations and requires two forms of identification to verify accounts and permit bank deposits. When withdrawing money to a bank account, further details may be requested, depending on circumstances.
Overall, Bitstamp has a strong reputation as a very professionally-run bitcoin exchange. It was recently audited to confirm that it held 100% of all validated USD funds and bitcoin balances. At the end of 2013, hedge fund Pantera Capital Management invested $10 million in it.
At the present time, Bitstamp has few advanced trading tools and does not support other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin.
Bitstamp was founded in 2011 as an alternative to MtGox, and is now the largest exchange by trading volume. Its banking is based in Slovenia but the exchanges headquarters are in London. Since its move to the UK and particularly since MtGoxs bankruptcy, Bitstamp has strived to be as transparent and well-regulated as possible. Its CEO Nejc KodriÄ is a well-known member of the bitcoin community and the company are open about developments that affect its users, including potential security issues. Regular updates are given on the home page.
- Popular and well-run bitcoin exchange
- Dollar and Euro fiat deposits through SEPA or international bank
- High liquidity and competitive prices for bitcoins
- 0.5% commission on trades, decreasing with greater volume
- Basic trading tools including limit orders
- Instant bitcoin withdrawal
- Two-factor authentication recommended
- Ripple and Astropay deposits accepted
- Ripple withdrawals offered
- API for customers to access and control account
- Bitcoin-only: no other cryptocurrencies supported at present
Coinsetter.com boasts that it is a Wall Street-built exchange, designed to provide the power of institutional bitcoin trading to both individuals and organisations. In practice, this means excellent liquidity and deep order books, so there is limited slippage – which can be a problem on a thinly-traded bitcoin exchange. Liquidity is sourced from other bitcoin exchanges to ensure there is always adequate supply. Margin trading is also available, with various other trading tools.
Coinsetter is intended for active traders as well as other parties that require excellent liquidity. Trading fees start at just 0.25%, and decrease further with higher trading volumes. From 50 BTC monthly volume, fees are 0.20%, down to 0.1% for 500+ BTC. Coinsetter offers bonus packages and incentives for market-makers who contribute liquidity by trading high volumes.
Coinsetter’s ‘Securicoin’ system was designed as an institutional-grade way of securing bitcoins, protecting them in offline wallets that are never connected to the internet. Automatic withdrawals are never made: a human always has to approve a transfer from the cold wallet, meaning that it is impossible for a hacker to drain the account remotely (as has happened with several other exchanges). Around 50% of coins are ensured through Xapo Vault.
Coinsetter is based in New York, and the organisation has a strong ethos of customer service. It’s one of a number of new and professional exchanges that are coming online with the increasing regulatory clarity around bitcoin. Bank account integration means that customers can execute trades before funds clear – so there is no need to hold large amounts of money on-exchange. It is open to most businesses and individuals within and outside the US, and is particularly suitable for payment processors and ATM providers.
- ‘Wall Street grade’ technology
- Professional yet intuitive interface
- Suitable for business and individuals
- High liquidity and deep order books
- Up to 5x leverage available
- Phone and email support offered
- Trade before sending funds
- Ultra-low trading fees
- APIs enable millisecond latency
- Incentives for market-makers
- Charting tools included
- DDOS protection
- 50% insurance through Xapo Vault
BTC-e offers a range of services not provided by Coinbase and Bitstamp, particularly trading in alternative cryptocurrencies. Since the decline of MtGox it has taken a larger market share and is now an extremely popular exchange, particularly in Russia where bitcoin trading is discouraged. The anonymity that allows this to occur has been raised as a problem for other users, though, and even its exact location is unknown. Some critics have suggested that it is really based in Russia, rather than Bulgaria, which would make it extremely vulnerable to being shut down if its headquarters were discovered by the authorities.
BTC-e is a Bulgaria-based bitcoin exchange which began trading in 2011. At first the exchange offered trading between bitcoins and multiple physical currencies including US dollars, Russian roubles and Euros, though since Russia banned bitcoin its rouble transfers have been discontinued. BTC-e also supports Litecoin, Namecoin and other cryptocurrencies. The site has English and Russian interfaces. These features make it one of the most international and far-reaching of the major exchanges. However, BTC-e effectively remains anonymous, which has led to questions about its security and the guarantees it can offer to its customers since there is a lack of transparency around ownership.
- Physical cash deposits in USD and Euros through numerous methods
- SEPA transfers accepted
- Multi-option withdrawal, including PayPal
- 0.01 btc withdrawal fee for bitcoins
- Bitcoin, Litecoin, Namecoin and other cryptocurrency trading
- Trading API but no API for bitcoin withdrawals
- Trollbox chatroom
- Limit orders supported
- Owners unknown
Because Cryptsy does not offer fiat exchange, it is not currently bound by the rules that other exchanges are subject to. This means it is straightforward and easy to get started with, albeit at the cost of not being able to convert cryptocurrencies into USD or other physical currencies. The result is that Cryptsy has become the go-to exchange for almost all minor cryptocurrencies.
Cryptsy is an exchange with a difference. Its stated aim is to Provide a safe environment for users to trade crypto-currencies with other users in an efficient and easy to use manner.
Although the site plans to offer USD deposits and withdrawals soon, at the present time it is designed to act specifically as an exchange for a huge range of different cryptocurrencies. Cryptsy is based in Florida and was launched in May 2013. It currently offers trading between pairs of over 100 types of cryptocurrency.
In the near future, Cryptsy plans to offer further services, including cryptocurrency escrow and merchant services for cryptocurrency transactions, as well as USD exchange.
- Cryptocurrency-only exchange at present
- Over 100 cryptocurrencies supported
- Majority of funds held offline in several locations
- Wallets protected with AES-256 encryption
- Regular security scanning by third party
- API available
- Two-factor authentication supported
- New markets added all the time
However, it’s clear that Coin.mx aspires to be more. The site offers 0% trading fees (something highly unusual outside of China, where the high-volume exchanges make their money through a variety of other means). This is clearly designed to attract new users, making the exchange more liquid and useful. The same goes for the $5 sign-up bonus, and the $15 fee for every friend you refer.
The exchange offers a higher level of customer service than most, too, with 24/7 support via phone or chat – rather than the traditional approach of email or contact form, which may or may not be answered in a useful time frame.
Beyond this, Coin.mx is reaching into the merchant community. There is a function to create a payment button, quickly and easily, to allow stores to accept bitcoin on their websites. This is designed for non-account holders, so anyone can use it. It includes an invoice code so that merchants can track which products have been purchased.
Coin.mx is a relatively small exchange that started out as a group for collecting and exchanging memorabilia such as stamps, coins – even classic cars. Their growth took off when they added cryptocurrencies in 2013 in response to interest from some of their members.
Most of their customers are in the US (they are based in Texas) but others around the world use the site. However, funding options mean that it may be expensive or inconvenient for users outside of North America. Coin.mx is otherwise a straightforward set-up but has one or two points of interest that differentiate it from mainstream exchanges.
Account creation and funding
Account creation is simple and can be done through standard email sign-up, or via Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn – an unusual touch that may appeal to some users. The exchange trades Bitcoin and Litecoin against USD and against each other. Funding your account is via cash, credit card, debit card, bank transfer and domestic/international wire transfer. There are a couple of options there that most exchanges don’t offer; credit card transfers are notorious in cryptocurrency circles, since they can be reversed – whereas bitcoin transactions cannot be, opening an avenue for fraud. Rigorous KYC is usually the only answer to the problems posed by this. They also offer free ACH withdrawals.
Zero fees and referral bonuses
Coin.mx isn’t the most sophisticated exchange out there. Although the Collectors’ Association boasts a large number of members, only a small proportion of these are active on the exchange at any given time, meaning volumes are comparatively low. This has the effect of limiting liquidity, and spreads on the exchange are consequently high. Whereas the bid/ask difference on major exchanges might be as little as a few cents, or a dollar or two at most, on Coin.mx it might be $5-10, with thin order books. This makes buying or selling in large amounts uneconomical. This isn’t a site for active traders, in other words. At the moment it is suitable mainly for people who want to buy as a longer-term investment.