Exchange http://bitreview.com Sun, 25 Jun 2017 13:12:19 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Poloniex Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/poloniex http://bitreview.com/exchange/poloniex Poloniex Review

Poloniex provides a web-only cryptocurrency exchange, with over 150 on offer.  While liquidity is decent and fees are good, support is entirely lacking. 

Dash

Summary

Poloniex is a US-based cryptocurrency exchange offering a wide variety of alternative currencies for trade. It is often a top liquidity provider for altcoins that trade only against bitcoin, and offers particularly good liquidity for stellar, NXT, Maid, Storjcoin and Monero, and a number others.

The Poloniex executive level is kept anonymous, most likely due to the somewhat shaky legal footing of their operation - they do not have a license to offer exchange services in the United States, but they do not accept fiat currencies and thus are a bit difficult to define by existing law.

Security

Like most exchanges, Poloniex offers two factor authorization to secure login and authorize withdrawals. Additionally, email verification is offered for withdrawals, meaning that requests must be backed up by both the email and telephone associated with an account. Poloniex claims that "majority" of user funds are kept in cold storage, and that the "exchange is continually audited and inspected for unusual activity".

In March 2014, just two months after launch, a user exploited a vulnerability in Poloniex's withdrawal approval code and was able to steal 12.3% of the exchange's bitcoin, approximately $50,000. The hacker discovered faulty logic in which instantaneous withdrawal requests would actually all be transferred, resulting in a negative balance (which of course would never be paid back). This was a relatively easy vulnerability to fix - by placing withdrawals in a queue to be paid one by one, integrity is assured.

According to owner Tristan D'Agosta, additional security measures were quickly put in place: "Since the hack, we implemented continual automatic auditing of the entire exchange, bolstered the security of all servers, and redesigned the way commands are processed so that an exploit like the one used in March is impossible."

Gravitas

The Poloniex exchange was unable to absorb the loss. According to a forum post immediately following the attack, Mr. D'Agosta stated "If I had the money to cover the entire debt right now, I would cover it in a heartbeat. I simply don't, and I can't just pull it out of thin air". Instead, the stolen amount - 12.3% - was deducted temporarily from all customer accounts. The fee was raised, again temporarily, from .2 to 1.5% until the additional funds were raised. The balances were restored a little less than two months later, in the beginning of July, and the regular fee schedule was restored.

On the one hand, Mr. D'Agosta handled the affair extremely well. He immediately went public with the incident, explained exactly what had happened, why it happened, and outlined the steps taken to ensure it would not happen again. Close to a year later there have been no additional incidents, so until now his approach has been vindicated. The community was very supportive, and applauded his forthrightness and approach.

On the other hand, the fact that the exchange was unable to absorb a 12.3% breach was illustrative of severe reserve deficiencies and a lack of adequate financial backing. While the exchange was just launched and thus unable to build adequate reserves organically, there has been no evidence that such a reserve has since been built.

Opening an account

As trades are limited to cryptocurrencies, Poloniex benefits from an extremely simple registration process, absent the KYC/AML requirements found at fiat/crypto exchanges. Simply input your email, create a password, and click the box proving you are not a robot, and you are a member in good standing.

Software review

The trading screen is very smart. Pride of place is reserved for a large chart offering multiple time frames, candlesticks in increments from 5 minutes to 1-day, and the ability to add bollinger bands and fib levels. Most impressive is that it covers all the ~200 pairs on offer. When a particular trading pair is selected, the chart quickly loads, and the order books, displayed across the bottom, switch to show the relevant buy and sell orders. There are buy and sell orders, as well as limit and take profit, and these all can be used on any desired pair.

There are three main markets featured by Poloniex - Bitcoin, Monero (XMR) and Tether (USDT). Each market is displayed in it's own box on the right-hand side of the platform, with all the cross pairs listed beneath. We are particularly pleased to see Tether, which we view as offering substantial innovation to the market, achieving enough liquidity to be listed as its own market. As of April 2015, Poloniex seems to account for close to 100% of Tether's trading volume.

Trade

There are a few user friendly features of note - users are able to mark their top altcoin markets and limit display only to these favorites. Like btc-e, there is a troll box, but it seems relatively tame and users can be ignored, which is a nice function. Within the trade history page is a nifty trade analysis feature, in which a user can look at historical profit loss per each particular currency pair traded. Additionally, users are notified by a prominent alert as to any important information, such as coin delistings.

The "My Balances" screen offers users the ability to generate a wallet for any altcoin with one click, which can then be funded. Withdrawing is just as simple - input the destination wallet address, specify the amount, and click "withdraw".

Fee structure

There is a straight .2 percent fee on both buy and sell orders. There are no deposit or withdrawal fees.

Mobile

There is no app, and the design is not responsive. While you could make a trade in a pinch, it will literally require a lot of screen pinching and repositioning. Not recommended for those with fat fingers.

Support

Support is offered via email or directly from the "trollbox".

Bottom Line

Were Poloniex to integrate a proper mobile product, it would rate higher.  As it is, desktop users, Poloniex's product and fees warrant consideration.  The recent integration of margin trading is also a first in the cryptocurrency exchange marketplace.  For those requiring mobile trading, we recommend shapeshift.

Visit Poloniex

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Thu, 21 May 2015 20:37:10 +0000
Coinbase Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/coinbase http://bitreview.com/exchange/coinbase Coinbase Review

Coinbase offers insured bitcoin and fiat wallets, an excellent mobile product, massive financial backing, and an exchange regulated in 27 countries and most of the US. In our view, Coinbase is the place to trade bitcoin.  

HP

Make $100 in trades and get $10 in bitcoin free!

Summary

Coinbase’s $75m venture funding round in January 2015 dwarfs the financial backing of any competitor, and places company value at $400m. This represents the speculation, amongst a variety of financial industry heavyweights, that Coinbase is best positioned to emerge as the leading regulated bitcoin exchange both in the US and globally. 

Coinbase has been busy leveraging their deep pockets to create what is, in our opinion, the best and most complete product on the market. The Coinbase exchange, initially launched in the US, has expanded its services to 26 additional European countries, and now includes very liquid euro and pound sterling  trading markets, which are characterized with the same narrow spreads and low fees as the dollar bitcoin exchange.  

All bitcoin are insured against theft, and USD wallets are FDIC insured. As we will describe in just a moment, the Coinbase wallet sets the bar in the exchange marketplace, offering users the ability to store bitcoin in their own personal cold storage vault, with configurable multisignature capabilities. Users in the states are able to link their bank accounts to coinbase, allowing for free deposits and withdrawals. Coinbase’s European-based bank allows for SEPA transfers, while UK users are now able to deposit using 3D enabled credit and debit cards, alongside standard bank transactions.

Deposit now through BitReview and get $10 in bitcoin free!

Coinbase is not an anonymous exchange, and this rankles many bitcoin purists. Coinbase works hand-in-hand with regulators to ensure a safe, regulated product for consumers. While this is great to encourage wider adoption and the gradual mainstreaming of bitcoin, it means that Coinbase is committed to ensuring KYC/AML standards are strictly adhered to, not to mention that the exchange is not used to facilitate activities viewed as illicit. For most, this is not a problem. If you are looking for an exchange to facilitate transactions in dark markets, or circumvent gambling regulations, or you like to send your coins to a mixer, look elsewhere (or at least, use a third-party wallet as intermediary).   

Coinbase has been quickly developing its product. We believe they are a short step from disrupting a number of different markets. It could be that, with all the talk of the need for a killer bitcoin app, one has been hiding in plain site.

The Coinbase Wallet

In our view, the Coinbase wallet provides the most robust security in the exchange marketplace.  According to Coinbase and confirmed by independent audit, over 97% of coins are held in "cold” storage, which might be compared to a bank safe.  The private keys responsible for authorizing cold storage transactions are fragmented between paper and offline hard drives, split amongst different locations, with backups should any storage points be compromised or key fragments lost.  

Coinbase provides users a robust set of security features to protect against client-side malware attacks.  Two factor authentication is is available upon login and withdrawal, and can be customized to trigger only over a predetermined maximum daily transaction limit.  Passwords are hashed and encrypted server side.  

The Vault

Individual users are offered a multisignature cold storage solution called "the vault".  One key is stored on the Coinbase server; the second is a shared key, which is generated client-side and encrypted with a user's password.  This key is stored locally by the user and encrypted with Coinbase.  The third key is a user key, which must be securely stored on the client side, preferably offline.  Any two of three keys can authorize a transaction.  Additional email approvers, like a spouse or business partner, may be added at the account holder's discretion.  After a transaction is signed, a 48 hour withdrawal delay applies to ensure the vault has not been compromised.

Gravitas

Coinbase has a solid executive team and unparalleled investment backing by some impressive mainstream financial establishments.  Coinbase’s licensing within 23 states as a money transmitter (plus a few more where money transmitter licenses are not deemed necessary) required and continues to require, among other things, audits of financial operations, fiat and bitcoin reserve management and comprehensive background checks of all executive management, at a level to which few other exchanges have submitted themselves.  Coinbase has opened the books to regulators preoccupied primarily with consumer protection, and the regulators have been satisfied to grant the licenses.

Coinbase is insured against theft or hacking on all amounts above and beyond what  is held in the hot wallets.  In the event of a hot wallet breach, Coinbase can easily absorb any loss without having to dip into their $100m plus war chest.  Should there be a cold storage breach, funds are insured.

Long and short of it is, from a security and best practice perspective, there is no better operator than Coinbase.

 [open account]

Opening an Account

Please find below the verification requirements for bitcoin trading at Coinbase.

  Tier 1  Tier 2 
Verification requirements Email, phone verification, bank verification Address, last four digits of social security number, complete a purchase and wait at least 30 days, finish identity questionaire
USD $3,000 $10,000 daily and instant buy privileges
EURO Wallet Only €2,000, €30,000
GBP Wallet Only £2,000, £30,000

Once your account has been verified, Coinbase offers the following deposit options to users:

    USD  EUR GBP   CAD
Payment  Speed Deposit Withdraw Deposit Withdraw Deposit  Withdraw  Deposit Withdraw
Bank Wire One day No Fee $30 No Fee €30 No Fee £30 No Fee $30
ACH  3-5  days Free  Free            
SEPA 1-2 days     €5 €0.15        
Debit / Credit Instant         3%      

Coinbase offers US traders an instant trade option meant to compensate for the slow ACH transfer time.  Coinbase will advance up to $1,000 a week in bitcoin against pending ACH transactions.  To activate this option, users must input their credit card details, which protects Coinbase against users reversing the transfer after claiming the instant advance.  At this time, only Visa and Mastercards associated with a US-based address are eligible for the program.  

Residents of the UK and Spain are now offered an instant Credit and Debit card deposit option.  We assume this will be rolled out to additional European countries in due course as well.  Cards must be 3D enabled, or the transactions will be declined.

USD, EUR and GBP wallets

Coinbase offers dollar, , euro, and pound sterling wallets.  While all the fiat wallets allow access to the Coinbase Exchange, only the USD funds are FDIC insured.    

The GDAX Exchange and Brokerage 

The standard Coinbase broker service offers an extremely simple and intuitive interface.  Bitcoins can be purchased directly from a users fiat wallets and deposited directly into a user's vault or hot wallet.  Bitcoin sales pay out directly to fiat wallets.

coinbasedash2

As of August 2015, the GDAX exchange is offered in 29 US states, shown below in light blue, and 26 European Countries, shown in green:

Untitled-1

The trading platform is well put together, with a growing number of order types available.   The order slip sits to the left of a price chart, complete with line and candle charting and variable time frame .  Both the order book and trading history are displayed to the charts left and bottom, and a separate accounts tab offers order history.

exchange2

In the approximate six months since launch, the GDAX Exchange has grown into one of the highest-volumed bitcoin exchanges in the market.  It has invested much resource in expanding services and features, integrating market and time in force orders, as well as btc/cad, btc/eur and btc/gbp markets.  We expect additional improvements in the coming months.

Coinbase Fees

Transaction Type  Fee
Brokerage  1% 
Exchange - Maker 
Exchange - Taker  0.25% 

Merchant Instant Exchange, in which bitcoin sales are instantly converted to fiat, are charged the 1% brokerage fee.  Maker fees are those which are not instantly filled - namely, a sell order higher than the best offer or a buy order lower than the best offer.  Taker fees are always charged to market orders.

Coinbase recently introduced a rebate program which returns a percentage of taker fees collected based on a users monthly trading activity.  The rebate is determined by the percentage of the exchange's total volume contributed by the user, according to the following table:

Percentage of 30 day trading volume contributed  total fee paid 
.25% 
>1%  .24% 
>2.5%  .22% 
>5% .19%
>10% .15%
>20% .10%

Rebates are distributed directly to a trader's account each day at 24:00 UTC, with the percentage of fees determined according to the previous 30 days trading activity.

Deposit now and get $10 free bitcoin through BitReview

Coinbase IOS and Android

Coinbase has a fantastic mobile product, with arguably the best apps appearing in both the IOS and Google Play stores.  The apps allow all the functionality available on the web-based brokerage client.  Initial sign up requires two-factor authentication and email verification.  There is a pin locking and app disable feature to protect users if the device is lost or stolen.  

three

Coinbase API

The Coinbase API allows for full access and functionality of an exchange account through a third party app, product or service.

Apps: Coinbase offers developers the ability to integrate the full suite of Coinbase services directly in support of their products.  A number of innovative apps have been set up using the API, including the popular Gliph, which offers secure group messaging and bitcoin transfers, and Changetip, an app allowing internet "tipping" through a number of different methods including facebook, twitter, email and SMS.
Merchants:  For merchants, API integration allows acceptance of bitcoin at the point of sale, which are routed directly to a coinbase merchant wallet and can be converted, at a 1% fee, directly to fiat.
Traders: Traders can generate an API key and secret from settings-API access from the main navigation window.  The key can be used to allow trading directly through the coinbase account on third party trading programs, or to utilize "trading bots", which automatically buy and sell according to a (hopefully genius) trading algorithm.

Coinbase Support

Support is professional as one would expect from Coinbase, with a 24 hour response SLA on email queries, usually much quicker during the week.  There is instant chat available that seems to operate according to US business hours.  You may post a public question -  I’m not entirely sure of the value in this, perhaps the answers to these questions inform their FAQ section which is meant to alleviate the need for direct contact.  

Bottom Line

Coinbase is an incredible product, backed by professional management and infrastructure.  It represents the mainstreaming of bitcoin, to the delight of some and the dismay of others.   Coinbase’s ascendence in the US conjures images of Wall Street trading, of winklevoss twins launching ETFs, of hedge funds investing and bitcoin growing in value and importance.

From a security standpoint, there is no safer place to hold and trade funds.  The financial clout, reserve management and cold storage insurance insures that, in the unlikely event of a breach, Coinbase will have no problem compensating customers.  The vault services also protect users from the much more likely client-side malware attacks that could result in lost coin.

As we mentioned in the summary, Coinbase sits very firmly in the bitcoin establishment camp.  They work closely with regulators, and have been criticized in the past for being a bit overzealous.  For instance, users have reported having their accounts closed for transferring funds to gambling site.  While some might take issue with the policy, they cannot claim ignorance - the policy has not been kept secret and is publicly described.

After reading through our review, we hope  you will agree with our wholehearted recommendation of Coinbase.  As far as we are concerned, this is the best product in the market.

Visit Coinbase

 

]]>
manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Sat, 09 May 2015 03:34:55 +0000
Bit-X Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/bit-x http://bitreview.com/exchange/bit-x Bit-X Review

Bit-X offers a bitcoin exchange in multiple currencies and a visa debit card drawing funds at point of sale directly from a user's bitcoin wallet.

LP

Summary

Bit-x is an ambitious latecomer into the bitcoin exchange market place. We call them ambitious due to the number of services they offer - bitcoin trading platform, debit card service and, until recently, cloud mining provider. Bit-x was much loved by the cloud-mining community due to their partnership with bitfury and the ability to instantly spend mining profits through the debit card offered. It will be interesting to see how the cessation of cloud mining affects the overall business.

Security

From the client side, two factor authorization is set up when registering, which is convenient. Login is done with your telephone number rather than email, and a confirmation code must always be confirmed before logging in. There is little said about coin storage strategies, and protection offered to hot and cold wallets - so we are unsure as to the robustness of server side protection.

Opening an account

First things first, registration starts with confirming telephone number, which might be a turn-off for some, though it does allow for quickly integrating two factor authentication, so that's nice.

Immediately upon telephone verification, users are redirected to their dashboard, otherwise knows as the "balance" screen, and will notice a message waiting for them in the internal mailbox. This message advises the user to set up their access recovery settings, which can be done from the profile section of the site.

deposit-screen

The profile section is also where users can adjust their notification settings - email, sms or system messenger? - is set up as SMS by default, as well as sort out two-factor authentication, which can be done via SMS or google authenticator. Do make sure to set up your access recovery - it's a simple question of selecting your phone number or email and clicking - send request. Ditto enabling two-factor authentication.

Bitcoin and litecoin deposits require no additional account verification, and are processed within 3-6 verifications. It is quite difficult to determine which deposit and withdrawal options are available, and what the associated fees. We do the dirty work for you.

  USD GBP EUR RUB
Payment Method Deposit Withdraw Deposit Withdraw Deposit Withdraw Deposit Withdraw
Wire Transfer 0 1% 0 1% 0 1% 0 1%
SEPA         0 1%    
OKPay 0 NA 0 NA 0 NA 0 NA
Perfect Money 3% NA 3% NA 3% NA NA NA
VTB24             2.5%  
Sberbank             2.5%  
Qiwi             5%  
Alfabank             2.5%  

Please note that the above fee list does not take into account fees accrued on the customer side from the payment option.

To withdraw funds or raise debit card limits, users must fill out a more detailed biographical form, and provide photocopies of an ID and proof of residence.

The Bit-X Exchange

The bit-x order slip, in our opinion, does not possess the most intuitive of interfaces, and their terminology might be confusing to those who dabble in bitcoin exchanges. Users are first asked to pick their currency pair - which basically denotes the currency you'd like to buy, and the currency you'd like to buy it with. Traders are then asked if they would like to set up a limit or auto order - auto actually representing what is known at most other platforms as a market order, as well as if they would like to buy or sell the pair. If you were to sell, for instance, the btc-usd pair, that would mean you were selling your bitcoin for dollars, while buying the pair would mean the opposite.

trade-slip

When the order has been placed, however, the details are populated to the right of the slip, which clarifies things. Two additional fields, stop loss and take profit, can be filled in as required.

A quick scroll down the order page will show a market depth chart and open orders list. The few times we've been playing around with the exchange, the open orders list has been relatively shallow, and the spreads are a good bit wider than one would find at the main exchanges - but that is to be expected.

The market tab actually shows the depth of all possible crosses - for those looking at more exotic pairs, like rubble-ltc, probably best to check this out prior to going through the bother of registering. Make sure that the liquidity is appropriate for you.

Exchange fees - a .5% fee is charged to all trades on the exchange.

The Bit-X Debit Card

Bit-X is perhaps best known for their debit card, which is a definite convenience for those using the product. Three different currency cards are offered, gbp, usd and eur, which not only potentially accommodates a wide swath of the bitcoin marketplace but offers convenience for travelers. This was of particular use when bit-x had a relatively large cloud mining operation set up, which was backed by bitfury - many mining enthusiasts were happy to earn bitcoin through the mining and instantly be able to spend the earnings through an associated debit card. This also, incidentally, served to boost exchange liquidity - unfortunately, due to the unprofitability of the venture for bit-x, mining was discontinued. While this is understandable, it did away with what was probably the only real USP of the product.

  Anonymous Limited Anonymous Named Named White
Currencies Euro, USD Euro, USD Euro, USD Euro, USD
Issuance, with delivery $€14.95 $€14.95 $€9.95 $€99.95
Activation $€9.95 $€9.95 $€9.95 0
Monthly Fee (from year two) $€2.95 $€2.95 $€0.95 0
Monthly Inactive Fee (from year two) $€9.95 $€9.95 $€4.95 0
ATM Fee $€9.95 $€4.95 $€4.95 $€3.95
Point of Sale $€2.95 $€2.95 0 0
Currencty conversion (if not in card's currency) 5% 3.5% 3% 2.5%

Bit-X debit card limits

Anonymous

  Anonymous
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Requirement No Verification Required Verification and card form complete Verification approved by Bit-X bank
Lifetime Turnover $300, €250 $€2,500 $€15,000
ATM Withdrawal Limit N/A $1,300, €1,000 $2,000€1,500

Named Cards

  Named Card
Level 1 Level 2
Requirement Residential Verification Bit-X Bank Approval of Verification
Lifetime Turnover $€2,500 Unlimited
Atm Withdrawal Limit $€1,000 $1,300, €1,000 (Two daily)

Mobile

Bit-x is nicely optimized for mobile use, but there are no applications available.

support

bit-x is best contacted through the ticketing system, located under the "help" tab. Generally speaking, queries are responded to within 4-5 hours.

Bottom Line

Bit-x offers a decent exchange, though liquidity is somewhat lacking as of late, with a very good debit card solution. With bit-x, multiple cards can be ordered in multiple currencies, allowing bitcoin to be converted to local currencies easily and relatively cheaply. While bit-x will have a hard time cracking the US and UK, we can see it emerging as a solid offering for Russian and Eastern European markets.

Visit Bit-X

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Thu, 21 Jan 2016 19:04:04 +0000
CEX.io Exchange Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/cex http://bitreview.com/exchange/cex CEX.io Exchange Review

 CEX has turned its attention to it's exchange product since the discontinuation of it's cloud mining services.  The product is improved, but liquidity is at times limited.

HP

Try out CEX

Summary

CEX is quite a large operation, boasting over 600,000 registered accounts. This is due in good part to cross over from its now discontinued cloud mining service offered through sister company Ghash. When it became essentially impossible to make money through mining, CEX made the decision to close their cloud mining service. This allowed them to focus on improving their exchange and efforts in this regard over the past year - the launch of a very good mobile product and an aggressive regulatory strategy that saw the exchange open in the US, to name two points - has borne fruits.

However, the loss of trading volume from cloud mining has diminished trading volumes on the sell side. Additionally, the closure of altcoin markets, aside from LTC, as well as the closure of the ghash multipool which allowed mining of tons of different coins, has perhaps diminished trading volume as well. So while CEX offers a more complete, quality exchange to the market, a few very important USPs that were bolstering trading volumes have disappeared.

Security

Two factor authentication is offered on sign up - and CEX (almost) won't take no for an answer there. Funds are held in cold storage, according to the site, although there is little explanation as to what percentage, or what the methodology.

Gravitas

CEX.io has been around for a good three years now, and while they started in the dodgy cloud mining marketplace, they maintained a reputation as being one of the few honest operators. After pivoting away from mining, which was proving to be an impossible investment for retail clients, CEX has redoubled focus on their exchange activities, licensing with FINcen to offer exchange services to the majority of US clients, and investing into their product. With offices in London and a team of approximately 20, CEX has established itself as a reputable exchange.

Opening an Account

Please find below the CEX.io account verification requirements.

  Basic Verified Business
Details Required Standard Registration Proof of ID, Proof of Residency, Picture holding your ID, SSN or tax reference number Same as Verified and articles of incorporation, signatures of directors, shareholders
Daily Limit $€400 $€10,000 No Limit
Monthly Limit $€2,000 $€100,000 No Limit
Deposit Options Visa, Mastercard Visa, Mastercard, Bank Wire/SEPA, Skrill

Visa, Mastercard, Bank Wire/SEPA, Skrill

After registering, you will pay the following rates on deposit and withdrawal:

  Visa/Mastercard Bank Transfer/SEPA Skrill
  Deposit Withdrawal Deposit Withdrawal Deposit Withdrawal
USD 3.9%+$0.25 NA Free $50 NA NA
EUR 3.9%+€0.20 NA Free €15 / €3.99 2%+€0.15* NA
RUB 5.39%+RUB 15.57
NA Free RUB 1,750 NA NA

 *Net of customer side fees, if any, payable to skrill

Please note that withdrawal processing can take up to 20 banking days, though generally speaking funds are delivered much more quickly.

While accepting credit cards is a great feature, the fee is relatively high which might discourage some users. For US traders, a $50 withdrawal fee could be prohibitive, provided willingness/the ability to use Coinbase, for instance, that offers free ACH transfers.

Software

CEX offers both a brokerage service and an exchange. The brokerage service, which is perhaps a remnant of pre-FinCEN days, meant as an alternative for US traders, still offers novice traders an extremely simple way to buy bitcoin.

Users must simply click on one of the predetermined buying denominations or input their custom amount below and hit buy, which will lock in the price quoted. The prices seem more or less in line with the prevailing rate, and CEX earns their bread with a 2% service fee on the transaction amount.

broker

The exchange offers market and limit orders - known on the platform as "trade" or "instant Buy/Sell", respectively, and offers decent market depth in a number of different markets, particularly in the BTCUSD which ranks 11 on coinmarketcap in terms of liquidity contribution, followed by BTCEUR and a small but relevant Rubble exchange. If you are (still) the proud owner of GHASH, your only chance of unloading it is through the CEX exchange, where there is an extremely small but existing demand.

exchange

The interface itself is well designed, with an integrated charting feature taking pride of place at the top of the screen followed by a depth chart. We are not entirely sure why the order slip is hidden so far down the page, just above the order book and trade history, but this is a minor point. Speaking of the order slip, market and limit orders are separated into two different interfaces, which perhaps isn't the optimal set up.

order-slip

But this is all a bit nitpicky, trading is intuitively and easily done, and CEX has enough liquidity for most orders.

Fees

CEX charges a 0.2% fee for buying and selling through via the exchange. When we last checked, there was a negligible spread betwixt buy and sell in both EUR and USD bitcoin markets, but this is of course subject to change at a moment's notice. As we mentioned previously, there is a 2% fee on the broker side.

Mobile

First, big ups to CEX for their excellent method of linking the mobile and desktop accounts. After downloading the app, simply click on "scan QR code". You can find the QR code to be scanned within the profile tab of your account - located in the upper right hand corner, shown below:

profile

Click on the "scan QR code", and then enter on your phone a four-digit passcode. You are now within your fully functioning CEX.io mobile app, where all the trading and buying and selling of bitcoin is literally at your fingertips. And as a matter of fact, we prefer the exchange interface on the mobile device to that of the desktop version - for one, the order slip is more smartly designed.

mobiler

Bottom line

CEX offers good exchange and brokerage products with decent liquidity across multiple currency markets. Their 2015 roadmap focused on improving their exchange offerings, which can be seen in, for example, a very nice mobile product. Users in less exchange-saturated markets have a good option for trading in CEX. There is little reason, however, to use CEX in for instance the United States, where large, well-funded, and high-volume exchanges are available, and with no deposit or withdrawal fees.

Buy Bitcoin at CEX.io

]]>
manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:29:04 +0000
GoCelery Exchange Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/celery http://bitreview.com/exchange/celery GoCelery Exchange Review

GoCelery offers a very simple onramp to buy bitcoin and has integrated with the Case wallet to offer purchases directly to a secure, client-held wallet.

celhp

Summary

GoCelery is a simple on ramp into the bitcoin network. Much like Circle, it offers free ACH transfers to US users and converts dollars to bitcoin automatically without an additional intermediate step. Unlike circle, the price of bitcoin is locked in at the time the transfer is made, which means users needn't worry about price fluctuations in the 4-5 day interim between making the transfer and the funds hitting the account. While this is an excellent feature, it is not without issues, which we will discuss briefly below.

Perhaps as a sign of things to come, GoCelery was integrated into a leading hardware wallet called Case. Case users, who hold funds offline and can send bitcoin with a thumb swipe, are able to load the wallet thanks to an API integration with GoCelery. No longer must users trust their bitcoin to be held by a third party exchange; now bitcoin can be bought and held directly in a client-side wallet!

Opening an Account

There are four verification steps required to verify your account- email verification, phone verification, name and address and date of birth/occupation. Address needn't actually be verified, but bitcoin may not be bought and sold - though they may be stored - prior to linking your bank account.

The bank account is linked using a service called Yodlee, which exists for the purpose of showing third party service providers, like gocelery, that a bank account does indeed belong to the user. Enter your bank login details, which never actually are present on the exchange server, which allows instant verification that an account belongs to you. Yodlee is used by paypal, mint, Bank of America, and an assortment of other reputable services.

For those unwilling to go through the process, GoCelery offers an alternative "micro-transaction" process, in which they deposit a small amount into your account, the amount of which you must verify.

Security

On the server side, gocelery claims that 98% of funds are held in cold storage; this may be verified from the "transparency" page, which shows with two hour delay the percentage of customer funds actually held in cold storage. However when we checked there were only 86.2% held, which is starting to get into risky territory. Speaking of the transparency page, users may also check the average time it takes to fill an order - 7.8 business days when we looked - though since the price is guaranteed this waiting time is mitigated.

On the client side, 2FA is offered by google authenticator, accessible from your account tab located underneath your profile name on the left-hand side of the site.

The GoCelery Product

Go Celery is a Circle-like product whose simplicity is perhaps their greatest unique service provision. Thought has been put into every step of the user journey, from the initial account opening all the way through to the first bitcoin purchase. The association of a US bank account is considered proof enough of identity, and so no additional documentation is required to open an account. There is no standard deposit and withdrawal function; rather, buying bitcoin initiates the a process of transferring the cash via fee-free ACH transfer with a locked in exchange rate that automatically executed when the cash arrives at gocelery. The same process is executed in reverse on the sell side.

buycell

This is extremely convenient for the new buyer, not only due to the elimination of a few steps in the path to purchasing bitcoin, but because it locks in the price available at the time a purchase is executed. However, this does complicate things for GoCelery. The ACH process can be reversed, meaning that users can, if they choose, stop transactions if there have been negative price movements in the interim. This can be a big headache for GoCelery, and requires an appropriate hedging strategy to ensure they are not overexposed. A lap around the internet shows some grumblings from customers who, after having locked in their price, were unable to secure the same after positive price movements. These cases were, most likely, due to improper risk management by GoCelery at the time and, while provided for in the terms of use, are a negative experience for the affected users. However, these incidents are not common, but should be noted as a possibility.

sellcel

Fees

Celery's fees are based on the buying option, with 1% charged on ACH transfer and 10% on debit/credit card - obviously preferential to stick with ACH. There is also a small difference between the price of bitcoin on celery and most other exchanges - usually no more than 1%, which might also be considered an additional fee. All told, a small price to pay for the superior convenience of GoCelery.

Mobile

Alas, Celery has not yet set up mobile apps on either iOS or Android. The site is responsively designed and thus orders can easily be placed from your mobile device.  

Support

Suppport is both helpful and happy to be there! Available via email or telephone, 10am-5pm Monday to Friday from their offices in New York City.

Bottom Line

Celery strives on simplicity - simple sign up, simple transfer, and simple buying and selling of bitcoin. It's integration with Case is a great USP for those willing to fork out the $200 to buy the hardware, and we look forward to seeing Celery's business develop in this direction.

Open an Account at GoCelery!

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Thu, 21 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +0000
Glidera.io Exchange Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/glidera http://bitreview.com/exchange/glidera Glidera.io Exchange Review

Glidera offers users the option to buy bitcoin via copay or airbitz.

glideralp

Summary

Security is obviously a pain point in the bitcoin ecosystem. Users must entrust their bitcoin to custodial exchange accounts that act more or less as banks but generally without the insurance. The collapse of an exchange, as has occurred on more than one occasion, often leads to loss of customer funds. Glidera offers an API to wallet developers which allows users to buy and sell bitcoin directly from their chosen wallet without having their money held in custodial exchange accounts. This also might help wallets find a monetization mechanism, as exchange fees, in the form of a spread, are shared with the wallet developers.

Additionally, Glidera takes care of compliance issues and managing the exchange rates, whilst offering ACH transfers to US customers for easy and free deposits. So while the stand alone product is nothing to write home about, it is Glidera's service to wallets which provides unique value.

Opening an account

Accounts may be opened either with a standard manual inputting of details, or by scanning a bitID-enabled wallet's (most notably airbitz or copay) QR code. After your initial info has been manually or automatically entered, you will need to:

  1. Verify your email - simple enough
  2. Verify your telephone number - for two-factor authentication
  3. Verify your personal details - and here you'll need to stick the last four digits of your social security number, to be completed later to raise your limits.
  4. Upload your photo ID - passport, driver's license or other government issued;
  5. And connect your bank account to enable ACH transfers.

Once you've gone through this, and users must complete every step prior to even having a look around - you'll be set up with a daily limit of $500, a monthly of $1,000. You can increase your limits to $1,000/$2,500 if you are willing to provide your complete social security number, answer additional identity questions, buy and sell $5,000 worth of bitcoin (so you'll need to wait 5 months at a minimum) and wait at least 30 days, which seems a bit superfluous considering the previous condition. Many hoops to jump through for a measly $2,500 monthly limit!

While the signup process seems tedious - and is needed just to have a look at the product! - most users are coming from third party wallets, and really the only thing necessary for them to do, and most likely the sole reason to be at the site, is to complete this process to enable Glidera in their wallet account.

The Product

We have established that the product is extremely Spartan and meant primarily to be used through third party wallet applications, but for those still interested in buying and selling directly through Glidera the experience is not half bad, and the price rates well against Celery and Circle.

There is literally nothing on the site aside from a transaction tab, a buy/sell tab, and a setup tab where you can update your information. Assuming your ACH transfer has gone through, buying bitcoin requires inputting the bitcoin wallet to which it should be sent. Fees to exchange dollars to bitcoin, and back again, vary, but are displayed when making a transaction. Generally speaking, expect to pay between 1 to 2%. There is a very minimal spread between buy and sell prices of approximately 1% as well, but this will most likely be the case at most trading exchanges as well.

buy

When selling bitcoin to dollars, you will basically need to scan the QR code of the wallet from where you'll be sending the bitcoin; the price offered is locked for a short period; inability for transaction to complete prior to that may lead to an adjustment to market rate.

sell

Of course if you, like most, use Glidera through a third party wallet app, the entire process is streamlined through your wallet, and is a much more seamless process.

Support

When we asked for help getting set up, we received a helpful email reply within a day from co-founder Michael Xakellis. You can find the contact info at the top of the page.

Bottom Line

Glidera's API integration into third party wallets probably sets the bar in the space, and they have had initial success as demonstrated by the copay and airbitz integrations. It will be interesting to see if additional wallets integrate Glidera as well - which behooves them to do, as not only is it a convenience for their users, it provides a monetization channel in a niche desperately searching for one.

Check out Glidera

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Sun, 24 Apr 2016 10:02:12 +0000
ShapeShift IO Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/shapeshift http://bitreview.com/exchange/shapeshift ShapeShift IO Review

The Shapeshift platform allows instant and entirely anonymous exchange of 40+ different cryptocurrencies.  It is the best crypto-exchange in the market.

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Visit Shapeshift

Summary

Erik Vorhees' twitter handle, which depicts the Titan Atlas valiantly bearing the world's burden on his shoulders, hints to his Randian proclivities. Mr. Voorhees would most likely agree that the creative potential of man is limited only to the extent by which the government interferes in the process. It is thus no surprise that Mr. Voorhees is such a passionate supporter and participant in the bitcoin project.

Bitcoin is the result of incredible human ingenuity which can disrupt, among other things, the government's money monopoly. And not only does it offer potential for increased autonomy over our own financial lives and commercial relationships, it is a tool to reclaim privacy on an internet that has increasingly become centralized and surveillance-friendly.  It is in this spirit that Shapeshift was launched.

Mr. Voorhees' excellent product allows the registration-free exchange of a number of cryptocurrencies against one another. The API allows easy integration of the product into third party sites and services, while a browser extension allows users to purchase products from vendors using altcoins, or merchants to accept 40+ different cryptocurrencies. It has built a terrific iOS application, with Android on the way. We feel that it sets the bar amongst crypto-only exchanges.

It should also be mentioned that Mr. Voorhees has been the most vociferous opponent of New York's BitLicense, which he has depicted as subjecting Bitcoin to the dithering hands of NY-based bureaucrats at best, and at worst leading to the corruption of the project.  New York now has the dubious distinction of being the only jurisdiction to which Shapeshift will not offer its services, arguing that the regulations lead to an erosion of consumer privacy to which Shapeshift will not contribute.

Security

Shapeshift provides no wallet services as it never actually holds user funds. Exchanges are immediately settled to a user's external wallet after the inbound deposit has received one confirmation.

Gravitas

ShapeShift is a Erik Voorhees joint, run from offices in Switzerland just outside of Zurich. The platform has received $525,000 in seed funding from industry heavyweights Barry Silbert and Roger Ver, and an additional $1.6m in a later series A funding round from Messrs. Silbert and Ver, as well as exchange Bitfinex - not that Mr. Voorhees necessarily needs the help.  In July 2013 he exited from his investment in SatoshiDice to the tune of $12.4 million, some of which no doubt was reinvested into Shapeshift.

All this to say - Shapeshift has solid financial backing by some of the very biggest entrepreneurial names in the Bitcoin industry. Mr. Voorhees is a leading public advocate for Bitcoin, and is well known both within the industry and without. He has a proven track record for delivering solid products, and in our view Shapeshift will be the best among them.

Opening a Shapeshift Account

There is no account opening with Shapeshift. No registration, no email confirmation, nothing. Certainly no document collection or KYC process. And, at least in the view of their compliance squad, they do not run afoul of AML regulations. This is primarily due to the fact that they hold no customer funds, which is how it is explained on the Shapeshift website.

Additionally, Shapeshift operates solely within the bounds of the cryptocurrency market - they do not act as an on off-ramp from crypto to fiat, which is where the KYC/AML requirements are stringently enforced. Indeed, mainstream bitcoin exchanges collect minimal information for bitcoin-only deposits - and that is when they are actually holding the customer funds and sometimes allowing trading against fiat currency.

Shapeshift Product Review

Shapeshift means to provide a platform for the easy and fast exchange of cryptocurrencies, and boy do they deliver on the promise. First, the website is sublimely simple. A deposit and receive box located smack in the middle of the homepage allows users to jump right into the self-explanatory exchange process.

2

  1. Select the deposit cryptocurrency, and input the type and amount of crypto you would like to receive. Then copy your wallet address, and paste it into the field entitled "Your Payment Address". Click Send.
  2. A new screen will display showing the address to which your coin should be sent. A clock counts down from 10 minutes, after which the displayed exchange rate will change. Send your coin to the displayed address.
  3. Small deposit amounts are instantly credited, while you'll have to wait for one confirmation for larger deposits. Once completed, a "Shift Complete" screen is shown, and you should have your coin.

hp3

There are 40-odd coins available for trade on Shapeshift, and they are quick to integrate the most important and innovative offerings in the market. While 40 coins is perhaps a bit too many for our taste and we could easily cut out about half of them, Shapeshift is much more responsible than many of the mainstream crpyto-exchanges in avoiding the listing of scamcoins or obvious lemons. So while you'll be spoilt for choice with Shapeshift, you most likely won't hear the news that they are delisting your coin, along with another 40, as is so often the case with exchanges like Poloniex and Bittrex.

Lens Extension

Altcoin users rejoice! Shapeshift has created a browser plugin allowing supported altcoins to be sent to any bitcoin address as payment. After installing the plugin, a fox icon will appear next to bitcoin addresses at all of your favorite bitcoin merchants; clicking the icon will launch a shapeshift payment box with the address to send your altcoin, from which shapeshift will automatically exchange and complete your transaction.

Mobile

The Android product is currently being developed, and should debut in the google play store shortly. Shapeshift launched in June the first ever native crypto-trading app for iOs, and it is characterized by the same exceptional engineering as the web-based product. The same process described above is recreated on mobile, with a few additional nice to have features, like a QR code reader, a stored list of your receiving addresses for convenience, and a transaction history tab. 

Shapeshift Fee

Shapeshift does not have a set fee, as each particular currency pair has a number of considerations - like market liquidity and spreads available elsewhere. The fee usually falls within 0.5 to 1%, depending on the market. When taking into account the absence of a spread in some of the non-liquid markets, this could be a better rate than is available at traditional crypto-exchanges. The burden then falls on Shapeshift to unload the coins as required, which can at times be a challenge.

Support

As Shapeshift holds no user currency and collects no user data, it is essentially an entirely autonomous service, and there are generally not any requirements from support. However, email support is offered during business hours, though most questions can be answered from the help center.

Bottom Line

So there you have it. In our view, Shapeshift is an excellent example of the innovations made possible by Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies: anonymous and nearly free commercial transaction; an entirely secure environment; and with a degree of simplicity previously unheard of.  Fancy investing a bit of your coin in Ether, Storj or Gemz?  Give it a try through Shapeshift.io, it will take you all of 30 seconds from...now.

Visit Shapeshift!

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Mon, 07 Sep 2015 08:56:04 +0000
Bittrex Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/bittrex http://bitreview.com/exchange/bittrex Bittrex Review

Bittrex has earned the well-deserved reputation as a peddler of scam coins - if you go there now, you'll probably see one advertised prominently. 

HP

Summary

bittrex is a US-based cryptocurrency exchange, offering a massive selection of altcoins for trade. The founding team has extensive experience in security and development at companies such as blackberry, amazon, microsoft and qualys.

Bittrex is one of the top non-fiat exchanges providing significant cross pair liquidity to some of the largest altcoins. With an extremely scalable platform, it is easy for bittrex to integrate additional cryptocurrencies, and even the most seasoned digital currency aficionado would have trouble recognizing many of the currencies on offer.

Security

One would expect exceptional dedication to security based on the background of the founders, and indeed, bittrex seems to have earned such a reputation. Like all exchanges, bittrex provides 2-factor authentication for withdrawals and API use. They employ what they term "an elastic multi-stage wallet strategy", which ensures 80-90% of funds are stored offline.

While they have not submitted to an external security audit, the founding team, who engage in similar tasks for the fortune 500 companies listed above, periodically run audits on the platform themselves. Not a disinterested third party, but can't argue that they aren't qualified.

Gravitas

Bittrex has a reputation for being quick to add new altcoins to the exchange. This is widely viewed in the industry as a virtue, as altcoin customers enjoy being offered a variety of different coins from which to choose.

However, this has had the unintended effect of aiding dishonest coin developers dump worthless coins, using Bittrex's - and we should point out they are by no means unique in this regard - relative good standing as cover. Moreover these coins are able to buy ad space within the Bittrex exchange which, though clearly labeled as "sponsored", could be argued to lend tacit Bittrex support. After all, this space is purchased directly from the Bittrex team.

A good case in point is "Deaf Coin". Deaf Coin launched in november 2014 exclusively on Bittrex. It was a clone of litecoin, and offered no innovation and was significantly premined. It was almost universally recognized as a pump and dump scam, and yet Bittrex chose to list it on the exchange. Two and a half months later, in February 2015, Bittrex delisted deaf coin, along with 35 other coins from the platform. Most of the coins were broken or abandoned, the remains of previously executed pump and dumps.

Bittrex is not alone in being less-than thorough in their listings of altcoins - for instance, Poloniex removed 17 coins in December of 2014. And indeed, there is a debate in the wider altcoin community as to what extent, if at all, exchange operators should vet the coins offered for trade. In our view, exchange operators should act responsibly when listing a coin, which many might see as an endorsement- or at least a signal as to the integrity of the coin. Listing too many deaf coins will most likely tarnish the image of the exchange and might serve to raise questions as to the integrity of the operators.

Opening an account

As is the case with strictly crypto-trading exchanges, there are no KYC/AML requirements. Opening an account simply requires password selection and email verification.

Software review

Post login, a user hits a navigational screen, which has a list of altcoins arranged by trading volume. Above the main listings are "sponsored" currencies, who assumedly pay for their prominent placement. There is a search function allowing easy navigation to any desired pair, which, once clicked, opens the trading platform.

The main real estate is occupied by a chart showing volume and cost trends over selected time frames, and an order book on a separate tab. Vital information about the trading status of the pair is located just to the right. The trade slip is below and offers the most robust set of trading options of any crypto-only exchange, including long and short trades, stop losses and take profit orders, "time in force" orders - such as good until canceled, immediate or cancel, or fill and kill - and conditional orders. Below the trade slips, users can toggle between the summary and the order book and browse personal trade history.

Trade

Depositing any altcoin is simply a matter of navigating to the wallet tab, accessible from the upper right hand side of the screen, picking an altcoin and generating a wallet address. Withdrawals are made by entering the destination address, selecting the number of coins to send, and clicking submit.

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WIth Poloniex, Bittrex has the most advanced suite of trading functionalities of all the cryptocurrency-only exchanges reviewed by bitreview, and the actual trading platform is extremely well designed and intuitive. However, navigation between currency pairs could be improved, and with some clever design - a la Poloniex perhaps - there would be no need to separate the navigational screen from the trading platform. Additional features, like favorite pairs, would help allow customers a level of customizability, and there is some room to add additional analytic tools, both in more robust charting features, as well as trade history analysis, again like Poloniex.

Fee structure

There is a flat .25% fee for trading any currency pair. Withdrawal transaction fees are charged according to the relevant altcoin network policy.

Mobile

The site has a very good responsive design, so users can enjoy all the functionalities of the desktop version. Bittrex is currently working on developing IOS and Android apps, but no word yet on release dates.

Support

Support is offered promptly between the hours of 9-1800 PST. Queries outside of these hours could in rare occassion wait up to 24 hours for response.

Bottom line

Bittrex offers the best trading platform in the cryptocurrency-only market, and is backed by a serious team of security and development professionals. The platform is well designed, and the wallet solution can be trusted to hold some coins. Definitely a good option for cross-pair trades. As with any altcoin exchange, independent research into any coin is a must before investing.

Visit Bittrex

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Thu, 21 May 2015 11:23:28 +0000
Kraken Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/kraken http://bitreview.com/exchange/kraken Kraken Review

Kraken is our top-ranked product for European traders. An excellent trading and mobile platform, with local EU-banking relationships, super-low fees and a transparent operation.  Kraken has recently opened doors to Canadian traders as well, and we expect they will set a new benchmark.

Click Here to Get Started with Kraken!

Summary

Kraken is the top exchange for euro bitcoin traders. The trading platform, which is arguably the best of all the bitcoin exchanges, is number one in terms of BTC/EUR trading volume.  With the acquisition of Coinsetter and the impending launch of the Kraken trading platform in the US, a serious competitor for Coinbase could be in the making.

Kraken has recently slashed trading fees, catapulting what was already a competitive structure into top two or three.  Kraken's partnership with Munich-based Fidor Bank means that european traders can deposit and withdraw euro cheaply, and a recent collaboration with Vogogo sets Kraken up to take a large chunk of the Canadian market.

Kraken has demonstrated a responsible approach to security, investing millions in ensuring coins are securely stored on behalf of clients, and a 100% reserve strategy has been verified by third party audit.  One also can feel that the Kraken team genuinely loves the bitcoin and cryptocurrency project, has done much to further its image and, when required, to manage its crises.  It's nice to trade with the good guys.  

Kraken is one of the best products in the market, period. For European traders, Kraken is hands down the best bitcoin exchange option. 

Security

Kraken holds the majority of bitcoin offline - cold storage, in other words - with "air gap" isolation from any online network, making hacking theft nearly impossible. Only the funds required to maintain operational liquidity are held in hot wallets. In the aftermath of the Mt. Gox fiasco, Kraken was the first to develop and pass a cryptographically verified proof of reserves audit, which showed over 100% of customer funds were held in Kraken wallets.  The audit didn't fully eliminate the need for additional third party verification, but Kraken nonetheless pioneered the process which was followed by many exchanges later.

Servers are held in secure facilities with, according to the description, "armed guards, video surveillance, retina scanners, the works". Sensitive data is encrypted and broken to shards, with information distributed across isolated systems, with redundancy.

On the client side, there is two factor authentication offered on account login, deposits and withdrawals. PGP public-key encryption is available to set up encrypted email communication with Kraken. This allows sensitive information - such as password recovery details - an additional level of security, while reassuring users that the communication could only have come from Kraken. Additionally, there is a global setting lock, which locks any account changes from taking place within a predetermined period of time. Were changes attempted within this time period, the user would be immediately notified by Kraken.

Gravitas

Jesse Powell is the founder and CEO of Kraken, and the company, with approximately 25 employees, is run from offices located on Market Street in San Francisco, CA. The company has raised a total of $6.5 million venture capital, with the latest $5 million coming in March of 2014. According to Mr. Powell, this money would be used mostly for compliance and security. Kraken is registered with FinCEN as a money services business.

Mr. Powell leads a group of talented executives, who have demonstrated consistent dedication to the operations of the exchange in particular and to the bitcoin industry in general. Kraken has a proven track record of stable exchange operations, a responsible position towards compliance and regulation, has invested heavily in security, and was the first to submit to reserve auditing.

As a result, Mr. Powell and Kraken have developed a position of leadership within the industry. This has manifested in a number of different ways.

Kraken is the sole exchange selected to support the investigation into Mt. Gox's missing bitcoins and support logistically and otherwise the distribution of remaining assets to creditors. According to Mr. Powell, "[Kraken] decided to volunteer our resources and expertise in an attempt to minimize damage to creditors, restore faith in the Bitcoin Community, and demonstrate leadership in the industry".

Coinbase and Kraken were the two exchanges chosen for integration into the Bloomberg terminal, which is a testament of Bloomberg's faith in Kraken's (and Coinbase's) stable platform, conservative compliance strategy, and transparency of operations. That Bloomberg picked Kraken is a big vote of confidence, and could pave the way for a massive influx of liquidity should Bloomberg open the doors to trading through the terminal, which is watch-only until the regulatory position on bitcoin trading is clarified.

Kraken has a well-deserved reputation as a leader in the bitcoin industry, due to exemplary exchange operations and technology, responsible reserve management and compliance positioning and heavy investment in security.

[open account]

Opening an account

 Account Permissions Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3*
  Daily    Monthly  Daily Monthly Daily Monthly
Fiat deposit and withdrawal limits   N/A N/A $2,000/$2,000 $10,000/$10,000 $25,000/$25,000 $200,000/$200,000
Crypto deposit and withdrawal limits (fiat equivalent) No limit/ $2,500 No limit / $20,000 No limit /$5,000 No limit/$50,000 No limit/$50,000 No limit/$200,000
Verification requirements Standard biographical Address Verification Government ID and verified proof of residence.  Social Security number for US residents, ID confirm photo for German residents

*Tier 3 verification is required for margin trading

  SEPA (EEA)  Bank Wire  INTERAC EFT
  Deposit Withdrawal Deposit Withdrawal Deposit Withdrawal Deposit Withdrawal
EU  Free €0.09  €5 €40 (non EEA)
 NA N/A NA NA
CAD   N/A N/A N/A  N/A 1.5% ($5 min fee)*  N/A 1.5%($5 min fee)** 1.5% ($10/$75 min/max fee) 
USD N/A N/A 0.19% ($20 min) 0.19% ($20 min) N/A N/A N/A N/A
GBP 0.19% (£10 min) 0.19% (£10 min) 0.19% (£10 min) 0.19% (£10 min) N/A N/A N/A N/A

*$5,000 CAD max deposit
**$10,000 CAD max deposit

Kraken Software review

Kraken's software is among the best in the industry for professional and beginning bitcoin traders alike. The kraken platform allows for many of the same functions ubiquitous in the forex and stock trading markets - stop loss and take profit orders, trailing stop loss, margin trading/leveraged positions, limit orders and short positions, for example.

Kraken's user interface is designed with both beginning and expert traders in mind. Orders are separated simple, intermediate and advanced templates, avoiding bombarding beginning users with a number of different options which would most likely serve only to confuse. The trading overview tab displays all relevant account, trading and market information. A more in-depth trade log is easily accessible by toggling through the different tabs.

Dash

The simple interface offers buy and sell limit and market orders. The prevailing current rate is displayed in the "EUR" box, so users are easily able to determine market rate. Orders can be placed simply by inputting the amount of BTC or EUR to buy or sell, and clicking the buy/sell button.

The intermediate interface offers additional features, including a currency pair selector and leverages up to 3 times. Custom start times are offered, as well as multiple expirations including good until cancelled, good this day, good this week, good this month, and custom.  You can also choose in which currency your fee is taken.

The advanced order slip offers the same functionality as the intermediate interface, with an additional number of advanced orders including stop loss, take profit, trailing stops and take profit limit.  Conditional close orders are also introduced, which allow traders to set up, for instance, limit orders with a conditional stop loss.  If the order is filled, the stop loss will automatically be assigned and trigger in the event the price drops to the stop level. 

trade

The order book runs across the bottom of the trading platform, and a more in-depth look can be found under the "charts" tab, located at the top of the site.

Kraken advanced trading

Kraken provides users trading functionalities that allow for a number of different more sophisticated trading techniques. Below we outline with examples how to utilize these features.

Limit orders and leverage

You fund your account with $2000. Let's imagine bitcoin is currently $80, and you believe that, at $100, it is entering overbought territory. You place a limit sell order to short 20 shares at $100, which will automatically be filled should bitcoin reach such a level. This would, obviously, cost $2,000. But let's further imagine you decide to use a 2:1 leverage - so you sell 20 shares for $2,000 - using $1,000 of your own money, with $1,000 borrowed. Every $1 the coins fall would earn you $20. Conversely, every $1 the coin rises would cost you $20.

Trading on margin

Kraken requires that initial margined trades are supported with a 100% margin balance - meaning that your account equity must at least equal the borrowed amount. If your position were to fall (heaven forbid) you would receive an automated margin call at approximately the 75-80% level. When a call is received, you would be advised to sell enough of your position to obtain at least 100% of the margin amount as equity in your account. If there is a further drop to the 35-40% level your position would automatically be liquidated.

Trading on margin offers the opportunity for large gains compared to actual market performance as well as large losses. Trade on margin with caution. If you don't really know what you are doing, your margin positions should be relatively small, or just stay away entirely.

At a macro level, the above serves an important function for the bitcoin marketplace. Firstly, it injects precious additional liquidity into the market ecology. Secondly, with the introduction of short positions, there is an important check against an extreme bubble. It is very difficult to understand whether or not bitcoin levels are appropriate - with the ability to open short positions, there is a counterweight against, to borrow from Alan Greenspan, "irrational exuberance".

[open account]

Mobile

Kraken has released a native iOS app, and a web-based Android version, though they have not yet released an app. The mobile products possess the same functionalities as the desktop version, optimized for hand-held devices.

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Trading Fees

Executed in last 30 days  Fees
Volume (USD or USD equivalent) Maker Taker
<$10,000 0.16% 0.26%
<$50,000  0.14% 0.24%
<$100,000 0.12% 0.22%
<$250,000 0.10% 0.20%
<$500,000 0.08% 0.18%
<$1,000,000 0.06% 0.16%
<$5,000,000 0.04% 0.14%
<$10,000,000 0.02% 0.12%
>$10,000,000 0.00% 0.10%

Support

Kraken has made great strides in providing exceptional service to customers and, thanks to increased resource allocation, now offers instant chat and email response coverage that is effectively 24/7.  

Bottom line

The Kraken bitcoin exchange is an industry leader in terms of trading platform and exchange operations, security and compliance, and reserve management. The management team is dedicated to improving the Kraken product as well as doing their bit to enhance the reputation of bitcoin and aid in its wider adoption.

For those European traders wishing to avoid transfer and conversion fees, Kraken provides the most BTC/EUR liquidity in the marketplace, and a Eurozone banking relationship facilitating preferential SEPA transfer rates.

For euro bitcoin trading, Kraken is the clear pick for best exchange, and warrants consideration regardless of currency or location.

Visit Kraken

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Wed, 20 May 2015 12:53:20 +0000
Cryptsy Review http://bitreview.com/exchange/cryptsy http://bitreview.com/exchange/cryptsy Cryptsy Review

Cryptsy has been embroiled in controversy concerning non-payment of customer bitcoin.  Traders are best served trading at alternative exchanges until further notice.

Hp

UPDATE:  Cryptsy has not been honoring customer balances, and seems to be insolvent.  If you are looking to buy altcoins, try shapeshift.  For more active traders, Poloniex is your best bet.  

UPDATE (1/14/2016): Cryptsy has declared bankruptcy and closed its doors to traders.  Paul Vern, CEO of Cryptsy, claimed that a hacker stole over 10,000 BTC in 2014 which was kept quite in the hopes that funds could be paid through the exchange's profits.  They were not able to. 

Summary

Cryptsy is a US-based exchange, offering four different currencies as "markets" - Bitcoin, LiteCoin, Ripple, and USD - and 200+ altcoins for trade within these markets. In 2013, mining pool operator Paul Vernon had amassed large amounts of altcoin. He launched Cryptsy for his pool communities to trade the altcoins which they had mined, and it quickly grew to become the largest crypto to crypto exchange in the market.

In May 2014, Cryptsy integrated USD as a market, and began processing deposits and withdrawals. They launched a rather innovative fundraising concept in which 100,000 shares of cryptsy trade fees, each worth .0002% of an trade fees, were sold for a price of .05 BTC each, a total of $1m. CEO Paul Vernon boldly estimated an almost instant 10-20 fold increase in trading fees after introducing fiat currencies as a way of justifying an eyebrow raising valuation. It seems like this wasn't widely accepted by the market, as only ~7500 of the shares were sold. And indeed at the time of writing, the market opinion has been borne out, as the USD/BTC pair is only the 4th largest on the exchange.


Cryptsy adds significant liquidity to some relatively large coins, behind only the chinese exchanges BTER and BTC38 on Dogecoin, and singlehandedly propping up paycoin (perhaps to their shame), as two quick examples. While it is one of the largest crypto exchanges out there, it has been mired in controversy relating to stability and security, which will be outlined below.

Security

Like all exchanges, two-factor authentication is available to secure login. According to Cryptsy, the "majority" of customers funds are held offline, distributed to a number of secure locations.

In place of standard auditing practices, Cryptsy employs a third party that scans the network for security issues, but the results don't seem to be published. Any password change will result in one day withdrawal freeze, and emails are sent to notify the account holder.

We should mention a few disturbing episodes. First, in April 2014, a user was able to withdraw 60 bitcoins despite the fact that his balance was close to zero, and the account went into negative. Being an honest type, he sent back the funds to cryptsy, but the issue points to a similar withdrawal code flaw as plagued Poloniex. We assume the issue has since been resolved as there have been no further incidents.

In October of the same year, a suit was filed in a Florida court accusing Cryptsy of fraud and negligence. According to the suit, Cryptsy exaggerated its security protocols, and was directly to blame for the client's loss of 140 BTC due to bugs, lack of protection against fraud, and commingling of customer funds. The prosecution claims that Cryptsy was made aware that it's client's funds had been removed from his account and transferred to another account. Cryptsy did not act on the alert, and allowed the funds to exit the Cryptsy system. Cryptsy in response has noted that the plaintiff did not exploit the standard methods of dispute arbitration, and suggests that the motive of the suit was to extort Cryptsy by pushing a large, negative-PR campaign against the company. As of April 2015, the suit is pending trial.

Gravitas

Cryptsy's integration of USD trading points to their desire to enter the mainstream bitcoin exchange market, and their fundraising attempts were meant to finance attempts to regulate on a state by state basis. Mr. Vernon is a public figure in the bitcoin world, and is often at conferences where he regularly contributes to panel discussion. This makes Cryptsy arguably the most transparent - or at least public - of crypto to crypto exchanges outside of China.

However, Cryptsy has had its share of stability issues, which has led some to question the integrity of the exchange and has undermined its reputation a bit. There have been lengthy forum threads dedicated to site crashes and gateway errors, often corresponding with DOGE market rallies. While disgruntled users were quick to blame the DOGE crashes on manipulation by Cryptsy, a more likely explanation is that spikes in user activity caused the server to crash (which is another worrying issue, but doesn't point to shady business practices). The exchange seems to be much more stable in 2015.

There have also been issues with deposit and withdrawal times, as well as dissatisfaction with the response times and professionalism of support. While the criticism at times seems more pronounced in regards to Cryptsy, it should be noted that the dissatisfied customer is more likely to make noise than the satisfied one, and thus these threads are not representative of overall customer opinion.

Cryptsy has maintained its position as number one crypto-crypto exchange in the market, which is perhaps a better testament to overall user satisfaction.

Opening an account

We have given Cryptsy five stars for their KYC process as crypto-to-crypto trading requires a minimal amount of personal information.  Should you be interested in trading fiat currencies, the KYC process mirrors those of many of the mainstream fiat exchanges.

  Registered Verified
Trading permission Can deposit, withdraw and trade cryptocurrencies Can deposit USD, participate in market 2% rebate on trading fees. (Requires email request for activation of rebate)
Requirements Registration form with seven fields Address, DOB, Government ID, picture of applicant holding ID

Software Review

The Dashboard page, which launches upon login, displays the markets and altcoins available for trade along the the left hand side of the screen, while various personalized content - your wallet address, verification status, stats, etc - is spread down the center of the screen. Navigating to the "home" tab provides a more convenient interface to begin trading. The four markets, USD, BTC, LTC and XRP are displayed, with pairs offered listed below according to 24 hour volume. More exotic coin pairs can be accessed using the "search markets" box.

Once a pair has been selected, a trade screen opens with a look and feel very similar to bittrex. A chart takes the main position on the page, allowing examination of currency performance over various time frames, and users may buy and sell limit and market orders, or create stop loss/take profit "triggers", easily in the buy, sell and trigger order slips below. Scrolling down reveals a users open orders as well as the order books and market trade history.

trade

There is a voting functionality, allowing users to place one vote per potential altcoin they'd like to see integrated into the trading platform. Users may buy additional votes for .0002 bitcoins or 5 cryptsy Points each, which is meant to offset the "significant development investment for each new coin". This is an interesting method of integrating new coins, and isolates Cryptsy ownership from questions as to the integrity of coin selection methods.

Points are a reward for user loyalty as expressed through trading volume, and can be traded on the exchange for BTC. For each BTC of trade volume, a user receives 0.1 cryptsy point, with each point currently worth .0006 BTC. At that rate, a turnover of 100 bitcoins would earn a user 0.15 cents, according to the current bitcoin rate. Not the greatest value, but better than nothing!

There is also a "Cryptsy points" weekly raffle, and users may purchase up to 500 tickets at a cost of .1 cryptsy point. The rewards range from Miner hardware to contract shares to ipad minis. There was a lag of one month between the previous two drawings after running at weekly intervals - perhaps there were too few entries.

The reporting functionality allows for the custom generation and download of personal trading activity, though it is currently under maintenance. It is meant to show profit/loss per altcoin traded, as well as total trade volume.

Finally, the deposit/withdrawal functionality is accessible through the balances tab. Clicking on a particular coin will pop a box with multiple options - deposit and withdraw among them. Navigating to deposit opens a generate new wallet address option, and coins may be sent to the wallet generated. Coin withdrawal is as simple as inputting the amount, destination address and password, and successfully entering the captcha text.

Fee structure

Average daily volume (btc) Fee
<.5 .33%
<1 .31%
<5 .29%
<20 .27%
>20 .25%

Discounts are applied to traders based on volume, and are used to incentivize full verification. Large traders can achieve more than a 50% reduction in fees.

Average daily volume (btc) Verified user unverified user
<2 .005% N/A
<10 .01% .005%
<100 .02% .01%
<300 .05% .025%
<1000 0.1% .05%
>1000 0.15% .075%

 Cryptsy sets aside 2% of their daily overall fees to return as a "balance rebate" to users that hold funds within the exchange. Each particular users is given a cut of the rebate that corresponds to their percentage of overall holdings.

Last, a market maker rebate is offered to those who request it from support. Market Makers are those that deposit currency into the exchange, as opposed to takers who pull money out. The rebate is .05% over overall trade volume, so it is not at all insignificant. While we would prefer that there was simply two separate fee tables, one for makers and one for takers as is the case with other exchanges, it is positive that cryptsy rewards those that contribute to the growth of the network.

Mobile

Cryptsy is not responsive, and the site doesn't properly function on mobile.

Cryptsy Support

Cryptsy has a reputation for relatively poor support in terms of response time and professionalism.  When we checked ourselves, support was courteous and the response time was prompt.

Bottom line

Liquidity is the name of the game when trading in second tier altcoins, and cryptsy delivers on liquidity. The platform seems a bit unstable, and all the pricing intricacies most likely only serves to introduce additional complexities on their end which could additionally hamper smooth execution. There needs to be an internal audit of their support quality, and the company would be well-suited if Paul Vernon pounded a bit of pavement on the PR front.

In any event, trade as needed, but would recommend an external wallet to store coins.

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manager@bitreview.com (David M) Exchange Thu, 21 May 2015 11:55:41 +0000