The Canadian bitcoin market is served by three major exchanges, four if you want to include Coinbase.  The undisputed heavyweight of the market is QuadrigaCX, followed by upstart Coinsquare and then Kraken, who elbowed it’s way into Canada with the purchase of Cavirtex and has proceeded to slowly lose market share.

Our exchange preference is based on four aspects.  The most important is btc/cad exchange volume, getting the most bitcoin for the buck, followed by the integration of local payment options, and finally the initial verification times.  On all four counts QuadrigaCX comes out as the best exchange in the Canadian market, and we very much recommend giving them a go. Those buying and holding will appreciate the pricing in CAD against the competition, and getting the account active is relatively painless thanks to cheap and local deposit options and a quick verification process. 

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
Fees
  • 0.2-0.5%
Target Market
  • Canada
Currencies
  • CAD
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, Bank Draft, interac, Cash, Flexepin

Quadriga has by far the most liquidity in the Canadian market, with the caveat that this liquidity is very much concentrated during Canadian trading hours; when Canada sleeps the spread widens considerably.

However, provided you are not waking up at 3 am to trade, Quadriga has the narrowest spreads and the biggest book, which far compensates for the slightly higher trading fees.  This is the case for all of the represented cryptocurrencies against the Canadian dollar.

Note also the myriad of deposit options available, as well as the extremely high deposit and withdrawal limits.  For larger portfolios, Quadriga is definitely your best Canadian on and off ramp. Consider also that Quadriga charges no transfer fee for bitcoin, which means customers may use Quadriga to convert CAD into bitcoin, and then freely transfer the bitcoin to, say, Bitmex to get a bit of leverage, or Bitfinex to buy additional altcoins.  

When it comes to cryptocurrency exchanges offering Canadian dollar markets, QuadrigaCX is clearly the best in the market.

Runner Up

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Dash
  • Dogecoin
Fees
  • Maker .1%-.2%, Taker .2%-.4%
Target Market
  • Canada
Currencies
  • CAD
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, interac, Flexepin

Coinsquare mercifully updated their user interface at the end of 2017 and it is head and shoulders above the previous product. The site has been hemorrhaging customers for about the last year, and the relaunch has probably staunched the bleeding. Coinsquare has now limited it’s Canadian markets to btc/cad, which has pretty decent volume, and sometimes demonstrates better spreads than Quadriga.  They do charge more on the withdrawal side it should be noted.

The one area in which they are superior to both Kraken and at times Quadriga is their verification, partially due to more limited verification requests.  

International Exchanges that Accept Canadian Deposits

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Augur
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Cardano
  • Dash
  • EOS
  • Gnosis
  • Monero
  • Ripple
  • Tether
  • Zcash
Fees
  • Maker: 0.16-0.0%; Taker: 0.26-0.1%
Target Market
  • Canada, European Economic Area
Currencies
  • EUR
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, SEPA

There are two reasons  you might choose Kraken over QuadrigaCX.  First, the trading fees are lower. Though Quadriga’s volume and spreads during Canadian trading hours more than compensates for the 0.2% trading fee difference, Kraken offers greater liquidity during non-Canadian trading hours.  If you trade at those times, maybe Kraken makes sense.

Additionally, Kraken offers a XRPCAD market, so anybody who wants to try their luck on the Ripple train, Kraken is your only Canadian Dollar market.  We do not find the additional cryptocurrencies offered in USD or cross markets to be much of an advantage. Once you have exchanges your Canadian dollars into bitcoin, there is nothing to stop you from engaging with the largest international exchanges for the buying or trading of any number of additional coins.  I would not recommend Kraken solely to, for instance, buy Monero. You would be better off converting your CAD to bitcoin at Quadriga and freely transferring the bitcoin to a different exchange offering Monero markets.

Honorable mention goes to:

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
Fees
  • Maker: 0%; Taker: 0.25-0.1%
Target Market
  • Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, ACH, Faster Payments

In 2016 it looked like Coinbase was poised to dominate the Canadian market.  Cooperation with Canadian turnkey payment processor Vogogo allowed Coinbase to cruise in on their reputation and product and pick up massive amounts of volume.  However, Vogogo closed and Coinbase proved unwilling to allocate the resources necessary to run a local Canadian business. This meant that deposit fees drastically increased, making it uneconomical to use the exchange as a Canadian dollar on ramp.  Coinbase users flocked back to QuadrigaCX, where it was cheap or free to deposit or withdraw.

Comparison of Canada’s Top Three Bitcoin Exchanges

First things first, QuadrigaCX has distinguished itself as the number one cryptocurrency exchange by way of volume in the Canadian market, and it is not particularly close.  

There was a moment that Kraken seemed to be challenging for the spot. Quadriga has a distinct advantage over Kraken in that it lives and breathes the Canadian cryptocurrency market.  It is likely safe to say that in terms of Kraken’s priorities, macro issues, like platform stability, which has been a concern as of late, as well as specific issues relating to its leading euro market platform, would simply be prioritised above local Canadian issues.  This is why, for instance, the local deposit options that were once available to Cavirtex customers have been disabled and only bank wire is available.

Deposit Fees

In CADQuadrigaCXKrakenCoinsquare
FeeDaily LimitFeeDaily Limit (Tier 3)FeeDaily Limit
Interac1.5%$4,000--2.5%$3,000
Bank Wire1%$500,000Free*$25,000.5%$300,000
Flexepin2.5%$2,500--2.5%$500
Credit Card----7%$500
Bank Draft----2.5%$9,000
Money Order----2.5%$1,000

*International bank wire Fees apply

Withdrawal Fees

in CADQuadrigaCXKrakenCoinsquare
FeeDaily LimitFeeDaily Limit (Tier 3)FeeDaily Limit
Bank WireFree$500,000Free$25,000.5%$100,000
EFTFree$100,000----
Cheque1%$500,000----
Gift Card$5.85$100----
Direct Bank Deposit2%$100,000--1%$9,000

Note that QuadrigaCX covers the mining fee when withdrawing crypto.

Trading Fees

ExchangeFees
QuadrigaCXFrom 0.5% to 0.2% depending on the pair.
Coinsquarefrom 0.4% to 0.1% based on pair and maker/taker split.
KrakenVolume based, Maker from 0.16% to 0%; Taker from 0.26% to 0.1%

Canadian Dollar / Crypto Markets

QuadrigaCX: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold

Kraken: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple

CoinSquare: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Doge, Dash

Verification Times

QuadrigaCX offers the steadiest verification times, usually within 72 hours.  You might get luck at Coinsquare and get auto verified from their third-party KYC processor.  However, if that process does not work, expect to wait a much longer time for Coinsquare’s manual checks.  It is difficult to specify how long Kraken takes to verify – it can take weeks if the market is hot. In general, QuadrigaCX is the most dependable, though Coinsquare can beat it a good amount of the time.    

Canadian p2p exchanges

P2p bitcoin exchanges are good for a few things.  They decentralize the buying and selling process, connecting buyer and seller directly for each transaction. The platform is basically used as a tool to display offers, as well as for escrow and dispute arbitration functions. This means that cryptocurrencies are not stored in platform wallets – although often the seller’s coin will be held there for release to buyers; there is usually limited or no KYC information needed. Local p2p sellers will generally use local payment options as well.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
Fees
  • 1%
Target Market
  • Canada
Currencies
  • CAD
Deposit
  • Bank Draft, Paypal, interac

Quebex is a great p2p exchange when it comes to pricing and local payment options; however, it is actually MORE intrusive than standard exchanges when it comes to KYC, and it is often said that the support is insufficient. It is our opinion that a p2p exchange without a heightened level of privacy is not really needed in markets with quality exchange options.

Cryptos
  • Bitcoin
Fees
  • Set by seller
Target Market
  • Global
Currencies
  • USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF, CNY, DKK, HKD, HUF, IDR, INR, JPY, KES, KRW, MXN, MYR, NGN, NIS, PLN, RON, RUB, SEK, SGD, ZAR
Deposit
  • Credit Card, Bank Wire, ACH, SEPA, Paypal, Debit Card, interac, Cash, OKPay, Perfect Money, Crypto Only, e-transfer, Neteller, Skrill, Money Transfer

Local bitcoins offers slightly worse pricing than Quedex – the spreads between buy and sell orders are often wider. However, enhanced verification is only a requirement after a certain amount of trading, and the enhanced verification is not nearly as intrusive.  Note also that, while the spreads are wider, they don’t add any additional fee, while Quedex tags on 1%.

Bottom Line

Whether you mean to buy and hold or actively trade cryptocurrencies, opening an account with a local Canadian exchange is a must.  QuadrigaCX has the most trading volume by a long shot, which means it is the most cost effective way to buy bitcoin in Canada. Local deposit and withdrawal options makes it a breeze to get your cash in and out of the exchange, and traders will be very pleased that QuadrigaCX covers the mining fee when transferring your coin to a different wallet or exchange.