Say what you will about WEX/btc-e, but user funds have never been stolen. Never mind all the bitcoin theft and ransomware laundering allegations.
- Bitcoin Cash
- OKPay, Perfect Money, e-transfer, Money Transfer
- USD, EUR, RUB
- Lots of deposit options
- Don’t ask, don’t tell policy on clients
- OK fees and altcoin selection
- Obscene levels of shadiness
- Anonymous management, poor communication
- Stability, solvency a question mark
Before getting started, we want to be clear: we highly recommend staying away from Wex. They have always been incredibly shady, and pricing at the exchange is now extremely irratic, suggesting that users are concerned with getting their money. There are tons of better and safer options out there – check out the best bitcoin exchanges for alternatives.
Wex, aka btc-e, was always shrouded in a blanket of secrecy.
The owners remained entirely anonymous, known only by the names Aleksey and Alexander, likely pseudonyms. From an etymological perspective, both names have closely-related Greek roots, meaning defender, or defender of the people. Anonymous defenders until the owner, Alexander Vinnik, was arrested for his alleged role in laundering over $4 billion in bitcoin, including funds stolen in the Mt. Gox heist (from, you know, the people). This is how the homepage of btc-e looks today.
BTC-e provides two-factor authorization and has IP whitelisting functionality allowing withdrawals only from included IPs. There is no indication of what percentage of funds are held as reserve in cold storage and what percentage of funds are held in the hot wallet.
One vote in favor of btc-e’s security is the lack of serious security breaches since opening in 2011, something that may not be said for other, more transparent operations. In 2012 there was a hack of the Liberty Reserve API. The attacker made large USD transfers, purchased bitcoin and thus massively boosted the price. One would assume he then sold his own bitcoin at profit, but this is unknown.
BTC-e reverted to a backup made prior to the hack and covered the losses of traders, which came to around $45,000. So BTC-e acted honorably and decisively when put to the test.
In the beginning of 2014, the then-leading bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox collapsed in spectacular fashion, driving scores of traders to btc-e, among other exchanges. Users, some of whom were greatly wounded due to Mt. Gox’s incompetent operational and financial management, deserved reassurances as to the proper management of their money and the solvency of BTC-e’s operations. Like others in the industry, the Alexes released a statement reassuring users as to the strength of security protocol, and promised to publish financial statements verified by external auditors showing financial solvency. Today, twelve months later, not a single statement has been published. This is worrisome.
All that is required to register at btc-e is an email, password and login name. Users can then ostensibly deposit fiat currency without any additional information required. This does not show BTC-e’s dedication to the anonymity of their users as opposed to other exchanges. Every method of transferring fiat to BTC-e requires the same KYC/AML procedures as found at any bitcoin exchange. If the feds come a-knocking, they will gain access to any user’s biographical information at btc-e, the same as they would at coinbase.
The lack of additional KYC information required is perhaps a strong ideological stance by the Alexes. It might be argued, and perhaps it is the most reasonable explanation, that the Alexes believe they should be focusing solely on their core technology, and that expansion in other directions simply diverts time and energy from their unique proposition. The Alexes also probably worry that taking on the added responsibility of verification, as every other exchange in the market has done, requires expansion, additional operational processes and overhead, more hands on deck, and thus more chance of ownership identities being uncovered. As is, the operation is solely reliant on the Alexes and a few remote support workers.
Will the Alexes lose interest? Will they decide to cut and run? Until now, BTC-e has luckily not been presented with an extremely difficult security breach or with many regulatory or legal challenges. It is inevitable that one day they will. How the Alexes would react is anyone’s guess.
Opening an account
Accounts are opened with a username, password and email address. No additional KYC/AML checks are required to deposit or withdraw. WEX accepts deposits only from e-payment providers like ADVcash, Perfect Money, Payeer, and the like, so they are not dependent on banks to process deposits and withdrawals.
WEX software review
The trading platform, while not the prettiest, does what it is meant to do. At the top of the screen are a number of different fiat/digital currency pairs, and toggling between them displays the relevant order books, as well as the buy and sell option. You are able to execute orders at market rate, or set a limit order. Nothing fancy, what you see on the homepage is exactly what you get. Exactly the same as btc-e, just with much, much less trading volume. Same troll box quality, however.
The site is not responsive. However, the simple interface allows for mobile trading if needed.
There is a .2 standard rate applied to transactions on the site. Fees on deposit varies according to the deposit option.
btc-e deposit options
Please find below a listing of deposit options
|WEX code (see below)||0%||0%||0%|
|Money Transfer||6.5% minimum fee $75||NA||NA|
And the withdrawal options
Wex redeemable codes have an associated value, whether fiat or digital currency, which can be redeemed by the owner. There are a number of WEX code exchangers that buy and sell codes in exchange for fiat currency, and transfer fiat currency to the owner through a number of different e-currency or money transfer companies. They are essentially brokers, and at times offer better fees than can be sourced directly through WEX.
I was pleasantly surprised when my test support ticket was answered within approximately 30 minutes.
WEX is still anonymous. WEX will never release an audit detailing their financial state, reserve management, etc. Their old owner was arrested for money laundering. We still feel that putting your money with WEX is a sort of a game of Russian (Bulgarian? Cypriot? Singaporean?) roulette. However, they also respect the privacy of their users. Trade at your own risk.