Before we get into exchanges, let’s refresh our minds about what cryptocurrency is. The concept behind cryptocurrencies is relatively simple, while the math and technology are not. Essentially, a cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency that utilizes cryptography as a means for protection and security.
Cryptography is also used to regulate the creation of additional units, so as to not drive the overall digital currency market wild. One of the greatest appeals of cryptocurrencies is that they are not regulated by any government agencies. The most popular digital asset is the bitcoin, followed by ethereum.
What Are Cryptocurrency Exchanges?
Cryptocurrencies can be traded through cryptocurrency exchanges. These cryptocurrency exchanges are platforms through which you can purchase or sell digital currencies for dollars, euros, and pounds, as well as other digital assets. For example, you can sell bitcoins and purchase dollars with the sold bitcoins, or you could exchange bitcoins for ether. These exchanges are a vital part of the virtual currency expansion rate.
There are private exchanges, which are exclusive and operate by invite only, as well as those available for the public. Local exchanges also exist. Some are easier to use than others are; certain exchanges are so flexible that digital assets can be traded directly through the built-in chat features of specific popular messengers, like Telegram.
What to Consider When Picking the Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Here are a few things you will want to consider before picking the best cryptocurrency exchange suited for your trading and speculative needs.
Fees – Almost all exchanges charge fees for you to do business on their platforms. Make sure that when you are signing up or committing yourself to a specific exchange that you know everything about its fees.
Verification Requirements and Security – These are vital to understand before starting out on an exchange. Most exchanges require some sort of identity verification in the form of a passport, driver’s license, proof of residence, or other similar document before joining. The more complex the verification process, the safer the exchange platform.
Exchange Rates – Exchange rates are also important, as you don’t want to join a cryptocurrency exchange that charges draconian fees for transactions and exchanges. That just wouldn’t be fair to you or financially savvy.
Reputation – The best cryptocurrency exchanges always have ups and downs. However, the general opinion of the top ones is positive. The best exchanges have a solid reputation and are well trusted by traders.
Region – It’s also important to find an exchange that supports your geographic region. Some exchanges may support all of the countries in South America, while not supporting any of the countries in Asia, and vice versa. If you are living in Russia, for example, make sure you pick the best exchange platform that supports your region.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges out there.
Something which is important to bare in mind when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange to make your trades and purchases on is their security measures. It is well-known that many exchanges have been hacked in the past, most notably the Mt Gox exchange, which people are still feeling the fall-out from ever since.
You should know that the your funds or coins on an exchange or not really yours, unless you own the private keys to the wallet of your coins you are relying on someone else to be custodian of your funds.
Luckily there are some basic measures you can take when using an exchange. The most important is to never store more there than you are willing to lose, if you have a significant balance, you should withdraw it back to your own wallet and for extra security, use a Hardware wallet to secure these funds.
Exchanges should be used for quick purchases of your desired cryptocurrency or for trading an amount you are happy with. They should never be used as your primary wallet, that is not their intended function.
Another important step to take is to use all the security options available on the site, make sure that two-factor authentication (2FA) is setup correctly and you use an app like Authy or Google authenticator. Do not use the mobile phone option which texts you a code, this is not safe as their have been a number of high-profile hacks involving sim-swaps which allow a would-be hacker to take over your phone number and then gain access to your account.
Coinbase is one of the, if not the, most trusted cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world. It is also the largest digital asset exchange platform in the world. The platform supports more than 32 countries and has more than 4 million active users. Traders are allowed to acquire and sell bitcoins using their bank account, credit card, PayPal, and other payment methods, as well. In order to begin trading on Coinbase, you will have to set up an e-wallet for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, users have to be able to link a valid bank account in order to purchase bitcoins.
Currently, fully verified U.S. residents are only allowed to hold up to 50,000 bitcoins per day. Overall, Coinbase has a great reputation and is highly respected in the trader community. Most transactions through Coinbase only have a 1 percent transaction fee in addition to any fees that your selected payment method may carry.
As with CEX, you can only purchase a few currencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. You would then need to use Changelly to convert these to other crypto currencies.
Another benefit of registering with Coinbase is the fact you are then able to use the Coinbase Pro exchange which is owed by the same company. Coinbase Pro allows to more advanced trading features such as margin trading and Market, Limit, & Stop Orders. Coinbase Pro also has lower fees than Coinbase.
Binance is a newer exchange but one we have grown to love, it has a wide range of cryptocurrencies available to purchase and trade and has a basic and advanced view which you can switch between easily. Their fees are very reasonable and they allow you to register and trade immediately without having to verify your account. You will then be able to make withdrawals of up to 2 BTC per day, if you want to withdraw higher amounts you will then need to upload your photo ID and a “selfie” photo.
The public opinion of Binance at this time is very high with people praising the speed of the site, ease of use and cheap fees.
For more details you can read our complete review of Binance here.
KuCoin is a new but very exciting exchange based in South Korea. They operate similarly to Binance in the fact that they list new altcoins much quicker than other exchanges so it’s a good place to purchase cryptocurrencies shortly after their ICO meaning there is a greater opportunity to profit by getting in early.
The interface is very clean and modern and much easier to operate than other older and more clunky exchanges.
They also offer their own token KCS which allows all holders to receive a daily share of profits of the platform, this is a great token to hold as you are paid in the many different currencies that the site allows people to trade in.
LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange used in most big cities around the world. The general principle behind this exchange is that you can find people who live in your area or city and meet with them in person to conduct an exchange. The platform also offers options for purchasing digital currencies via PayPal, Square, direct-to-bank transfers, and many other payment-processing methods. The platform charges a small fee of 1 percent per transaction in cases where sellers apply their own exchange rate.
Similar to the way Uber passengers and drivers are rated, LocalBitcoins applies a rating to each trader that uses the platform, and this rating is publicly displayed. Trades first have to undergo an escrow process to ensure that nobody will be scammed by using the platform. Once everything is verified, the funds and cryptocurrencies transfer between traders. LocalBitcoins takes a commission of 1 percent from sellers. W
Take a look at our LocalBitcoins Review to find out more.
CoinMama is a large bitcoin brokerage that allows users to acquire coins with their debit or credit cards. The platform issues small fees for transactions. To make up for this, however, the limits for how many bitcoins a user can buy are much higher in comparison to Coinbase. Users can acquire up to $5,000 of coins per day or up to $20,000 per month. All users need to do to use CoinMama is to set up an account, log in, and navigate to the profile page section to fill in personal information.
Following this, users will be introduced to a page that allows them to select how many bitcoins they would like to purchase, and once a fitting amount has been selected, users will be allowed to add their preferred payment methods and bitcoin addresses. Users will also be required to verify their phone number and email address. CoinMama does not require most users to upload their government-issued ID. After completing the aforementioned steps and passing the verification process, users will be able to acquire bitcoins through CoinMama.
Read our complete CoinMama Review here.
CEX.IO is one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. However, despite being referred to as a cryptocurrency exchange, CEX.IO can only be used with bitcoins and ethereum which are the main two trading pairs for alt-coins. If you want to purchase other currencies, you can use CEX and then a service named Changelly to convert them to many other cryptos.
The platform is registered with the FINCEN and applies KYC and AML principles. In other words, users have to completely verify their identity before they can get involved in any trades with this platform. Currently, the platform supports purchases with credit cards, wire transfers, or SEPA transfers for European residents.
Once you enter a trade, the platform automatically calculates the price of the transaction and freezes the exchange rate for 120 seconds, which is quite convenient. However, many users note that there are occasional hidden fees. CEX.IO has a flat fee of 7 percent for anything involving fiat currencies. For example, if you acquire $100 in bitcoins, you will only receive $93 in coins.
Read our indepth CEX Review here to learn more.
Bittrex is well established and highly regarded crypto trading platform, with many coins and tokens to choose from. The interface is not for complete beginner’s but you should be able to find your way around after a little while.
Read our full review of Bittrex here.
Unsurprisingly, Bittrex’s most popular trading pairs are BTC and ETH. It must be noted that the exchange currently does not offer any kind of fiat-to-crypto pairs, e.g. with U.S. dollars, euros, or British pounds). One thing investors can do is buy USDT (Tether tokens) via wired bank transfers in order to use USDT for crypto-to-crypto exchanges.
However, you’ll need to be fully verified and willing to slap down at least $10,000 USD for Bittrex to even consider the transfer. And we here at Blockonomi don’t remind this approach anyways; there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Tether lately, and it’s best just to stay away for now until further developments actualize.
Picking the ideal cryptocurrency exchange platform for your specific needs may be a difficult and time-consuming process. Remember to pay attention to the fees, reputation, security, verification processes, and geographical services an exchange platform has to offer. Remember that you are not limited to using only one cryptocurrency exchange. Hopefully, the information provided will assist you in deciding which exchange platform to use.
We have selected 6 Cryptocurrency exchanges here which are trustworthy and easy to use for beginners to get started building their investment portfolios.