ShapeShift is an instant Bitcoin, Litecoin and altcoin exchange. Swapping between currency pairs takes just seconds, and the service is frictionless because no accounts or signups are needed.

That means no profiles, passwords or email address inputs are required. ShapeShift saves you time — exchanges typically take 10 seconds — values the security of your money and maintains the privacy of your finances.

At the moment,  Bitcoin, Litecoin, Peercoin, Darkcoin, and Dogecoin are supported. ShapeShift is in open beta until mid-September, after which more altcoins will be added to the platform.

ShapeShift's goal is to be the fastest, most private, and most convenient way to swap digital currencies, and the company promises that exchange rates will always remain competitive.

The process to “shift” coins is very simple by design.

Users select which coins they have and which coins they want. Then, users provide a withdrawal address where their new coins will be sent. Users are given a deposit address, and any coins they send to that address are immediately converted and sent to their withdrawal addresses.

Here is how you would exchange X amount of Bitcoin for Y amount of Litecoin:

●Select Bitcoin as the input and Litecoin as the output.

●Provide your Litecoin address in the box, then click the Start button.

●ShapeShift will generate a Bitcoin deposit address. Send your Bitcoin there, provided that the value does not exceed the deposit limit.

That's it. In a few moments, your Litecoin will be sent to you.

The exchange rate you get is determined at the moment your deposit is received. It may vary slightly (for better or worse) from the rate you see on the homepage.

Small deposits are processed with zero confirmations. Larger deposits wait for at least one confirmation.

You can reuse deposit addresses. If you do, the converted amount will be sent to the same output address as before.

The only data ShapeShift stores is the transaction link between deposit and send-to addresses because previously used deposit addresses can be reused.

Up until now, exchanges for Bitcoin and altcoins have required an account, meaning a username, password, and email address at minimum. They also require you to store your money on the exchange or tediously wait for deposits whenever you want to trade. ShapeShift does away with accounts completely.

“We wanted to rethink how exchange worked,” ShapeShift founder and CEO Beorn says. “It's hard for people to understand how much cryptocurrency can change things, so Bitcoin sites are often built with those old prejudices — like requiring the user to set up an account. ShapeShift distills the process of converting one coin into another into its simplest and most efficient form.”

There are no bid or ask orders. Instead, all transactions are charged a miner fee. BTC withdrawals are charged 0.0005 BTC. LTC withdrawals are charged 0.003 LTC. Fees for other coins will be added as the currencies themselves are added.

This fee will be taken off of the final amount sent to you after an exchange and will not be directly reflected in the ShapeShift rate beforehand.

ShapeShift is primarily intended to be used as an API for integration with Bitcoin sites and services. Site operators can use this API to enable their Bitcoin websites to accept Litecoin or other coins supported by ShapeShift. The process can be seamless, enabling every Bitcoin site to be able to accept all cryptocurrencies.

The API supports CORS for automated trading and web application interfaces. You can find the ShapeShift API documentation here.

ShapeShift formed in the summer of 2014 to provide instant Bitcoin and altcoin conversion. The platform represents the fastest, most efficient way to convert between coins within the Bitcoin ecosystem.

ShapeShift has a strict “No Fiat” policy, meaning it does not use banks or political currencies anywhere in its operations.

Cointelegraph: What has the response been like so far from open beta users?

Beorn: The response has been fantastic. The day we posted about the open beta, Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin, tweeted, "I've been waiting for a service like this. Great job!" 

We've had other great comments on Reddit and the forums such as: "Unreal. Seriously impressive; you have all my Litecoin business," and: "Brilliant. These guys nailed it."

LitecoinTalk mod TheMage said that he was "very impressed."

Generally, when people try ShapeShift, they are blown away by the speed and how easy it is. Often, people will do an exchange, and before they can even switch from their Bitcoin wallet over to their Litecoin wallet, the converted funds have already arrived. This is really how currency exchange should work and is only possible with cryptocurrency.

CT: How do you maintain altcoin and Bitcoin liquidity?

B: We hold a basket of every currency offered on our site (Bitcoin, Litecoin as well as Peercoin, Darkcoin, and Dogecoin). This lets us process orders instantly. We don't have to wait for an exchange or a third party.

CT: What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing?

B: As a new business, the biggest challenge is just reaching new customers and building our reputation. Trust is hard-won in Bitcoinland, and we understand it won't come easy for us.

CT: What are your plans for the future? What other altcoins will be available for exchange in September?

B: We plan to support all major cryptocurrencies. A handful of additional coins will be available in September, but we'd rather have it a surprise which specific coins appear. Our long term plan is simply to become the method by which individuals move between cryptocurrencies. We will also work to be forever competitive on price — our exchange rate must always be a good deal for the customer.

CT: Is there anything else you would like to add?

B: Some have asked what the point of ShapeShift is, since there are already exchanges. Well, imagine if you went to an airport currency kiosk and they made you A) set up an account with them, B) deposit funds (taking 5-60 minutes), and C) establish bid or ask orders which may or may not get filled for a while. That would suck.

ShapeShift is intended to be the easy way to move between currencies (even easier than an airport kiosk because you can do it in your underwear at home), and I think everyone knows that as Bitcoinland becomes easier for users, it will grow.