As an everyday consumer, can you rely on exchanges to facilitate a positive overall experience when discovering Bitcoin for the first time?
This is a question we at Cointelegraph have been asking ourselves a lot recently. Following publication of our extensive reviews series
, which evaluates 10 of the most well-known exchanges in detail, we thought it was only reasonable to test our own data.
As such, this series of articles will test the top five exchanges under review anonymously, allowing us to see if the user experience matches their credentials. As well as performing some basic operations, we will also evaluate features most likely to be used by first-time users, such as registration, account setup and account funding, in order to see how today’s exchanges really compare for mainstream adoption.
First under the microscope was hitbtc, a relatively new exchange which nevertheless boasts some impressive high-end technical features and a sanitized user interface.
In our review, we noted that hitbtc was able to provide a well-rounded experience for both novice and advanced users, and thus sent one of our journalists to test out its basic functions in regular operation.
- Account setup;
- Account verification;
- Account deposits and withdrawals (fiat and cryptocurrency);
- User support system.
Entering the site and registering for an account was very straightforward, as might be expected. The signup button is not visible on the initial homepage view but is the first item to load on scrolling. A dialogue box then loads, inviting basic user details to be entered. Once successful, an email with a confirmation link is sent to the desired address, as is standard with most registration procedures. The email arrived immediately and contained a one-click activation link, which loaded the user account.
Upon signing in, the trading page which loads can be fairly daunting for a first-time user. Hitbtc’s division of accounts into ‘main’ and ‘trading’ results in balance fields being duplicated, creating a sea of figures in addition to the technical trading charts.
The information necessary to provide in order to start trading more than crypto-crypto must be entered using the ‘account’ button at the top of the page. There is also a separate ‘settings’ button which is potentially confusing, but information on that page is laid out clearly so that it is obvious which functions are able to be changed using it.
For fiat functionality, the account page is well-thought out, with appropriate sections for each stage making information easily available.
Linking a bank account was straightforward enough, but the restrictions on new accounts (and others) are noticeably not easily viewable. Instead, it is relegated to a discreet link at the foot of the page. Once a bank account is linked, a deposit must be made from it to the hitbtc account, whereupon trading can commence subject to various limits. These are restrictive without proof of address and ID documents being provided due to AML (anti money-laundering) regulations beyond the control of exchanges, but are considerably relaxed once this is done.
Desposits and withdrawals
BTC was deposited from a Blockchain.info wallet for conversion into Euro and withdrawal to the bank account linked. BTC funds entered the main account within seconds and were then transferred to the trading account for conversion.
The BTC balance was to be converted in full. Trading takes place on the ‘terminal’ page, with the amount to be converted entered below the live exchange rates information, allowing clear confirmation of the current rate when clicking the all-important ‘sell’ button.
Following conversion, the withdrawal feature is used on the account page, with the available balance in EUR also shown. Funds must first be sent to the main account from the trading account, something which seems confusing but for which hitbtc has provided easily-visible help.
Once funds had been successfully sent from hitbtc (see below), the transfer was very quick, even reaching a non-EUR denominated bank account within 48 hours for a SEPA transfer fee of 0.90EUR.
User's account tab
User support system
While attempting to complete the withdrawal, it happened that