So much exchange data,so little time – Cointelegraph’s exchange review series draws to a close with aneat summary of the plus and minus points to help you make an informed decisionnext time you trade.
Since publication ofthe other installments in this series, certain data from the exchanges haschanged slightly, which will be reflected in the overall scores in thisarticle. Furthermore, some additional details are included, which will bediscussed below.
Cointelegraph compiledthe information for the reviews series using official support channels of theexchanges, as well as a wide variety of user reviews and data, more informationon which can be found here.
You can see the full version of our infographic here.
Payment and order types; security tools; APItypes and more
Order types: Limit orders; support and stop loss-take profit orders availablesoon.
Payment types: Only BTC deposit and withdrawals accepted.
Security tools: 2-factor authentication, cold storage, automatic backup of thedatabase, SSL encryption, API keys. Accepts only Bitcoin deposits andwithdrawals, so does not store client funds in bank accounts.
API types: STREAM and REST.
Order types: buyorder; sell order.
Payment types: EgoPay for USD and EUR – the fee is whatever the wallet charges.
Security tools: 2-factor authentication, cold storage, encrypted SSL, Firewall,Security Scanning, SQL injection filters, verify the authenticity of POST, PUT,and DELETE requests to prevent CSRF attacks; passwords stored on the database(salted bcrypt).
API types: REST.
Order types: Limitorders.
Payment types: SWIFT - free; withdrawal SWIFT: 0.1% - 0.5% plus 5USD.
Security tools: SSL encryption, cold storage, 2-factor authentication, SMSwithdrawal confirmation, trade notifications.
API types: no response from developers.
Order types: Buyorder, sell order.
Payment types: A lot of deposit/ withdrawal options (US bank transfer, EU (SEPA)transfer, Visa, MasterCard, Liqpay.com, unikarta.com, PerfectMoney.com,WebCreds.com, Ukash.com, Webmoney.ru).
Security tools: 2-factor authentication, withdrawal confirmation by e-mail.
API types: REST.
Order types: market order, limit order.
Payment types: deposit – no fee; withdrawal SWIFT 0.5%; BTC 0.0001; LTC 0.001.
Security tools: 2-factor authentication, DDoS Protection, SSL encryption,withdrawal confirmation by email and SMS, cold storage.
API types: No information.
Order types: market order,limit order, good-till-cancelled order, immediate-or-cancel order, good-till-date/time order, fill-or-kill or day order.
Payment types: SEPA and SWIFT (Deposit fee USD - 9$; EUR - SEPA Zone (No fee);Outside SEPA (6.00€); BTC, LTC - no fee; withdrawal fee USD -9$; EUR - SEPAZone (0.90€); Outside SEPA (6€); BTC - no fee; LTC - 0.001Ł).
Security tools: 2-factor authentication; cold Storage, withdrawal confirmationthrough e-mail and SMS, encryption.
API types: REST, STREAM, FIX.
Order types: marketorder, limit order. Two additional order types coming soon.
Payment types: SEPA deposits and withdrawals; EgoPay for USD and EUR. (Depositsare currently free of charge, though subject to change; withdrawals are 1% ofthe withdrawal amount plus a small fee (this varies depending on payment type.))
Security tools: 2-factor authentication, physical intrusion, automatic backupof the database; cold storage, SSL Encryption, DB Security, DDOS protection,regular stress and soak testing.
API types: REST.
Order types: marketorders, limit orders, stop orders, trailing stop orders, fill or kill orders.
Payment types: SWIFT or EgoPay, no SEPA. (For an incoming/ outgoing transfer a feeof 0.01% of the deposit/ withdrawal amount is charged, but with a minimum ofUSD20 for each deposit/withdrawal.)
Security tools: 2-factor authentication, cold storage, trade only exchanges APIkeys, automatic backup of the database, duplication of backup data, alwaysup-to-date Linux systems, security monitored by the security company Arcui;encryption.
API types: REST.
Order types: instant and limit orders.
Payment types: SEPA and SWIFT (SEPA deposits do not have any cost attached; SWIFTdeposits have a 0.1% deposit fee on the exchange side (minimum fee USD15.)) Withdrawal:SEPA - 0.90€, SWIFT - 0.09%
Security tools: 2-factor authentication; cold storage, CentOS (an operatingsystem closely based on the RedHat Enterprise Linux distribution which is alsoknown for being used by the US military for its security); encryption.
API types: REST.
Order types: market; limit order; stop loss orders (stop loss, stop loss limit,trailing stop, trailing stop limit); take profit orders (take profit, takeprofit limit); combined orders (stop loss, take profit; stop loss, take profitlimit; stop, limit orders); conditional close orders.
Payment types: deposit – SEPA 0%, SWIFT 5EUR; withdrawal SEPA 0.09EUR; SWIFT 5-40EUR.
Security tools: 2-factor authentication, cold storage, API keys, Encryption,Automatic backup of the database; Cloudflare, maintain full reserves — a “bankrun” is an impossibility; PGP/GPG for email encryption.
API types: REST.
Order volume A Summary
Order volumes for allexchanges have changed over the past 30 days, and have been updated in thereview statistics to reflect this.
BTC China: 173123BTC
As perhaps could beexpected, no exchange contains the perfect blend of features which produce theultimate consumer experience. While some clearly provide a more stable serviceoverall, and the difference between the higher and lower scoring services is obvious,there are both positive and negative attributes in each of the exchanges underreview. While one may excel at customer usability and accessibility, forexample, it may not offer a wide range of financial services or have the mostcompetitive prices, and vice versa.
Regardless of thebreadth of features, however, an exchange fundamentally must ensure that itscustomers are provided a sufficient level of security and reliability whentransacting with and handling sensitive data. For any financial service, this security level, far from being ‘good’,must be all-encompassing and unstintingly reliable. Furthermore, should anyproblems arise, the support network in place needs to be similarly flawless inits operations.
It is primarily due tothese safety issues that ICBIT findsitself at the bottom of the list of results, with an overall score of 50/100. Add to this a high degree ofanonymity, despite low fees and a comprehensive range of orders which it canexecute, and it is difficult to state unequivocally that the exchange is areliable means of transacting.
Despite offering ahigh quality support service, LakeBTCsuffers again from a high degree of anonymity, and hence a lack ofaccountability. Its services overall, although of generally good repute incommunity forums, etc., are somewhat limited in comparison to those offeredelsewhere, which combine to give it a total score of 59/100. For an overall view of how LakeBTC scores in each area offunctionality, see the infographic further down the page.
As will be discussedlater, it is worth noting that these two exchanges are geared less towardsmainstream or inexperienced users, while being frequented more by technicallyliterate members of the cryptocurrency community. That those with higherawareness of the space should prefer less traceable services for transactionsmay seem paradoxical, but it can be assumed from the exchanges’ comparativelylow volumes that those who do use them consider themselves suitablyknowledgeable to avoid the risk of losses.
While having a highertransaction volume than ICBIT and LakeBTC, Btc-eis perhaps a paradigm of the anonymous, untraceable, diehard user-led servicewhich, while useful for those who know exactly what they are doing, is bothincohesive and somewhat intimidating for any other potential customer. With itssupport services also receiving much criticism on forums, its overall score wasbound to be limited, with a total of 63/100.
Bitfinex manages to cover elements of safety very well, but suffers from a poorinterface and lack of appeal to novice users, which is one of the maincontributing factors to its final score of 67/100.For more information on the usability issues, consult the first chapter of ourexchange series and view the infographic in this article.
What ails Bitfinex isalso very pertinent to Cryptsy (69/100),whose website is both difficult to navigate due to both its design andreliability. Its main redeeming feature is its support initiative in the formof a wiki, which contains exhaustive information on a variety of exchange andgeneral Bitcoin-related topics. Nevertheless, this is geared towards users whodo not require guidance and are able to find specific information usingpreexisting knowledge of both cryptocurrency and IT.
Moving to a differentechelon in the exchange results, BTCChina generally performs well in providing a good selection of services ina reliable manner, achieving 73/100.This exchange is part of a group we have noticed which is geared towards ageneral clientele but which is still limited in its capacity to become entirelymainstream. In the case of BTC China, this is due mostly to factors beyond itscontrol, such as the People’s Bank of China’s current directives which have limitedaspects of its operation. However, for a service in such a situation, the lackof support options is noticeable, with the majority geared to Mandarinspeakers. Nevertheless, the company is of course well-known and traceable, andits CEO Bobby Lee is furthermore an active, highly-regarded member of thecommunity.
Capitalizing on thisgenerally more accessible format is ANXBTC(72/100). Its features are limited, however, making it more suitable forentry-level clients, and volumes are relatively low for a major exchange.
The ‘top three’ of thereviews series scored the most highly for different reasons. Bitstamp and hitbtc both received 76/100,with the former scoring on mainstream appeal, traceability and security. Hitbtcis less high profile but offers more features, such as currency pairs, and isjust as easy to use. These attributes allow both exchanges to appeal to bothbeginners and seasoned veterans, in an environment which provides suitablesecurity. Hitbtc excels in cost effectiveness, however, with Bitstamp being themost expensive on average of all the exchanges covered in the review; see theinfographic for full details.
For overallperformance, however, Kraken hascome out on top. Despite being relatively new on the scene, and hence notprocessing a large volume of transactions, its credentials in respect ofsecurely processing major pairs efficiently with requisite support in placecannot be underestimated. As such, the exchange comes closest in terms ofmeeting every requirement for today’s average consumer, and scores 78/100.
As mentionedpreviously, however, no service can as yet be classed as ‘ideal’, and all are,to a greater or lesser extent, a compromise. This is entirely to be expected,given that the industry is very young and developing continually to fit amarket which is itself extremely volatile.
The cryptocurrencyclientele furthermore remains fragmented: born out of a technological circle,those coming to exchanges range from curious yet disinterested individuals todevoted digital currency aficionados to computer geeks. Browsing the tenexchanges, it is clear that some appeal very much to one group of users morethan others.
In the long term, itis likely that increased regulation and consolidation of the space, withsmaller exchanges disappearing or amalgamating or being taken over by others,will result in user accessibility and mainstream appeal being prerequisites forsurvival. What is currently noticeable, however, is that certain exchanges are reluctantor struggling to combine the essence of cryptocurrencies with the framework ofthe conventional banking system in practice.
That is to say,marrying decentralized innovation with bank fees, delays and legal restrictionsis a thorn in the side of all exchanges, but handled better by some than byothers. This is a problem which once again will most likely be smoothed out inthe passage of time, but for today’s customer, the service which offers themost convenient solution will surely be preferential.
To view the operationsof an exchange as a compromised effort, however, is to misunderstand theessence of the innovation at hand in the space. Rather, a basic service hasbeen established with varying degrees of success, and continual development isnow ensuring that ever-increasing functionality is available to therapidly-expanding world of digital currency. While everything is stillrelatively new, the ultimate resource is something already being aimed for, andexchanges, as an essential part of the industry’s framework, are no exceptionin their work.
For more informationon the exchanges, check out the previous articles in the series: The Exchanges Review Part I: Easy onthe Eye (and Brain), The Exchange Review Part II: In andOut, Securely, The Exchange Review Part III: Coststo You, The Exchange Review Part IV:Questions, Answers and Speaking your Language and The Exchange Review Part V: PersonalSupport and API.
We also want to thank Geir Solem, the chairman of CryptorTrust and Manuel Heilmann, the CEO & Co-founder of Coinzone for their invaluable help in consulting us on the subject of exchanges throughout the entire series of reviews.