Back to Series

What is a cryptocurrency exchange?

Top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges to buy Bitcoin and altcoins

Finding the best cryptocurrency exchange to suit your needs can be tough. Here’s a guide on the top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges to help make your decision easier...

Download Series PDF

The cryptocurrency space is cluttered with more than 200 exchanges, each with their unique style and benefits. Established exchanges like Coinbase, Bitfinex and Gemini offer a gateway to users to trade their fiat cash for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, while the market leading Binance offer a variety of cryptocurrencies to be traded in pairs with Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD-Tether and many others.

There are also several innovative decentralised exchanges, with Idex being a prime example of a platform that allows users to keep control of their assets while trading.

With a wealth of competitors in the space it can be a daunting task to choose which cryptocurrency exchange is best for you. It’s always important to consider market fees, volume, liquidity and the security protocol at each specific exchange. Here is a guide to the top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges.

Bitfinex

Starting off the list is Bitfinex, who have cemented themselves as one of the leading Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges over the past six years, offering high-liquidity to both retail and institutional investors. Their slick user interface complements their spot and margin trading platform, which facilitates an average of between $2.5 billion and $10 billion weekly volume.

It’s also worth noting that there is a $10,000 minimum deposit to open an account at Bitfinex, but that can be withdrawn without losing access to the exchange.

Gemini

The Winklevoss twins launched the US-based digital asset exchange Gemini in 2015, earning plaudits from industry peers after becoming the first licensed Ethereum exchanged based in the United States. Gemini continued to abide by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rule book, with Reuters reporting that they would be utilising NASDAQ’s SMARTS technology to monitor trades, combatting price manipulation and fraudulent activity.

Gemini is open to both retail and institutional investors, offering Bitcoin, Ethereum and Zcash pairs with USD, which can be deposited and withdrawn on the site.

Binance

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, who prefers the nickname ‘CZ’, rose to cryptocurrency stardom in 2017, rapidly growing the Hong Kong-based exchange to a point where ‘a couple of million’ new users were signing up every week in January 2018. The impeccably designed exchange has a broad range of cryptocurrency pairs available to trade, boasting over 380 pairs as well as $32 million backed stable coin TrueUSD.

Increasingly strict regulation in China and Japan led to Binance having to relocate to Taiwan and Malta, they also have plans to add GBP and EUR pairs after earning an exchange licence in Jersey.

Bitmex

Bitmex is a derivatives market that offers perpetual swap and Bitcoin futures that can be traded with up to 100x leverage. Because of their high leverage offerings, Bitmex regularly tops the list of exchanges for highest daily volume, with their total rarely dropping below $1 billion. The high level of liquidity makes it easier for traders to enter and exit positions, however the site gained critics in 2018 as occasions of ‘server overload’ made it impossible for users to trade during volatile price action.

Bitmex is designed for predominately retail investors and should be approached with a degree of caution as there is a chance of having an account liquidated if price-action goes the wrong way.

Coinbase

San Francisco-based exchange Coinbase was instrumental in Bitcoin’s rise to all-time high in 2017, becoming the most downloaded iPhone app on the US App Store in December. Their user-friendly approach, culminating in their impeccably designed app, saw Coinbase become a firm favourite among retail investors. Coinbase offer GBP, EUR and USD deposit and withdrawal features as well as an internal wallet that allows their users to store their cryptocurrency portfolio on the app.

One notable downside of Coinbase is their high fees as they charge users 1.49% for every time they buy or sell cryptocurrencies.

Shapeshift

Shapeshift has been held in high regard in the cryptocurrency space since their launch in 2013. Their policy has always been to allow users to trade digital assets without having an account and without having their data stored. However, a damming report from the Wall Street Journal in late September 2018 put pressure on Shapeshift, with claims that the exchange was suspected of laundering $9 million of illicit cash. Shapeshift CEO Erik Voorhees was quick to dispute the claims, but as a precaution the site now requires users to sign up to trade.

Their user interface is appealing to cryptocurrency novices, with a simple platform that allows users to trade their digital assets succinctly without being inundated with charts and complicated jargon.

IDEX

IDEX is a decentralised exchange built on the Ethereum blockchain. The site allows users to trade ERC-20 tokens directly with their peers, cutting out the need for a centralised entity who has overall control of funds on the site. The liquidity is low in comparison with more established exchanges, with just $2 million average daily trading volume, but it poses as an ideal platform to purchase tokens recently released from ICOs making it a firm favourite among the Ethereum and erc-20 community.

OKEx

Another exchange that followed Binance in doing a leap of faith from Hong-Kong to Malta was OKEx who cited Malta’s efforts to provide a sound regulatory framework as a reason behind their expansion. A memorandum of understanding was signed between OKEx and the Malta stock exchange to launch a security token by the end of the year.

OKEx record a remarkable $500 million daily volume on average, also offering over 500 cryptocurrency trading pairs, making it one of the most diverse exchanges in the space.

Bithumb

South Korean-based Bithumb support an impressive range of cryptocurrency trading pairs, with higher market cap coins and tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum covered as well as smaller-cap tokens like Populous, Wax and Power Ledger. All coins and tokens are tradable against the South Korean Wong, which can be deposited and withdrawn to a South Korean bank account.

During Bitcoin’s meteoric rise to $20,000 in December 2017 Bithumb regularly topped the list for daily exchange volume, with interest in cryptocurrency from South Korea reaching an all-time high.

Bittrex

Seattle-based exchange Bittrex became a prominent force during the start of 2017’s bull-run, offering cryptocurrencies like Neo, then called AntShares, and Monero. Their depth in listings saw an influx of new retail investors enter the market. However, in March 2018 Bittrex made the bold decision to delist over 80 altcoins, which had the potential to be considered as securities by the SEC. This move, to abide by US regulations, was applauded by many in the space. Bittrex have now implemented a strict coin listing policy that states they can only make utility tokens, and not securities, tradable on their exchange.

Recent Guides

What is the Kraken exchange?

What is the Kraken exchange? The Kraken cryptocurrency exchange is amongst the oldest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges currently open. Residents of the US, Canada, Japan, and parts of Europe...

A guide to crypto trading terminology

Knowing technical analysis and crypto trading terminology can help you to understand market sentiments. This will help to you make educated guesses on cryptocurrency price movements. It’s important to...