Cryptocurrency exchanges have always been an interesting topic to discuss – not only because they’re the main gateway for people to get into crypto, but also because they’re the main targets for hacks and scams.
While at the time of writing there are some decentralised exchanges (DEXs) which are starting to pop-up and get some user adoption, like Bisq, the reality is most crypto-enthusiasts still rely on centralised exchanges for most of their dealings, mainly because of the additional support and functionality on offer.
In this article, I will take a look at the top-performing cryptocurrency exchanges of 2019 so far, as well as which recently launched exchanges have been making waves in the industry this year.
My goal is to analyse players that offer a token/blockchain service, either for staking, IEO participation, voting, rewards, discounts, or to avoid trading fees.
Finally, I will pick both known and relatively unknown exchanges operating in the most mature markets, mainly the US, Europe, and Asia.
Before we dive into which exchanges I picked to be contenders for the best of 2019, a word of warning from my favourite crypto-guru:
"Not your keys, not your coins"
Also, having a single person control cold storage at an exchange is monumental (and criminal) negligence on the part of the directors of that company. It either leads to theft or loss, inevitably and very predictably.
— Andreas M. Antonopoulos (@aantonop) February 2, 2019
Please never forget what Andreas Antonopolous is constantly reminding us: “Not your keys, not your coins.”
Tempting as it may be to leave your funds on exchanges for speed and convenience, remember that for maximum security, you should always hold your coins in a wallet for which you hold the private keys/seed.
Now, let’s dive into the top exchanges of 2019 so far.
BitMEX is a popular cryptocurrency exchange that has made a name for itself because of its high trading volumes and attendant liquidity, as well as its leverage trading option. It boasts a daily trading volume of more than 35,000 BTC, it records more than 540,000 accesses monthly, and last year alone the platform experienced over $1 trillion in trading volume. Traders love BitMEX because it provides up to 100x leverage for trades, as well as the option to trade futures and perpetual token swaps.
BitMEX has a fee structure that varies for different cryptocurrencies and whether you are placing a futures or leveraged trade. You can typically expect to pay maker fees, taker fees, maintenance fees, settlement fees, and initial margin fees on your trades. There’s a 0.001 BTC minimum deposit limit as well.
One of the downsides to BitMEX is that it doesn’t have fiat payment options. In fact, it only accepts BTC deposits, which you can then use to purchase other cryptocurrencies. In addition, you can only make withdrawals in BTC.
Binance is probably the most popular and fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchange in the world. Binance’s popularity is a function of its dual-nature interface that provides a “basic” trading experience for beginners and an “advanced” experience for sophisticated traders. Binance supports the deposit and withdrawal of more than 100 coins and is one of the top 10 exchanges in the world in terms of 24-hour trading volumes.
Binance offers some of the most competitive trading rates with a flat fee of 0.1% and an additional 25% discount for trades conducted in its native BNB token. In addition, BNB is one of the top performing coins of 2019 due to its increased utility as the go-to token to access hot IEOs (Initial Exchange Offerings).
The downside to Binance is that it only functions as a crypto-to-crypto exchange and it won’t serve your needs if you want to make a fiat transaction. Binance offers decent customer service, but you might spend some time in a queue before you get through to someone on the phone – but this is a totally understandable scenario considering the sheer size of its operations.
Besides traditional exchanges like Binance or BitMEX, a good example of a top-performing integrated exchange is COSS.
COSS stands for Crypto One-Stop Solution. The main goal of COSS is to be a central hub in crypto: an exchange, an e-wallet which supports a broad variety of tokens, a platform for IEO launches and promotional trading campaigns, a fiat gateway, and a market cap widget.
The exchange has a native token, the COS token, which generates an entire cryptocurrency portfolio for its holders derived from fees within the COSS system when cryptocurrency transactions take place. COS token holders are rewarded with payouts in all supported cryptocurrencies for utilising the exchange.
COSS also offers IEOs and interesting features such as learning tools and social add-ons.
BiKi is a global digital currency trading service provider headquartered in Singapore.
BiKi has launched a subversive “mining, buying back, and destroying” model, where fees are used to repurchase the platform’s token, BIKI, and burn them. By destroying tokens, the company aims to increase the price of each individual token, as less tokens become available on the market.
The exchange has endowed the token with a plurality of interesting functions. BIKI can not only be used to reduce trading fees by 25%, but also allows users to participate in the BiKi Lab and to be a community partner.
BiKi’s main features include a highly ranked crypto exchange and company assistance for launching tokens. In addition to the crypto exchange being well designed and easy to use, there is excellent liquidity and security.
Finally, in addition to listing services, BiKi offers marketing solutions and branding recognition for any project that lists a token within the exchange.
Bisq v1.1.6 was released today – HUGE update.
🚨 You must update to v1.1.6 before September 19 to continue trading (details below) 🚨
— Bisq (@bisq_network) September 16, 2019
Bisq is a decentralised Bitcoin exchange. The Bisq software is built by numerous individuals around the world in an open source manner.
Bisq’s mission is to provide a secure, private, and censorship-resistant way of exchanging crypto for national currencies and other cryptocurrencies over the internet.
Although trade settlement takes longer when using Bisq, trading itself is far more secure, private, and censorship-resistant than on any other exchange, given its decentralised nature.
In essence, Bisq is a Bitcoin exchange where users keep control of their funds, that is private by default, and that defends the freedom of transactions. It also has no KYC/AML procedures and transactions are peer-to-peer.