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Bitstamp

Bitstamp Review
Trader's rating 1
Editor's rating 3.9

Our Experience

We registered an account at Bitstamp and after confirming the ID, we decided to make a credit card deposit. What first stroke us, was the fact you can only directly buy Bitcoin via credit card, instead of simply transferring funds to your account. The purchase went fine, after dealing with an external payment services provider. We immediately sold the coins, in order to have a USD trading balance. At that point we realized the 8% fee on credit card transfers (at the time, now the fee is 5%) truly applies.

 

Later on, we traded with the platform and everything felt fine. While the speed of execution was slightly lower than the one provided by most forex trading platforms, it was still pretty decent. The order book seemed to have some trading robots, which moved the best bids/asks constantly, but this didn’t hinder trading at all.


We also made a SEPA Bank transfer to this exchange. The funds arrived less than 24 hours later and the only fees we paid were the ones charged by our local bank.

 

We ended up having some Litecoin, which we transferred to Bittrex, in order to continue our journey in the world of altcoins. Additionally, we left some Ethereum, which we sent to a newly created wallet at MyEtherWallet – a wallet, which allows users to control their private keys. All of these blockchain transactions, which are external to Bitstamp happened in minutes. We are yet to test the speed of bank transfer withdrawals, from this exchange.

 

Trading Accounts

Account type Minimum deposit Leverage Fee
Standard Undisclosed N/A 0.25%*

*Fees can go lower for bigger traders

 

Bitstamp is one of the few cryptocurrency exchanges which accepts deposits directly from traditional payment methods. In essence this service can be used to obtain Bitcoin (via a bank transfer or credit card) which you are then free to send.

 

The company, security of funds

Company Country Regulation
Bitstamp Ltd. Luxembourg CSSF

 

Bitstamp Ltd. is the company behind this project. They have offices in Luxembourg, London and New York. More importantly, this is the first fully licensed cryptocurrency exchange in Europe. It is regulated by the (Luxembourg Financial Industry Supervisory Commission, known as the CSSF). As we often warn against the risks involved in dealing with unregulated or off-shore forex brokers, it is nice to see a company in the cryptoverse, which is registered with a watchdog.

 

The CSSF Licensing ensures the company periodically files reports with the appropriate agencies. Bitstamp is registered as a “Payment institution”, which implies you can be sure about the real-money transfers you send to (and receive from them). That being said we don’t know if mandatory policies on fairness of execution are in place. No matter the case, this is much more than, what most other crypto-exchanges provide in terms of regulation.

 

Bitstamp was hacked in early 2015. Afterwards the company rebuild its entire trading platform. Nowadays they claim to store 98% of their client’s cryptocurrencies on cold storage, while only 2% are directly available on the exchange. This is a major improvement in terms of security.

 

Bitstamp partnered with Swissquote, in July 2017.  The Swiss bank and broker, decided to trust this company, in order to provide Bitcoin trading to its clients. This speaks volumes in terms of Bitstamp’s credibility. At the time of writing of this review, there is no integration with the MetaTrader4 (MT4) platform. Trading is instead done on the Swissquote’s website, with limited functionality. This is bound to change in the future. 

 

The user reviews for Bitstamp are fairly mixed. There are lots of satisfied customers and people claiming dissatisfaction with the support. Similarly to Poloniex, the company may be experiencing more significant traffic than expecting, but the negative comments are not that harsh. 

 

Trading conditions

 

Trading instruments (cryptocurrencies)

Bitstamp allows trading cryptocurrencies against the old-fashioned EUR and USD. On the other hand few coins are supported, namely Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple. If you want to dive into more exotic altcoins, you can use Bitstamp as a way to convert your cash into one of these three and then transfer it to a different exchange which supports your preferred altcoin.

 

Minimum initial deposit

There is no information on the minimum deposit at Bitstamp. While this is not that unusual, when dealing with cryptocurrencies, the company does accept traditional payments. There may be a level below, which they would not accept your transfer. We are used to forex brokers disclosing their minimum entry levels beforehand, like easyMarkets, who require $100.

 

Leverage

Margin trading is not available at Bitstamp. For those of you who do not know what margin trading is – this is a mechanism by which you trade with more buying power than the money you have in your account. When it comes to froex brokers, they allow substantial leverage levels, like 1:500, meaning you can trade with positions worth 500 times more than your investment. The catch is your account serves as a guarantee, and if you start loosing, there will be a point at which your positions will be closed (this is known as receiving a margin call, followed by a margin stop-out).

 

Fees

The commissions, charged by Bitstamp go as high as 0.25% for cash to cryptocurrency trades (for the lowest volumes). As is the practice with most other exchanges, they go lower with bigger volumes. The unusual aspect of this offering is that there is no incentive for the market “makers” (people who place orders on the exchange, instead of aggressively buying from the ones which other traders have placed). Most cryptocurrency exchange provide an ever so slightly lower fee for traders who provide liquidity.

 

Comparing this to the spreads provided by forex brokers is rather hard, as we have mentioned in our general comparison of the two type of service providers. On the other hand, Bitstamp’s fees are in-line with what other cypto-exchanges are offering.

 

 

Trading platform

 

Bitstamp’s trading platform is web-based. This is the norm with most cryptocurrency exchanges, unlike the situation with forex brokers, where downloadable software (like MT4) is prevalent. At first glance Bitstamp’s trading platform looks solid. A big emphasis is placed on charting, with a nice package. It feels pretty similar to cTrader, although it lacks a lot of the functionality. Lots of technical indicators and tools are available, but most forex trading platforms still provide even more options. That being said Bitsatmp’s offer is better that what we have seen at a lot of other crupto-exchanges. Here is a preview of the charting (click to zoom-in):

 

 

The order book is located below the chart and is one of the best ones available (at such exchanges). Here is a screenshot (click to zoom-in):

 

 

It was clearly designed by someone with trading experience as the bid and ask price are next to each other, where the two tables meet (on the left). This allows for a quick and easy comparison of the market depth, although the size of the orders (outer columns) must also be taken into account.

 

Methods of payment

 

Bitstamp accepts payments via Bank Transfer, Credit/Debit Card and cryptocurrencies. There are some specifics regarding the bank transfers, with EU clients being more easily accepted via the SEPA System. While this system is relatively faster than traditional bank transfers, it may come at higher fees (depending on your bank). On the other hand Credit Card transfers, while instant, come with an 8% fee. That being said, virtually anybody can transfer fiat currencies to this exchange. This feature is probably their biggest advantage over others.

 

Conclusion

 

Bitstamp is the first regulated European cryptocurrency exchange. The company keeps 98% of customer’s coins on cold storage wallets, which is a pretty good security measure. Bitstamp is one of the relatively few exchanges who accept deposits by Credit Card and Bank Transfer. Three of the major coins are traded directly against EUR and USD. On the other hand the exchange offers few alternative coins. In essence this is a great gateway for those who are new to the world of cryptocurrencies. Here is a summary Bitstamp’s strong and weak sides:

 

Pros Cons
Luxembourg licensing Few altcoins available
Accepts Bank Transfers and Credit Cards Was hacked in 2015
Competitive commissions 5% fee on credit card purchases
Relatively nice trading platform  
98% of coins kept in cold storage  

 

Crypto Facilities

Crypto Facilities Review
Trader's rating 5
Editor's rating 3.8

Trading accounts

 

Account type Minimum deposit Leverage Maker Fee Taker Fee
Standard Undisclosed 1:50* -0.03% (rebate) 0.05%

* Trading conditions at this exchange are more specific due to the nature of the products available for trading. For more details check the full review.

 

Crypto Facilities is a platform for cryptocurrency futures trading. This makes them one of the options for miners, looking to hedge their exposure. The most well-known other similar platform is BitMEX

Warning: Several other companies have used Crypto Facilities' FCA registration number. As far as we know, their original website is the only one at which they operate. Here is proof of their disagreement and frustration with these scammers:



 

 

The company, security of funds

 

Company Country Regulation
CRYPTO FACILITIES LTD UK FCA

 

Crypto Facilities is registered in the United Kingdom and more importantly overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This is very unusual as the British watchdog usually doesn’t look at companies dealing in the crypto-space. That being said, this is derivatives trading company, and the crypotocurrencies are only the underlying asset.

 

While the FCA oversees a lot of companies (like forex brokers) and enforces a lot of rules, there are a few specifics in regards to Crypto Facilities. You are probably familiar with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), especially if you have read some of our reviews on forex brokers. This is a mechanism, which guarantees client funds, in case their brokerage goes bankrupt. As point 3.2 of the Membership Agreement at Crypto Facilities states, the FSCS does not apply, as your account balance is kept in cryptocurrencies, which are not yet defined as either “money” nor a “Specified Investment”. 

 

That being said, all of the client accounts are held in segregated cold-storage wallets, backed by Elliptic, an industry-leading crypto-security company. Additionally the blockchain settlement is insured by an “A-rated, Fortune 100 underwriter”. Given the fact the company is based in the UK, you probably have a pretty good idea of which insurer they are referring to, presuming you have any knowledge of that market. 

 

With such major security claims, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear that Crypto Facilities has not been hacked yet. In general, this company appears to be much more secure than a lot of the traditional cryptocurrency exchanges.

 

Crypto Facilities partnered with the CME group in order to provide two Ethereum indices. They are the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate (Ether Reference Rate), which will provide a daily benchmark price in U.S. dollars at 4 pm London time, and the CME CF Ether-Dollar Real Time Index (Ether Real Time Index), which will allow users access to a real-time Ether price in U.S. dollars. Price data is gathered from two of the most reputable exchanges: Kraken and Bitstamp.  Being connected with such an established derivatives trading institution, like the CME Group is a positive sign.

 

There aren’t that many user reviews on Crypto Facilities, which is understandable, given the relatively complicated nature of their offering. The few comments we found were all positive.

 

We feel the need to reiterate, trading on this venue is very different from other cryptocurrency exchanges. The company has even set-up a questionarie, which one must fill before being allowed to trade. This is done in order to protect unsophisticated enthusiasts from loosing their funds due to not understanding the nature of margin trading.

 

Trading conditions

 

Account types (cash and margin)

Before we begin discussing the trading conditions at Crypto Facilities, we must mention the accounts are only kept in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple. Additionally, before you begin trading, you must transfer coins (internally) between your main (cash) account and one of your margin accounts. The latter vary by trading instrument. While all of this seems very complicated, in reality it isn’t. Here is how the wallet interface looks:

 

 

Each of your secondary wallets serves as your trading balance for that particular futures contract. This provides a form of risk management, which is always appreciated. 

 

Trading instruments (cryptocurrencies)

Crypto Facilities supports Bitcoin (with the newly agreed upon symbol XBT, instead of the more traditional BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) futures trading. 

 

The currently available crosses can be seen in the previous screenshot, where three coins are traded against the USD and there is an XRP:XBT pair. 

 

In terms of maturity, contracts are weekly, monthly and quarterly (for some instruments).

 

Leverage

The maximum leverage ratio offered by Crypto Facilities is 1:50 for Bitcoin to USD trading. The conditions vary for different instruments and are a bit more complicated than the ones offered by other companies. Here is a preview:

 

 

Be sure to fully understand the meaning of all the terms listed here before you start trading. 

 

Margin netting, between long and short positions is available, presuming you trade from the same margin portfolio. 

 

We must mention, that there are other derivatives based on digital assets. These are the spot CFDs, available at some forex brokers. While Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most popular, Litecoin is also occasionally being offered. While these CFDs are linked to the current price of the asset in question and not the future value, they do have some further specifics. You can read all about them here, if you are interested.

 

Fees

The fees at Crypto Facilities are charged in XBT, ETH and XRP, in accord with the specific contracts. Here are the details:

 

We have to compare these fees with ones charged by the major competitor offering a similar service. The taker fee at BitMEX is 0.075%, while market makers get a 0.025% rebate, which makes Crypto Facilities the cheaper trading venue.

 

Summary 

 

While the above description of the trading conditions may appear complicated, here is a table, summarizing it all:

 

 

 

Trading platform

 

The trading platform at Crypto Facilities is web-based. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with cryptocurrencies, there is an argument to be made for desktop solutions.  The platform was updated to feature charting by TradignView (which is a top-tier third party provider) and have an interface which is generally cleaner.

 

 

The order book is arranged in two columns, which traders versed in traditional markets will prefer to the single column approach, used by many exchanges. 

 

Update: This section of the Crypto Facilities website is apparently taken down, but we will keep the following text. 

 

The “analytics” section off the website offers some extra features.. Here is how the index charting looks (The overall index allows comparison to the quotes provided by Bitstamp, Bitfinex, BTC-E, Coinbase and ItBit.):

 

 

And here is a preview of the futures curves, which allow one to see if the market is in a contango or backwardatiwon:

 

 

Our opinion of the Crypto Facilities platform is neutral. While it offers some futures-specific elements, the main trading window is less than ideal. Additional tools will probably needed for serious trading.

  

Methods of payment

 

The only way of transferring funds in and out of Crypto Facilities is the blockchain. Once you register an account, you are given Bitcoin, Etherum and Ripple wallets, to facilitate your trading. As mentioned above the control to specify how much to put into each margin wallet and how much to leave as “cash” is a neat feature.

 

Conclusion

 

Crypto Facilities is a London-based cryptocurrency futures trading platform, overseen by the FCA. While the they do not participate in the FSCS, they still follow other major rulings. The company’s overall security appears to be much higher than what is currently offered by other exchanges. That being said, trading at Crypto Facilities is not for everybody. The mere concept of futures trading is somewhat more complicated than the ordinary crypto trading. Add the volatility of cryptocurrencies on top of that and you get a potentially explosive combination. More experienced traders, as well as miners looking to hedge their “virtual crops” may find this to be one of their best options. Here are the pros and cons of Crypto Facilities:

 

Pros Cons
FCA-regulated (FSCS doesn’t apply) Complicated trading environment
Top-tier security features Accounts held in crypto
Blockchain settlement insured Only accepts blockchain transfers
Charts by TradingView  
Two-factor Authentication
 

 

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