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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  

 

IG

IG Review
Trader's rating 5
Editor's rating 4.6

Trading Accounts

 

Account type Minimum deposit  Minimum trade size Maximum leverage Average Spreads
Standard  $0 0.1 1:200** 0.6 pips 
DMA  $0 0.1 1:200 0.2 pips + commission $3-$5*

*commission is calculated per standard lot per side and is based on trading volume

**The IG branch in Singapore offers maximum leverage of 1:50.

 

IG offers spread betting and CFD services with the same spreads. CFD accounts are two types – Standard & DMA. The Standard one is commission-free, while the DMA account provides lower spreads, as prices are offered by liquidity providers, plus a variable commission, based on the client’s order size.

 

The broker does not offer micro lots for trade (0.01 lots), so some traders may find it difficult to manage the risks associated with high-volume trading.

 

The Company

 

Founded in London in 1974, IG (formerly IG Index) is a pioneer broker, that actually created the concept of financial spread betting. Furthermore, IG was the first spread betting firm to introduce online dealing in 1998.

 

Currently, the group of companies offers wide range of products for online trade, available on a selection of platforms: contracts for difference (CFDs) on currency pairs, indices, commodities, stocks, financial spread betting (in the UK and Ireland), as well as binary options. In 2014 the broker also introduced execution-only stockbroking in the UK and Ireland, later rolling it out to the Netherlands and Germany.

               

The IG Group also owns the North America Derivatives Exchange (Nadex), the premier and largest regulated online US exchange, offering binary options and spreads.

 

In addition, the group is listed on the London Stock Exchange and the FTSE 250. In fact, it is currently the largest forex broker listed on the LSE in terms of market capitalization.

 

Its UK head office is located in the heart of the City of London, and the group has sales offices in 15 other countries. 

 

IG is a trading name of IG Markets Ltd. and IG Index Ltd, authorized and regulated by UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). For binary bets IG Index Ltd. is also licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission.

 

Security of Funds

 

UK’s financial watchdog is famous for applying strict requirements to brokerage firms. Licensed companies are required to comply with certain rules and procedures covering client funds, order execution, minimum capital requirement of  €730 000 , regular report filing, etc. 

 

In relation to security of clients` funds, we would also like mention that FCA-regulated brokers fall under the umbrella of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects consumers up to £50,000 per person, in case the company goes bankrupt.

 

Except got the two abovementioned firms, the IG Group has units regulated by the respective authorities in a number of countries.

 

Countries of regulation Regulator
UK  FCA
Germany  BaFin
Switzerland  FINMA
Australia  ASIC
New Zealand FMA
UAE  DFSA
Japan  JFSA
Singapore  MAS

 

Trading Conditions

 

Minimum Initial Deposit

Clients of IG are not required to deposit a certain initial amount in order to open an account with IG, however they have to fund their accounts in order to initiate a trade. For instance, in order to buy 1 lot GBP/USD (1 contract is £100,000 and the margin rate is 0.5%), one has to deposit at least £500.

 

Average Spreads & Commissions

IG offers competitive low spreads, averaged to 0.6 pips on EUR/USD on commission-free accounts, and even less on DMA ones (which involve a commission). Such pricing is really good, as we find most brokers offer spreads within the range of 1.0 – 1.5 pips.

 

In comparison, FxPro offers average spreads as low as 0.4 pips on the EUR/USD for its cTrader accounts and charges $4.5 per lot. For further information, you may also check out the real-time spreads of 15 major brokers here.

 

Leverage

The maximum leverage levels offered by IG are up 1:200, which is considered average. Yet, many FCA-regulated brokers provide higher leverage ratios: FxPro, for instance, offers leverage up to 1:500.

 

We would like to remind traders that higher leverage involves higher risk, not only the probability of multiplied profits earned on a small deposit. It is a double-sided coin.

 

Trading Platforms

 

This broker offers a selection of robust platforms: its proprietary IG platform, web-based ProRealTime, a special DMA platform – L2 Dealer, as well as the industry’s standard MetaTrader 4 (MT4).

 

 

The web-based ProRealTime has customisable layout and is equipped with several charting packages, Over 100 indicators covering everything from price to volatility, automated trade options and extensive historical data.

 

For those who want full market depth with Direct Market Access (DMA) for FX, share dealing and equity CFDs, IG offers the downloadable L2 Dealer platform. It provides greater liquidity on shares trading through access to primary exchanges, market makers, brokers and MTF dark pools. With L2 Dealer, traders can place basket trades using the Excel-compatible 'Watchlist Pro' function, autotrade by using algorithms they have created in Excel and to make well-informed decisions due to the market-linked news feeds and live charts.

 

In addition, traders who are used to the good old MetaTrader 4, are able to use it with IG.

 

Methods of Payment

 

IG UK`s clients are able to make deposits and withdrawals via credit/debit cards or wire transfer. Popular e-wallets, such as BPay, China UnionPay and Paypal, are also available as payment methods with this broker.

 

Conclusion

 

Being part of a large international group with more than 40 years of experience in the industry, IG is a reliable and well-regulated broker, offering competitive conditions for trading in wide range of financial instruments on several platforms. To sum things up, here are the advantages and drawbacks with regards to IG:

 

Pros Cons
Regulated in multiple jurisdictions No micro lots available  
Competitive tight spreads Limited payment methods
No minimum initial deposit required  
Wide range of trading instruments & platforms  
Part of a large publicly listed group with more than 40 years of experience  

                                

Headquarters: 

Cannon Bridge House, 25 Dowgate Hill, London EC4R 2YA

Country: United Kingdom

Regulated by: 

FCA (UK)

Forex
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