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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  

 

KorBit

KorBit Review
Trader's rating 1
Editor's rating 3.8

Trading Accounts

 

Account type Leverage Maker Fee Taker fee Deposit Fee
Standard N/A Max 0.08% Max 0.20% Free

 

KorBit was the first Korean cryptocurrency exchange to offer BTC/KRW trading. They are an entry-level service (i.e. accept fiat currencies) but also offer a decent trading platform. The company is still one of the top-rated exchanges in the country, which drives relatively high trading volumes.

 

KorBit Advantages

 

Competitive fees –   The trading fees at KorBit are divided into the “maker” and “taker” category. Market makers are the traders who place a new entry in the order book, while takers are those who enter at the best available price. The fees at KorBit start from 0.08% and 0.20%, respectively. They can go even lower if you trade with bigger volumes. 

 

Cold storage – KorBit claims a majority of the coins they keep are kept in cold storage. This is a measure, applied by a lot of companies and drastically increases the security of wallets.

 

Several altcoins featured  – There are some alternative coins available at KorBit, but this is by no means the main benefit of the exchange (as is the case with Poloniex or Bittrex). The full list currently includes: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Calassic, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, Zcash, Monero, Augur and Steem. They are all traded against KWR.

 

KRW bank transfers accepted – Bank transfers from Korean banks are accepted at KorBit. More importantly, the company does not charge fees on any incoming transactions (although the banks involved in the process will). 

 

>> Purchase Bitcoin with a credit card<<

 

Credit cards are a much more preferable option for some users, although the commissions involved in the process can be pretty harsh. As an example Bitsatmp charges 8% on such transactions. 

 

 

Positive user feedback – While the non-Korean reviews of this exchange are relatively few in number, they are all positive. The company seems to operating legitimately, and with the competitive fee structure, most customers should be happy.

 

Nice trading platform – The web-based platform delivered by KorBit looks solid. Charting is provided by TradingView, which is always nice. Additionally the order book and tape (trading history), which are located below the chart also seem well-designed. Her is how they look: 

 

BTC/KRW chart. While the default template is simplistic it can easily be changed via the TradingView package.

 

The easy to read order book and tape.

 

KorBit Disadvantages

 

 

Focus on Korea – The issue, which a lot of locally focused exchanges have is also present at KorBit. They accept only Korean bank transfers and likely require such an account for the verification of your main trading account. The presentation in English, while not terrible is also not ideal.

 

 

Trading against KWR –  All of the trading activity at KorBit is done against the Korean Won (KWR). This may seem nice for local clients, but limits their ability for currency diversification and the option of quickly converting one coin into another.

 

Withdrawal fees – KorBit applies fees on withdrawals. They may not seem significant, but especially the ones imposed on blockchain transfers are annoying. Here is the list which also states all deposits are free of charge:

 

 

No leverage provided  – Margin trading isn’t supported by KorBit, which isn’t that big of a flaw. Cryptocurrencies are so volatile, that most traders don’t have the need to further increase the risks they are exposed to. For those of you who are willing to take even more aggressive steps, we must will recommend trading with as forex broker.

 

>>Leveraged Bitcoin trading brokers<< 

 

That being said, we must also underline the fact this style of trading is not suitable for long term investing. Trading with such brokers is done via the so called CFDs and is very different from going through a crypto-exchange. Read all of the important points here.

 

Conclusion

 

KorBit is one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea. The company has earned a solid reputation and is still very popular. That being said, their main flaw (from our perspective) is the domestic focus of this exchange. While they are not unique in that regard, as other Korean companies, like Coinone and Bithumb also operate in the same manner. 

 

The trading conditions at this exchange are solid – the instrument list features some altcoins, the platform is nice and the fees are up to date with the offers from other exchanges.

 

That being said, when dealing with cryptocurrencies, you must always consider the fact, there will be a certain level of uncertainty. Most veterans in the field would advice you to transfer any larger amounts of coins to a private wallet, whose private keys you control (or even a hardware wallet, like the Trezor or Ledger Nano). With that in mind, the forex brokers, which we mentioned earlier are often much safer alternatives. Click the link below for more details.

 

>>Tightly regulated Bitcoin forex brokers<<

 

And here is the final summary of this exchange (keep in mind, we are viewing it form an outside perspective, as we are not based in Korea):

 

Pros Cons
Competitive Fees Focus on Korea
Cold Storage Trading against KWR
Several altcoins featured Withdrawal fees
KRW bank transfers accepted No leverage provided
No deposit fees  
Positive user feedback  
Nice trading platform   

 

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