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itBit

itBit Review
Trader's rating 1
Editor's rating 4

Trading accounts and conditions

 

Account type Leverage Fees
Standard 1:1 *0.20% taker fee, 0% maker fee

*The OTC Trading desk for large orders charges a 0.10% flat fee per transaction.

 

itBit is a New York licensed US bitcoin exchange that offers services both to small retail and large and institutional clients. The service for smaller clients is called simply “exchange”, while the institutional service is called “OTC Trading Desk”. It is a “boutique service specializing in large bitcoin trades starting over 100 bitcoins”. It offers a deep orderbook, personalized trading support and competitive pricing. This service charges a flat fee of 0.10% per transaction. Additionally, itBit offers personalized service for active traders with a 30-day trading volume over 2,500 bitcoins.

 

Currently itBit offers trading only in Bitcoin against USD, EUR and SGD.

 

Unlike many exchanges who do not require verification at initial registration itBit does require immediate account verification, even before letting the users into their account. For the purpose one needs to provide a copy of government ID and proof of residence, which is more or less the industry standard. The verification process, particularly for foreign clients, takes a few days. For the institutional clients, there is a set of required documents that include incorporation or sole proprietorship proof.

 

ItBit does not offer leveraged trading, but there are cryptocurrency exchanges who do so, like Kraken, bitFlyer, Coincheck, Poloniex, etc. There is also a large number of forex brokers like IG, HYCM and easyMarkets, for example, who offer leveraged trading on CFDs on some of the most popular cryptocurrencies.

 

>> Forex brokers offering leveraged Bitcoin trading <<

 

The Company. Security of Funds

 

Company Country Regulation
itBit Trust Company, LLC USA  NYDFS

 

itBit is a New York based cryptocurrency exchange established in 2013 that operates legally in all 50 states, but also accepts international clients.

 

So far there are no unified rules and requirements for the US cryptocurrency exchanges, but the state of New York has introduced a license. In the spring of 2015 itBit has become the first US bitcoin exchange to get a charter from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) under the state banking laws. There are two major cryptocurrency exchanges who have a New York bitcoin license: Coinbase and its institutional platform GDAX.

 

itBit employs robust security measures, such as two-factor authentication, multiple layers of platform security and 100% bitcoin cold storage. The company adheres to the CryptoCurrency Security Standard (CCSS) , which is a set of procedural requirements for secure handling of bitcoins established by C4, BitGo Inc. Additionally, all USD assets,  FDIC-insured and all fiat and bitcoin customer assets are fully protected and backed by mandatory capital reserves. Furthermore, the funds of itBit’s US customers are held exclusively in regulated US banks and do not leave American soil. ItBit also provides its US customers with the 1099 forms for tax reporting. 

 

The exchange also is fully compliant with the US anti-money laundering and know-your-customer procedures and requirements.

 

Trading platform

 

We could not gain access to itBit’s trading platform. We noticed, though, that the exchange provides access to market data with charts, the order book and the bitcoin network with a hash rate, market cap, mining revenue and average confirmation charts to anyone who visits the site. We find this fairly convenient.

 

We also came across user comments that the mobile web interface of the exchange is quite slow, but this could be actually caused by slow network and not by the platform itself.

 

Methods of payment

 

The only payment method for fiat currencies itBit accepts, is bank transfer and nothing else. This is quite inconvenient, as the bank transfers, especially the international ones, are far from instant and come with hefty fees. There are also default withdrawal limits of USD $2, 500 daily and USD $15, 000 monthly, but they can be changed. This, however, is done through printing out, filling in and e-mailing a two-page from and we find this a bit tedious.

 

The fact that itBit does not accept payments with credit/debit cards is quite inconvenient, especially for international clients who must pay through the nose for bank fees and wait several days for their payment to be processed.

 

>> crypto exchanges who accept credit cards <<

 

Conclusion

 

The best thing about itBit is that it is a regulated and strict cryptocurrency exchange. It takes rules, regulations and security very seriously and this is a very good thing.

 

However, those who wish to remain anonymous or register and start trading quickly, should go elsewhere and look for exchanges that do not have such strict and lengthy verification requirements. Those who have nothing to hide, though, would be absolutely fine with itBit.

 

A plus of itBit is the offering of special services and lower fees for the large traders.

 

What we do not like about this exchange is the fact that it does not accept credit and debit cards as payment. This, as we said, is not very convenient for a number of reasons.

 

Another minus of itBit is the fact that it does not offer other cryptocurrencies, besides Bitcoin. For those interested in trading in more than one or another altcoin, most exchanges have a somewhat larger selection. There are also platforms like Bisq and LiteBit who have a pretty big portfolio.

 

Pros Cons
NY regulation No anonymity
Robust safety Bitcoin only
Special service for large traders No credit/debit cards accepted
Accepts fiat currencies  

 

 

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  

 

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