Whether you are an experienced trader looking to enter new markets, or a traditional internet user with a sense of curiosity about how the world of cryptocurrency moves, probably the most important aspect is finding a platform where you can buy, sell and trade your currencies. And since these investments usually involve a high amount of money, these platforms need to build enough confidence for the users to trust in them. Here we will review some of the best cryptocurrency exchanges, highlighting their pros, cons, and telling you a little bit about their history and their current state.
Before continuing, it’s important to highlight the difference that exists between the platforms that offer buy and sell options for cryptocurrency, which we will discuss in this part, and those that only offer crypto-to-crypto trading, since the latter are more oriented towards users that are already dealing within the cryptocurrency market, and we will talk about the most prominent of those in the second part of this series.
Widely known to be the most newcomer-friendly platform in the world, Coinbase operates in 32 countries and serves around 4 million users. It offers a variety of payment options (credit card, bank account, PayPal, etc.), very competitive fees, advanced trading features for more experienced users (as part of their Coinbase Pro plan), and different deposit options.
While it does not offer too many currencies to buy (BTC, ETH, XRP, LTC, BCH, XLM, ETC, ZEC, USDC, BAT and ZRX), the advantage is that you buy directly from Coinbase instead of buying from other users, and they have plans to keep adding more trading options in the future.
On the other hand, it’s only supported in Europe, the US, Australia and Singapore, which really limits their reach, but makes it easier for them to operate under the regulations of these different countries without having to restrict their functionalities.
Unlike Coinbase, LocalBitcoins offers quick, safe P2P bitcoin purchase options. You can contact Bitcoin holders in your vicinity and purchase from them at the rate they determine. The obvious advantage that we can observe is the fast, user-to-user contact mechanism and the location-based service allows for meetings to make the payments in person when the buyer accepts cash as a payment method.
However, as the name implies, the platform only allows for sellers to promote their Bitcoin selling prices, with no way for them to sell other currencies. Of course, since you can meet the sellers personally, they are very likely to offer the buyer different coins.
If you want to begin your incursion into the cryptocurrency market and are worried about how your first inversion is handled, LocalBitcoins will probably catch your attention as a fine way to contact local users and expand your network.
CoinMama was formed in 2013 and it has built its reputation to operate in 188 countries worldwide, including 24 US states, as a reliable, secure cryptocurrency broker with one of the fastest and more user-friendly platforms in service.
They offer nearly-instant buying option for BTC, ETH, LTC, ADA, QTUM, ETC, BCH and XRP, and will probably keep expanding their catalog. However, they don’t have an option to sell cryptocurrency for fiat currency, and they also don’t offer wallet services (which means the users must have a working wallet address to store their purchases).
Considering the above and their 5.5% fees, which is only slightly higher than those of Coinbase, CoinMama can be a plausible option for new users with basic knowledge on how cryptocurrency work and are looking for different exchanges to diversify their catalog or as alternatives to check different prices.
Holding the spot of the largest exchange in terms of trading volume in euros and being based in the US (giving them an edge in terms of legal compliance and regulations), Kraken has been a popular choice since its beginnings in 2011.
Offering low transactions fees and decent exchange rates, Kraken allows for purchase of Bitcoin in EUR, USD, CAD, GBP and JPY. They also allow trade of different crypto pairs including Ethereum, Monero, Ethereum Classic, Augur REP Tokens, Litecoin, Ripple, ZCash and Stellar.
But it’s important to highlight that Kraken is not designed with beginners in mind. Their platform is more oriented towards users with experience in cryptocurrency trading, and this is reflected in their offer of more advanced trading tools like margin trading, futures investment, one-on-one support for advanced clients and bulk trading options.
If your country is supported, and you have experience in cryptocurrency trading, Kraken will catch your attention.
To end the first of this two-part series, we’ll talk about another platform founded in 2011, classified as one of the veterans. Based in Luxembourg, Bitstamp is one of the most trusted names in the Bitcoin landscape, mostly for their high-security solutions like two-step authentication of identity, multi-signature technology for the wallet and insured cold storage.
Bitstamp offers 24/7 customer support, worldwide availability, a clear fee structure (with higher fees for credit cards) and high liquidity, but at the cost of not being beginner-friendly, offering limited payment methods and charging high fees for deposits.
As you can tell, the landscape of cryptocurrency exchanges is varied enough for each user to find their ideal platform depending on how they rank their priorities: user interface, payment options, low transaction fees, etc. It’s only a matter of acquiring enough information before committing with a platform.
On the next article, we’ll review the best regarded Crypto-to-Crypto exchanges, so stay tuned!