I’ve noticed the same questions begin asked in BitcoinUK/
again and again. I’ve some experience of trading cryptos in the uk, so here’s a brain dump of what I’ve learned.
BE WARNED: things change quickly and this stuff will be out of date before long. I’m writing in August 2017, by November it’ll all be different
BE WARNED: don’t take any of the below as fact - it is opinion, my opinion, and you don’t know me, I could be a crazy person. Check your shit before you do anything.
ok. Transferring funds to an exchange
The cheapest (and sometimes only) way to transfer funds to an exchange is via an international bank transfer (sometimes called bank wire). Each exchange has its own quirks, you need to do a bit of research before you begin. Most exchanges that have GBP markets will not have UK bank accounts (none possibly), even if they’re based in the UK. I’m not sure why - some are UK registered companies and are based in London, but still don’t have UK bank accounts. It seems weird but it’s quite common. I can only assume the crappy UK banking system refused them business. Don’t be afraid of international bank transfers, they aren’t necessarily difficult or expensive.
So, some things to check for you start transferring your hard earned cash…
- what currencies are accepted by the exchange (just because they have GBP markets doesn’t mean they accept GBP deposits)
- what is the exchange rate if you send in one currency and it’s received in another (or just avoid doing this this, you’re throwing money away)
- some exchanges have multiple bank accounts, make sure that you send the right currency to the right account (else you’ll be throwing more money away)
- what fee’s does your bank charge for an international transfer (should less than 10GBP …or 10USD, 10EUR, otherwise your bank is ripping you off)
- what fee does the exchange charge for receiving an international transfer (often this is zero, but not always)
- can you withdraw your funds should you change your mind (or accrue funds through selling), and what are the withdrawal costs and procedures.
Be patient. What you will find is that the 1st international payment you make to any one exchange takes a long time. If they say something like “up to 5 working days”, it will be at least 5 working days. After that first one is out of the way payments can
arrive same day, within a couple of hours sometimes. However, note that the international banking system shuts down for the weekend. From experience, if you need to make a payment on Friday, make sure you make it before 10am on friday morning else it’ll be stuck until monday. I think the bankers basically go to the pub for lunch on Friday, forget their way back, and just stumble into another pub.
If you want to make a payment via a debit card, thats also possible on some exchanges. Same set of warnings apply as above; make sure you understand the fees, the exchange rates and the timescales. They almost all have a link from their homepage to their fees page. If an exchange isn’t clear about their fees don’t use them, simple as that.
If you’ve found an exchange that doesn’t seem to have a KYC (Know Your Customer) policy and will let you transfer funds without any sort of ID check, don’t do it. Don’t be tempted to use them because it feels like an easy option. STAY AWAY. Similarly if they don’t offer 2FA, don’t use them. Make sure you activate 2FA immediately, like the very first thing you do after registering. I believe the current advice is not to use Authy, but to use Google Authenticator (despite how shit it is). Also, turn on email login notifications (despite how annoying they are). The Non-banks (Transferwsie, Revolute etc)
As far as I know exchanges will typically not accept payments from these “non-bank” entities. It’s due to their KYC and AML (Anti Money Laundering) policies. The problem is that the money you transfer will go to (or come from) a bank account that isn’t in your name, which just isn’t allowed any more, and for good reason.
I know that Transferwise now offers a personal EURO account which comes with it’s own IBAN. And I think
Revolute offers both personal GBP and EURO accounts (although the euro IBAN just doesn’t work at all). But I don’t know if those accounts are in your name and the banking level, I suspect not. I’d be really interested to know if anyone has successfully transferred funds to or from an exchange to one of these “non-banks”. I know that some exchanges have explicit policies against these organisations and say that they will reject your payment, which will cost you time and no doubt money.
Interestingly, Revolute is becoming a crypto currency exchange soon. More on that another day maybe. Transferring funds from an exchange
Same principals as above really - do your research first; check the fees, check the exchange rates and expect the first ever payment to be VERY, VERY slow, like super slow, more than 5 working days, weeks maybe (i’m not joking). I’ve noticed that payments from an exchange to my bank account will almost always take longer than payments from my bank account to an exchange do. Also, an intermediary bank may be involved (what ever that is), and they’ll help yourself to some of your money on its way through, so don’t necessarily expect it all to turn up. How much do they take? No one seems to know - check the small print, or don’t bother because it won’t say.
After your first withdrawal from an exchange, international bank payments to and from some
exchanges can happen same day. The Non-banks
Making a payment from an exchange to something other than a bank isn’t something I can comment on. I am trialling Crypto Capital, on the surface it seems like a good service, but will refrain from giving my opinion just yet. The exchanges
I’ll limit this bit to those exchanges I’ve found that have GBP/crypto markets…
** ANXPRO - rating: 3/10 Based in HongKong. In summary - expensive, slow, a bit crap, but sometimes with good prices.
From time to time good prices can be found on ANX for selling BTC for GBP. You can’t deposit funds though, you can only withdraw. So for buying BTC with GBP you might as well forget them, but for selling it can be worth while.
The BTC/GBP market is not very liquid as you might expect for a Honk Hong market trading GBPs and the large spread can sometimes mean crappy prices. I have seen good prices here, but not often.
Withdrawing funds typically takes exactly 5 working days (occasionally it’s 2 but that’s rare). Often a bit of money disappears on its way (12GBP last time I checked) due to those pesky “intermediary banks”. Their withdrawal fee’s are high but are easy to understand and calculate.
The trading fee is I think the highest I’ve seen (0.6% last time I checked) for market takers, but less for market makers. I guess they’re trying to encourage market making… although their market maker fee isn’t great either. And there are no discounts available for high volume traders.
They have a reasonable API, and the exchange doesn’t seem to suffer from many planned or unplanned outages.
Their support is also reasonable, they usually reply within a couple of days which is WAY better than most.
My confidence in the exchange in general isn’t high at all. Sometimes crypto deposits simply don’t arrive (I’m not joking). If you’re a busy trader making lots of crypto funds movements, make sure you check that each and every transfer has arrived. If funds don’t arrive you have to raise a support ticket, maybe include a link to show the crypto network transaction taking place, and some days later your funds will appear. Red flag? You bet.
Their AML processes were ok as I recall.
** Kraken - rating 2/10 Based in Japan. In summary - a bit pointless.
Possibly I shouldn’t have included Kraken here as they’ve just delisted their GBP markets (temporarily maybe). Interestingly they did this by giving ZERO notice to their customers which is a bit unforgivable.
Their technology is clearly appalling. The website is crazy slow, sometimes unreachable, weirdly designed (IMO) and just not that easy to use - mostly because it’s so slow. They have an ok API but it’s completely unresponsive at times. It’s not uncommon to get errors when placing orders so you’ve no idea if the order was placed or not, same goes for cancelling orders, order books can take minutes down download and are basically fictional. Red flag? Oh yes.
GBP deposits are cheap (10GBP last time i checked), and from memory quite fast, I think I’ve had them arrive same day. Maybe the Japanese banking system actually works? Withdrawals aren’t so cheap though (60GBP I think) and not very fast, certainly not same day.
Support is not great, but ok I guess. I feel like responses come in 3 to 5 days, and they actually attempt to answer your question.
Their KYC/AML process is very thorough. There are 4 levels of verification, it like a shit game.
Their trading fees are reasonable and they do have discounts for high volume traders.
** CEX.IO - rating 7/10 Based in the UK I think. In summary - the best place to buy crypto currencies with GBP (IMO!).
GBP bank transfers to the exchange are free, and they support Crypto Capital which is also free for inbound transfers. You can also deposit GBP via a VISA or master card, although it’s very expensive (I wouldn’t bother personally) but I assume much faster than a bank transfer. Their bank isn’t UK based so its another international transfer and takes the usual amount of time (i.e. some days).
GBP bank withdrawals are also cheap (30GBP), they even offer a withdrawal to a VISA debit card for only 2.90GBP. They do have strict limits on what can be withdrawn though, so if you’re a big trader it may not be suitable, (I think its suitable only for small time traders). Strangely they charge 1% for crypto capital withdrawals which makes no sense. I’ve checked the Crypto Capital fees page and can’t fathom why CEX have chosen to add this fee, it seems crazy.
As mentioned above, your first withdrawal to a bank account (or other payment provider) will take FOREVER, like two weeks or more. They don’t really explain this adequately in my opinion.
They have a small number of markets (BTC, BCH and ETH) but are expanding these slowly. And you can trade with other FIAT currencies as well.
Support is bad. Slow to reply, and you’ll get a stock response. Almost no effort is made to answer your question. Time between replies is several days if you get one at all.
The API is good, the website is fairly easy to understand, responsive and uptime is excellent.
Their KYC/AML process is very thorough. Weirdly I’ve had to do it twice, the second time was via email which didn’t feel at all secure. Why are the exchanges still using email for this stuff?
Their trading fees are reasonable but they don’t have any sort of discounts for high volume traders.
*** Coinbank - rating 5/10 Based in… well that’s unclear - Scotland? Belize? In summary - crazy high fees.
Deposit fees for GBP are actually zero, but withdrawal fees are way too high for both FIAT and crypto currencies. Any exchange that charges percentages for withdrawal fees (as opposed to a fixed value) should be treated with great caution. Trading fee’s are also very high.
As usual, their bank isn’t UK based so you’re looking at days to make a deposit, and many days to make a withdrawal, but as you’ve probably realised by now that seems to be the norm.
Their API is ok (the order book appears to be partly fictional) and the last time I checked the API was changing - maybe they’re still building it. The website is fine I guess. It’s quick enough and doesn’t seem to suffer from that much of planned or unplanned downtime. I don’t like dark backgrounds though and I don’t think you can change it, but that’s just me.
They don’t have many markets but do support most major crypto currencies. Interestingly they have some pure FIAT/FIAT markets which is something I’m beginning to see more of. The GBP markets aren’t very liquid either, so sometimes the spread is high which means the prices are pretty uncompetitive. Occasionally though someone comes in with a massive order so you’ll maybe get lucky and get a good deal.
It’s a while since I used their support (i’ve stopped trading because of the fees), but I recall it wasn’t great. My last ticket ended with something like ”a member of the tech team will get back to you”, and that’s the last I heard from them.
They appeared to have adequate KCY/AML procedures. They don’t offer any discounts for high volume traders.
** Coinfloor - rating 6/10
Based in the UK (but you guessed it, with an overseas bank account). In summary - a good all round exchange!
I think they pride them selves on their security and suitability for being regulated (and I hope the succeed). I like coinfloor.
They have a slightly unusual business model in my opinion. They charge a deposit fee and a withdrawal fee, but they don’t charge a trading fee. It didn’t used to be the case, and I guess may not be in the future. The fee’s are competitive though, certainly not high.
Support is excellent, probably the best I’ve encountered. Someone usually responds same day and they even read your question and attempt to be helpful with their answer. Amazing.
The website is a pretty basic no frills affair. It certainly won’t make your laptop sound like a hovercraft unlike some. One thing to mention is that you can only withdraw crypto funds to a single wallet (per currency) and that wallet must be a personal wallet and not one on another exchange. I doubt they can enforce where that wallet is, but it certainly against their usage policy.
Until recently you could only trade BTC here, but they’ve now added support for more currencies. They didn’t do it very well though, you can’t withdraw the new currencies, and they aren’t supported by the API.
The website has suffered from some long outages which were definitely unplanned. The API is mostly good though, stable, reliable and easy to use.
They do have discounts for high volume traders and their KYC/AML procedures were good as I recall.
** GDAX (aka Coinbase) - rating 5/10
I wasn’t going to mention GDAX because GBP deposits aren’t an option. However, as it’s such a large exchange it’s worth mentioning. In summary - good but a bit pointless.
GDAX does have one GBP market but getting into it isn’t very easy. You can’t deposit GBP funds into the exchange but you can sell BTC for GBP, sometimes at good prices too. You can register a UK bank account but using it is complicated - better to look at their docs rather than have me do an bad explanation. Ultimately, if you send them GBPs I think you’ll be credited with EUROs.
The fee’s are ok (but complicated), their technology is good. I don’t recall their KYC/AML procedures.
They have 2 websites confusingly; GDAX is aimed at traders and Coinbase is aimed at people who want to occasionally buy and sell. I guess Coinbase is just a simple front end for GDAX. The API is the best I’ve seen.
They have discounts for high volume traders.
I’m sure there are other GBP markets out there, and I’ll update this post when I have an opinion on them. For now though, if you want to buy crypto currencies for GBP, you best bet in my opinion is cex.io. You’ll find good prices, good market depth, a small spread and enough currencies to get you started. Support is crap (but that’s the norm), but both deposits and withdrawals are cheap and reliable, you just need to be patient. If you aren’t patient however they at least have an expensive & fast option for you and that is to buy with your debit card.
“Let’s say you want to buy 1 Bitcoin, sign up on an exchange and wait for 3 days. A few days later you receive an e-mail saying ‘Our servers compromised… all funds stolen. We are sorry’. Now where to go? ,"
Recent volatility in cryptocurrency space has created a new customer base looking for profit and quick money, these customers are new investors or rookies can take part due to the open nature of cryptocurrency. It is important to choose with which exchange you are buying and selling cryptocurrency.
Many major exchanges have faced various potential threats in the past such as hacking, regulatory issues, bad business practices due to messy combination of poor management, neglect, and raw inexperience.
Number of exchanges attacked and many million of dollars stolen, MtGox was the first one where a group of hackers compromised the servers due to the central nature of the service provider. It is easy to gain access and take control of private keys which controls your bitcoin, so you should always keep your private keys in your control. There are multiple ways to do that, such as hardware wallets, or keeping it in your laptop, mobile phone, etc.
Another problem with many exchanges are lack of liquidity, which means when one wants to withdraw a big chunk of bitcoin, for example,1000 BTC at current price is about $17 Million, exchanges don’t have that much cash available and ready to move, and therefore the entire BTC market can fluctuate in seconds.
There is no such thing as an instant in these exchanges as you have to first verify (KYC and AML) your account which can take 10 minutes to 3 days depending on your region. Only after such long waiting you can transfer real cash from your bank account, but that is also unlikely, because many local banks are not supporting these kinds of exchanges. The solution to this problem is to buy using an escrow mechanism and get crypto in the same region where one pays using local currency in the same region, such service provider being known as LocalBitcoins.
Another approach to the above mentioned problem is to reduce the cost of switch for traders, so the users can convert token to token without leaving the wallet. It is only in decentralized exchanges which lacks support for a commodity, ease of use and overall lacks user support.
Due to financial transaction exchanges were always under scrutiny, Bittrex came under radar for an incident in which a handful of user documents merged into one support ticket and released in a public forum.
Once again, there is no support when you do not understand something of the website of the exchange or you need to know certain things about the fees. So, you will have to create the support ticket yourself and wait for the answer an hour depending on the volume of tickets. The support system of exchanges is dingy and the company like ‘Coinbase’ does not even have a live chat or a phone number where one can call and get help.
Cryptocurrencies are speculative and bound to manipulation - there have been many incidents on these central exchanges where “Spoofing” is seen. With ‘spoofing’, one puts large buy or sell orders driving traders in one direction and then cancels the order before execution. This implies that anyone who can gain access to trading with large amount of BTC can drive prices to go crazy.
As a precaution many exchanges are locking down a number of accounts if any suspicious activity seen, resulting in distress within the community and customers. Similar incidents reported by community, where whenever ‘Tether’ currency denomination released on Blockchain, there was a sudden surge in the value of the Bitcoin. ‘Tether’ is a cryptocurrency which backed by $1 and it is one of the subsidiary of ‘Bitfinex’. ‘Bitfinex’ banking relationship jeopardized due to a DDOS hack. This gives rise to the question: is Tether a cryptocurrency or just a scam. Newcomers to Blockchain may notice the irony — in an industry obsessed with decentralization, some of the biggest exchanges are centralized, trusted institutions.
“Decentralized exchanges are the way of the future,” said Hugh Madden, technical director for ‘openANX’, a decentralized exchange infrastructure protocol. With the new model in decentralised exchanges you have no order book — buy and sell orders are matched peer-to-peer. There is no central authority where hackers can attack and drain money.
Exchanges have to address these problems in future:
- Accessible - faster KYC process , international banking support and integration.
- End-to-End Security – Exchanges need to scale , better security for customers to their own data centers.
- Cold Storage – Storing all bitcoins, cryptocurrency in cold storage reduces the risk of hacking coins.
- Technology Architecture – Right now the exchange architecture is straightforward and the insecure REST API exposed to the world. Using service such as Apache Kafka can reduce I/O throughput.
- Banking – The banks do not understand cryptocurrency, if the exchanges want to stay, they have to work together with the bank to provide full transparency within the system .
- Liquidity – Right now every exchange lacks liquidity,one of the solution to this problem could be the introducing of new services - for example, the user can spend coins from the exchange for some service or asset.
- Easy – It is easy to use.
These protocols are still in development phase, but as we continue to see the threats on centralised exchanges, it is imminent that decentralised exchanges will take over. The answer lies in technology development and complete use of tokens.
In conclusion, as a crypto user one has to be very careful what exchanges they are dealing with and make sure the exchange has a valid banking setup or relationship, verification process and resolution mechanism and meets all the terms and conditions; make sure also, that in case of hack or solvency, you will get your money back or at least a part of it .
Do your own research before engaging in the cryptocurrency space.
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