Bitcoin Exchange Review

Introduction

This is my review of Bitcoin Trading Exchanges. When wandering into the BitCoin Universe you will be confronted with funding, no matter if you want to speculate or just spend a few coins on digital services. To get to the point: Easy funding is possible and getting Euro or Dollar - Fiat as some call it - into the system is not as hard as you might think.

Contenders

BitCoin24 Bitcoin.de Bitfinex Bitstamp Mt.Gox
Country Germany Germany Japan Slovenia USA
Funding n/a SEPA/SWIFT Wire Cash/Wire/SEPA Wire/SEPA
Currencies1 n/a $ €, $, £ $, €
Status shut-down online online online shut-down
  1. Funding and Withdrawal should generally be possible in any world currency

Bitcoin 24

Let's start with the best exchange I once knew. R.I.P. - bitcoin24 is no more. BitCoin24 was the biggest Euro-based BitCoin Exchange you could find. Funding was possible in a couple of seconds directly from your bank account via GiroPay.

No other exchange, especially not Mt. Gox offered such easy funding methods in spring of 2013. Trading on BitCoin24 has been very fast and realiable as well, at least for me.

I know many people had problems with them and there was a bug in the trading engine, taking tiny bits of BitCoins. If this was intentionally or not, I do not know. The rest of their story is sad - funds are frozen, lawyers involved. In short—it is ugly.

R.I.P. - bitcoin24 is no more

Bitcoin.de

Now Bitcoin.de is my second favorite candidate. There are better BitCoin trading exchanges out there when it comes to real trading and volatility and circulation, however none of the other exchanges I know offer such a solid and easy funding model. You simply send currency via SEPA directly to the seller and once he confirms reception, the BitCoins will automatically transferred to your bitcoin.de account.

bitcoinde

Once you get the hang of it, moving Fiat (€) from and to the exchange is very simple. You get rewarded for successful trades, and can earn a certain level of trust, exactly like in eBay. Then potential trading partners can see how much you did successfully trade in the past and if your partners were satisfied.

Support was good and helpful. Sign-on is possible with 2-Factor Auth, as it was the case with all other exchanges, and the FrontEnd was very neatly designed. They are in the end-phase of integrating a bank into their system and I suspect trading will become much more easy and faster then. Two thumbs up for that decision!

In case you decide to register with them, please use my referral link as a small sign of appreciation for the time I put into this review.

Bitfinex

My all-time favorite trading exchange is clearly Bitfinex. Their front end is outstanding. Pretty fast with lots of options. The most striking features are:

  • Short Trading
  • Leveraged Trading (up to 4:1 Margin)
  • Lending
  • API

There are maybe one or two other exchanges out there who offer such advanced features as bitfinex, but I found them hardly to be as trustworthy and as well established as BFX, short for bitfinex. Also BFX integrates BitStamp into their order book system, so basically BFX is a meta exchange. Early in 2013, before Dwolla has been cut-off from Mt.Gox, they also had Mt.Gox integrated, which frankly have been awesome times for Bitcoin traders, owed to the great order-depth and volatility.

bfx

BitFinex decided to drop Mt Gox from their Order Book

However since moving out dollars out of Mt.Gox became very hard, resulting in a BitCoin squeeze, Bitfinex decided to drop Mt.Gox from their Order Book in 2013. I can respect that decision.

I really like Bitfinex and consider them to be the best brokerage and trading exchange to be around at the moment. At Bitfinex you can move Dollar and Euro in and out via SEPA, but I never tried that feature.

Update (08/2014): On August 2014 BitFinex has overtaken eBTC and BitStamp in Volume and is after Chinese Huobi now the second largest BitCoin Trading House.

10% Fee Reduction

I asked Bitfinex to create a refcode for me and they were awesome to implement a new referral and fee reduction process over night. In case you decide to sign up with them, it would be kind of you to use my referral link. As a small sign of gratitude, you will receive a 10% reduction in fees for the first 4 weeks of trading.

Server Updates

Currently until the 20 the of November 2013 the talented folks at Bitfinex are installing new server infrastructure, so their trading systems will considerably speed up in the next couple of weeks.

Bitstamp

I did only very briefly test Bitstamp, but they enjoy a high reputation amongst traders. Their Front end is well made and well-designed, very accessible.

I'm afraid I cannot tell you more about them, so you should try them out on your own. You can get more information about Bitstamp in Nejc's thread at the bitcointalk forum.

Mt.Gox

mtgox

My experience with Mt.Gox wasn't to my utter satisfaction—on the contrary it was horrible

Everyone has another opinion about Mt.Gox and it would be too easy just blaming them like everyone else does. They have been down numerous times due to DDoS attacks before they made the decision to switch to Akamai, something we recommended to MtGox together with an IRC member of the channel #bitcoin-analysis. It is said that they caused the crash early 2013 due to such an outage, but I think it is nonsense. Prices had risen clearly too fast to hysterical levels.

Now, my personal experience with Mt.Gox was not to my utter satisfaction—on the contrary it was horrible. Support needed 4 Weeks to get back to me and this was reason enough for me to never trade with them again. I spare you other details of my journey with them, but it must be said that there are many BitCoin users out there who are very satisfied with them. Funding is possible via SEPA and wire transfer, there have been more options before, like Dwolla, but such things are a relict for the history books.

Features that set Mt Gox apart from competitors:

  • Trading API

  • 3rd Party Charting and trading software are available, like GoxCLI or Sierra Chart.

  • Market Making - You don't have to like it, but all traders on the other exchanges are following the market on Mt Gox, offset by some ฿10 to ฿15 margin.

Update (08/2014): Mt.Gox is shut-down and stole their customers money. Mark Karpelès (MagicalTux) is now awaiting trial in the U.S.

Conclusion

No surprises here, my personal favorite exchange is Bitfinex for uptimes, reliability, fast front end, excellent UI and highly responsive customer support - you never will feel left alone with these guys. Having said that - there is no reason you shouldn't try all of the mentioned exchanges out on your own. Just make sure to not move too much coinage or other currencies at first when trying out Mt.Gox.

For more discussion on the topic of Bitcoin trading or OTC trading, you can visit this list of IRC channels. In case you are interested in a free real-time charting and order-depth system of Mt. Gox's feed, visit RTBTC.

If you decide to sign up with Bitfinex, it would be really kind of you to use my referral link as small sign of your appreciation for this review. All of my referrals will enjoy a 10% reduction on their trading fees for their first month of trading.

Update June 1, 2016

In the meanwhile I used OKC, Huobi, BitMex, Vircurex, Kraken and Cryptsy as well. As of today, without a doubt, in my opinion the best BitCoin trading platform is BitMex, fast reliable, good orderbook. I chose it because of great leverage options and tons of settings options, responsive support and very great continuing integration structure.

Thanks for reading this roundup of BitCoin Exchanges and good luck trading!