Bithumb is a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2015 (according to WHOIS data on its domain). Shortly after which it had an explosion of growth that made it one of South Korea’s largest bitcoin exchanges, and puts it firmly at #11 on BlockExplorer’s top 25 list of cryptocurrency exchanges.

It supports a healthy number of trading pairs, though they are somewhat quiet. Bithumb supplies an API for programmatic trading and is a decent prospect for any tier of trader that is specifically looking to trade in Won.

Bithumb

bithumb cryptoURL: bithumb.com
Total trading pairs: 11
Deposit fees: Only for extremely small deposits
Withdrawal fee: Yes, flat fee
Trading fees: Yes, flat 0.15%
Verification: Yes, four levels

Registration

Bithumb’s registration process is a bit more in-depth than other exchanges, as it requires more information. Specifically, it requires your full name, date of birth, phone number, and nationality. The phone number you enter will be confirmed by way of an SMS based code system.

Interface

Bithumb’s interface is white with orange highlights and black text, making it rather bright, which could cause eye strain if viewed in the dark. The interface has the basics available such as a place to submit buy and sell orders, an order book for the entire trading pair, and a history of your orders. Notably, the interface lacks an immediately available chart for your selected trading pair. Though a chart can be accessed by clicking a button above the order book on the right. On the left, you can select other trading pairs.

Fees

Bithumb offers free deposits for all deposits that are not tiny, what constitutes tiny is different per currency, for bitcoin, the number at the time of writing was 0.005 BTC. For withdrawals, you will pay a flat fee that is currency dependant.

Trading has a 0.15% flat fee, but you can purchase a coupon to reduce your trading fees to a set number (including 0%) for a given amount of trading.

Verification

Bithumb has four levels of verification, all of which increase your maximum withdrawal, and require some personal information from you.

Verification Level Requirements
Level 1 Granted automatically upon registration
Level 2 Copy of a government ID
Level 3 A signed “pledge” and a copy of a government ID
Level 4 Proof of address no older than three months

Please note that government IDs showing all numbers will be rejected, bithumb states all IDs must have 7 numbers covered.

Security

Bithumb scores mixed results on the security front. They offer 2FA to secure accounts via Google Authenticator, and all withdrawals are protected by a PIN that is entered during registration. Otherwise, the more questionable practice is that there is a rather short maximum length of 12 on passwords.

Rakuten Coin

Japanese e-commerce platform Rakuten will launch its own cryptocurrency in a bid to give its rewards program a blockchain facelift and ultimately increase international sales.

The firm, which garnered $8.8 billion in total revenues last year, unveiled the initiative on Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, according to a TechCrunch report.

CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani said that Rakuten Coin, as the project has been dubbed, will replace “Super Points,” the company’s current rewards program. Throughout its 15-year existence, Rakuten customers have racked up more than 1 trillion points, worth an estimated $9.1 billion.

Nicknamed “Japan’s Amazon,” Rakuten has expanded far beyond its e-commerce origins and now owns portfolio companies scattered throughout the world. Some of its more high-profile acquisitions include US cash-back site Ebates, which Rakuten bought for $1 billion in 2014, and a Viber, a cross-platform messaging service with approximately one billion users. The company is also reportedly planning to launch its own mobile network.

Mikitani said that Rakuten Coin will be integrated into all of the firm’s portfolio companies, even those that do not currently support rewards points. The firm expects that by adopting a “borderless” cryptocurrency not subject to currency exchange fees, it will be able to increase the number of international transactions its businesses process.

Details on Rakuten Coin remain scant at present, so it is not clear whether the platform will run on a private blockchain overseen by Rakuten or on a public blockchain such as Ethereum. If built on a public blockchain, the token would presumably be tradable at cryptocurrency exchanges, giving it a cash value outside of the company’s business network.

In either case, it is likely being developed by the company’s blockchain research lab, which it established in 2016 following its acquisition of cryptocurrency startup Bitnet.

It is also unclear if the firm will distribute any coins through an initial coin offering (ICO), as a handful of established firms have done.

Last year, Kik Messenger raised nearly $100 million in its Kin token sale, and  Telegram, the popular encrypted messaging application founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, is reportedly raising more than $2 billion through an ICO to fund the development of a full-featured blockchain ecosystem.

Featured Image from Olivier Alluis/Twitter

HitBTC is a Chicago based cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2014 and is #12 on BlockExplorer’s top 25 exchanges of 2017 list.

HitBTC supports a huge number of trading pairs, with high amounts of activity on most of them. All of the trading pairs on HitBTC are crypto/crypto and offers an API for programmatic trading.

HitBTC is recommended for mid to large scale traders looking for a high activity exchange.

HitBTC

hitbtc cryptoURL: hitbtc.com
Total trading pairs: 273
Deposit fees: Yes, for some currencies
Withdrawal fees: Yes
Trading fees: Yes, -0.01% – 0.1%
Verification: Yes, but unneeded

Registration

Registration is exquisitely simple, requiring only an email and password. After submitting the registration form, you will receive an email with a confirmation link.

Fees

HitBTC breaks its trading fees into the usual maker/taker model. Where takers pay a fee of 0.1% on all trades, makers receive a fee of -0.01%, meaning makers receive additional currency when making trades. Otherwise, fees for deposit and withdrawal are set per currency and can be seen on the wallet page.

Interface

HitBTC’s interface is highly configurable. While defaulting to a day mode with bright colors, it has a night mode with darker colors. The main exchange page has plenty of information presented in an organized manner. On the main page there is a chart of the currently selected pair, a method of switching trading pairs, buy/sell order forms, an order book, a small chat window, and a list of your current active orders. On the top right of the page is your current balances that are relevant to the currently selected trading pair, alongside their estimated worth in BTC and USDT

The chart can be switched between HitBTC’s chart and a chart generated by TradingView. The TradingView chart is more configurable, but it does not follow your configured theme, so you may find it to be extremely bright if you switch to it during a late night trading session. Otherwise, the entire layout of the trading page can be changed to your personal preference.

Verification

At the time of writing, verification was unnecessary to do any sort of trading, and unverified accounts had the “general” designation. The language around the verification page seemed to indicate that this would change at some point in the future. The “General” verification level is given to all new accounts and has no withdrawal or deposit limits.

Getting verified is a single step process where you email a large amount of personal information to HitBTC’s compliance department. The personal information required is as follows:

  • Full name
  • Date of Birth
  • Country of birth
  • Address
  • Bank account information
  • Government ID
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of bank account ownership

After sending your email, verification should take between three and five working days.

Security

HitBTC pays attention to security features, passwords have no length limits. You can configure automatic logout after a set amount of time, and to go with that, you can log out all active sessions.

Cryptocurrency

A prominent German politician has made the argument that Europe needs to ‘lead the way’ in regulating the cryptocurrency market.

Following a European Commission roundtable discussion on digital currencies today, Markus Ferber, vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Monetary Affairs Committee, said that ‘we need a quick EU-wide regulatory response,’ reports the Financial News.

His comments come at a time when global regulators have been issuing warnings about the potential dangers linked to the cryptocurrency market. Early last month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued warnings to investors regarding the risks of digital currencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) and that they may not be able to recover any money lost. In December, the CFTC also proposed regulations aimed at curbing unlicensed bitcoin futures in the country.

Ferber added:

Right now, retail investors are losing money as they are not aware of the dangers of virtual currencies. In order to make sure that retail investors do not fall prey to market manipulation and fraud, virtual currencies should be regulated as other financial instruments.

In his opinion, Europe should lead the way and regulate the industry.

Ferber’s calls come as Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s financial chief, said today that if the risks associated with digital currencies are not addressed it will regulate the market. Speaking at a roundtable meeting attended by the European Central Bank (ECB), Dombrovskis stated:

This is a global phenomenon and it’s important there is an international follow-up at the global level. We do not exclude the possibility to move ahead (by regulating cryptocurrencies) at the EU level if we see, for example, risks emerging but no clear international response emerging.

Also in attendance were industry bodies and the Financial Stability Board, which writes and coordinates regulation for the G20 economies, reports the Guardian. In March, G20 finance ministers and central bankers will meet, with the topic of digital currencies on the agenda.

It’s believed that the regulation of cryptocurrencies will help to tackle money laundering and counter-terrorism, as they are brought into line with financial legislation.

Earlier this month, Daniele Nouy, the ECB’s chief supervisor, expressed the view that regulating the cryptocurrency market wasn’t a priority for the central bank. Whereas, Mario Draghi, chief of the ECB, has said in the past that the impact for the crypto market was ‘limited’ and that it didn’t pose a threat to the ECB. Notably, Draghi thinks that in the future European banks could hold positions in bitcoin.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

QUONIE is a Japan-based company founded in 2014 by Mike Kayamori and Mario Gomez-Lozada. It is #10 on BlockExplorer’s top 25 exchanges of 2017 list. In 2017 it became one of the first cryptocurrency firms to acquire licensing from the Japan Financial Services Agency. QUONIE has two exchanges under it, the first of which trades crypto/crypto called QRYPTOS, and the second that trades fiat/crypto called QUOINEX.

QRYPTOS seems to have relatively little activity across its markets, though there is some. Low to mid-tier traders looking for a smaller exchange with loads of trading pairs will find QRYPTOS to be a good place for their trading endeavors.

QUOINEX is also somewhat quiet, at the time of writing there was little to no activity on anything other than the BTC/USD and BTC/JPY markets.

Both exchanges offer an API that can be used for programmatic trading and information gathering.

QUONIE

Feature QUOINEX QRYPTOS
URL https://quoinex.com  https://www.qryptos.com
Trading pairs 58 78
Trading Fees Yes Yes
Margin Trading Yes No
Withdrawal Fees Yes, for fiat currencies No
Deposit Fees No No, aside from an XRP wallet opening fee
Verification Yes Yes

Registration

Registration on both platforms is similar, requiring an email and password. Though you cannot register on QUOINEX in the United States. Once you submit the registration form you will receive an email to confirm your email address.

Fees

QUOINEX

QUOINEX’s fee system is atypical. When registering you may select a single trading pair that will have 0% fees on any trade, while the rest of the trading pairs will have a flat 0.25% trading fee across the board. There is no deposit fee for either crypto or fiat on QUOINEX, though any banking fees incurred are yours to deal with. For withdrawals, there are no fees on cryptocurrencies, though there is a minimum withdrawal amount that is specified per currency. For fiat currencies, there are different fees per currency, which are listed on QUOINEX’s support system

QRYPTOS

QRYPTOS uses a maker/taker structure for its fees, where takers are charged a flat fee of 0.15%, while makers are charged a fee of -0.075%, meaning you will receive currency as a maker. The fee for makers is marked as temporary, and the date which it ends is not advertised. There are no fees involved in either deposit or withdrawal.

Interface

Both exchanges share a similar interface, which is highly configurable and defaults to a dark background with light text. You can select between a basic and advanced mode for trading.

The interface’s basic mode provides a small chart, the current price and order book, and large sections for submitting buy and sell orders.

In advanced mode, the user is presented with a well-sized chart of the selected trading pair in the middle. On the top left, you get a list of markets and their price that is user configurable and below that the history of the currently selected market. On the right, you have the current order book and a place to submit buy/sell orders.

The entire interface is configurable, from the overall color scheme to the location and size of all the information panes.

Verification

For both exchanges, verification is required to withdraw currency, but not to deposit. This can lead to a situation where you cannot extract funds from either exchange. So make sure you have completed verification before starting to trade. Verification requires a government ID and proof of residence, which may not be more than three months old. For QRYPTOS, you can use your government ID as proof of residence if it has an address on it. Verification should complete within a week after submission.

Security

Both exchanges support two-factor authentication via multiple apps, including Google Authenticator and Duo Mobile.