A Complete Bithumb Review: The Top South Korean Cryptocurrency Exchange

There are many different cryptocurrency exchanges, some are smaller, and some are the top players in the field. Today we’ll be looking at one of the cryptocurrency exchanges that has long held a position in the top ten volume exchanges – Bithumb.

Bithumb is a cryptocurrency exchange based in South Korea, and based on data provided by Coinmarketcap.com it is the seventh largest exchange by 24-hour volume as of October 2018. If you look at the 7-day or 30-day volume it becomes the fifth largest exchange.

In the coming review I’ll have a look at the background and history of Bithumb, the account creation process, website features, trading platform, and give you an idea of what to expect from the exchange.

Bithumb Review: Background and History

As I’ve already explained, Bithumb is a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange. It was by far the largest South Korean exchange for a long time, and it remains the largest as of October 2018, but there are competitors gaining on Bithumb.

For example, the 24-hour volume of Bithumb as I’m writing this is roughly $406 million. Its closest competitor is Upbit, with $292 million in 24-hour volume. Upbit is just 1 year old, and last year at this time Bithumb had roughly 75% of the South Korean cryptocurrency market.

The company behind Bithumb is called BTC Korea.com Co. Ltd. and it is located in Seoul Korea. Beyond that there’s not much information about the company. There’s no listing of its executives or board of directors, or who the founders might have been.

The exchange is doing well today, considering that in 2017 they were the victim of not one, but two separate hacking attacks. Those attacks saw over 30,000 customers have their personal data stolen, and more than $1 million worth of fiat and cryptocurrencies were stolen as well.

A subsequent investigation found that the companies servers were not hacked, but rather an employee’s personal computer was breached, and this is how the customer information was stolen. It’s been over a year since the hacks occurred, so there might not be any danger. Also, Bithumb has vowed to pay back any stolen assets.

Bithumb Review: Account Creation and Verification

Signing up for Bithumb is somewhat more complex than signing up at other exchanges, where you probably only need to fill in three or four fields and you’re on your way.

At Bithumb you start by clicking the “Sign Up” link in the upper right corner of the website.

You’re then presented with a form that not only asks for an email address, username and password, but also requests your actual name, cell phone number, physical address, a second security password to be used for withdrawal, transfer, password change and OTP verification. Finally, you check off four separate boxes agreeing to various terms and conditions, check another box to confirm you aren’t a robot, and then click “Sign Up”.

If you’re like me you might not want to submit all this personal information such as your cell number and complete name, not to mention your physical address. I should also mention here that in order to make a withdrawal from Bithumb you’ll need to send them a copy of a government issued ID, such as your passport. These are all requirements of the Korean regulators and part of their KYC laws.

Bithumb Review: Features

There are a host of features to consider on the Bithumb platform, including Bithumb Cash, KRW Remittance, and coupons that can be used to reduce your trading fees by as much as 0.07%. Unfortunately for most of us, these first two features are only helpful if you’re a South Korean resident. The coupons are handy however, and can lower what are already low fees even lower still.

If you want to take the platform for a test drive they also offer a virtual trading account to play with, ,but you still have to provide complete personal details and complete the verification process to access the virtual trading platform.

Previously support was only given for Korean speakers, and both the FAQ section and phone support in Korean only, but more recently Bithumb has added English translations to the FAQ section and have an international help line that provides assistance in English. That number is 82-1661-5551 and an agent can be reached 24/7/365. Alternatively and for less urgent requests email support is available at contact2@bithumb.com.

Bithumb Review: Trading with Bithumb

Since the primary reason you’re interested in Bithumb is to trade cryptocurrencies, this is probably the most important section of the review.

The trading platform has a somewhat different layout to other cryptocurrencies exchanges as you’ll see below. It is excellent in that there is no lag in switching between tabs, or when placing orders. Currently you can trade up to 51 different cryptocurrencies, including all of the top coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, Litecoin and Monero.

You see the available cryptocurrencies on the left of the chart, making it easy to switch from one to another. A key difference versus other exchanges is the lack of a trading chart, but as you can see there is a button to click for a chart, and it will pop-up in a separate window. I’m not a fan, but maybe the Korean user base likes this feature.

To make a trade you simply choose the cryptocurrency you’re interested in buying or selling, and then enter how much you want to buy or sell. ON the right of the screen you can see the order book, letting you know what the current sell and buy levels are.

In addition, there are three trading tabs to choose from. The “Trade” tab is where you land when entering the platform and it’s the basic trading screen. The “Easy Trade” tab is a simplified trading screen with less options and a real-time transaction value. Finally there is the “Reserved Trade” tab which gives you advanced features such as stop and limit orders.

Bithumb Review: Fees

Bithumb has a basic commission of 0.15% for both the maker and taker on a transaction. Coupons can lower that to 0.01% to 0.075%. That’s far cheaper than almost any other exchange. You’ll also find that there are withdrawal fees that are based on what currency you’re withdrawing, and that some cryptocurrencies have a deposit fee for small deposits.

For example, there is a 1,000 KRW feel for withdrawals in Korean Won, and a 0.001 BTC fee for Bitcoin withdrawals. The currencies that charge for small deposits are Bitcoin, Dash, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash and Bitcoin Gold.

You can view the full fee schedule here.

Bithumb Review: Customer Support

As mentioned above, Bithumb takes customer support very seriously, and it is one of their best features. Honestly it’s a breath of fresh air in the cryptocurrency industry, with customer support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Even better is the fact that this support team is very responsive and helpful.

There is also support for English speaking clients on the International Customer Support line, or you can email the support team. Additionally, there is live online support chat available from within your account.

If you have a basic question, such as account creation or verification and deposits/withdrawals of Bitcoin you’ll find answers in the short FAQ document available on the Bithumb website.

Is Bithumb Safe?

Bithumb made headlines not once, but twice in 2017 after becoming the victim of a hack. The first was by far the worst, with over 30,000 customer’s personal data being stolen, and over $1 million in cryptocurrency and fiat currency stolen.

The second hack later in the year breached 3,400 customer accounts. The two incidents caused an investigation by South Korea’s Communications Commission, and the imposition of a KRW60 million fine against the exchange.

It’s been over a year since the two incidents occurred, but you still might want to consider if this is the exchange you ultimately want to trade through. If you do decide to trade with Bithumb you might not want to keep a large amount of assets at the exchange, but then that’s true of any exchange.

Bithumb Review: Conclusion

The Bithumb website and interface aren’t bad at all, but it is obvious they were designed with a South Korean user base in mind. The lack of latency in the website when accessing it from North America is commendable, as is the attempt to make the platform available in English, but there are still areas of the website that leave a bit to be desired in terms of the translations being provided.

If you’re living in South Korea, or have an understanding of the Korean language I would say Bithumb is worth giving a shot. If you’re not it’s probably better for you to find an exchange that’s better suited to you geographically and in terms of language.