Bittrex is a cryptocurrency exchange based in Seattle Washington in the U.S.A. It was one of the top 3 exchanges in the world for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but has seen some problems towards the end of 2017 that eroded investor confidence in the platform and as of April 2018 it ranks as the #8 exchange in Bitcoin trading volume and #6 in overall trading volume with close to $300 million in daily volume.
Who Founded Bittrex?
Bittrex was started in 2014 by the current CEO and co-founder Bill Shihara, who was looking to bring his vast experience as a security engineer at companies such as Amazon and Blackberry to the cryptocurrency markets. At the time, Mr. Shihara saw a need for an exchange that was more secure and reliable, providing cryptocurrency traders with a safe place to trade the up and coming new digital currencies. Still building on that original vision, Bittrex sees itself as a next generation cryptocurrency platform, and aims to provide its clients with the most secure trading service available. In that regard the exchange has been successful as it has never been successfully hacked.
In its quest to be the strongest cryptocurrency exchange available, Bittrex has implemented several features to put it ahead of its competitors. Below are some of its strongest features:
- A Secure platform– The main goal of Bittrex since its launch is to provide a secure trading platform, where users do not have to be concerned about potential hacks and thefts of their coins. In addition to the years of tech security that the founder had with major tech brands, the team responsible for securing the Bittrex platform also has decades of experience at top tier technology companies prior to joining Bittrex. One of the key security features is the elastic multi-stage wallet employed by Bittex that ensures up to 90% of all cryptocurrencies are being stored securely offline at all times.
- Custom platform engine– Bittrex designed its trading platform to be as fast as possible, and the custom scalable solution attains that goal through elastic computing that processes, executes and fills orders immediately, doing away with delayed trades and crossed order books.
- Fast deposits/withdrawals – The Bittrex founders knew that one key to customer trust and satisfaction is rapid deposits and withdrawals, With that in mind they developed their system to rapidly process transactions, although once transfers are made the actual network verification is beyond their control. On the Bittrex side the rapid processing of transactions means that all wallet information (balances, trades, transfers, etc) is kept up to date in real time. You won’t have any questions about where your funds are with Bittrex.
- Transparent Fees– Unlike many of its competitors that use sliding scales for their fees that can be confusing at best, Bittex employs a flat 0.25% fee on all trades, meaning you can always quickly and easily know the fee you’ll be paying for each trade, keeping nasty surprises away.
Which Cryptocurrencies are Traded on Bittrex?
One of the top features that has drawn traders to Bittrex is the broad array of cryptocurrencies available on the platform. Currently there are over 190 BTC pairs available for trade, with an additional 64 ETH pairs, and 16 USD Tether pairs.
USD Tether, or USDT, is a digital asset that is backed by U.S. dollars held in reserve by Tether Limited. Each USDT released has a U.S. dollar in reserve, and is pegged to the price of the U.S. dollar, allowing it to act as a stable digital currency. Because the USDT is a digital asset that was created on the Bitcoin blockchain it can be used and traded in the same way as any other cryptocurrency. It can also be redeemed or purchased for fiat currency directly from the Tether.to platform and transfers between Tether.to wallets are fee-free.
In regards to fiat currencies, unfortunately Bittrex has not yet implemented support for trading against fiat currencies, so there are no USD/EUR/JPY pairs available. Typically users need to purchase their Bitcoin or Ethereum elsewhere and then transfer it to Bittrex for trading. Bittrex has made it possible to make BTC or ETH purchases via bank wire transfer recently, however it requires an “enhanced verified” account and the minimum purchase amount is $10,000.
Withdrawal Limits and Account Verification
Bittrex is totally committed to following all U.S. regulations and laws regarding financial transactions and cryptocurrencies, making it mandatory for accounts to be verified in order to make any withdrawals. This means adherence to Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations that require customers to provide personal identifying information. Currently, Bittrex offers two account levels based on the information provided by the customer.
- Basic accounts require the submission of the name, address, and date of birth of the account holder. Bittrex then confirms these details through cross-referencing with public records. If the personal details cannot be confirmed in public records the customer is required to proceed with the enhanced verification option. Once personal details are confirmed and the basic account is approved a customer can with draw up to 3 BTC or its equivalent each day, provided two-factor authentication (2FA) has been enabled.
- Enhanced accounts require users to submit scans of their identification along with a “selfie” photo. The submitted IDs are verified by the Jumio service provider, which utilizes a number of heuristics to determine that the ID is legitimate and that the faces on the ID and selfie match. Enhanced accounts can withdraw up to 100 BTC per day once they have two-factor authentication enabled.
These requirements have been put in place to fully comply with KYC and AML regulations governing financial institutions. Bittrex adheres to these regulations to ensure that they are permitted to offer their services in the U.S., and other countries that follow the KYC and AML regulations.
Bittrex Transaction fees
Bittrex is fairly unique among cryptocurrency exchanges as they charge a flat 0.25% transaction fee on all trades (as of April 2018). It also charges no withdrawal fees, although you are subject to any transaction, mining or network fees based on the crpytocurrency you withdraw as specified by its network rules.
Bittrex Customer support
While Bittrex claims it has made every effort to put enough support staff in place, the truth is that customer service from Bittrex is notoriously slow and unreliable. In fact, it is the lack of customer support that led many people to switch exchanges in late 2017 and early 2018. This is improving, but in April 2018 there are still reports of long delays in response to customer support tickets.
Bittrex Funds Availablity
Bittrex makes funds available in customer account as soon as they have been verified by blockchain consensus. This means that verification times of transfers are completely dependent on the network, and is beyond the control of Bittrex. This is true both for deposits and withdrawals.
Note that in the case of withdrawals, Bittrex generates an authorization email which contains a link that must be clicked to authorize any withdrawal initiated on the platform.
Bittrex Countries Supported
Bittrex is located in the U.S., but supports trading by customers across the globe. Some few countries citizens are prohibited from trading with Bittrex, these are countries which have been sanctioned by the U.S. or designated as restricted countries. Currently, U.S. law prohibits Bittrex from doing business with residents of North Korea, Iran, the Crimean region, Syria, and Cuba as well any person with economic sanctions levied against them specifically by the federal government. In addition, trading is restricted in some U.S. states, the full list of which can be found in the Bittrex Terms of Service.
Getting Started and Trading with Bittrex
Bittrex has not been accepting new clients, other than corporate clients and special invitees, since December 15, 2017. This moratorium on new accounts has been put in place due to the inability of the company to keep pace with demands for new accounts. Per the Support section of the Bittrex site:
“We are currently only accepting new account requests from our corporate customers and select invitees. We are excited to have so many new users who want to join the Bittrex community. To those that want to join our community, we will keep you posted on when we open up registration more broadly. If you already have an account on Bittrex, you will not be affected by this change. Please continue to the log in as you normally do.”
NOTE: Bittrex did reopen new customer registration on April 10, 2018. They promoted the fact that they had increased customer support staff from 3 to 50+ and that the trading platform and website had undergone a full overhaul, making trading even faster and easier. Unfortunately they were unprepared for the deluge of new users that had been waiting for a chance to register and within 25 minutes they had taken to Twitter with this message:
As of 23:59 GMT April 12, 2018 registrations have been re-opened and appear to be working normally.
If you already have an account you can log in and once you do you’ll be presented with the Bittrex “Markets” page as below, showing the various trading pairs available.
By clicking on the “Wallets” link in the upper right of the page you can go to your wallet, which is where you’ll deposit your preferred cryptocurrency.
You can either choose from the listed cryptocurrencies, or use the search box on the right to find the cryptocurrency you’d like to deposit. To make a deposit just click the green icon to the left of the displayed cryptocurrency. A deposit box will pop up, allowing you to generate a deposit address to send your funds to. It’s always recommended to test this address with a small deposit first to ensure everything is working properly. If the small initial deposit works you can then send your full deposit. You do this by sending cryptocurrency from another wallet where you are holding it. If you’re withdrawing you click the small red icon to the left of your desired cryptocurrency.
Once you transfer your deposit you’ll need to wait for the blockchain to confirm the transaction. In normal circumstances this will take up to 10 minutes for Bitcoin, but typically only a few minutes for Ethereum. Verification times vary from one cryptocurrency to another, and can be significantly longer if network congestion is high. Once the blockchain confirms the transaction you’ll see the currency in your wallet and you’re ready to trade.
Find Pair You Want to Trade
When your deposit is available in your Bittrex wallet click the “Markets” link in the upper right to take you back to the initial markets screen. Clicking the pair link for your chosen pair on that page takes you to the information page for that currency.
Place Your Order
For a basic trade, the most important section to focus on is the Order Book. Here you can view all buy /bid and sell/ask orders that have already been placed by other users.
Choose the price and number of units you prefer. Any order that is significantly below ask prices may not be fulfilled. Before placing your order you will be asked to confirm it. At this point there is still the option to cancel orders. If you confirm the order it is final and cannot be cancelled once it is filled.
Complete the Order and Withdraw Your Funds
When your order has been fulfilled, your new purchase will be shown as available in your Bittrex wallet. Clicking on the minus icon will allow you to withdraw your purchase to the wallet of your choosing. Or you can hold it and sell it back for BTC or ETH (or USDT if available) to collect a profit.
Bittrex is unmatched when it comes to security, and it is near the top of the pack in terms of cryptocurrencies offered for trade. It has scores more than its competitors Coinbase and Kraken for example. It also excels in terms of transaction and withdrawal fees and speed of transactions.
However there are definitely downsides to Bittrex. First and foremost among those is the inability to open a new Bittrex account since December 2017.
With the above issue resolved as of April 12, 2018 I would say Bittrex could rapidly regain its position as a top cryptocurrency exchange – especially if the flood of new registrations in the aborted April 10th re-launch was any indication. While I’ve seen some complaints about the new design of the trading section, I have to say that I personally like it, and I think the complaints are mostly a resistance to change.
It is also hampered by the lack of support for fiat currencies. Most major exchanges these days do offer customers the ability to buy and sell in fiat, and until Bittrex corrects this they will be operating at a disadvantage. Of course BTC or ETH can be purchased elsewhere and transferred to Bittrex, but this simply adds an additional layer of complexity, especially for new cryptocurrency traders. It also adds unnecessary fees and increases the chance of mistakes being made in wallet addresses.
Bittrex was once one of the top cryptocurrency exchanges, and they very well could be again now that they are open to new registrations. All that remains is to add full support for fiat currencies and Bittrex could well be the best cryptocurrency exchange of 2018.