ItBit was launched back in 2013, and as a U.S. financial services company that acts as both a Bitcoin exchange and an over-the-counter trading desk it could have been a major competitor to Coinbase, but it didn’t turn out to be that way at all. ItBit also has the distinction of being the very first U.S. regulated Bitcoin exchange, having received that status all the way back in 2015. In addition to its headquarters in New York, it also has an international office in Singapore.
The exchange caters to institutional investors, and offers a deep order book, and low fees for those who are trading high volumes and are on the maker side of the trade. We’ll look at the fees later in this article though, as they have been one of the points of contention among users.
ItBit has regulation as a bank, and is available in 49 of the 50 U.S. states. It isn’t available to Texas residents as itBit suddenly pulled out of Texas back in April 2016. It is also available to residents of most countries of the world. Because it is regulated as a bank there are extensive verification requirements, including proof of identity verification and proof of residency verification. This can take up to three days to complete,, and some users have complained that they simply can’t get past the verification requirements. Certainly international users could see issues as all documents must be submitted in English. U.S. based clients are able to use a knowledge-based authentication system which asks questions based on information already provided, and is said to significantly speed up the verification process. One benefit of the regulation of itBit as a bank is that all deposits are FDIC insured and held in New York state banks.
The only cryptocurrency available at itBit is Bitcoin, and you can only purchase it with U.S. dollars, Euros and Singapore dollars. This has been brought up as a point of contention among users as well, but it can also be considered a strength. If you’re looking to buy large quantities of Bitcoin, itBit is the perfect exchange to do it at.
The itBit platform is very simple and easy to use, and there are few trading features available. You can use a limit order, but stop-loss orders are not available, and neither is the use of margin, making itBit unsuitable for day traders. It really is best for those looking to buy and sell large Bitcoin positions, which makes sense given its regulation as a bank and its over the counter trading desk.
You’ll find that the website is mobile optimized and looks good on your mobile device, but it is too slow on mobile to be of any use. There are no Android or iOS mobile apps available, or any plans to release such. Account security measures includes the use of two-factor authentication and cold-storage for all user Bitcoins. There has never been a security breach at itBit.
Fees at itBit
There have been several discussions about itBit fees in online forums, and the fee structure is one of the main reasons that users aren’t fond of the exchange.
Interestingly enough, unlike most exchanges, the trading fees at itBit are so simple. There is a 0.20% taker fee and no maker fee. If you trade more than 8,000 BTC in a 30 day rolling period you can also become eligible for lower taker fees. You can also get lower fees by trading OTC on the trading desk, with single order quantities of 25 BTC or greater. This is why the average user finds the fee structure unfair at itBit, because it really is geared towards large traders and institutional trading desks. Still, the taker fee isn’t very high, and the fact that there are no maker fees should make up the difference. ItBit really does shine if you’re looking to make a large purchase of Bitcoin.
There are also deposit and withdrawal fees that need to be reckoned with at itBit. It should be noted here that itBit does not accept credit or debit cards for deposits and withdrawals, nor do they support ACH transfers for deposits.
Deposit Fees: U.S. residents can make a domestic wire transfer and pay a small fee of $10, while international wire transfers carry a fee of $40. Both fees are standard at U.S. banks for wire transfers. Because of these fees you may want to avoid small Bitcoin purchases through itBit. You can also make deposits through the SWIFT system, but these come with a $40 charge plus agent fees. European deposits can be made through the SEPA system, with transfers of less than €50,000 carrying a €3.70 fee, and deposits over €50,000 carrying a €35.15 fee. It is worth noting here that you can deposit both Bitcoin and Singapore dollars with no fee.
Withdrawal Fees: U.S withdrawals are permitted through the ACH system and are fee-free up to $3,000. Any amount above $3,000 is charged a $20 fee. International wire transfers and SWIFT transfers have the same $40 fee plus agent fees for the SWIFT transfer as you find with deposits. Those withdrawing in the European Union using the SEPA system will face a charge of €8.14 for amounts under €50,000 and €70.32 for amounts above €50,000. As with deposits it is free to withdraw Bitcoin and Singapore dollars.
ItBit Customer Support
ItBit is one of the few cryptocurrency exchanges that offer customer support via phone as well as via email. You can send general inquiries to info@itBit.com, while specific help requests should be sent to help@itBit.com. Additionally there is 24 hour phone support available Monday through Friday in both the U.S. and Singapore. The U.S. offices can be reached at 855-997-2994 and the Singapore offices can be reached via WhatsApp at +65 8428-3877.
I’ll also mention here that like other cryptocurrency exchanges, you can find an extensive FAQ section on the itBit website, and this will answer most common questions. Note too that online comments regarding the customer service team at itBit are less than stellar, with claims of rude or unhelpful support team members. There have even been claims of extreme unresponsiveness, with voicemails and emails going unanswered. Of course, with a history stretching back 5 years in the cryptocurrency exchange niche it would be surprising if there weren’t any negative reviews.
ItBit Pros and Cons
In general, you’ll find the online opinion of itBit is that it is ideal for buying and selling large blocks of Bitcoin. It’s focus on large traders and the lack of maker fees is appreciated, as is the industry standard 0.20% taker fee. ItBit also seems to be a good fit for the more conservative Bitcoin investors who are still unsure about the legality of buying and owning Bitcoin, since it is registered and regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Of course the fact that the exchange has never been hacked, that it uses cold storage for all client assets, and that funds are FDIC insured are all positives as well.
While the platform is seen as easy to use, it is considered to be too simple by some, lacking in functionality and margin trading capability. There are also those who wish itBit would increase payment options by adding support for credit and debit cards, which are both ubiquitous and so easy to use these days. Finally, people would like support for additional coins. Considering the growing popularity of Ethereum and even Ripple these would be good additions to the platform.
Finally, some people simply do not trust itBit and feel it is a scam. There have been reports of issues with withdrawals from time to time, but it’s hard to tell if these were actually intentional, or if the user simply had trouble with the complex withdrawal instructions at itBit. When you consider the bank is being regulated as a bank, and is subject to the same audit requirements, it seems a bit hard to believe that they might be stealing small amounts of Bitcoin or cash from retail customers.
If you’re looking to buy and sell significant amount of Bitcoin, itBit could be the perfect exchange for you. As the first Bitcoin exchange to be regulated in the U.S. you should feel secwure in using their services, at least for buying Bitcoin. Unfortunately they haven’t begun offering any altcoins yet, and there’s no way to purchase with a credit card, but for large transactions this wouldn’t be a concern anyway. Trading features could also be improved, but at the end of the day this is really an exchange for high net-worth individuals and institutions, those looking to trade 100s of Bitcoin.