This review is going to look at one of the more established European cryptocurrency exchanges – BitPanda.
They are the leading European retail cryptocurrency broker, and are well known for accepting a wide range of different payment options and currencies, both cryptocurrencies and fiat. In fact, they have the largest list of cryptocurrencies to purchase of any fiat exchange.
So, let’s take a deep look at the BitPanda exchange. We’ll learn if the platform is safe, what its fee structure is like, how well the exchange works, how reliable customer service is, and a host of other factors and features.
BitPanda Review: History
BitPanda was established in Vienna, Austria as Coinimal back in 2014, making it one of the oldest European cryptocurrency exchanges. It rebranded to BitPanda in 2016 to get a fresh start with improved services. The exchange says it has over 900,000 users from more than 24 different nationalities.
BitPanda was founded by three cryptocurrency enthusiasts who remain the leadership of the company. Those three are Eric Demuth (CEO), Paul Klanschek (CEO) and Christian Trummer (CTO). They say they got the idea to launch Coinimal in 2013 when they realized how difficult it was to buy cryptocurrencies in Europe.
As an Austrian registered company BitPanda is subject to EU laws and regulations, and to make things even better the founders put an emphasis on complete transparency in the operations at BitPanda. This is a breath of fresh air in an industry that claims decentralization and trustlessness, but often operates with a certain degree of opaqueness.
BitPanda Review: Fees at BitPanda
BitPanda keeps things simple with a standard flat fee structure. Buy orders have a flat fee of 1.49% and sell orders have a flat 1.29% fee. This applies to all of the cryptocurrencies they offer on their platform.
Those fees are convenient because they are flat fees across the entire platform, but you pay a bit for that convenience since the fees are actually a bit higher than the average exchange fees. For example, at one of their major competitors Bitstamp any trade below $20,000 is a much smaller 0.25%.
BitPanda makes up somewhat for the higher exchange fees with no deposit fees, although your own credit card company could possibly charge you a cash advance fee when depositing to BitPanda. And you would have to pay an FX exchange fee if you transfer any currency other than those supported (USD, EUR, GBP, or CHF).
You might also be subject to a fee when you deposit cryptocurrencies depending on the amount being deposited. The amount is pretty small, but not completely inconsequential, so you may want to check their deposit fees to avoid any fee if possible. You’ll also be subject to a small wallet withdrawal fee for cryptocurrencies, which is on top of the normal mining fees.
Fiat withdrawals are free if made to a Euro based account using the SEPA system. For any other withdrawals you might be subject to an incoming wire fee from your bank. These can differ greatly and you’ll want to check with your bank to find out what their incoming wire fees are.
You can see a chart with fees and limits here.
BitPanda Review: Security
Of course the top consideration for any cryptocurrency exchange is the security of your funds. There have been far too many instances where hackers have walked away with tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases millions.
We can’t say for sure since BitPanda has no details regarding their security procedures online, but when reaching out to support we learned the following information:
Cold Storage of Funds – BitPanda representatives have said they store all cryptocurrencies in an offline cold storage environment. It’s the most secure form of cold storage, so we were glad to hear it. When coins are stored offline they can’t be accessed electronically, and thus are out of the reach of hackers.
Dedicated Denial of Service Protection – A DdoS attack is one of the most common today, and if you could see global network traffic you’d see that there are literally dozens of attacks occurring all the time. Many of these attacks are quite effective at bringing down websites. They can also be used to take down exchanges, but BitPanda says they have systems in place to protect against DdoS attacks. It’s good to know, because when your exchange is down you’re completely out of luck in accessing your coins.
Communication Protection – This consists of data encryption, and it’s a critical protection for any site that handles personal information. This SSL encryption can stop any man in the middle attacks that might steal your information in mid-transit.
You’ll also find full SSL encryption on the BitPanda website, which can alert you to any phishing attack if you should visit the site and fail to see the green secure SSL padlock in the address bar.
User Security – It’s sad to say, but many security breaches are the fault of the user. BitPanda tries to keep that to a minimum by using two-factor authentication. It isn’t mandatory however, and has to be activated by each individual user.
BitPanda also tracks device login history and will lock an account where a new device is detected. When that happens an email is sent to you and you need to confirm that you’re trying to log in with a new device. This is a common security method and is also used by other cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Coinbase.
Your best security measure as a user is to make sure you don’t keep a large amount of coins in the exchange wallet. This is a basic security practice you should follow at any exchange.
BitPanda Review: Assets Offered
BitPanda has a comprehensive list of cryptocurrencies on offer. There are currently over 12 cryptocurrency assets that can be purcahsed with fiat currency. Compare that with Bitstamp who only offers 5 or Coinbase who only offers 4 cryptocurrency asssets. You can see the cryptocurrencies offered at BitPanda below:
BitPanda Review: Deposits and Withdrawals
Depending on what currency you plan on using to fund your account there are a number of funding options available at BitPanda. European Union residents can use SEPA and fund their accounts with Euros which is free and takes just a few hours.
Those living in Austria, Beligium, Italy, the Netherlands or Spain can also use a SOFORT transfer, which is inexpensive and typically takes 24-48 hours. The same method can be used for withdrawals.
BitPanda also accepts Mastercard and Visa, which are convenient options, but you may incur fees from your card issuer. Also, credit cards can only be used for deposits, not withdrawals.
Another option is to use a web wallet. BitPanda will accept deposits and allow withdrawals from both Neteller and Skrill. And a final option is to use Amazon.de, but the account used must be in the same name as the BitPanda account.
Each of the deposit and withdrawal methods has limits based on whether or not you’ve verified your account. You also cannot make purchases at all with credit cards, SOFORT or the online web wallets unless your account is verified. Your decision on whether or not to verify your account will depend on your need for privacy versus the limits you want on your account.
Those who want to verify their accounts will follow the steps below.
BitPanda Review: Registration and Verification
Registration is pretty simple at BitPanda. You’ll be asked for your name, email address and country of residence. The email you provide must be an active email address because your registration confirmation link will be sent to that address.
After clicking the link in the email to confirm your account it becomes active and you can log in.
But just being able to log in isn’t enough to fund your account if you’re using fiat currency. For that you first need to get verified. The verification requirement is necessary for Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering regulations.
It’s actually pretty simple to get verified, if you don’t mind giving up some personal information. The identity verification has actually been outsourced to IDNow and identityTM, which was a pretty smart move on the part of BitPanda. Since identity verification isn’t their strength they’re handing the process off to those who do identity verification well.
Clicking on “Verification” will take you to a screen asking for your name, birthdate, physical address, country and mobile phone number. In addition, you need to provide some form of ID. Most people can use a passport, but EU citizens can also use their ID card if they like.
The site then asks you which identity verification provider you want to use. Unless you have a preference for some reason it won’t really matter which one you choose as they are both legitimate and do a good job.
I can say that if you choose identityTM you’ll be taken to their site, where you’ll need to record a short video holding your ID up next to your face. This is pretty standard procedure for identity verification agencies.
If everything is good you should get verified within minutes. And once you’re verified the funding options in your account unlock.
BitPanda Review: The Trading Platform
After security, the trading platform is probably the most important feature of Bitpanda to consider. After all, this is where you’ll spend most of your time now that you have a verified account. Here’s what the trading platform looks like:
As you can see, the site is laid out well, and everything is accessible from the homepage. Clicking on “Deposit” lets you fund your account, and then “Trade” takes you to the area of the platform where you place buy and sell orders.
Unlike most other cryptocurrency exchanges, BitPanda does not run an order book. Instead they are the market maker and take the other side of all your orders. That means they will simply present you with the buy and sell prices, including their fee.
The “Wallet” link that is visible in the upper right of the platform will take you to your wallet, where you can get an in-depth look at your balances of all your currencies, both fiat and crypto.
And you can also monitor the performance of your holdings through the “Charts” tab. Note that these are very basic charts, not something suitable for an advanced technician or chartist. They just give a nive visual way to look at the progress of price over time.
And as far as technical tools go the only one you’ll have is the ability to set a price alert on the chart. There are also no limit orders or stop orders, so that price alert is the only way you have to know if a price hits a certain level.
This lack of technical trading features makes BitPanda most suited to a new trader, or to someone just interested in buying and holding.
One thing you could use BitPanda for is to make your fiat purchases and then move your cryptocurrencies to a platform more suited to advanced trading like BitMex or Binance. Then when you’re ready to move back into fiat simply transfer your crypto holdings back to BitPanda.
BitPanda Review: Customer Support at BitPanda
Customer support is something that is lacking at most cryptocurrency exchanges, so it’s a pretty big deal when evaluating the merits of any cryptocurrency exchange. If you have any questions, and especially if you run into problems, the responsiveness and knowledge of the support staff can make or break your experience.
BitPanda uses an online ticketing system for customer support, which right away is a turnoff for me. I prefer to actually contact someone, even if it’s via online chat. You can connect to the ticketing system by clicking the “Support” link in the site footer. When creating a ticket be sure to put it under the correct topic.
When we reached out with a question about fiat deposts they got back to us in just under 4 hours, which isn’t too bad. It should be noted here that the customer support function is outsourced to Zendesk.
In many cases you won’t even need to open a support ticket because the Helpdesk section of the website has a list of frequently asked questions that will in fact answer nearly any basic question.
BitPanda to Go
One really interesting feature at BitPanda, that you won’t find at other exchanges, is the BitPanda “To Go” option. This is only active for Austrian users, and it allows them to make anonymous purchases of cryptocurrencies with cash. Using the To Go option requires a trip to the post office to buy a code.
That’s not terrible because Austria isn’t that big, but has over 400 post offices and another 1,300 post partners that can be used to buy the code. After purchasing the code, which comes in €50, €100 and €500 denominations, you redeem it on the BitPanda site.
These shouldn’t be used on your main BitPanda account. Instead you make a new anonymous account using nothing more than an email address. You can then log into the new accont and click “Redeem Voucher” under the “Trade” tab. You’ll be presented with a new screen that allows you to redeem the code for the cyptocurrency of your choice. That cryptocurrency is then sent to your wallet.
Unfortunately this is only for Austrian users, but there are other ways to buy cryptocurrencies anonymously for those not in Austria.
The BitPanda Plus service is another interesting BitPanda feature. The “Plus” service is basically a bespoke OTC option to allow much larger volume trading. In the BitPanda Plus service you work directly with someone at the BitPanda order desk, who will try to match you with a buyer or seller.
The reasoning behind creating an OTC book like this is that the exchange isn’t liquid enough to fill large order blocks without significantly impacting the price. The BitPanda Plus service isn’t entirely unique as there are several other cryptocurrency exchanges who run a similar service.
The minimum orders in the Plus service are €1 million. That means not many traders will take advantage of this service, but it’s good to know it’s available if needed.
BitPanda is admittedly a good exchange with good coin offerings, ease of use and good security. That said, there are some things that could be improved upon, especially if BitPanda wants to continue growing and competing with the larger global exchanges.
The first negative that comes to mind is the limited functionality in their charts and trading platform. I get that they are probably trying to keep things as simple as possible for new users, but they could add an advanced trading platform for more experienced traders. At a minimum they should add limit and stop order functionality.
Secondly, they should definitely consider adding more support channels. An online chat function would be great, as would telephone support, at a minimum for their European users. These two features would increase user confidence with the exchange.
And finally, the fees could be considerably lower. Maybe they don’t have to lower them as far as Bitstamp, but fees under 1% make sense given that cryptocurrency exchanges are supposed to be inexpensive.
BitPanda Review: Conclusion
Finding out about BitPanda was easy thanks to the transparency of the business and their long, stable track record. And their coin offerings were quite impressive as most exchanges accepting fiat currency have just a handful of coins on offer.
The exchange is quite user friendly, perhaps too much so when you consider the simplicity of the platform. They do seem to be well regarded in the cryptocurrency community, which is also a plus for them. And the To Go anonymous cash buying option was particularly surprising, but I’m sure very pleasing for the Austrian cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Of course we did mention some areas for improvement, so hopefully they will address some of those issues. We do like that they’ve added a mobile application, and it is a winner with a 4.7 star review on Google Play, although Apple users will have to wait for an iOS version.
Overall BitPanda is a great cryptocurrency exchange choice for the European community.