Cryptocurrency exchange

A cryptocurrency exchange or a digital currency exchange (DCE) is a business that allows customers to trade cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for other assets, such as conventional fiat money or other digital currencies. A cryptocurrency exchange can be a market maker that typically takes the bid-ask spreads as a transaction commission for is service or, as a matching platform, simply charges fees.

Concept

A digital currency exchange can be a brick-and-mortar business or a strictly online business. As a brick-and-mortar business, it exchanges traditional payment methods and digital currencies. As an online business, it exchanges electronically transferred money and digital currencies. Often, the digital currency exchanges operate outside the Western countries to avoid regulation and prosecution. However, they do handle Western fiat currencies and maintain bank accounts in several countries to facilitate deposits in various national currencies. Exchanges may accept credit card payments, wire transfers or other forms of payment in exchange for digital currencies or cryptocurrencies. As of 2018, cryptocurrency and digital exchange regulations in many developed jurisdictions remains unclear as regulators are still considering how to deal with these types of businesses in existence but have not been tested for validity.

Decentralized exchanges

Decentralized exchanges such as Etherdelta, IDEX and HADAX do not store users’ funds on the exchange, but instead facilitate peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading. Decentralized exchanges are resistant to security problems that affect other exchanges, but as of mid 2018 suffer from low trading volumes.

History

2004 — Early Regulatory issues

In 2004 three Australian–based digital currency exchange businesses voluntarily shut down following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The ASIC viewed the services offered as legally requiring an Australian Financial Services License, which the companies lacked.

2014 — Major bitcoin exchange failure

Following the launch of a decentralized cryptocurrency bitcoin in 2008 and the subsequent introduction of other cryptocurrencies, many virtual platforms were created specifically for the exchange of decentralized cryptocurrencies. Their regulation differs from country to country.

Regulations

By 2016, several cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the European Union obtained licenses under the EU Payment Services Directive and the EU Electronic Money Directive. The adequacy of such licenses for the operation of a cryptocurrency exchange has not been judicially tested. The European Council and the European Parliament announced that they will issue regulations to impose stricter rules targeting exchange platforms.

Largest cryptocurrency exchanges (2018)

In early 2018, Bloomberg News reported the largest cryptocurrency exchanges based on the volume and estimated revenues data collected by CoinMarketCap. Similar statistics was reported on Statista in a survey by Encrybit to understand cryptocurrency exchange problems. According to the survey, the top three cryptocurrency exchanges are Binance, Huobi, and OKEX. Other data points in the survey included the problems that cryptocurrency traders experience with cryptocurrency exchanges and the expectation of traders. Security and high trading fees are the top concerns. The exchanges are all fairly new and privately held. Several do not report basic information such as the names of the owners, financial data, or even the location of the business.

  • Upbit ROK
  • Huobi SIN
  • Bittrex USA
  • Bithumb KOR
  • OKEx MLT
  • Bitfinex HK
  • Coinbase USA
  • Bitstamp GBR
  • Kraken USA

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