- Editor Rating
- Rated 2.5 stars
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- TradesEditor: 45%
- FundingEditor: 51%
- ComplianceEditor: 32%
- PlatformEditor: 52%
- Help & SupportEditor: 57%
BitBay is a Polish exchange that was launched in March 2014. It is an ambitious platform that aspires to be a global player.
Despite the aspirations to be a global player, a look at the order book suggests that the exchange does not have much appeal outside of Poland. The currency pairs that can be traded are Bitcoins and Litecoins against PNL, USD and EUR, but except for the BTC/PLN currency pair all others are very illiquid. The best bid-ask spread starts at more than three percent (for BTC/USD), and may become as high as thirteen percent (for BTC/EUR and LTC/PLN). The order amounts are also very low, so significant slippage is also likely to occur. For LTC/EUR and LTC/USD the order books are practically empty. It is a big difference with the BTC/PLN pair where the best bid-ask spread can be below 10 basis points. On a transaction worth $1,000 an adjustment for slippage would still be required, but the impact costs would be around a reasonable 20 basis points. These costs all add to the base trading fee of 43 basis points.
The exchange does not support short selling/margin trading which might explain some of its lack of appeal to international customers. It does, however, support stop-loss orders besides normal market and limit orders, giving users some more control over their trades.
Several Polish exchanges including BitBay recently ran into trouble when the payment processors they work with, CashBill and BlueMedia, closed their accounts. The move was the result of a request by the partner banks of the payment processor and came a nasty surprise, as it left the exchanges with a serious funding problem. At BitBay’s competitor BitMarket24 a staggering amount of more than 90 percent of its payments were processed through CashBill. The impact on BitBay is not known, but volumes did decrease afterward. The current funding options are therefore now limited to using international wire transfers or OKPay. These options can be characterized as inconvenient, slow and expensive, as an outgoing wire transfer can easily exceed $30 in bank charges. The only positive thing is that BitBay itself does not charge any additional fees. Since Poland is part of the SEPA zone, a transfer within this region will be significantly cheaper but will still take more than a day to be processed.
BitBay is a Poland-based exchange with its headquarter in Katowice, officially launched in March 2014. The business is registered with company number 0000373405. There is hardly any regulation for Bitcoin companies in Poland, which is also the main reason why several exchanges had their accounts closed. One bank, PKO Bank Polski, commented:
“The payment processor considered these companies too much of a legal liability. In our opinion virtual currency markets are poorly regulated. Client identification and procedures use by bitcoin exchange platforms are inadequate and raise legal doubts. Taking this into account, PKO Bank Polski acts to prevent suspicious transactions.”
In short, the risk of fraudulent transactions is considered to be too high. BitBay itself has also not felt incentivized to provide more transparency than required. It has never participated in a public Proof of Reserves audit.
Speed and stability are vital for running a successful exchange, but speed tests from multiple performance testers (Google, Pingdom and WebPagetest) with various browsers (Chrome, Firefox and IE) and locations showed only weak performance. The website could take 20 seconds or more to be fully loaded, being one of the worst possible performances. Personally accessing the website even led to broken pages in some cases. It would appear that the exchange simply tried to put too much in one page and/or did not try to optimize the delivery. When market volatility spikes, the last thing a user needs is a slow and unstable platform. Without the previous problems the platform would actually be pleasant to use, as it is easy to navigate and does not require a lot of user input. The look and feel could still be improved though, because the website has some strong color contrasts that do not go easy on the eye.
Help & Support
One of the nice things of BitBay is that live support by phone is available. It is a pleasant alternative to the option to leave a support ticket. The exchange assures that English speaking staff is ready to answer questions from international customers. The support could be needed, because the available documentation is a bit limited. It has a little bit of information on Bitcoin, very little educational value and missing basic information like an explanation of the order book. The previous is partially compensated by the included warning on the potential risks involved with cryptocurrency trading.
• Low cost funding for SEPA zone users
• No margin trading/short selling
• Illiquid order book and extremely wide bid-ask spreads on non-PLN pairs
• Website performance