Exchange Review: BTC-e

BTC-e
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 2.5 stars
  • 50%

  • BTC-e
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: January 28, 2015
  • Trades
    Editor: 68%
  • Funding
    Editor: 37%
  • Compliance
    Editor: 25%
  • Platform
    Editor: 60%
  • Help & Support
    Editor: 39%

BTC-e is one of the more experienced exchanges, which started Live trading in August 2011. It is still one of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges.

Trades

Being an older exchange, BTC-e does not seem to have updated its range of offered cryptocurrencies available for trading. It is remarkable to see some of the current major altcoins missing. Nevertheless, Bitcoin and Litecoin have remained the most traded pairs over time so this does not hurt the exchange that much. There are eight cryptocurrencies available for trading in total. Trade fees may vary between 0.20% and 0.50%. Liquidity on the exchange is generally good, given a 0.23% bid-ask spread on average on the BTC/USD currency pair. The exchange allows users to make limit orders; normal market orders and advanced order types are not available. These advanced options are available through the supported MetaTrader 4 trading platform.

Funding

When it comes to funding, BTC-e does offer support for a relatively broad range of fiat markets. Unfortunately this is one of the few highlights, as most of the funding options can be classified as either costly or slow, or both. Likewise, the minimum deposit or withdrawal can be high depending on the chosen option. A USD Wire transfer has a minimum size of $2,000, and costs at least one percent in fees excluding additional bank charges. It may take 7-10 days before the transaction is processed. Making a UER SEPA transfer is cheaper, as bank charges are low for this transaction type. The minimum deposit size is still 2,000 and BTC-e charges one percent in fees identical to USD deposits. Deposits may also still take several days to be processed.

There are cheaper ways to fund a BTC-e account. Users also have access to OKpay, to which lower fees are applicable. The problem is that this is a third party that needs to be funded separately (additional costs may apply). Okpay also requires notarized documents in order to verify its customers to satisfy AML/KYC policies. So even though this route may look like a better alternative initially, third party services can be quite torturous as well.

Compliance

In terms of compliance, BTC-e is far from a transparent company. Even the question where the company is operated from can cause confusion. When looking up BTC-e on Google search the description mentions that BTC-e is “A cryptocurrency exchange based in Bulgaria.” On the other hand, the terms on the website state that “these Terms of Use shall be governed by the laws applicable in the Cyprus.” The site does not disclose its exact location, or a registration number.

More concerning is that BTC-e does not seem to comply with AML/CTF. To begin with, for some reason only when using Wire transfers AML requirements seem to apply. Second, as BTC-e writes in its notifications, they “may ask your documents due to a high fraud activity.” At the very least, customer identification should apply to all send transactions above a certain threshold given typical AML/CTF regulations. Also, the minimum withdrawals can be rather high. For USD, this would even be 1,000. This does not leave much room for exceptions.

What does not help either is that  BTC-e has not disclosed a public Proof of Reserves, despite facing some (unproven) accusations that the exchange would run on fractional reserves, and also despite the fact that such a Proof of Reserves has become a standard for cryptocurrency exchanges. Altogether, it leaves many questions marks surrounding the legitimacy of the exchange. On a positive note, the exchange has been around for a longer than most exchanges. Experience can be a factor in compliance quality, but then again experience did not help Mt.Gox either. When the latter exchange defaulted, BTC-e announced it had plans to publish “publicly available statements certified by external auditors.” This could turn the tide concerning compliance for BTC-e, but given that this was announced in February 2014 it has been an empty promise so far.

Platform

BTC-e offers a good platform to trade cryptocurrencies on. There are limited cryptocurrency pairs on the exchange, which makes navigating between them on the trade screen very easy. The remainder of the trade screen also excels in simplicity, providing all the required basics including an order book and price graph. Placing an order does not require many actions, providing optimal ease-of-use. The website is not adjusted for mobile screens, making it less easy to use on other platforms. Like most exchanges, BTC-e does not offer portfolio performance analysis tools or general research amenities. BTC-e does support the MetaTrader 4 trading platform, which includes several research amenities and has its own Andriod/iPhone apps. All accounts on BTC-e can be secured with two-factor authentication.

Help & Support

The information offered in the FAQ is limited at best. Fees are, for example, not accurately specified: “This transaction fee may vary and may be different for each individual account” On the other hand information is even incomplete. For instance, the supported payment methods do not mention OKpay. There is very little that can be added on this brief FAQ, and the support is not a whole lot better. BTC-e has a ticket system for the remaining questions. There is a user chat, which may provide some relief to the previous.

 

  • BTC-E is an interesting exchange to say the least….it amazes me that an exchange that transacts millions of dollars is able to do it entirely under wraps.

    • Well, exchanges like BTC-e are likely to remain popular among some more shady types at least. It’s good to see that the average quality of exchanges is already so high (although there is still a lot of upside) that it makes BTC-e the odd one out. If they do not come along then they will certainly disappear in the end.