- Trading Platform
- Ease of Use
- Trading Tools
- Platforms Offered
- Customer Service
- Platform and Account Security
Looking for a solid exchange for your cryptocurrency needs? Bitfinex is a cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2012. This exchange offers a variety of different cryptocurrencies for trading on their platform, such as USD, JPY, EOS, and many more. Bitfinex also includes services such as spot trading, paper trading, staking rewards, and an affiliate program. Is this the right cryptocurrency exchange for you? Read our review of Bitfinex and find out now.
There are few exchanges in the cryptocurrency space that have held court since the early days of the crypto scene. Often, older exchanges begin to see fading trading volumes as new exchanges hit the scene. Fortunately, for Bitfinex, the exchange has been able to maintain a relevant position in the crypto space, with an average of over 2.5 million visits per day.
So the only question is, with a large choice of crypto exchanges out there, such as OKEx and Gemini Exchange, what does Bitfinex have to offer that sets them apart from their competitors? Let’s find out in this review of Bitfinex.
A Brief History Of Bitfinex
Founded in 2012, Bitfinex has been offering services for individuals to be able to buy and sell Bitcoin and (eventually) other cryptocurrencies. The exchange is owned by iFinex Inc., officially registered as a business in the British Virgin Islands, with headquarters offices located in Hong Kong.
Because the exchange was one of the earlier exchanges to enter the industry, the exchange has been victim to multiple attacks over the years, including a loss of 1500 BTC in 2015, as well as a security breach in 2016 that resulted in the loss of over 119,756 BTC (at the time equating to roughly $72 million).
The exchange is no stranger to tumultuous times. Historically, Bitfinex has had rocky relationships with banks, including an instance where Wells Fargo terminated wire transfer services for USD withdrawals in 2017. Bitfinex has also seen a fair number of times where they have been on the wrong side of the law, including being fined $75,000 by the CFTC for not registering as a futures exchange, and allowing commodity transactions taking place off of the exchange to take place.
Bitfinex is also responsible for the creation of Tether (USDT), a stablecoin used widely across the cryptocurrency market as a medium of stable value, designed to be at a ratio of 1:1 with the US Dollar. A serious issue with USDT and Bitfinex has been highlighted in recent years and will be mentioned in full detail in another section of this article.
Bitfinex Product Offerings
Bitfinex has a plethora of different cryptocurrencies available to trade on their platform. Some of these cryptocurrencies are tradable against different base currencies, resulting in a number of different trading pairs for the trader to choose from. These pairs are available in:
- USD Tether (USDT)
- CryptoFranc (XCHP)
- CNHt (Tether backed by Chinese Renminbi).
The coins and tokens available to trade include: Bitcoin, Tezos, Ethereum, Algorand, and many more. As mentioned previously, many of these cryptocurrencies are tradable in different trading pairs against different base currencies, allowing the trader to build profits in different currencies.
Bitfinex Platforms And Services
For the trader that wishes to buy/sell cryptocurrencies without necessarily having to work with charts or public order books, Bitfinex has an OTC (Over the Counter) outlet. This essentially allows individuals to access the market without having to necessarily time the market price or work against other traders in the order book. A minimum of $50 USD order must be placed if using the OTC, as generally, the OTC deals with larger orders. The trader will typically pay a premium for bypassing the spot market prices, with a 0.1% fee incurring on both buy and sell trade orders.
For traditional trading, Bitfinex has a fairly extensive Spot Trading market, featuring a charting and charting tools by TradingView. On this window, traders can place their trade orders, view their balances, trade histories, as well as the ability to maintain current trading positions, view trading history for the token, view a running order book, and more.
Embedded in the Spot Market window, Bitfinex also offers Margin Trading, which offers leverage to traders. Tokens such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and EOS have 5x margin, allowing traders to multiply their position up to 5 times their original position size, while still only paying the initial original position price. While some tokens have 5x leverage, most tokens tend to fall in the 2-3.3x margin range.
Bitfinex also offers a Derivatives market, offering up to 100x leverage on perpetual contracts of Bitcoin/Tether; Ethereum/Tether; Tether Gold/Tether; as well as the Bitcoin Dominance Index. This type of trading is typically reserved for those traders who are confident in their strategies.
Another platform offered by Bitfinex is their Paper Trading platform. This allows users to get a feel for Bitfinex’s platform (as well as the crypto market) by allowing the user to trade on a test net, which is a direct clone of the real live market. Tools such as these are invaluable for any trader, especially for those who are just starting out.
Aside from Bitfinex’s trading platforms, the exchange has an extensive amount of other platforms and services offered to increase the diversity in the different ways an individual can add profit to their portfolio.
One such service is Bitfinex’s Staking Rewards service. Through this service, customers can earn a passive income by staking a number of different cryptocurrencies through Bitfinex. By doing this, the customer must deposit the tokens onto the Bitfinex platform, in return for a staking reward of up to 10%. Bitfinex will take a snapshot of the user’s account every week, with staking rewards being paid out weekly. While no fees are accrued to the customer, Bitfinex does keep a little bit of the reward for themselves in turn for providing the service. This could be considered high risk, as any individual can stake their own cryptocurrencies using their own wallets without having to need Bitfinex to act as the middle man. Regardless, if a custodial approach is the customer’s aim, Bitfinex offers staking services for:
- TRON (TRX)
- Cosmos (ATOM)
- Algorand (ALGO)
- V.Systems (VSYS)
- Tezos (XTZ).
Bitfinex LEO token
Like many other exchanges in the space, Bitfinex has their own exchange token, called the LEO token. The token is listed as LEO in recognition of their company motto (“Unus Sed Leo,” which is Latin for “One, but a lion,” quoted from one of Aesop’s fables). Holders will enjoy the benefit of discounted fees across every facet of Bitfinex’s exchange. Every month, the supply of LEO gets burned to decrease the overall amount of LEO available on the marketplace. The whitepaper can be viewed here: LEO Whitepaper.
Also similar to many other exchanges, Bitfinex has a Token Sales platform. This platform essentially allows customers to purchase tokens as they are initially listed onto the exchange. The last few sales that have taken place were in 2019, so this may be an inactive portion of Bitfinex’s services.
Acting as a pioneer in the space, Bitfinex has built one of the first exchanges to be built on the EOS.IO platform. This service is called eosfinex, and is currently in the beta stage. Eosfinex makes use of EOSIO’s smart contract system and the depth of Bitfinex’s liquidity to create a marketplace allowing users to trade different digital assets using Tether.
Bitfinex also has a Lightning Node, allowing customers to use Bitfinex as a node on the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The Lightning Network essentially allows individuals to send transactions faster, with less transaction fees. Currently, Bitfinex has over 500 different Lightning Network channels available to connect with.
A unique feature that Bitfinex has built into their platform is integration with Bitrefill’s services. This service allows customers to convert their cryptocurrencies into gift cards. There is a wide range of gift cards available, including Uber UK, Google Play, Nintendo eShop, and more.
In an effort to reward customers and incentivize recommendations amongst friends, Bifinex offers an Affiliate Program. Through this program, users can collect income from the fees of up to 3 degrees of affiliates. The rewards are tiered depending on the degree of the affiliate, with multipliers available depending on circumstances such as: the affiliate verifying their account, the user, and the affiliates all holding LEO token.
Bitfinex Honey Framework UI
Bitfinex also has an algorithmic auto trader available for those traders who wish to trade in such a manner. This service is called the Bitfinex Honey Framework UI, and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Users can observe the market, execute orders, and develop automated strategies that fit with the individual’s trading preferences and style. While it may seem counterintuitive to trust an algorithmic trading bot offered by an exchange, the project is open-source, with repositories to be found on GitHub.
For trading and account management on-the-go, Bitfinex also has a Mobile App featuring the full functionality of the Bitfinex platform in the convenience of a phone. The application is available for both Apple and Android phones.
Bitfinex operates on a standard Maker/Taker fee schedule. This model is set in a tiered hierarchy, where customers with larger trading volumes (over a 30-day period) pay less in fees than those who do not trade so often. As mentioned previously, holders of the UNUS LEO token will experience discounted rates. The full fee schedule can be seen as follows:
Bitfinex Customer Support And Resources
For the customer that may need a little assistance, Bitfinex has a Help Center that features articles on every facet of the Bitfinex realm, including articles about all of their trading platforms, how to raise an order, and more.
A Blog is available, allowing individuals to stay up-to-date with all of the latest developments taking place at Bitfinex. Many of the articles here are specific to Bitfinex products.
An Announcements page is also available. This page contains all of the promotional announcements given by Bitfinex, such as trading contests, coin listings, and more.
For the individual that enjoys receiving emails in their inbox, Bitfinex also has an official Newsletter, which is sent out (via email) to all who wish to sign up for it. Signing up for the newsletter is as easy as providing a valid email address, name, and country.
To check on the status of the Bitfinex platform, users are able to go to the Status Page. This page shows the current working conditions of the systems that make up Bitfinex, such as the Web Server, Trading Engine, Backend Workers, and WebSockets. Users can also view past incidents on this page.
Is Bitfinex Trustworthy?
When it comes to Bitfinex, the question of whether or not they are trustworthy couldn’t be a hotter topic. While Bitfinex does have its loyal customer base, historically, Bitfinex has been akin to a villain in a James Bond movie. There have been many exchanges that have seen the attacks that Bitfinex has, yet out of all of those exchanges, very few remain.
As of July 2020, the New York Attorney General has been given the okay to launch an official investigation on Bitfinex, and the creation of Tether. While, initially, Tether was supposed to be a liquid, digital form of the USD, with every USDT token being backed USDT dollar for USD dollar in Bitfinex’s vault, there has been an investigation (which has been halted until July 2020) of whether or not the funds are in fact backed dollar-for-USDT.
Another speculation, raised in 2019, is that the creation of Tether was used to manipulate the price of Bitcoin in 2017 (when BTC hit its current all-time high of nearly $20k). The mechanism being investigated has to do with the notion that new Tether tokens were minted when the price of BTC went lower, thus inflating the price with newly minted BTC when it was used to purchase more BTC (thus pushing the price higher). The official complaint includes injustices such as: bank and wire fraud, money transactions and laundering, antitrust violations, and more. The official complaint and court documents (filed in 2019), can be viewed here: Official Complaint; Official Court Docket.
In reality, the enormity of this court case can not be undermined. Any individual that has been on a trading platform knows that USDT is often used as the base trading currency used across the board, allowing users to build and hold their profits in USDT, as it theoretically can be exchanged easily for real USD, and it holds its value 1:1 with the USD. However, if this USDT case blows up, the landscape of the cryptocurrency community will change drastically, as many of the token prices are propped on the value of USDT. Sure, there are other stable coins available, but USDT markets are the most readily available, often offering the most trading pair possibilities for a trader.
With that being said, any trader who actively holds USDT with the thought that USDT will hold its value 1:1 with the US Dollar should be very careful and remain aware of the results that come from this investigation.
Regardless of the fact that many use (and trust) Bitfinex on a regular basis, the author of this article cannot ethically recommend using Bitfinex as a “trustworthy” exchange, solely based on the track record of the exchange, the alleged implications, as well as the inherent consequences these allegations may have on the entire cryptocurrency market as a whole.
Opening An Account On Bitfinex
Before opening an account on Bitfinex, the user must first make sure that Bitfinex is legally available to use in their residing jurisdiction. The platform is not available for US users, and any customer that uses the platform (yet lives in a restricted jurisdiction) is liable to have their accounts and funds frozen.
The process of opening an account on Bitfinex is very easy and straightforward. To begin, all the user needs to do is enter their desired username, a valid email address, and a password. The user will also need to agree to Bitfinex’s terms of service, as well as completing a simple CAPTCHA to verify that the user is not a bot.
From here, the user will need to visit their email and verify that the email is valid. Bitfinex will send an email containing a verifying link.
Once the email is verified, the user will have access to their account; however, Bitfinex does require 2-Factor Authentication on all accounts before the users can make any deposits or trades on the platform.
Conclusions For Bitfinex
As one of the oldest exchanges still operating in the cryptocurrency space, Bitfinex has certainly garnered a sort of reputation. The exchange has experienced a good amount of turbulence, especially regarding legal frameworks. Regardless, people still continue to use Bitfinex every day, despite the looming allegations that have arisen regarding the exchange. It is imperative that every cryptocurrency holder be aware of the Bitfinex/Tether situation, as this could seriously devalue many holders’ portfolios.
- Wide range of platforms and services available
- Rewarding Affiliates program
- Paper trading for those who want to get a feel for the platform, and a robot trader for those who wish to trade in such a way
- Leveraged markets.
- The ethics of Bitfinex, and iFinex (the owner of Bitfinex) is very questionable, with the whole exchange, as well as the creation of USDT, currently under investigation (as of July 2020).