Bitfinex is one of the oldest exchange platforms still in operation along with Bitstamp and Coinbase. Founded in 2012, the exchange has had to deal with many issues ranging from hacks to allegations of bitcoin price manipulation to the Tether case. Check out our review of Bitfinex.
Bitfinex in a few words
The British Virgin Islands-based exchange was founded by Frenchman Raphael Nicolle, who handed over the reins of the company to a group of investors who have since placed Jean-Louis Van Der Velde at the helm. Nicolle is no longer associated with the management of the exchange. It should be noted that Van Der Velde is also the head of Tether.
The history of Bitfinex has been marked by multiple twists and turns. First we have two hacks: one in 2014, and then one in 2016, during which almost $80 million in digital currency was stolen. That attack could have brought the exchange to its knees… if other platforms hadn’t joined forces to prevent a second Mt.Gox.
In addition, Bitfinex has a complex relationship with the stablecoin Tether, which is run by the same team. Since its launch, Tether has been at the center of frequent controversy, particularly regarding its solvency. For every Tether issued, the company is supposed to have one dollar in reserve, which is the very concept of an asset-backed coin.
However, it is an understatement to say that Bitfinex and Tether were not at all transparent about their reserves and the cryptosphere did not wait for the stirrings of the Crypto Capital affair to see this as a controversial issue. But all these topics have been discussed in detail by the Coin Journal teams, so let’s get to the heart of our opinion on Bitfinex.
Number of currencies on Bitfinex
Currently, there are over 150 digital currencies available on the platform, all of which can be exchanged for at least bitcoin. In addition to this wide range of available cryptocurrencies users can also trade with five major fiat currencies: the dollar, euro, British pound, Japanese yen and yuan.
Initially, Bitfinex was an exchange that was aimed at professional traders – or at least those with a certain amount of capital – since the minimum deposit amount was $10,000. But, the exchange opened its doors to the masses in 2018 by lowering the minimum deposit amount to $20. Bitfinex has retained some of its heritage as an exchange for professionals: the interface is fairly basic, but still intuitive for newcomers.
Before you can access this interface, you will need to create an account. This is a standard procedure, but it is made more tedious by the platform’s security measures. Once your account is created, you must click on an activation link sent by e-mail. Then, you will have to do the same every time you want to connect, and this until you have set up the two-factor authentication.
Except that on the day of my registration, in the middle of the crypto-effervescence, Bitfinex servers were lagging behind, the e-mail took too long to arrive, making the activation link invalid in the eyes of the security protocol.
To top it all off: I couldn’t get my two-factor authentication validated with Google Authentificator – some websocket error – forcing me to resort to the not-so-effective email link method at the time of testing.
The screen on top will be your homepage every time you visit. You can see a rather successful integration of the favorite tool of crypto-traders: TradingView. On the left panel, you have access to different products – classic digital currencies or products derived from them. Finally, at the bottom left of the screen you can place your buy and sell orders.
Bitfinex offers several types of orders, from the most classic to the most advanced:
- Trailing stop
- Fill or kill
- One cancels other (OCO)
- Hidden order
- Post-only limit order
By scrolling down your main screen, you will have access to the order book to monitor trends and volumes on the exchange.
The interface is therefore basic, but perfectly functional and has been ported to IOS and Android. The mobile version of the exchange is also nice with a fast response time.
Deposits and withdrawals on Bitfinex
On Bitfinex, deposits can be made in three ways: by credit card, by wire transfer or through cryptocurrencies. Deposits can be made to any of the three wallets linked to your account at the time of its creation:
- The exchange wallet, to buy and sell your digital currencies,
- The margin wallet, used for short transactions,
- The funding wallet, used to lend money to players who want to trade short and earn interest.
But, before you can make a deposit in fiat, you must go through the verification process.
There are three levels of verification:
- No verification, you can deposit, trade and withdraw cryptoassets,
- Intermediate verification, you have access to LEO and derivatives, but still can’t use fiat currencies.
- Full verification, which unlocks fiat deposits as well as some additional benefits like faster transactions.
In order to obtain the full verification visa, you will need to provide the following documents which will be analyzed and validated by the platform. You will need to provide a valid ID, proof of address less than 6 months old, an account statement less than 3 months old and fill in the KYC – Know Your Customer – form provided by the platform.
This verification process, particularly comprehensive for a tax haven based exchange, may be a deterrent for those of you who are concerned about privacy. Especially since the average verification time is one to two weeks if everything goes smoothly. On the other hand, some users have experienced particularly long withdrawal times, from 7 days to more than 2 weeks for a fiat withdrawal.
Fees and commissions
Bitfinex’s fee structure is quite unique, and somewhat expensive. First of all, trading fees are divided into two categories, maker fees and taker fees. For crypto asset orders, the maker fee ranges from 0.1% to 0.0%, while the taker fee ranges from 0.2% to 0.1%. LEO holders will receive a 25% discount on their fee amount.
As for deposits, no fees apply for cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. However, for transfers 0.1% fees are applied with a minimum amount of 60 USD or EUR fee per deposit. So Bitfinex is still a platform aimed at advanced traders.
Finally, each digital asset has its own withdrawal fee structure. For example, a bitcoin withdrawal will cost you 0.0004 BTC, and a Tron withdrawal 1.0 TRX, these fees are below the average of the big exchanges, but are still higher than those of the less greedy exchanges like Kraken or Binance.
However, some assets do not have withdrawal fees such as Stellar or EOS. Note that withdrawals in fiat will also cost you at least $60. All fees are explained in detail here, you will also find the list of assets that are not subject to withdrawal fees.
Bitfinex site security
The two successive hacks of the exchange have pushed it to improve its security. According to the information disclosed by the exchange, 99% of user funds would be kept in cold-storage, the rest would be on the exchange to ensure its liquidity. The cold storage systems are locked by a multi-signature protocol and distributed among several locations.
As with most exchanges, you have access to two-factor authentication features, and can encrypt emails related to your account using a PGP key. You can also set up an IP address filter to limit which devices can connect. Bitfinex even provides a tutorial on how to assign a static IP address to your devices.
Finally, to avoid other hacks, Bitfinex has hired a cybersecurity company that performs regular penetration tests to audit the security of the platform.
The support announces a response time of about 12 hours. I have not yet tested the responsiveness of the Bitfinex teams. However, after some research, it seems that response times are obviously longer than 12 hours, and tend more towards an average of 24 hours. However, the FAQ section entitled Knowledge Base is very complete and will help you in case of doubts or missing information.
Final opinion on Bitfinex
Bitfinex is a platform rather intended for advanced users with its basic, but intuitive and efficient interface. The main drawback of the platform lies in the deposit and withdrawal fees that may scare off occasional traders and small holders. The wide range of orders and derivatives are further arguments that support the exchange’s profile for professionals. If you are not afraid of the $60 fee for each withdrawal and deposit, and are patient with your verification, then Bitfinex is for you.