Want to trade bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies but don’t know where to start? One of the first things you’ll need to do is find a cryptocurrency exchange where you can buy and sell the digital currency you’re looking for.
There’s a huge range of platforms available, so read on to find out how to compare your options and choose the crypto exchange that’s right for you.
Easy Crypto Cryptocurrency Exchange
Based in New Zealand, Easy Crypto enables users to simply pay in NZD through POLi or bank transfer to access a range of cryptocurrencies.
A cryptocurrency exchange is an online platform where you can buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies.
Some exchanges allow you to trade through fiat currencies, such as New Zealand or US dollars, while others allow you to buy cryptos using another digital currency like bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH).
There are exchanges designed to suit novice traders or those new to the world of cryptocurrency, as well as platforms designed for institutions and full-time traders.
Because not every exchange supports every available digital coin and token, you may need to use multiple crypto trading platforms to buy and sell the currencies you want.
The different types of cryptocurrency exchange
The term “exchange” can be used to refer to a variety of crypto trading platforms:
Best for: Crypto novices, those looking for a quick and easy way to buy cryptocurrency
The downsides: Costs more than other options; may not offer as wide a selection of cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrency brokers often offer the simplest and most convenient way to buy cryptocurrency. Buying bitcoin or any altcoin from a broker is essentially like purchasing from a cryptocurrency shop – the broker buys digital coins or tokens at wholesale rates, adds their own margin on top and then sells the currency on to you.
Brokers offer a quick and straightforward entry into the world of cryptocurrency. Their platforms are designed to be easy to use and you can pay for your crypto purchase with your everyday fiat currency, often even by using a credit or debit card.
The main downside of using a broker is the cost, as you’ll not only need to buy your crypto at a price above the market rate but also pay transaction fees.
An example of a New Zealand cryptocurrency broker is BitPrime.
Best for: Buying and selling a wide range of currencies; lower fees
The downsides: Intimidating for new users and it may not be possible to directly exchange the currencies you want
Cryptocurrency trading platforms are the most widely used platforms for buying and selling digital currency. They connect crypto buyers with crypto sellers and take a fee for facilitating each transaction. You can use these platforms to exchange cryptos at the current market rate or at a specified limit, while some sites also offer more advanced features like stop-loss orders.
Crypto trading platforms tend to provide access to a more diverse range of currencies than brokers, and often feature charting tools to help you plan your trades. These platforms also tend to offer lower fees and better exchange rates when compared with brokers.
However, it’s not possible to directly exchange one crypto for any other digital currency you want – you’re limited to the trading pairs supported by your chosen platform. Bitcoin and Ether are the most commonly traded currencies and feature in pairs alongside a wide range of altcoins. Crypto trading platforms can also be intimidating and confusing for new users.
Examples of some high volume cryptocurrency trading platforms include Binance and Huobi.pro.
Best for: Anonymity, giving you more control over how you trade
The downsides: Prices usually higher than market rates; a certain level of risk involved
These platforms allow direct peer-to-peer trading between people all around the world. The exchange acts as the middleman, with the seller able to set their own price and accepted payment methods.
The main advantage of peer-to-peer exchanges is that they let you quickly and anonymously buy or sell coins with almost any kind of trade or payment method you want. The downside is that you’ll often pay above market prices, and it can also be riskier than other options.
To help offset the risks, some platforms have built-in escrow features and reputation systems to identify reliable and legitimate buyers and sellers.
If you’re researching peer-to-peer exchanges, you’ll also come across the concept of decentralised crypto exchanges. Many (but not all) peer-to-peer exchanges can also be as decentralised.
Decentralised exchanges (DEXs) are hosted on a network of distributed nodes and allow you to trade cryptocurrency directly with other users. The absence of centralisation means there’s no single point of failure for hackers to target, and server downtime is no longer an issue.
And because trades are executed using smart contracts, you can trade straight from your wallet. This ensures that you don’t have to transfer any of your coins and tokens onto an exchange, allowing you to retain control of your cryptocurrency at all times.
With more than 200 exchanges to choose from and more launching all the time, how can you find the best cryptocurrency exchange for your needs? The most important thing to do is to research a wide range of platforms and compare the pros and cons of each option.
When comparing crypto exchanges in New Zealand, make sure you consider the following factors:
First, consider the type of trades you want to place. There are exchanges available that offer:
Both fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto trading
For example, if you want to buy BTC with NZD, you’ll need to find a cryptocurrency broker that allows you to buy coins via bank transfer or credit card. Alternatively, if you want to exchange your BTC or ETH holdings for another cryptocurrency, you’ll want a platform that offers direct crypto-to-crypto trades.
Consider which currencies you want to trade, and which platforms list those currencies in one or more trading pairs:
Cryptocurrencies. There are more than 1,600 digital currencies in existence at the time of writing in August , 2018, so don’t expect to find them all listed on any single platform. Major cryptos like BTC, ETH, XRP and others in the top 20 coins by market cap are listed on an extensive range of exchanges, but rarer altcoins may be much harder to find.
Fiat currencies. If you want to buy crypto with one or more fiat currencies, check which deposit currencies the platform accepts.
From deposit through to trading and then withdrawing funds, how much will it cost you to buy and sell crypto on each platform from start to finish? Remember to consider your payment method, the currencies you want to use, and any discounts you may be entitled to when completing these calculations.
Are there any limits on the amount you can deposit into your account, or the amount of cryptocurrency you can buy or sell per-transaction or per-day? Also check whether there are any restrictions on how much you can withdraw from your account.
Remember, minimum and maximum limits may apply, so check the fine print to be sure the platform is a good fit for the size of trades you want to place.
If you’re a cryptocurrency novice, getting started buying and selling coins and tokens can be complicated and confusing. On the other hand, experienced traders may want a platform with special features like advanced charting and order types, and the option to trade on margin.
If you’re a crypto trading beginner, look for a platform with a simple and straightforward user interface that’s easy to understand from the beginning.
How can you access your trading account? For example, many platforms offer web browser-based trading only, but some also offer mobile and even desktop trading apps. If trading on the go is important to you, it’s worth reading up on the user-friendliness of the platform’s mobile app.
Is there any way you can access reduced trading fees? For example, are you entitled to fee discounts simply because you hold an exchange’s native currency or use those tokens to pay transaction fees? Is there a tiered fee structure that rewards high-volume traders with reduced fees?
Some crypto exchange loyalty programs will even offer additional benefits, such as access to exclusive events and even a share of the platform’s trading fee revenue, so this feature is well worth investigating.
There is no such thing as an official bitcoin price – it’s determined by whatever people are willing to pay. Compare exchange rates across a handful of different crypto exchanges and you might be surprised to find just how much they can differ from one platform to the next. The variation can be as much as 10% in some cases, which can obviously make a big difference to the success of a trade.
The level of liquidity on an exchange affects the ease and speed with which you can complete trades. If there’s a high level of liquidity – in other words, if the exchange has a high trading volume – then trades should be completed quickly and easily.
For example, one of the biggest benefits of trading on larger crypto exchanges is that they get enough orders to be able to match buyers and sellers without any difficulty. However, low liquidity can lead to substantial price fluctuations.
You can check crypto exchange trading volumes on sites like CoinMarketCap.
Can you deposit funds into your account via bank transfer, credit card and/or PayPal? The more payment options an exchange has, the more convenient it will generally be to use. Make sure your exchange has deposit and withdrawal options that work for you, and remember to check the fees associated with different methods.
If privacy is important to you when trading cryptocurrency, there are some platforms that allow you to transact anonymously. Of course, if it’s too easy to create an account and start trading, consider whether there’s anything to stop a platform from disappearing (hopefully not with your funds) overnight.
Many other platforms will require you to verify your account before allowing you to trade. This step is designed to ensure that the exchange meets its obligations under Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) regulations.
Verification requirements vary between exchanges, but you may need to provide some or all of the following:
Your email address and phone number
Proof of ID
Proof of address
A photo of yourself holding a signed declaration
If you need to provide a wide range of personal information, it’s important to be sure you’re dealing with a trusted exchange. It’s also a good idea to research how long you can expect the verification process to take.
Finally, be aware that some exchanges will require you to complete additional verification tasks in order to unlock full account features and higher transaction limits.
How long will it take for your transaction to be completed? How soon are account withdrawals processed?
Being forced to miss out on a trading opportunity because your trading funds took too long to arrive into your exchange account can be a frustrating experience. Spending day after day waiting for a withdrawal to arrive in your bank account or crypto wallet can also be extremely stressful, so check average processing times before you register.
Security is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a crypto exchange. History is littered with many famous examples of exchanges being hacked and unsuspecting users falling victim to theft and fraud, so make sure you do your research into what security measures are in place to protect your funds.
Questions you should ask include:
Is 2-factor authentication supported?
Are customer funds stored in online or offline wallets?
Do I control my private key or does the exchange? If it’s the latter, where and how is my private key stored?
What level of verification is required to open an account?
Is there 24/7 security monitoring?
Will you receive email and SMS alerts regarding account activity?
Does the exchange use email encryption?
Does the exchange provide proof of reserve?
Though authorities around the world are starting to catch up to the rapid growth of crypto exchanges, the industry as a whole is still lightly regulated. How an exchange is regulated depends on where it is based, so do your research to find out whatever information you can about the platform operators.
It’s also worth noting that due to regulatory requirements, users from certain countries will not be allowed to access some exchanges. As always, check the fine print to find out whether any of these geographical restrictions apply to you.
This is a crucial but often overlooked factor when comparing crypto exchanges. If you ever have a problem with an individual transaction or with your account, how will you be able to access a platform’s customer support team?
You’ll need to consider:
The customer support channels available, such as email, phone and live chat
Is there an online support centre where you can submit a support ticket?
Is support available 24/7 or only during specific hours?
How quickly does the support team respond to enquiries?
If the exchange is based overseas in a country where English isn’t the first language, will you be able to access English-language support whenever you need?
Does the site’s support centre feature answers to a range of frequently asked questions, and perhaps instructional guides and/or videos that explain how to trade?
In short, does the platform have a good reputation for providing prompt and helpful support to users?
Does the exchange have a reputation as a secure and reliable platform? Read independent online reviews from other users to find out all about their experiences, both positive and negative, with the platform. Where does it excel and where does it fall short? Would they recommend the exchange to friends and family?
It’s also a good idea to consider how long an exchange has been operating, as well as whether it’s fully insured, before deciding which platform is right for you.
How to use a cryptocurrency exchange: step-by-step guides
So how do cryptocurrency exchanges work? And how exactly can you buy and sell crypto on an exchange? Read on for step-by-step instructions on what you need to do.
For the sake of our example, let’s assume that you have NZ$500 that you want to use to buy bitcoin.
Compare cryptocurrency brokers to find one that offers the right service for you.
Register for an account on the platform, including providing any personal details and proof of ID required.
Navigate your way to the “Buy” screen.
Select bitcoin as the cryptocurrency you want to buy.
Select your payment currency, which in this case is NZD, and specify the amount you want to spend as $500.
Select your payment method, such as a credit card payment or bank transfer.
Enter your payment details, such as your account number and BSB if sending a bank transfer or your card number and CVV if paying by credit card.
Review the full details of your transaction, including the fees that will apply and the amount of BTC you are purchasing.
If you’re happy to proceed, click “Buy BTC”.
Once the transaction has been processed, the BTC will be deposited into your exchange wallet. However, please note that some brokers will automatically send your purchased BTC to an external wallet address nominated by you.
Buying cryptocurrency with another digital currency
In this scenario, let’s assume that you have 1 BTC that you want to exchange for ETH. Here’s what you need to do if placing a trade on a centralised crypto exchange:
Compare cryptocurrency trading platforms to find one that offers the right service for you.
Register for an account on the platform, including providing any personal details and proof of ID required.
Log into your account and find the BTC wallet address for your account.
Use this address to transfer the 1 BTC you want to trade from an external wallet.
Navigate to the “Exchange” or “Trading” page.
Search for the currency pair you want to trade, which in this case is BTC/ETH.
In the “Buy” field, choose the type of order you want to place, such as a market order or limit order.
Enter the details of your transaction, such as the amount of BTC you want to spend. If placing a limit order, you’ll need to specify your desired ETH price.
Take a moment to review your transaction, including checking the exchange rate and fees that apply.
Click on “Buy ETH”.
Once the transaction has been processed, the ETH you have purchased will be deposited into your exchange wallet.
However, if you’re using a decentralised crypto exchange, the process is a little different. You’ll typically be required to link your wallet to your account, but you’ll then be able to trade directly from wallet to wallet, with no requirement to deposit any funds on the exchange.
Selling cryptocurrency and withdrawing your funds
If you want to sell cryptocurrency on an exchange – let’s say bitcoin for the purposes of this example – you’ll need to follow these steps:
Log into your account and find the BTC wallet address.
Use this address to transfer the BTC you want to trade from an external wallet.
Navigate to the “Exchange” or “Trading” page.
Search for the currency pair you want to trade, for example BTC/NZD or BTC/ETH.
In the “Sell” field, enter the details of your transaction. Depending on the platform you’re using, you may be able to sell at market rate or potentially place a limit order.
Take a moment to review your transaction, including checking the exchange rate and fees that apply.
Click “Sell BTC”.
Once the transaction has been processed, the currency you have purchased will be deposited into your exchange wallet.
It’s now time to withdraw those funds from your exchange account, but the exact process you’ll need to follow depends on whether you’ve purchased crypto or fiat currency:
If you’ve purchased fiat currency, look for the “Withdraw NZD” option from your account dashboard. Select your desired payment method, for example bank transfer or PayPal transaction, and enter all the necessary account details so your payment can be processed.
If you’ve purchased another cryptocurrency, you’ll need to first set up a secure wallet where you can store your coins. Copy the address of this wallet, log into your exchange account and select the currency you want to transfer. Remember to double-check that you’re sending the funds to the correct wallet before submitting the transaction.
Exchange payment methods
Crypto exchanges accept all sorts of deposit methods, including:
However, not all exchanges accept all payment options. To make things more complicated, some exchanges might accept one payment method for withdrawals, but not for deposits.
Processing times, fees and limits can all vary depending on the payment method you choose, so read the fine print to learn the ins and outs of each payment option. For example, while credit card deposits might be processed quickly, they usually attract high fees. Meanwhile, bank transfer deposits may not attract any fees, but they can take 1-2 business days to process.
Cryptocurrency exchange fees
Before you buy or sell cryptocurrency on any exchange, you’ll need to be fully aware of any fees that apply. Fees vary between platforms and may include:
Deposit fees. Many exchanges don’t charge any fees when you deposit funds into your account, but some do. These fees can vary depending on the payment method you choose and the currency you transfer.
Trading fees. Trading fees are typically calculated as a fixed percentage of each transaction amount. Some exchanges charge a flat fee for all transactions, but other platforms offer different fees for market makers (who add liquidity to the market by placing limit orders) and market takers (who place market orders that are executed immediately, thereby removing liquidity from the market).
Withdrawal fees. When you want to withdraw funds from your exchange wallet, you’ll need to be aware of the fees associated with your transfer. Crypto withdrawals attract a flat fee, for example 0.001 ETH, while fiat currency withdrawals could attract either a flat fee or occasionally a percentage-based fee. Once again, these fees vary based on the currency being transferred and, if you’re withdrawing in fiat currency, the payment method selected.
When you buy cryptocurrency on an exchange, those digital coins are typically deposited straight into your exchange wallet. If you want to keep your coins in this wallet, you can.
However, using an exchange for long-term storage is not recommended. This is due to the fact that the exchange controls the private key to your wallet, so you effectively don’t have total control of your funds. And with exchanges regularly (and sometimes successfully) targeted by hackers, storing bitcoin or any other crypto on an exchange long-term is very risky.
A much safer option is to transfer your coins off the exchange and into a secure wallet that lets you control your private key.
While regulators are gradually implementing laws and guidelines to help protect consumers against fraud, there are still plenty of dodgy exchange operators out there. Falling victim to theft is a major concern for any crypto buyer, so what can you do to protect yourself against scam crypto exchanges?
There are several simple steps you can take:
Is it regulated? If you’re considering an overseas exchange, find out where exactly it is headquartered and the regulatory requirements (if any) for digital currency exchanges in that particular country. Does the exchange comply with all relevant laws?
Do your research. Don’t get sucked in by marketing gimmicks or the promise of a deal that sounds too good to be true. Take your time to research a platform’s credentials before opening an account and especially before depositing any funds.
Recognise the warning signs. Make sure you recognise the red flags that could indicate an exchange is not entirely above board. For example, if there’s no information about the company behind the exchange or where it is headquartered, proceed with caution. Similarly, if other users report lengthy withdrawal delays or claim the exchange has engaged in any other questionable activities, you may be better off steering clear of that particular platform.
Check the address. One final tip: whenever you visit an exchange website, check that its address begins with “https” rather than just “http”. This means that all communications between your browser and the exchange are secure and encrypted.
Only use established exchanges. Let other people take the risk of trading on new and untested exchanges. You’ll sleep a lot better at night if you know you’re dealing with an established platform with a good reputation.
For more info on how to stay safe when buying and selling cryptocurrency, check out our guide to bitcoin scams.
Next steps: How to get started
Not all crypto exchanges are created equal, and not all crypto buyers and sellers have the same trading needs. The best exchange for one person might not necessarily be the right choice for someone else, so it’s essential that you do your own research.
Check out our reviews of a range of leading cryptocurrency exchanges in New Zealand and around the world. Compare the features, fees, and pros and cons of each exchange and consider how they align with your trading requirements.
This will help you find the best crypto exchange for your needs.
No. The list of currencies available varies widely from one exchange to the next. Some platforms only support a select few currencies while others support hundreds, but there’s no guarantee that all the cryptos you want to buy and sell will be available on any one platform.
You may want to consider using the services of an over-the-counter (OTC) broker in order to avoid slippage. Check out our guide to OTC services for more details.
Yes. Take a look at our cryptocurrency margin trading guide for more information.
You can view 24-hour trading volume for crypto exchanges on sites like CoinMarketCap.
Exchanges in some countries are subject to Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) regulations. In order to comply with these regulations, exchange operators must gather certain details about their customers – which is why you may be asked to provide proof of ID. This process is typically referred to as Know Your Customer or KYC.
Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly
volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of
future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information.
You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory
requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may
have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.
Andrew Munro is the global cryptocurrency editor at Finder. After previously writing about insurance and other areas, he now covers the latest developments in digital assets and blockchain and works on Finder's comprehensive range of guides to help people understand cryptocurrency.
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