Best Bitcoin Exchanges 2017/18

Onset of the Next Financial Revolution

Cryptocurrencies are literally transforming the way digital transactions were being carried out. Bitcoin in specific is often applauded for triggering the next financial revolution.

Being decentralized in nature, Bitcoin, much like any other cryptocurrency is not supervised by central authority, federal agencies or administrators. The transactions are conducted directly between users and are hence relatively anonymous, which makes Bitcoin very popular. The transactions are however verified by the network nodes and relevant recording is done in a form of public distributed ledger called the blockchain. This means that no large banks or regulatory authorities cannot control the money one owns through Bitcoins.

Additionally, the ease of operations, relatively lesser transaction time and almost negligible transaction fees are few perks that Bitcoin traders enjoy. As Bitcoin gains increased acceptance among the business fraternity, more and more retailers and businesses are accepting this new mode of payment. The bandwagon includes eateries to coffee shops and real-estates.

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The Rising Popularity of Bitcoins The popularity of Bitcoin has been on a steady rise. While Bitcoin marched ahead to a new high of $8200 in November 2017, the industry pundits expect the rise to continue and hit the $10000 mark by the end of this year. That equates to an unbelievable and staggering 700% growth year to date. In spite of negative speculations from Industry top bosses in financial powerhouses such as Warren Buffet and JP Morgan, the popularity of Bitcoin continues to rise.

What is a Bitcoin Exchange?

As the name suggests, Bitcoin exchange is a digital marketplace that facilitates the buying and selling of Bitcoins. Interested traders could buy Bitcoins for fiat currencies (legal tenders) or other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum. Since Bitcoin is essentially a decentralized currency and involves no controlling authority, the price and value of Bitcoin is largely determined by the transactions on popular BTC exchanges.

Why do Bitcoin Exchange rates vary?

The Bitcoin exchange rates vary significantly since they aren’t supervised by any federal government and doesn’t need to abide by any International banking policies. The sheer anonymity of transaction and the ethical perspective involved also determine how exchanges set the price of Bitcoins.

Before you choose a Bitcoin Exchange

Lot of your hard earned dollars are at stake when you trade for Bitcoins. While complete anonymity might be difficult while using popular (and credible) exchanges, it is important that you carry out necessary checks before you start trading. Selecting an apt Bitcoin exchange practically depends upon the following key criteria:

    • Which Geography is the Exchange located in: Knowing the country where the certain Bitcoin Exchange is hosted helps you gauge the laws and regulations that might govern financial transactions between your home country and the exchange host country. The ‘Terms & Conditions’ page usually contain a list of currencies that the exchange accept and don’t accept.
    • The credibility of the Bitcoin Exchange: Similar to choosing a bank, you usually choose an exchange that you can trust. Complete anonymity might be difficult unless you buy Bitcoin from a local person through simple off-record cash transaction. The exchange should have certain ‘Know Your Customer(KYC)’ and abide by the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws, so that your money and transactions are safe.
    • Liquidity offered by the Bitcoin Exchange: The amount of liquidity that the exchange offers is an important parameter for the ease with which one can buy and sell Bitcoins. Liquidity is a measure of how easily one can sell-off Bitcoin without the price being significantly drop. So more the volume of buyers and sellers on an exchange, more is the liquidity. So look for the volume of traders operating on the exchange to measure its liquidity.
    • Look at the Order Book Volume: An order book volume is a pseudo-declaration of the buy and sell orders that are being offered on the exchange. Any exchange with moderate customer base would publish their order book. The higher the book volume, the more customers are using the exchange for trading and hence higher liquidity.
    • Transparency of operations: While your hard-earned dollars are at stake, the exchange should have an informative approach towards keeping their users aware of current rates and price trends.
    • Speed of transaction: This is particularly important. How long will it take before the Bitcoin is sent to you after purchase.
    • The ‘Locked in’ price: Also look into the ‘locked in’ prices. The ‘locked in’ price is the price you buy at, even if the Bitcoins take a few days to reach you and the prices fluctuate in the meantime.
    • A strong support helpline: The sheer anonymity of Bitcoin transaction has a downside. You could face serious financial losses if the Bitcoin transaction errors out due to technical glitches or other unforeseen events. The exchange should have a strong helpline which could provide suitable assistance to recover the transactional loses.
    • Transactional Fees: Unlike the flat fees structure charged by discount brokerages used by Investors in the US, Bitcoin exchanges usually charge a variable percentage fees which decreases with the USD volume being traded. So trading with Bitcoin could get decreasingly expensive when you trade often. Also, most major Bitcoin exchanges charge an additional fee for withdrawals.
    • Ease of use: With the advent of the smartphone age and cheap data plans, most traders world-wide use hand-held devices to access and transact on exchanges. Hence the Bitcoin exchange should be compatible and responsive on major Android and iOS mobile devices.
    • Purchase from Bitcoin from leading Exchanges: While selecting the exchange of your choice, find out which payment mechanisms are supported by the exchange platform. Most leading exchanges support payments through:
      • Wire transfers
      • Credit Cards
      • PayPal

Exchanges have been enhancing Security and authentication mechanisms

While Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are hailed as the onset of a financial revolution, extra care should be administered while choosing a legitimate and safe Bitcoin exchange. Such exchanges with security loopholes turn into a hackers’ honeymoon. Mt. Gox is a classic case which filed a bankruptcy protection after being ‘robbed’ of a staggering $468 million worth of Bitcoins.

The Famous MtGox Hack

In another event, MtGox closed it trading platform after being hacked. While the company lost its Bitcoin holding of 2000 BTC, it owed its customers 750000 BTC which amounted to roughly £284m.

The breach resulted in sudden freezing of Bitcoin withdrawals and distributed Denial of Services (DoS). In another case which took the Internet by storm was $2.7 million worth of Bitcoin that went missing from the Escrow accounts of Silk Road 2.0 exchange.

Many leading Bitcoin exchanges such as BitFloor have faced hacks, Ponzi schemes and professional threats. Hackers accessed an unencrypted backup of the wallet keys and stole 24000 bitcoins from BitFloor.

In recent years, the security features for most Bitcoin exchanges have been enhanced. Two-factor authentication including SMS or email alerts, mail encryptions, wallet monitoring and other security features have been implemented by most exchanges.

Most Bitcoin exchanges have a strong authentication mechanism in place. Security is obviously of paramount importance on exchanges since they deal with great amount of money.

Keep your Bitcoin Wallet Safe

Before we wrap up, here’s a special word of advice. The exchanges listed above are considered to be the best in terms of features and security measures they implement. Yet the money you store in those e-Wallets is essentially your hard-earned cash and you need to be extra cautious, in addition to whatever security layers the exchange has in place.

  • Encrypt your wallet: Encrypting your wallet helps you set a password for your wallet that you access through a smartphone, etc. Using a strong password is obviously recommended.
  • Offline wallets are great: This involves storing the wallet content at a safe place that isn’t available on a computer network. An offline wallet that is periodically synced is usually safe from network vulnerabilities and malicious access threats. The term ‘cold storage’ is used to define the mechanism of storing the encrypted private keys away from the preying eyes on the Internet. The cold storages are kept on an offline physical medium.
  • Multi-Signature Access: Bitcoin includes a very interesting multi-signature feature that requires 3-5 person to sign (validate) for a transaction to be successful. Many web wallets provide similar multi-signature features which helps users to keep their funds safe from malicious attempts.

Most of the top Bitcoin exchange platforms have been very attentive towards their security features. With the skyrocketing popularity of Bitcoins, more and more top investors are showing profound interest in this emerging form of investment. The Bitcoin exchanges therefore have been making every effort to provide safe and stable service.

Leading Bitcoin Exchanges

1. Coinbase Bitcoin Exchange

One of the most popular Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase was established in 2012 and is supported at almost 32 countries worldwide. It exchanges Bitcoin and other alternative Cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Litecoin. Coinbase aims at creating an open financial system in the world to bring out increased economic freedom, innovation and efficiency. This would essentially act as a great equalizer for the world economy. Main highlights of coin exchange are as follows-

  • Coinbase mobile bitcoin wallet is well supported on google play store and App store. It helps you to access your coinbase wallets, vaults and all transaction details on the go. It facilitates buying and selling on the phone itself by connecting it to the bank account.
  • Coinbase has 10M+ trusted users with an incredible $50B+ trading credentials
  • Coinbase stores 98% of customer funds offline. Sensitive data which resides on the server is entirely disconnected from the internet.  They leverage high security on transaction details and data is split with redundancy, AES-256 encryption which is then copied to FIPS-140 USB drives and paper backups. The backups and drives are safely distributed across various deposit boxes and vaults around the world.
  • All the digital currency held by Coinbase is well insured. In case of online breaching of its account storage the insurance policy would cover it by paying out for the lost funds of the customers.  The fiat currencies are held in custodial bank accounts which solely belongs to the customers.
  • Coinbase promotes recurring buying and selling through its buy or sell page. This is ideal for people who want dollar cost averaging-which is slow buying to avoid risks or the ones who automatically want to sell the bitcoin they receive on account of their paycheck.

The Coinbase Tools

  • Buy Widget-with this tool you can directly buy bitcoin into your app.
  • Wallet API- it creates and manages the Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin wallets.  Also promotes on the app buying and selling of currency and sending out payments.

A tabular representation below provides the key advantages and disadvantages.

Pros Cons
It accepts a wide range of currencies with a 1.49 % to 4% charge on transactions. From January 2018 onwards bitcoin cash will also be accepted for transactions. Coinbase is a member of Blockchain Alliance and as a measure to combat illegal use of bitcoin it can force shut accounts. Blacklisting activities include – gambling, purchasing contraband on darknet markets, resale of coins on other exchanges without AML/ KYC.
You can best protect your account with multisig vault which has 3 keys – one you own the second and third owned by coinbase and shared key respectively. Even when coinbase is down one move funds from wallet with the other two keys. The recently launched vault account on the other hand has transactions delayed by 48 hours for better protection. With vault you cannot personally control your bitcoin account. As it is still hosted by coinbase there are chances of account freezing.
With coinbase there are high limits on your account depending upon the account verification. Fully verified US customers can buy up to $50,000 worth bitcoin daily and Europeans can have 30,000 Euros. Coinbase tends to hold back affiliate earnings stating it as a technical default . It has against the principles of crypto-economy applied for the property rights of technologies.

2. LocalBitcoins Bitcoin Exchange

LocalBitcoins is still considered one of the most secured P2P Bitcoin exchange. The mechanisms of cash and Bitcoin transfer it allows accounts for its popularity.

  • Interested buyers and sellers post Advertisements on the Website.
  • Interested parties reply to the Advertisements, connect and decide on exchange rates and payment mechanisms.
  • Parties either meet in person to transact in cash or could initiate an online purchase.
  • The exchange also has an exclusive Escrow account which safeguards payments and deals.
  • The exchange also reputation and feedback mechanism along with strong conflict-resolution system.
  • LocalBitcoins doesn’t impose any kind of limitations on the buying and selling limits. However, some sellers might need to furnish their ID proof for carrying out large transactions.
  • The exchange is not available in Germany and the State of New York.
  • LocalBitcoins doesn’t require any personal information while carrying out trade.

Here’s a tabular limitation of major Pros and Cons for LocalBitcoins

Pros Cons
In-Person cash trades are relatively safe and quick. While LocalBitcoins has a good reputation, the credibility of each trader or seller is hard to establish. Though the site has a review and reputation mechanism which helps in establishing individual credibility.
No buying or selling limits. For transactions amounting to high value, ID might be needed.
Many payment methods are supported. Reversible payment methods such as PayPal are often misused by traders.
Except for Advertising cost, other fees and transaction charges are free or very minimal.
This is one exchange that helps you find local buyers/sellers no matter which country you are in. LocalBitcoins is currently present in 190 countries.

3. Gemini Bitcoin Exchange

Gemini is a New-York Based digital asset exchanger started by Winklevoss Twins in 2015. It forwards services to both institutions and individuals. It is regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services and adheres to the highest level of capital reserve requirements and banking standards. They provide buying, selling and storing of both bitcoin and ether. They also forward superior trading features, security and regulatory oversight.

  • The Gemini marketplace operates for 7 days a week and for 24 hours a day. Interested users can submit as many orders as they want on this fully reserve exchange as all orders are funded.  Gemini exchange forwards no margin trading. In this case outstanding interest on the orders book never exceeds the account balance, open orders reduce the account balance till the time the orders are fulfilled or cancelled.
  • The Gemini marketplace on a regular basis conducts auctions for certain trading pairs which leads to elevated liquidity and price discovery.
  • The fee rate greatly depends upon the gross trading volume. The base fee for both liquidity-making and taking trades for each pair is 25bps(0.25%).
  • They store major portion of the digital assets offline with all U.S. Dollar deposits being held with FDIC-insured banks.
  • The maker-taker fee schedule at Gemini exchange provides discounts and rebates for all high-volume market participants. No processing charges are levied upon deposit or withdrawals.
  • It operates across 42 US states and many other countries like South Korea,Singapore , U.K. With ACH deposits in the US  you can buy coins instantly which remain locked into your account keeping the price as well locked in.

A Tabular Representation of the Active Markets (Source: https://coinmarketcap.com/exchanges/gemini/)

Currency Pair Volume(24h) Price Volume(%)
Bitcoin BTC/ USD $73.81M $9674.50 75.36%
Ethereum ETH /USD $16.01M $485.01 16.41%
Ethereum ETH /USD $8.05M $486.79 8.22%

Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Gemini Exchange

Pros Cons
Deposits can be made using wire transfer,SEPA or ACH transfer. It only trades in Bitcoin related exchanges and no other crypto- currencies. Other than Bitcoin only one fiat currency can be exchanged namely USD.
On account of its proximity to the Wall Street financial market it can forward more traditional investments to new cryptocurrency markets for both institutional investors and individuals. Gemini trades in limited markets with limited tools. It does not forward possibilities of margin trading, advanced order types or derivatives.
It provides quick conversion services on Bitcoin to cash exchanges, unlike many other exchanges which take a lot of time to process transactions. The speed and performance rate of the page is not up to the mark for operating on smaller windows like mobile screen. It scores around 50 /100 on the Google page-speed insights.

4. Changelly Bitcoin Exchange

Changelly is essentially an instant cryptocurrency exchange which provides the best crypto-to-crypto market rates. As a leading exchange it has its robot integrated into the largest cryptocurrency trading platforms, like Poloniex and Bitterex. The robot in a span of milliseconds makes bids  on the trading platforms, it then selects and suggests the best available rate, which is then displayed on the changelly exchange site. The estimated rates remain unchanged till transaction is made on the blockchain.  Some other interesting features of Changelly are as follows-

  • The accounts are protected with a two factor authentication. Which is a method by which the accounts remain protected.  In order to log into your Changelly account you must have a second device with Google authenticator installed.
  • They provide instant money exchange with no deposit storage. The deposit storage is a coinbase charge levied upon the purchase of bitcoins when one buys it with a debit or credit card.
  • Safe and prompt transactions. With user identities being protected.
  •  They provide best quality rates by comparing it across a wide range of trusted trading platforms.
  • They charge a nominal 0.5% commission fee on the completion of the transaction.
  • The site has more than 50,000 satisfied users availing its services.
  • Users are given a destination tag which is a complementary combination of characters. This destination tag is required for buying Ripple wallets or sending Ripples to the bitcoin exchange.

Merits and Demerits of trading with Changelly

Pros Cons
Changelly does not have any restrictions on larger amounts. One can exchange as big a sum as they want. Often in case of exchanging larger amounts the time taken for transaction processing , depends upon the capacity of the blockchain along with the amount of prefixed network fees set by your wallet.
All the wallet addresses provided by changelly are reusable and tied to the recipient’s address. New set of coins can be sent to the address, and can be generated multiple number of times without creating a new transaction. In Changelly blockchain transactions are irreversible. One should doubly check all payment details before exchanging cryptocurrency.
Users can pay in any currency which gets converted to USD or EUR. Changelly does not accept PayPal.

4.Cryptopia Bitcoin Exchange

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Cryptopia exchange is a pioneering currency trading platform based in Christchurch, New Zealand founded in the year 2014 by Adam Clark and Rob Dawson. At Cryptopia exchange you can deposit, trade and withdraw Bitcoin, Litecoin and over 4000 other crypto currencies. The Cryptopia marketplace promotes buying and selling of anything to anyone at any place in exchange of cryptocurrency.

  • The Cryptopia marketplace allows buying and selling of items for free. They even allow setting up of auction or classified listing.
  • The Cryptopia Mineshaft supports all sorts of miners from single CPU or GPU users to ASIC masters. It is essentially a well streamlined and easy to use mining platform for cryptocurrencies.
  • With Cryptopia exchange you can easily convert your crypto for bill payments or buying from the crypto marketplace.
  • The Cryptopia  BlockExplorers provides a detailed information on all blocks and transactions. Which helps in keeping a constant track .
  • Cryptopia is the only exchange which allows buying and selling of BipCoin. BipCoin is unlike Bitcoin it has a CryptoNote base which solves Bitcoin related problems . Its  FEATURES ARE- untraceable transactions, adaptive limits and it is not accessible by the government as it is covered by the Bipcot No-Government license.
  • Besides mineshaft and exchange functions cryptopia forwards the following- a knowledge base with the listed altcoins known as CoinInfo as well as an Arbitrage tool.
  • The trading fees is very nominal 0.20% of the total cryptocurrency or BTC you have to pay for.
  • Account verification is vital for ascertaining withdrawal limits – accounts with level 1 verification have a daily withdrawal limit of $5,000, $50,000.00 NZD for level 2 accounts and for those who need a level 3 verified  account can contact the Cryptopia support team .
  • It also has an embedded ticket system which helps the users to easily get in touch with the support team.

A overview of the major advantages and disadvantages

Pros Cons
Cryptopia has no restriction on deposits be it minimum or maximum. A mere network fee is charged for withdrawal. It does not support fiat or Ethereum deposits even though it accepts 400+ tradable cryptocurrencies.
The security is well enforced with strong passwords, email withdrawal confirmations and API access control. It does not have a very flexible trading system as it lacks margin trading or other advance features on the site interface. There is no separate trade page, one has to reach the market page by browsing through the exchange.
Cryptopia allows its users to avail a new currency called DOT for the ones investing in long term deposits. The Cryptopia interface is a bit confusing therefore beginners should start with the simple Coinbase exchange.

5. Coinmama Bitcoin Exchange

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Virtual currency is gaining increased popularity by the day. The decentralized peer-to-peer network is well supported by popular exchanges or brokers like Coinmama. Coinmama was founded in the year 2013 and has its headquarters in Slovakia but provides services all across the world. Among the various bitcoin exchanges which accept credit cards Coinmama supports the widest range of countries and a few US states like- Arizona, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Montana, Navada.  Coinmama primarily specializes in promoting buying of Bitcoins with credit card globally. Essential features of Coinmama are as follows-

  • Coinmama accepts payment through-Visa card, Mastercard, credit and debit cards as well as cash. It even allows its customers to buy bitcoins through Western Union.
  • As a part of its privacy regulation any person buying bitcoins above the worth of $150 requires full identity verification. However for those who purchase below $150 worth bitcoins can do away with identity verification.
  • Coinmama does not facilitate trading between buyers and sellers. The transactions will always be regulated between you and Coinmama.
  • Coinmama sends out bitcoins as soon as the client’s payment and wallet address have been confirmed.
  • If you want to buy different amounts of bitcoins than stated then you should use the slider(price calculator) which is located at the bottom of the homepage.
  • Personal data and sensitive information is encrypted and stored on dedicated servers.
  • Coinmama offers an affiliate program which helps in earning Bitcoins- users can win a 15% commission on all referral purchases as well as future purchases
  • Coinmama has recently started processing transactions on their own, this provides to the users end-to-end support and instant transaction.
  • Coinmama has different transaction limits –for cash and credit card purchase.  For payment through cash or Western Union the daily limit is 5,000 USD /EUR per day.   For payment through credit card maximum limit is $20,000 USD/ EUR per day.
  • It also places limits based on verification.
      • Level 1-$10,000 limit
      • Level 2-$50,000 limit
      • Level 3 –no purchase limit

Advantages and Disadvantages in Brief:

Pros Cons
Coinmama sells bitcoin in varying denominations- single, multiple,fractions to as low as 0.1 bitcoin. It accepts payment via credit and debit card. You cannot sell back your bitcoins to Coinmama and it does not connect you to potential buyers.
Coinmama locks the crypto rate at the time of purchase. This ensures that you will receive exactly the amount of coins you have ordered irrespective of price fluctuation. It does not provide a digital wallet and deals with only Ethereum and Bitcoins.
Since Coinmama sells out bitcoins from its personal holdings the processing time is much shorter. Coinmama charges very high processing fee a basic 5.5% for usual transaction and an extra 5.5% for availing payment through credit card facility.

6. Kraken Bitcoin Exchange

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Kraken is San-Francisco based company formed in the year 2011. It ranks in as one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges dealing with Euro, Canadian Dollars, US Dollars, British Pounds and Japanese Yen. It has been over the years ranked as the best bitcoin trading exchange. Kraken is the court- appointed trustee of the Tokyo Government as well Germany’s BanFin regulated Fidor Bank. Kraken was the first bitcoin exchange to have passed the cryptographically verifiable proof-of-reserves audit. Key features of Kraken is as follows-

  • Setting up an account with Kraken is very simple – click on open account, complete the form, thereafter activate it. Post account verification you can activate your account with cash or bitcoins to start trading.
  • Identity proof requirements for the regular account includes full name, date of birth and phone number for higher account funding limits government  issue ID and proof of residence is required.
  • Kraken allows trading of several other digital currencies like Zcash(ZEC),Gnosis(GNO), Augur REP tokens(REP), Ethereum Classic(ETC), Ripple(XRP).
  • Deposits and withdrawals are sorted pair tier wise:
  1. Tier 1-  You cannot deposit or withdraw fiat currencies.  Digital currency deposits does not have a limit. Withdrawals are limited to – $2,500 per month and $20,000 per month.
  2. Tier 2- Deposits and withdrawal on fiat currency is limited to $2,000 per day and $10,000 per month. Whereas cryptocurrency withdrawals are limited to $5,000 per day and $25,000 per month.
  3. Tier 3- $25,000 daily and $200,000 monthly on fiat deposits and withdrawals . $50,000 per day and $200,000 per month  withdrawal limits on digital currencies respectively.
    1. To remain on the top of the competition kraken features as one of the cheapest trading platforms-  trading fees is levied upon both the taker and maker 0.16% for the maker and 0.26% for taker.  With increase in trading volume the fees drops to 0.00% for maker and 0.10% for taker.
    2. Margin trading is available on the following currencies –XBT/ USD, XBT/ EUR, ETH /XBT,ETH /USD, ETH /EUR,REP /ETH among others.
    3. Kraken forwards PGP encryption for email communication and global setting lock as security measures.

Know the Pros and Cons before you trade with Kraken

Pros Cons
Allows trading of Bitcoin and Altcoin against government issued fiat currency which includes Yen, Euro, British Pound. It offers a wide range of cryptocurrencies like- Angur,Melon, Gnosis, Ether and Ether classic, Ripple, Dogecoin etc. Kraken does not accept payment through credit /debit card or paypal.
The trade fees at Kraken is low and flexible – it starts at 0.10%. The fees depends upon per trade basis calculation based on the trades quoted currency volume. The support team delays response on queries.
Kraken is regarded as the safest bitcoin exchange. All the deposits go to the cold wallet where most of the coins are stored. All the wallets are encrypted. It also maintains an isolated system for sending documents. The exchange does not support derivatives or futures trading. Though it does support short selling, margin trading and advanced orders.

Bitcoin: The Face of Virtual Currency in the Global Economy

The advent of Bitcoin has changed the face of global economy. As the first decentralized currency held electronically it has established its trading prowess in the world market. Powered by mathematical algorithm this virtual currency does not result in inflation because it is easily interchangeable and scarce. Since bitcoin works independently without government intervention it allowing its users to mine their own bitcoins in the open market with the help of a strong computing power. The Bitcoin market is constantly evolving and staying updated is a prerequisite . Trading with Bitcoin exchanges makes the transaction processes faster and safer. The Bitcoin exchange works 24×7 and forwards several ways of earning money out of these transactions. With binary options one can bet on the bitcoin price or trade CFD’s ( contract with a difference) through Forex exchanges. The exchanges process transactions at minimal rates with high-end security on private data. Since its inception in 2008 Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency has seen astronomical market boom. Bitcoin exchanges over time have become an indispensable part of the virtual currency ecosystem with their real-time, speedy transaction potential.