Based on the island of Hong Kong, Bitfinex is one of the more well-known cryptocurrency exchanges today. Having begun operations in late 2012, it has currently established itself as one of the dominant players in the market.
In this article, we’re going to be running through the positives and negatives of this exchange, while also delving into some of the controversies it’s faced through its history.
Bitfinex is, without a doubt, one of the most advanced exchanges in the market, along with one of the oldest and most established ones as well. It has been subjected to countless hacks as well as other controversial episodes that has tainted its reputation in the field. The exchange is perfectly tailored for a more advanced strain of traders and also has margin trading options and options for lending. One crucial point to note is that the trading firm does not cater to American customers.
The firm was founded in 2012 in the British Virgin Island by a corporation known as iFinex inc and operates out of Hong Kong at present. During its initial run, the firm had operated as a platform for ‘P2P’ margin lending that traded only Bitcoin.
The firm has a wide array of services. Some of the more notables ones include:
Advanced Trading Platform
- One notable point about Bitfinex is that it has the most liquid platform in the entire globe. This is a vital factor for traders, as it ensures what is known as a ‘low spread’ apart from boosting speed and efficiency in their trading process.
- The platform is advanced and customizable, offering over fifty trading pairs and plenty of order types. The firm also gives customers access to an advanced charting facility to elevate their experience.
Margin Trading and Funding
- Users of Bitfinex are allowed to operate with four times the leverage size, given the site’s margin funding facilities. In addition to this, the terms for borrowing, such as duration and interest, can by affixed by the customer. Digital asset owners can also send their funds to traders across secure trading channels to procure an interest over it.
Over The Counter Services
- For traders willing to engage in larger trading volumes, going over a hundred thousand US dollars in value, the platform has a secure ‘over-the-counter’ feature. This function helps to govern the more enormous transactions, also helps to facilitate major deals occurring through the trading platform.
Disadvantages of Bitfinex
When it comes to difficulties in the trading process, it’s quite well known that Bitfinex has a reasonable share of them. In 2015, the firm was subjected to a massive cyberattack, in which close to fifteen hundred Bitcoins were stolen.
Another vast cyber-attack followed shortly in the April of 2016, wiping out nearly 120,000 Bitcoins from the exchange. This represented the second-largest Bitcoin theft in recorded history, surpassed only by the cyber attack on Mt Gox that had cost nearly 750,000 Bitcoins.
However, the crucial difference in both these attacks was in the way the firms responded. Mt Gox staged a massive effort aimed at compensating its customer’s loss. Meanwhile, Bitfinex attempted to recoup its losses at the expense of its customers.
It spread the losses across all of its customers’ accounts, despite the fact that not all of them had been attacked. This meant that all users of the trading firm saw 36% of their currency reserves seized from them.
Despite this, customers had their losses compensated a year later after the involvement of represented IOUs from the corporation.
Bitfinex’s woes, however, hadn’t come to an end. In 2017 April, Wells Fargo, the trading firm’s associate bank, placed a freeze on the firm’s bank accounts. This left the firm in a dire state for weeks, bringing a barrage of customer complaints and anomalies in its pricing.
Eventually, its accounts were restored, but since this incident, the firm was forced to suspend its operation in the US and no longer deals with American customers.
Recently, the scare of a hack caused $350M transfer of Bitcoin from Bitfinex.
Currencies and Payment Methods
When it comes to deposits made in Fiat currency, Bitfinex accepts a host of different national currencies, ranging from the EUR, GBP, JPY, and USD. Deposits made through Fiat currency can only be facilitated through wire transfer. In addition to this, deposits through cryptocurrency are free, and withdrawals are also quite cheaper.
The firm accepts a wide array of digital currencies included, ranging from Bitcoin Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Monero, Zcash, Dash, EOS, and over eighty other currencies.
- Bitfinex’s fee structure involves what is termed a ‘taker-maker fee model’. Under this model, customers who carry out existing orders are labelled takers, and traders that register new orders are labelled makers.
- For takes, the fee starts at 0.2% and can plunge to 0% for vast orders from makers. When it comes to the massive orders placed through the ‘Over the counter’ desk, there are no fees.
- Wire deposits made through the banking system come with a 0.1% fee for deposits and withdrawal, and this can mount to 1% depending on the conditions of the transaction.
- Deposits made in cryptocurrency, as mentioned previously, are completely free unless the deposited amount is smaller than a thousand USD. In such a scenario, a fee is attached to the transaction that varies depending on the currency involved. Withdrawals made through cryptocurrency also carry a minor fee, also varying depending on the currency.
Bitfinex offers its services to customers around the globe, except for a few select nations: The USA,Bolivia, Ecuador, Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan.
Customer Support and Reviews
Customers of this trading platform are granted access to a vast ‘knowledge base’, and a ticket-driven customer support system. It has received moderate to poor reviews online.
The exchange has also faced mounting criticism over the years, mostly surrounding the transparency of their working process and their relationship with the Tether stablecoin. In early 2018, the New York attorney general’s office levelled some serious accusations on the trading firm, accusing it of a vast 850 million USD coverup.
The office alleged that the platform had facilitated this monumental coverup through its alliance with the Tether currency. Bitfinex firmly denied such claims and reassured its users in an open letter where it underlined the inaccuracies of the said investigation.
Bitfinex and Binance
Both Binance and Bitfinex are similar in their working models, with both of them giving clients access to a vast store of digital currencies. However, despite its shortcomings, Bitfinex has an advantage in this regard, with its platform being way more sophisticated than Binance’s. However, Binance had only been initiated in 2017, and, given its short run time, has maintained a much stronger reputation.
Given its history of hacks, controversies and legal troubles, Bitfinex has elicited concern from the cryptocurrency community. Another advantage of Binance is its lower fee structure. Unlike Bitfinex, the firm has its fees anchored at 0.1%
So between Binance and Bitfinex, the better choice in a wider background seems to be Binance. The only advantage that Bitfinex offers to traders is a more advanced platform.
Updates/Developments – 20 Nov 2019
Bitfinex has added support for DAI’s Multi-Collateral Upgrade. New features will be added to Maker Protocol, additional collateral asset types (including new currencies) and DAI savings rate. This latest token legacy version will go live and will be supported further for trading on the exchange.
Bitfinex has added support for Bitcoin (BTC) bech32 addresses generation. Its users will now be able to make deposits to bech32 addresses. This Segregated Witness format delivers better protection against typing errors and transaction malleability. The block size will be increased further that will help improve transaction capacity and reduce fees.
If you’re a non-American trader looking for an advanced platform, and with large volumes of currency to trade, then Bitfinex is quite possibly the best option.
However, if you’re new to this market, then we would certainly not recommend this platform. The experience is sure to be hampered by a lack of ease-of-working, along with an interface that might seem too complicated to newcomers.
A newcomer to the game would be much better off approaching Coinmama or CEX, or other conventional trading platforms.
Meanwhile, for the more experienced traders, the platform does have a wide range of advantages, ranging from its high liquidity to the advanced functions such as margin trading and leverage.
If you’re one of those people worried over security, given the platform’s history of hacks, the only reassuring factor here is the reimbursement that Bitfinex has provided for its customers in such cases. Some analysts even argue that the platform’s history of hacks may have helped raise its security levels, making it less susceptible to hacks in the future.