Binance vs Bittrex at a Glance
Binance and Bittrex are centralized cryptocurrency exchanges that cater to advanced traders. The two exchanges built their reputations on security, fast execution and listings of more than 100 crypto coins and tokens.
Where Did They Come From?
Chinese-Canadian developer Changpeng Zhao launched Binance only in June 2017. By the middle of March 2018, more than 8 million people were trading $1.7 billion each day.
That success, however, did not come easily. China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency exchanges forced Zhao to move Binance to Japan where regulators threatened to shut it down. After a temporary stop in Hong Kong, Binance found a permanent home on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Zhao explained his reasoning in Binance’s announcement:
“We are convinced that Malta will be the next hotbed for innovative blockchain companies, and a centre of the blockchain ecosystem in Europe.”
A group of software developers at Microsoft decided to create their own cryptocurrency exchange as a side gig. Their background developing enterprise-scale IT security systems led them to doubt the ability of existing exchanges to grow and keep customers’ money safe.
They launched Bittrex in 2014 and by the end of 2017 had nearly 4 million people trading $3 billion a day. The team kept their day jobs through much of this time and worked on Bittrex from home in the evenings.
All four founders now work full-time at Bittrex under the leadership of CEO Bill Shihara.
Supported Currencies and Listing Policies
Neither Binance or Bittrex allow trades in fiat currencies, but they both offer a wide range of cryptocurrencies. Binance lists more than 110 coins and tokens while Bittrex edges out Binance with more than 190.
Neither exchange allows trading between all combinations of trading pairs. Instead they limit pairings to a small number of high market cap cryptocurrencies.
|Bitcoin||125 trading pairs||194 trading pairs|
|Ether||124 trading pairs||67 trading pairs|
|Tether||9 trading pairs||18 trading pairs|
|Binance Coin||49 trading pairs||n/a|
While the large number of listed cryptocurrencies makes both Binance and Bittrex seem less discriminating than other centralized exchange, they do have standards.
Project teams that want to list on Bittrex must submit a support ticket requesting a preliminary review. If the application looks promising, Bittrex will ask the team to prepare a more detailed proposal.
Shihara described to Unikrn Radio the three criteria Bittrex’s listing review panel applies. The coin must enhance the cryptocurrency community in innovative and interesting ways. The developers, advisors and investors involved in the project must add confidence that they will deliver on their promises. Finally, the coin must not be a security or otherwise cross regulators’ red lines.
Fostering interesting projects
Binance actively assists projects as they navigate towards their initial coin offering. The exchange lets pre-ICO teams join its blockchain incubator, Binance Labs, where they get the advice, resources and funding they need to develop innovative projects.
Zhao also created a guide to help ICO projects developing “good coins” get listed on Binance. “I know it’s a bit vague,” Zhao explains, “but every coin is different. In general, we like coins with large user base, proven product, and well-known team.”
The guide goes on to describe what good and bad coins look like. Get-rich-quick and pump-and-dump schemes get weeded out quickly. More disciplined teams who focus on delivering a product rather than promoting the ICO are more likely to get listed at Binance.
Binance also has systems to protect its customers from failed initial coin offerings. When the ICO closes, Binance only releases 30% of the funds to the project team. The team receives the rest of the money over time as they achieve performance milestones.
Security and Hacks
In their previous careers at Microsoft, Bittrex’s founders developed enterprise-scale IT security systems. That experience, relatively unique in the crypto industry, is a big selling point in Bittrex’s marketing. Fortunately, the exchange can back up its words as Bittrex has not suffered a major hack since its founding in 2014.
Binance did get hit by a large-scale hacking attempt, although not directly on Binance’s own systems. A series of phishing attacks on Binance’s customers extracted the users’ credentials. The hackers simultaneously launched sell orders from each of these accounts hoping to drain the balances into the hackers’ own accounts.
When Binance’s automated security system spotted a suspicious spike in trading on the BTC/VIA market, it suspended trading and froze all withdrawals from the affected accounts. None of Binance’s customers lost any money.
Binance offered a hacker bounty of Binance Coin, the exchange’s in-house token, worth $250,000 to the first person whose tip leads to the hackers’ arrest. The company also set aside $10,000,000 worth of BNB to finance future bounties.
Availability and verification
The only country where Binance is not available is China. Bittrex bars residents of sanctioned countries like North Korea and Syria.
As with other cryptocurrency exchanges, the availability of Binance and Bittrex in the United States suffers from the fragmented nature of American regulation. Bittrex is one of the few exchanges able to operate in New York since it has submitted a BitLicense application. However, it cannot offer its service in some of America’s largest states, including California and Texas.
Bittrex requires verification. At a minimum, you must provide your name, address and date of birth for a public records search. A second tier of verification requires a scan of a photo ID as well as a verification selfie. Enhanced verification raises the limits on withdrawals.
Binance uses a three-tier verification system with progressively more personal information required as you move from tier to tier. Simply providing your email address to create an account lets you withdraw up to two Bitcoin per day.
To receive admittance to the second tier, you must scan a government-issued ID and provide a verification selfie. Rising to the second tier also raises your withdrawal limit to 50 Bitcoin per day.
Trading, Fees and Apps
Binance offers market, limit and stop-limit orders. Bittrex allows market and limit orders. Neither exchange allows leveraged trading.
Binance and Bittrex cater to advanced traders, but they differ in how strictly they define “advanced”.
Binance is more inclusive and provides materials to help novices get up to speed.
The exchange also provides two different interfaces for traders of different experience levels. The “Basic Exchange” displays tables of trading data as well as a time series plot of exchange rates.
For more experienced traders, Binance’s “Advanced Exchange” offers a denser layout and much more sophisticated analytical tools.
Bittrex’s founder, on the other hand, clearly wants to focus on experienced traders. Shihara told the Unikrn Radio podcast:
“We’re not looking to be the Fidelity for crypto. I don’t think the average person who knows nothing about crypto could or should trade on Bittrex. We’re more interested in people who are a bit more sophisticated.”
Bittrex’s trading interface lets traders evaluate price trends to anticipate the market’s direction and place their orders from a single screen.
Crypto traders have good reasons to complain about Bittrex’s fee structure. Rather than offer a maker-taker structure and volume discounts, Bittrex applies a one-size-fits-all transaction fee of 0.25%. When you compare Bittrex to similar exchanges, that fee penalizes market makers and high-volume traders.
While Binance also applies a flat fee to all transactions, it is much more reasonable at only 0.1%. Volume discounts on exchanges like Kraken can drop lower, but only for the highest-volume traders.
Binance has positively-reviewed apps for Android phones. A version for iPhones is in beta. Negative comments are just as likely to be forms of feature requests rather than true complaints about the app. The app only quotes prices in Bitcoin, for example, rather than in US dollars or other fiat currency.
Bittrex does not offer mobile apps.
Customer Support and Community
Both Bittrex and Binance offer comprehensive self-support sites as well as ticket-based customer service centers. Neither offers telephone support.
Binance takes things farther by actively fostering its trading community. The Binance Angels program, for example, encourages experienced members to help novices get up to speed on everything crypto. In exchange, the Angels get access to meetups, gifts, and sessions with Binance’s leadership team.
Bittrex’s founders want to integrate with the traditional financial system and have taken steps to reassure US regulators that the exchange plays by the rules. In late 2017, Bittrex hired two Washington insiders to help foster better relationships with the regulators.
John Roth is Bittrex’s chief compliance and ethics officer. Roth is a former inspector general for the US Department of Homeland Security and a former special counsel with the US Department of Justice where he focused on money laundering.
The other hire was Bittrex’s chief strategy officer, Kiran Raj. A former deputy general counsel at the Department of Justice, Raj was most recently a partner at O’Melveny & Myers.
The two legal experts penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which they explained why they moved from government service to the cryptocurrency industry:
“We maintain the simple belief that we can help the industry develop in a way that benefits the U.S. economy and protects this country’s security interests.”
Making regulation impossible
Binance’s Zhao accepts the need for regulation, but has a different view of what cryptocurrency exchanges should be. He wants to turn Binance into a truly decentralized exchange by running all of the trades on a blockchain-based infrastructure.
The centralization model Binance runs on now has important benefits. Running all of the trades on dedicated servers ensures that trades complete quickly. Historically, blockchain-based systems have only been able to process a few thousand transactions per second — significantly less than the millions of transactions per second a large exchange generates.
Migrating to a decentralized model, however, would offer several benefits. A centralized system runs on servers where software processes transaction and records all exchanges between clients. Those servers will always be vulnerable to hacking, phishing and embezzlement. Using a blockchain to process the transactions eliminates those risks and makes an exchange more secure.
Breaking free of the centralized model will also make Binance less of a target for regulators. In a truly decentralized model, there is nobody in charge just as nobody is “in charge” of Bitcoin. The exchange’s global community makes decisions about coin listings and features through a consensus model. With nobody to go after, the theory goes, regulators will focus on easier targets.
Side-by-side, both Bittrex and Binance look very similar with their large listings and advanced interfaces. It’s in the small details where you’ll find reasons to choose on over the other.
There’s a disconnect between Bittrex’s focus on “sophisticated” traders and its features. Leverage is not an option and the 0.25% transaction fee is much higher than at Binance and most other advanced exchanges. Though not the lowest in the industry, Binance’s transaction fees will be attractive to all but the highest-volume traders.
In addition, the company gives back to the cryptocurrency community. On the supply side, programs like Binance Labs help worthy crypto projects develop innovative projects. On the demand side, simpler interfaces and the Binance Angels program make the world of crypto trading less intimidating to newcomers.
Most people looking at the Binance vs Bittrex matchup will choose Binance for its many coins and tokens, its affordability and commitment to the crypto community.