Coinsquare is one of the best exchanges that supports Canadian dollar deposits, and it has an excellent security record to boot. The main downside of the all-around solid exchange is that while it does have some advanced functionalities, its focus is not on frequent traders. Margin trading, for example, is not available. Another weakness: Canadian residents are currently the only ones who can use most of its features.
Read on to find out what the best alternatives to Coinsquare are and learn how they compare.
Coinsquare: Solid Overall, but Few Options for Frequent Traders
Coinsquare’s origins story is unique in that its leader is an academic– not a bitcoin hobbyist or a finance professional. Former mathematics lecturer and Coinsquare founder Virgile Rostand was a virtual one-man show during the exchange’s early years. In addition to coding the trading interface, he also marketed Coinsquare and designed its security system.
From those low-budget beginnings, Coinsquare grew to be one of Canada’s most popular exchanges. In March of 2018, the exchange announced that it is preparing to expand into Europe and Canada.
On the plus side, Coinsquare supports several convenient fiat funding options including Interac bank transfers and Flexepin and is one of the few crypto exchanges that allows credit card buys. In addition, Coinsquare lists a handful of notable altcoins, including dogecoin, dash, ether, litecoin and bitcoin cash.
On the other hand, Coinsquare still hasn’t expanded out of Canada yet. Even though Coinsquare lists more altcoins than most mainstream exchanges, crypto traders looking to trade lesser-known altcoins may be disappointed by the relatively small handful of coins that Coinsquare offers. And even though Coinsquare does have some advanced features, it doesn’t offer margin trading functionality.
For more detailed information about Coinsquare, read our in-depth review.
Just a few years ago, there were only a few crypto exchanges that were convenient for Canadians. Today, the rise of decentralized and international exchanges provide a wealth of intriguing options for all crypto traders, regardless of their geographical location.
Alternative ways to buy crypto with Canadian dollars
If you don’t like Coinsquare but you want to use Canadian dollars to invest in crypto, you may want to consider using one of the peer-to-peer crypto exchanges instead. Peer-to-peer crypto exchanges are virtual marketplaces that enable crypto sellers and buyers from all over the world to do business online.
One of the biggest benefits of peer-to-peer exchanges is that peer-to-peer sellers support just about every type of payment method. Many peer-to-peer merchants accept transfers from Canadian banks, for example. Moreover, these types of exchanges are equipped with reliable anti-fraud features like built-in escrow services and ratings systems. And because there is no centralized wallet to raid, peer-to-peer exchanges are not attractive targets for hackers.
If you’ve never used a peer-to-peer crypto exchange before, you may want to start with Paxful. Paxful is one of the newest peer-to-peer bitcoin exchanges and its interface is slicker and more intuitive compared to the competition. On the other hand, Paxful doesn’t have quite as many users as older peer-to-peer exchanges, so you may not find the best deals there.
Like Paxful, LocalBitcoins is an online marketplace for buying and selling bitcoin. Its interface isn’t quite as up-to-date as Paxful’s, but it’s one of the biggest, oldest and most well-known peer-to-peer crypto marketplaces on the internet. If you’re looking for the lowest prices, LocalBitcoins is one of the best peer-to-peer markets to use.
If you’d rather not use a peer-to-peer exchange to turn your fiat money into crypto, you may want to take a look at a retail exchange called Changelly.
Changelly isn’t a peer-to-peer exchange like Paxful or LocalBitcoins, but it’s not a typical centralized exchange either. Because Changelly doesn’t hold onto customers’ funds, it is what’s called a non-custodial exchange. Non-custodial exchanges are considered to be less vulnerable to hacks because their structure makes them a less attractive target.
The best thing about Changelly is that it’s convenient and easy to use. Many funding options are available and all it takes is a few moments to click through the wizard and enter your payment information. Once you enter in your bank card info or supply a cryptocurrency wallet that you’d like to pay with, the exchange’s interface takes care of the rest of the exchange for you. After the transaction is over, the cryptocurrency you bought will land directly in whatever wallet you specified.
Changelly has over 90 different cryptocurrencies on its menu and also supports crypto-to-crypto exchanges. The only downside to using Changelly is the high fees. All transactions incur a 0.5% fee. In addition to that, you have to pay a ten percent fee for using a credit card to initiate a buy. Five percent of the fee is absorbed by Changelly, and the other five percent goes to Changelly’s credit/debit card processor.
QuadrigaCX: the other big Canadian exchange
After the popular Japanese crypto exchange Mt. Gox collapsed in 2014 and Canadian exchange CAVIRTEX shut down a year later, many Canadian crypto traders switched over to an exchange called QuadrigaCX.
The Canada-based company had gotten its low-key start in 2013. Before rising to prominence in Canada, QuadrigaCX attracted attention within the crypto community when it announced that it was the first exchange to register with Canada’s FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada). This, combined with the fact that it supported instant Interac bank transfers, made QuadrigaCX look like an attractive, reliable option for trading Canadian dollars for bitcoin and other crypto currencies.
In recent years, however, questions about the exchange have begun to mount. After a controversial aborted attempt to get listed on the CSE (Canadian Securities Exchange) in March of 2015, four QuadrigaCX executives announced their resignation. The following October, QuadrigaCX stopped publishing its financial audits. This motivated the British Columbia Securities Commission to issue a cease trade order in March of 2016. Approximately one year later, the exchange announced that it had “lost” $14 million dollars’ worth of ether. Shortly after news of the hack broke, the exchange announced that the cause of the loss was a software glitch.
Even though QuadrigaCX has low fees and conveniently accepts fiat bank transfers, the lack of transparency the exchange has exhibited over the past several years is cause for concern.
Better options for frequent traders
As mentioned above, one of Coinsquare’s core weaknesses is that it doesn’t support margin trading. Here are a few exchanges that do let you leverage your assets.
One of the most notable advantages that Poloniex has over Coinsquare is margin trading. Day traders can leverage their gains by borrowing money through Poloniex’s peer-to-peer lending feature and peer-to-peer lenders can earn 0.2% interest daily. What’s more, Poloniex supports over different 60 altcoins. That makes Poloniex a better choice for diversifying your portfolio with up-and-coming coins.
However, unlike Coinsquare, Poloniex doesn’t accept any type of fiat currency payments. In order to use Poloniex, you have to already have crypto assets. That slight inconvenience can be easily remedied, though, by using a peer-to-peer exchange, Changelly or other cryptocurrency services to make your initial purchase.
When it comes to commission fees, Coinsquare and Poloniex are about neck and neck. Poloniex’s commission fees start at 0.1% maker / 0.2% taker. These fees are comparable to Coinsquare’s.
Last year, Poloniex ran into customer service issues– but they weren’t the only exchange that struggled. When the price of bitcoin skyrocketed in 2017, a swarm of new investors became interested in trading cryptocurrencies. But a few months ago, Circle Internet Financial made headlines when it purchased Poloniex. The conglomerate’s vast resources will likely help Poloniex keep up with demand going forward.
Since 2014, the Hong Kong-based OKex has grown to become one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world by volume.
In terms of features, OKEx is similar to Poloniex in that it’s a crypto-only exchange that supports peer-to-peer lending. Lack of US availability prevents Americans from joining OKEx, but the exchange does let Canadian residents use their services.
The main feature advantage that OKEx has over Coinsquare and even Poloniex is that it lists a plethora of altcoins. Over 120 crypto coins can be bought via this exchange.
OKEx’s commission fees start at 0.15% maker / 0.2% taker, which puts it in the same ballpark as Coinsquare.
Bitfinex is an well-known and popular centralized crypto exchange that was founded in 2012. It typically ranks among the top five most popular exchanges by volume. But much like QuadrigaCX, Bitfinex has endured more than a fair share of controversy.
Over the years, Bitfinex has endured a number of high profile outages and hacks. The most notable hack occurred in 2016, when the exchange lost $72 million dollars’ worth of bitcoin.
The latest Bitfinex controversy has to do with an altcoin connected to the exchange. Called Tether, this so-called stablecoin is supposed to be pegged to the US dollar. Researchers from the University of Texas were recently able to “establish that entities associated with the Bitfinex exchange use Tether to purchase Bitcoin when prices are falling” and that “bitcoin prices rise following periods of intervention.” This research has led some to suspect that people connected to the exchange have artificially inflated the price of the crypto coin.
Despite the controversy around Bitfinex, the fact that the exchange accepts fiat deposits and also offers both peer-to-peer and over-the-counter lending services has helped it become one of the highest volume crypto exchanges in the world.
Customers of Bitfinex can deposit not only US dollars but also Japanese yen, euros and British pounds. However, the exchange doesn’t list as many altcoins as OKEx and Poloniex. Bitfinex users can trade around 35 different coins.
With commission fees starting at 0.1% maker / 0.2% taker, Bitfinex’s commission rates are comparable to Coinsquare and most other exchanges that appeal to frequent traders.
Other notable crypto exchanges that are available in Canada
In addition to the previously mentioned exchanges, all the exchanges listed below are also available in Canada.
If all you want to do is trade one cryptocurrency for another, you may want to consider ShapeShift. ShapeShift is similar to Changelly in that it is a non-custodial crypto exchange.
Though ShapeShift doesn’t technically charge commission fees, it makes money by supplying “profitable” prices during the exchange. The difference between ShapeShift’s price and the market price of a currency typically amounts to a 0.5% fee, according to a ShapeShift knowledge base article.
If the altcoin you want to buy isn’t listed on Poloniex or OKEx, there’s a chance you might find it on Binance. Binance supports over 110 different crypto coins.
Like Poloniex and OKEx, Binance is a crypto-only exchange that doesn’t support any type of fiat payments. Peer-to-peer lending is not available, however, and even though its flat 0.1% commission fee is reasonable, the exchange does not offer discounts to high volume traders.
Yet another alternative to Coinsquare is Bisq– a totally decentralized peer-to-peer trading platform. Though pundits have opined that the privacy-focused exchange could “fulfil the dreams of cypherpunks,” the exchange is still very small relative to other, more popular crypto exchanges.
One possible reason why Bisq has yet to take off could be its method of calculating fees. Instead of an easy-to-understand chart, Bisq uses a complicated equation to determine how much commission buyers and sellers have to pay. Variables that affect the fee include the size of the trade, the current market price of the coins involved and other factors.
Yet another all-crypto exchange with a large menu of altcoins to choose from is Bittrex. Bittrex customers can buy over 190 different altcoins. The main downside of Bittrex is the fact the exchange charges extremely high fees relative to the competition. Rather than offering discounts to frequent traders, Bittrex slaps a 0.25% fee on all transactions.
Now that widely accessible and easy-to-use crypto services like Changelly, Paxful and LocalBitcoins have made it easier to make fiat-to-crypto exchanges, the best all-around alternative to Coinsquare is likely Poloniex. Poloniex has good availability in Canada, a solid security record and a number of interesting features that Coinsquare lacks, including peer-to-peer trading functionality and support for lesser-known altcoins.