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London Block Exchange Review

London Block Exchange (LBX) Review: Easy Mobile Trading and Direct UK Bank Transfers

London Block Exchange in Brief

London Block Exchange is a UK-only, mobile-only cryptocurrency exchange with a listing of nearly a dozen popular coins and tokens. More importantly to its customers, London Block Exchange allows direct transfers of pounds from British banks.

If you’re British and have been waiting for a crypto exchange that deals in pounds, then our London Block Exchange review will give you the information you need.

Pros

  • Accepts the pound.
  • Lists 11 popular cryptocurrencies.
  • Has convenient, full-featured mobile apps.

Cons

  • High trading and withdrawal fees.
  • No advanced trading options.
  • No desktop interface.

What is London Block Exchange?

Mobile-centric crypto exchange London Block Exchange
Source: London Block Exchange

History

In a case of bad timing, London Block Exchange (LBX) announced in November 2017 that it was launching a cryptocurrency-backed prepaid card and mobile trading platform. The “Dragoncard” was going to be issued by a company WaveCrest and combined with a mobile app would connect Britons’ crypto accounts to their daily life in the world of fiat.

At the time, Business Insider quoted LBX founder Benjamin Dives’ comments about his company’s objectives: ”We’ll bring [crypto] into the mainstream by removing the barriers to access, and by helping people understand and have confidence in what we believe is the future of money.”

WaveCrest breaks

LBX’s marketing campaign included the publication of a survey of UK cryptocurrency trading that got widespread press coverage in late 2017. Among the findings, nearly a quarter of UK millennials had invested or planned to invest in cryptocurrencies. “Millennials clearly feel left behind by the old system and are looking at cryptocurrencies as a new dawn,” Dives told The Independent.

LBX’s momentum came to a sudden halt in early January. WaveCrest allegedly violated several terms of its agreement with Visa and lost the authority to issue payment cards. Just about every company offering crypto-linked prepaid cards relied on WaveCrest and had to shut their services down. London Block Exchange was no exception.

The company focused instead on its mobile-only crypto trading platform which London Block Exchange unveiled in March. The company’s blog posts promoted LBX as the United Kingdom’s “only dedicated multi-cryptocurrency exchange for iOS (Android soon)”.

Banking in the UK

Reuters reported a deal between LBX and ClearBank a deal to provide the exchange with UK-based financial services. Citing people “familiar with the matter”, Reuters reported that the deal will make crypto trading easier for British citizens by letting them use British pounds rather than transfer money to a euro-based trading platform.

Neither LBX or ClearBank would respond to Reuters’ request for a comment, presumably because the bank does not want to be publicly linked to cryptocurrency.

Building for the long-term

In July, the decentralized cloud platform DADI announced a deal with LBX to list its DADI token, although the listing hasn’t happened yet. The announcement also outlined how LBX will use DADI’s own distributed apps when the exchange launches its Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

DADI’s CEO Joseph Denne said in the announcement “That DADI technology will be used to power a second ICO after the success of our own is also a pleasure.”

Whether that ICO is happening is unclear, as the LBX ICO link provided in the announcement does not work.

After the 2017 false-start, LBX focused on its technical infrastructure, but now the exchange seems to be revving its marketing engines. The company released the results of another survey that found the number of women interested in crypto investing had doubled over the past year. It also launched a crypto treasure hunt that sent people searching for a Ledger Nano hardware wallet holding £5,000 worth of nano.

Leadership and investors

London Block Exchange leadership speaks
Source: Instagram

London Block Exchanged is based out of a tech accelerator space in the London financial center at Canary Wharf. Level 39 has hosted two dozen blockchain firms including CEX.IO, Revolut and eToro.

You won’t find any executive profiles on the exchange’s website, but the leadership is not that difficult to track down.

  • Benjamin Dives, founder and chief executive officer: After graduating with an electronic engineering degree, Dives became a brand manager at the consultancy Heavenly Group. Dives held a series of sales and marketing positions before launching his own software startups.
  • Jono McLeod, co-founder and chief operating officer: Jono McLeod is a software developer whose career has been in the financial industry, most recently at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
  • Rob McCardle, chief technology advisor: McCardle is a digital strategy consultant with a long career in digital advertising. He advises LBX in various areas of software and user experience.

London Block Exchange’s investors are unnamed, but Business Insider reported in 2017 that they had plowed £2 million into the startup. Adam Bryant, LBX’s executive chairman spent most of his 20-year financial career at Credit Suisse.

Protecting customers’ coins

Legal and regulatory compliance

Even though cryptocurrency exchanges are not formally regulated by the British government, the London Block Exchange is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as an EMD Agent.

The exchange complies with FCA guidelines. Among the requirements LBX meets, all customer funds are kept in segregated bank accounts to keep customers’ money separate from LBX’s operational funds.

An announcement earlier this year revealed that LBX will use TruNarrative’s identity verifcation services. By automating the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) process, TruNarrative will let LBX confirm the identity of customers in more than 40 countries.

A statement from Dives in the TruNarrative announcement explains LBX’s stance on KYC/AML: “We have a responsibility to ensure our customers are who they say they are – and as the grown-up, mature player in the cryptocurrency arena, we want to adopt the very highest standards.”

Coin listing policies

New coin on London Block Exchange
Source: London Block Exchange

LBX rapidly expanded its listings over the past several months, going from 3 coins during the early beta to 11 coins now. The exchange does not explain its listing policies or provide a roadmap for future listings. However, in an Alpha Week interview, Dives did provide a high-level explanation for the exchange’s listing decisions:

“… we look at a number of variables, the most important being the technology behind it, the people and communities backing it, the problems it’s solving, and the governance. We also generally try to avoid the likes of anonymous cryptocurrencies….”

Network security

Beyond discussing 2-Factor Authentication (2FA), the London Block Exchange site does not provide any details on how it protects customers’ data and holdings.

Customer support

LBX has a knowledge base and an email ticketing system.

With a customer based comprised of many novice traders, LBX created its College of Crypto to help people get up to speed on crypto investing.

London Block Exchange reputation

London Block Exchange explains with College of Crypto
Source: London Block Exchange

The company is still new, so hasn’t had time to build much of a reputation. However, a case study on the website of branding consultancy Heavenly gives some idea of LBX’s aspirations:

“the dark world of cryptocurrencies needs a new trustworthy brand”

“Welcome to the pinstripe T-shirt”

Comments on Reddit (here and here) have been fairly positive. Besides some early glitches during the beta phase, redditors have said the experience was fairly seamless. The main criticism is that LBX’s fees and exchange rates are not as competitive with Coinfloor. However, Coinfloor focuses on institutions and sophisticated traders rather than the retail traders LBX is recruiting.

How to Join London Block Exchange

Who can join?

Only UK residents can join LBX. When they do, the new customers have a choice of two membership levels.

Standard membership lets you make deposits, withdrawals and trades.

Premium membership, which costs £10 per month, includes higher daily withdrawal limits, withdrawal fee discounts as well as access to LBX publications and events.

Verification

Because LBX is based in the UK, the exchange must comply with British Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) regulations.

Individual accounts

The verification process requires scans of a proof of identity and a proof of residency.

Business accounts

LBX does offer corporate memberships, but details about fees, the registration requirements and verification requirements are not public.

What You Can Trade

Bitcoin trending down
Source: London Block Exchange

Cryptocurrencies

The London Block Exchange lists 11 cryptocurrencies: basic attention token, bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, ethereum classic, golem, litecoin, omisego, ripple, status and 0x.

LBX has also announced a partnership with DADI and nano, but neither is currently listed.

Fiat currencies

The only fiat currency supported by the London Block Exchange at the moment is the British pound.

Currency exchanges

The London Block Exchange supports market trades between British pounds and all of the listed cryptocurrencies. LBX restricts crypto-to-crypto to base markets in bitcoin and ethereum. All of the listed cryptocurrencies are available in the bitcoin base market. The ethereum base market, however, only supports trades with basic attention token, bitcoin, golem, omisego, status and 0x.

LBX imposes daily and monthly limits on trading volumes based on a customer’s verification status. For example, trades between cryptocurrencies and British pounds are capped at £20,000 per month for people at Level 1, £300,000 per month for people at Level 2, and £600,000 per month for people at Levels 3 or 4. Similar caps apply to crypto-to-crypto trades as well.

Advanced trading

The LBX apps do not allow advanced trading options like limit orders or margin trading.

Over-the-counter trading

LBX has an over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk that lets institutions place large orders without affecting exchange rates. Minimum trade value is the equivalent of £100,000. Trades can be made between British pounds or euros and any of the cryptocurrencies LBX supports.

Trading Tools and Fees

London Block Exchange's App
Source: London Block Exchange

Mobile app support

The London Block Exchange is a mobile-only trading platform available on iOS and Android. The apps provide real-time market data, the ability to make trades, account management and customer support.

Given how recently LBX launched, it shouldn’t be surprising that reviews of the app are sparse to nonexistent. Only 26 reviews contributed to the 3.4-star rating on Google Play. Apple hasn’t received enough reviews to publish a rating.

The most common complaint from Android users has been the inability to paste blockchain addresses into the app. Having said that, the positive reviews from British crypto traders have been glowing for the easy transfer of British pounds.

Deposits and withdrawals

Fiat currencies

You can use wire transfers to deposit or withdraw British pounds between your bank account and an LBX account. Withdrawals take about 24 hours to process.

Regulations require LBX to send withdrawals to the same British bank that was the source for the original deposit. If you funded your account with crypto and want to withdraw pounds, then you must email LBX support to start the bank registration process.

LBX imposes daily limits on the amounts of fiat currency that can move in or out of an LBX account. Those limits increase with from £1,000 per day at the lowest verification level to £2,500 per day, £7,500 per day and £10,000 per day. Increasing your transaction limits is a matter of submitting more identification documents.

Digital currencies

Cryptocurrencies have similar daily withdrawal limits. Deposits, however, are not limited. Level 1 customers, for example, have withdrawal limits of 0.2 BTC per day and 12 LTC per day. Level 4 customers, on the other hand, have withdrawal limits of 2 BTC per day and 120 LTC per day.

Transaction fees

There are no fees for depositing crypto or fiat into your account. Cryptocurrency withdrawals are likewise free, save for a small fee to cover network mining fees. Withdrawals of British pounds incur a 2.45% fee for standard members or a 0.95% fee for premium members.

All trades incur a 0.5% fee. There is no discount for high-volume traders or for market makers.

Final Word

The London Block Exchange provides a unique service to British crypto traders. As the first exchange to have a direct relationship with a British bank, LBX lets its customers trade pounds and crypto directly without having to go through the extra steps and costs of converting pounds to dollars.

For new traders

LBX is ideal for crypto novices. The easy-to-use apps and decent selection of currencies makes it easy for people to get into cryptocurrency trading. If you do need help, the Crypto College provides clearly-written explanations of all aspects of the crypto ecosystem.

For advanced traders

Experienced traders won’t find much reason to use LBX for their day-to-day trading needs. However, the company’s easy pound-based trading avoids the cost of trading pounds into euros or dollars to use on other exchanges. LBX could be a good on-ramp and off-ramp for advanced traders.

Christopher Casper

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