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NDAX Review

NDAX.IO Review: Promising Canadian Exchange with Low Trading Volumes

NDAX in Brief

Canada’s newest crypto exchange, Calgary-based NDAX, quietly opened its doors two months ago. Only available to Canadians, the exchange supports advanced order types and lets you trade in five cryptocurrencies as well as the Canadian dollar. The only catch is that NDAX is so new, there aren’t a lot of traders on the exchange.

The question Canadian crypto enthusiasts need to ask themselves is should you take the time to kick the tires or wait until NDAX ramps up its business? This NDAX review will tell you what you need to know.

One note: This review is about Canada’s NDAX.io which should not be confused with India’s NDAX.in

Pros

  • Supports bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, litecoin and ripple.
  • Supports Canadian dollars.
  • Quick verification gets you trading in minutes.
  • Canadians only.
  • Many order options.

Cons

  • Canadians only.
  • Low trading volumes due to small customer base.
  • No margin trading.

Visit NDAX

What is NDAX?

Calgary home of NDAX
Source: Pixabay

History

NDAX — short for National Digital Asset Exchange — is a recently-launched custodial cryptocurrency exchange based out of Calgary. The exchange started accepting new customers at the end of May 2018, but has not aggressively marketed itself in the Canadian crypto community.

In the press release announcing its launch, NDAX explained the go-slow approach:

“The soft launch is a planned strategy to put NDAX’s platform through a stress test and identify areas of improvement before officially going live.”

NDAX received a politely positive reaction from the r/BitcoinCA subreddit. A handful of people tested the waters and confirmed the company’s claims for instant verification and easy deposits.

CoinCards, a bitcoin gift card company, responded to another r/BitcoinCA question by highly recommending NDAX. CoinCards added that the most important aspect of NDAX’s business strategy is its solid banking relationship:

“This is huge, they are banked, by a bank who knows what they are doing and are OK with it. They have made sure to start from the banking relationship up and this has helped them be able to operate without friction, which is something ALL crypto companies should be given the oppurtunity [sic] for.”

Leadership and investors

You won’t find much information online about NDAX or its leadership.

  • Bilal Hammoud, Founder and Chief Executive Officer: Hammoud’s most recent job was managing projects at Canadian construction firm Volker Stevin.
  • Omar Abbas, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer: Abbas held investment management positions at TD and at the Royal Bank of Canada’s investment management division.
  • Hussein Hammoud, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer: Hammoud has a seventeen year career in full stack software development.
  • Julia Baranovskaya, Chief Compliance Officer: Baranovskaya has worked for Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and most recently at AltaCorp Capital.

Protecting customers’ coins

Legal and regulatory compliance

As with other Canadian exchanges, NDAX is registered with FINTRAC, the Financial Transactions and Reports and Analysis Centre of Canada.

Coin listing policies

Only two months after opening, it’s too early to expect NDAX to provide a thorough explanation of their listing policies. The support site refers any projects interested in listing on the exchange to contact NDAX customer support.

Network security

NDAX keeps 98% of customers’ digital assets in offline multi-signature cold wallets. The seven members of NDAX’s management team each have hardware security modules. Only in the presence of 4 of those 7 modules will the cold wallet system allow assets to be moved in or out.

The remaining 2% of customers’ digital assets are kept in hot wallets to fulfill withdrawal requests.

The Canadian dollar balances of all of NDAX’s customers are kept in an insured Canadian bank. This is a segregated account and untouchable for use in the exchange’s day-to-day operations.

All customers are required to activate 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) when they open their account. Rather than rely on less secure SMS notifications, all 2FA validation must be done through the Google Authenticator app. Customers have the option to activate 2FA for specific actions like generating a withdrawal.

Vulnerability Rewards Program

NDAX conducts its own internal vulnerability audits and hires an outside firm to conduct more intense tests of the exchange’s security system. To get even more people pushing the system, NDAX created a bounty program called the Vulnerability Rewards Program (VRP). The rewards for eligible reports start at $100 and scale up based on the seriousness of the bug.

Customer support

NDAX community forum
Source: NDAX

Customers looking for self-help options can turn to the well-documented NDAX Support Center. For more account-specific support, NDAX operates an email-based support system.

The NDAX Community is a user forum within the NDAX website where customers can discuss their experiences. The forum is still empty, which isn’t surprising given how new the exchange is.

NDAX also maintains its own subreddit at r/NDAX where it posts announcements. So far, there have only been a handful of customer questions.

NDAX reputation

It’s early days still at NDAX, so the exchange doesn’t have much of a reputation, good or bad. The strongest endorsement NDAX has received was the CoinCard comment mentioned earlier.

How to Join NDAX

Who can join?

Only Canadians over the age of 18 who pass the verification process may trade on NDAX.

Verification

In order to comply with FINTRAC anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations, NDAX requires all individual and business customers to go through its verification process.

Individual accounts

NDAX can process customer verification requests relatively quickly by sending the customer’s name, address, date of birth and phone number to Equifax. This basic verification is nearly instant and lets customer deposit start trading right away.

Enhanced verification comes into play in two scenarios. First, should something not work out in the basic verification, for example, if the customer does not have an established credit history, then a more thorough check has to be carried out. Second, customers who go through enhanced verification can withdraw more coins and fiat each day.

To get enhanced verification, customers must upload scans of their Canadian driver’s license or passport as well as scans of a utility bill or other proof of Canadian residence. NDAX’s verification team may take up to three business days to complete the process.

Business accounts

NDAX requires extensive background materials from potential business customers in order to comply with FINTRAC KYC regulations. A business that wants to set up an account on NDAX must provide company information as well as copies of its articles of incorporation, a certificate of corporate status, and a copy of corporate bylaws. Finally, it must provide detailed profiles of all directors and major shareholders.

What Can You Trade on NDAX?

NDAX future apps
Source: NDAX

Cryptocurrencies

NDAX supports 5 cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, litecoin and ripple.

The NDAX homepage also lists neo and stellar and the Fee Schedule page lists EOS. At the time of publication, none of these coins appear in the trading interface. Presumably, these coins are set up internally and will go live as trading volumes on NDAX increase.

Fiat currencies

The only fiat currency NDAX supports is the Canadian dollar.

Exchanging currencies

The trading interface supports market, limit and advanced order options between the Canadian dollar and bitcoin, ether, litecoin and ripple. You can also trade bitcoin with bitcoin cash.

Advanced trading

Besides the standard market and limit orders, NDAX supports several advanced order types:

  • Fill-or-kill orders: cancels large orders if they cannot be filled immediately.
  • Stop orders: as prices fall, stop orders set a threshold below which an order will fill.
  • Stop-limit orders: sets a lower limit for stop orders.
  • Trailing-stop orders: as prices hit their peak, sets a price distance prices must fall before an order fills.

The exchange does not let you borrow funds to place margin orders.

Trading Tools and Fees

Trading interface

NDAX’s trading interface offers the same features as many other centralized exchanges with time series charts, order book, and order entry forms.

NDAX's trend charts
Source: NDAX

The time series charting tool lets you apply more than 50 indicators to analyze market trends. The snapshot tool generates a URL to a screenshot of the chart so you can download it later. You can also customize the chart’s appearance and bar/line types.

NDAX's trend charts
Source: NDAX

As you can see from the stair-step nature of the bitcoin-dollar trading history, activity on the exchange is not very high. That’s to be expected from a new exchange that is not actively recruiting.

Mobile app support

NDAX will not release its mobile apps until after the soft launch sometime in the summer of 2018.

Deposits and withdrawals

NDAX limits the amount customers can withdraw each day. Customers with the basic verification are capped at 2 bitcoins or the equivalent in whichever currency they want to pull from the exchange. Enhanced verification customers can withdraw up to 10 bitcoins per day or the equivalent.

Fiat currencies

NDAX will waive all deposit fees during 2018. Once the new year arrives, there will be a $10 charge for Interac, bank draft and certified cheque deposits. Wire transfer deposits will cost $50.

Each withdrawal via direct deposit or EFT will cost $25. Wire transfers trigger a higher $50 fee.

Digital currencies

In addition to the maximum daily withdrawal limit defined by your verification level, NDAX sets minimum withdrawal limits for all cryptocurrencies. Litecoin withdrawals, for example, must be at least 0.05 LTC.

Withdrawal fees also apply to all cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin withdrawals, for example, will cost you 0.001 BTC.

Transaction fees

NDAX has a flat maker/taker fee structure. Market makers do not pay transaction fees, but market takers pay a 0.3% fee. Although the fee structure is a great deal for market makers, that 0.3% taker fee is on the high side for custodial exchanges. Fellow Canadian trading platform Einstein Exchange, for example, only charges 0.25% (although both makers and takers must pay that fee). A large international exchange like Binance only charges 0.1%.

NDAX’s fees seem more reasonable when compared to QuadrigaCX’s steep 0.5% trading fee.

Affiliate program

NDAX offers an affiliate program that lets people earn money on the trading fees that their conversions generate on the exchange. The 10% commissions get paid on the first of each month.

Final Word

NDAX is changing the game for Canada’s crypto industry from its home base in Calgary. This newcomer to the Canadian exchange landscape offers a solid selection of popular coins, a good relationship with a bank (imagine that!) as well as advanced order options.

The only weaknesses to the service won’t last long. You can’t download mobile apps right now. There aren’t a lot of traders on the exchange. And its web interface has some aesthetic challenges. NDAX should resolve these minor issues once it emerges from soft launch mode.

For new traders

Novices may be better off waiting for business at NDAX to ramp up. Getting up to speed on cryptocurrency trading can seem daunting enough as it is. Why make things more complicated by joining a new exchange with limited trading volume?

Once NDAX gets through its early growing pains, however, new crypto traders ought to give the exchange serious consideration. Support for fiat, quick verification and easy market orders should make NDAX a good place to build your trading experience.

For advanced traders

There may be a few echoes in the room right now. But trading volumes at NDAX will increase as more Canadian crypto traders find out about the exchange. This is one of the few exchanges that accepts Canadian dollar deposits and offers advanced order types.

In the long run, NDAX makes a compelling case for experienced traders who prefer a Canadian exchange over the international exchanges. In the short run, the low trading volume on the NDAX exchange could create arbitrage opportunities for sharp-eyed traders.

Christopher Casper

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