QuadrigaCX has given Canadians an easy on-ramp to the crypto world since 2013. With only a limited number of altcoins and trading options, however, QuadrigaCX can’t serve traders with more advanced skills.
In this guide, we will show you the top nine QuadrigaCX alternatives to get more out of your crypto trading.
QuadrigaCX: Safe Training Ground?
QuadrigaCX benefited from the failure of other less well-run crypto exchanges within months of its opening in 2013. Japan’s Mt.Gox was the largest bitcoin exchange in the world at the time. So when hackers stole half a billion dollars of bitcoin in 2014, people needed someplace else to trade — someplace they could trust.
In an article QuadrigaCX distributed to the media, founder and CEO Gerald Cotten said “People like the fact we’re located in Canada and know where their money is going.”
Almost exactly a year later, in early 2015, fellow Canadian exchange CAVIRTEX shut its doors. Coindesk reported at the time that security breaches compromised its customers’ passwords and 2-factor authentication secrets. In addition, problems with CAVIRTEX’s banks made it difficult for the exchange’s customers to withdraw their fiat currency.
Once again, Canadian crypto traders sought an exchange they could trust. Eight months later, QuadrigaCX announced it had become Canada’s largest crypto trading platform. Reinforcing his company’s position as a trusted platform, Cotten said:
“This success is a direct result of our focus on reliability, security and overall user experience – all of which are critical components for Internet-based FinTech services.”
Too easy to outgrow
Back in 2015, QuadrigaCX had a compelling story to tell its customers. Canadians could fund their accounts with Canadian dollars. Interac integration meant instant transfers from their bank accounts. The exchange’s bitcoin trading options included market and limit orders.
QuadrigaCX used to support Vancouver-area bitcoin traders by facilitating local meetups. The exchange was deploying networks of bitcoin ATMs and had a program for retailers that wanted to accept bitcoin. At one point, QuadrigaCX even let customers cash out their cryptocurrency holdings by shipping them bars of gold.
Now compare the snapshot from 2015 above to this screen grab of QuadrigaCX’s site today.
The merchant platform, ATMs and local meetups are all gone. As far as crypto trading goes, not much has changed. QuadrigaCX now offers markets in ether, litecoin and bitcoin cash. Otherwise, the trading experience has not evolved much in the past three years.
Even worse, QuadrigaCX damaged its reputation as a secure, trusted platform for crypto trading. The exchange announced on Reddit that it had botched a software upgrade and lost “a significant sum of ether”. ETHNews reported one estimate that the error cost QuadrigaCX more than 67,000 ether — worth $14 million at the time.
Other Canadian exchanges offer services similar in scope to QuadrigaCX. So where does that leave Canadian traders who want more? International exchanges offer many more altcoins and more sophisticated trading tools — even leveraged trading. But which ones can you trust? Here are some options worth checking out.
Before leaving Canada…
Something Canadians need to consider before jumping to these QuadrigaCX alternatives is the state of crypto regulations in Canada. Laws that haven’t gone into force yet will require foreign exchanges with Canadian customers to register with FINTRAC.
For some exchanges, like Bittrex and Poloniex, this requirement will be little different than what they already do in the United States.
Other exchanges, like OKEx, won’t serve the American market because they don’t want to deal with the regulations. Once FINTRAC requires registration in Canada, these exchanges may ask Canadian customers to leave.
Best options for altcoin variety
There are hundreds of legitimate altcoins and tokens beyond the limited selection QuadrigaCX offers. These six exchanges pride themselves on offering a wide selection of altcoins.
Binance got its start in China but moved to Malta after China cracked down on crypto exchanges. This is an exchange that does not have much of a track record — it only opened its doors in mid-2017. By the Spring of 2018, after the markets had cooled, Binance still had nearly 8 million users and a $1.7 billion daily trading volume.
Altcoin selection is one of the reasons for Binance’s success. The exchange has more than 110 cryptocurrencies trading across markets in bitcoin, ether and tether. Binance claims to apply rigorous standards when considering altcoins to list. “In general, we like coins with large user base, proven product, and well-known team,” company founder Changpeng Zhao wrote on LinkedIn.
Binance does not accept fiat currency.
You can place market orders through the Binance web app and its mobile app. Limit, stop-loss, and stop-limit orders are available through the web only.
Binance’s fee structure does not reward high-volume traders. At a flat 0.1%, however, the fees are fairly competitive.
Bisq took an innovative approach to designing its trading platform. Rather than mimic the fiat world’s centralized exchanges, Austrian founder Manfred Karrer created a decentralized, peer-to-peer trading platform. When announcing the platform’s launch, with the original “Bitsquare” name, Karrer said:
“Bitsquare is designed for those who want to exchange a national currency for bitcoin and do not want to forfeit control or privacy to a central authority in order to trade with other individuals.”
Bisq, as it’s now called, is a totally decentralized peer-to-peer software platform that helps traders exchange crypto. Bisq does not hold customers’ assets or even their email addresses. There is no verification process to go through.
More than 70 altcoins are available to trade in the bitcoin market. Although Bisq has markets for dash, dogecoin and litecoin, they are not very popular.
You can make fiat trades for crypto as long as you can find a trader who wants to sell crypto for the fiat in your bank account. Canadian dollars transactions are processed through Interac transfers directly to the trader.
Bisq uses a complicated equation to calculate trading fees. The difference between the offer price and the market price, the size of the trade and whether you’re the maker or the taker all go into determining who pays how much.
Trading is only possible through the Bisq desktop apps for Linux, macOS, Windows. There are no mobile apps or web-based trading systems.
Former Microsoft and Amazon employees used their experience in building secure, scalable software platforms to create Bittrex. During 2017, trading volumes on the exchange peaked at more than $3 billion without a single glitch in Bittrex’s trading platform.
Because it’s an American trading platform, Bittrex requires verification. Providing name, address and date of birth will suffice for most of its customers. More advanced traders, on the other hand, will want to upload scans of their ID to unlock higher withdrawal limits and other features.
More than 190 altcoins are available to trade in Bittrex’s bitcoin market, 64 on the ether market and a little more than a dozen on the tether market. Bittrex does not support fiat trading.
If Bittrex has a weakness, it is the high 0.25% fee it charges all transactions. High-volume traders and market makers do not get any discounts.
New Zealand’s Cryptopia is one of the smaller exchanges on this list. What it lacks in size, however, is more than made up in the diversity of altcoins the exchange offers.
The web-based trading platform is available worldwide. The three-tier verification process unlocks higher withdrawal limits as you provide more identity information.
Cryptopia offers more altcoins than any other exchange on this list. You’ll find 400 of them in the bitcoin, dogecoin and litecoin markets. Cryptopia’s markets in tether and its in-house token are much less popular and only support a few dozen coins. Fiat deposits are not possible.
All trades incur a flat 0.2% transaction fee.
Changelly hangs its hat on simplicity and convenience. Originally a part of MinerGate, a crypto mining pool, the exchange was spun off as an independent service in 2016. Changelly acts as your agent rather than operate as a centralized exchange. The service scans exchanges like Poloniex and Kraken and then makes the trade on your behalf.
The web-based trading platform (there are no mobile apps) is available worldwide. All you have to do to sign up is provide an email address or social media account. There is no verification process for crypto-to-crypto exchanges.
Changelly supports more than 90 cryptocurrencies and lets you trade any altcoin for any other altcoin. Although Changelly lets you buy bitcoin with a credit card (US dollar and euro payments only), you cannot trade fiat currencies.
The speed and convenience that Changelly offers come at a price. All transactions incur a steep 0.5% fee.
If your interest in altcoins is based on a long-term strategy, then ShapeShift is a nice complement to your existing QuadrigaCX account.
Available as a web service as well as on mobile, ShapeShift is a non-custodial service that does not collect personal information. There is no verification process.
ShapeShift lets you trade between any of more than 50 cryptocurrencies, but you can’t trade fiat currencies.
As with Changelly, the simplicity and convenience ShapeShift offers comes at a price. The service bakes a 0.5% commission into the spread in its exchange rates.
Best options for advanced trading
If you’re more concerned with the speculative side of crypto trading, these three exchanges offer more advanced trading tools as well as leveraged trading.
Founded in 2012, Bitfinex is one of the oldest exchanges in the crypto world. Despite early issues with system outages and a number of hacks, it remains a popular place for crypto traders. CoinMarketCap recently ranked the exchange 12th with more than $200 million in daily trading volume.
The mobile and web-based service only requires verification if you want to trade fiat currencies.
The bitcoin, US dollar and ether markets on Bitfinex have more than 70 trading pairs. The euro, British pound and Japanese Yen markets, however, only support about half a dozen trading pairs each.
As you would expect from an exchange that serves advanced traders, Bitfinex has a maker-taker fee structure that starts at a low 0.1% (maker) or 0.2% (taker). High-volume traders pay even less.
Traders on Bitfinex are able to manage their risk with half a dozen tools that go beyond simple limit and market orders. Algorithmic trading is also supported, including partially hidden iceberg orders.
Bitfinex offers a peer-to-peer lending program to support leveraged trading. Risk-tolerant traders who want to maximize their returns can place trades with up to 3.3X leverage.
Hong Kong-based OKEx is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world with daily trading volumes regularly approaching $1 billion. Behind-the-scenes drama of executive turnover and recent attempts by users to manipulate the market have not dampened the exchange’s popularity.
With very limited mobile features, OKEx is primarily a web-based service available in more than 100 countries. A tiered verification process unlocks progressively higher limits on the size of your trades.
OKEx lists more than 120 cryptocurrencies with trading in markets for bitcoin, ether, tether and bitcoin cash. China’s regulatory environment precludes OKEx from allowing fiat trading. The company does, however, provide a peer-to-peer trading service so its customers can buy bitcoin and other altcoins with fiat.
For more sophisticated traders, OKEx offers index trading, futures trading and leveraged trading.
The maker-taker fee structure for traditional trades starts at 0.15% (maker) and 0.2% (taker) with discounts for high-volume traders. Futures trading incurs similar fees, while leveraged orders generate daily interest fees.
Boston-based Poloniex, the first crypto exchange to reach a billion dollars in trading volume, struggled with its success. The crushing load of its own popularity created service backlogs and delays in transaction processing. Finally, a Wall Street-backed firm bought the exchange earlier this year. The stronger foundation Circle Internet Financial provides should reassure potential customers that the worst is behind Poloniex.
Strictly a web-based service, Poloniex has customers in more than 100 countries. All customers must go through the exchange’s verification process before they can place orders.
The bitcoin market on Poloniex lists more than 60 cryptocurrencies. The ether and tether markets are much smaller, with just a dozen coins listed. The ripple market only has 8 trading pairs.
Poloniex’s peer-to-peer lending system supports leveraged trading in a limited number of bitcoin-based trading pairs.
Poloniex’s maker-trader fee structure starts at 0.1% (maker) and 0.2% (taker) with discounts for high-volumes traders. The exchange charges a 15% fee on the interest customers earn on funds loaned to margin traders.
Clearly, you have options if you’ve outgrown the limited listings and trading options QuadrigaCX and other Canadian crypto exchanges offer. These nine QuadrigaCX alternatives can meet your needs for large listings and more sophisticated trading tools.