There's no denying that cryptocurrencies are a major force in the investment world today. Over the past several years, what began as an experimental technological project with niche appeal has developed into a massive, worldwide trend with the potential for significant profits for investors. For those investors new to the world of cryptocurrencies, the sheer size of the space can be daunting; there are thousands of digital currencies, with more being added every month. Beyond that, investors will need to make many other decisions about how to invest, too, including how to store their digital assets, and, crucially, where and how to transact in cryptocurrencies. In the case of the latter of these considerations, the most popular and straightforward way of buying and selling digital assets is through a cryptocurrency or digital currency exchange. Sounds simple? Perhaps not when you account for the roughly 300 of these exchanges that are currently available globally.
Picking the right digital currency exchange can have a significant impact on the success of your cryptocurrency investments. In this article, we'll explore how to go about selecting the proper exchange for your investing needs.
1. Be Cautious
The first thing to keep in mind when searching for a digital currency exchange, and indeed when considering any aspect of a cryptocurrency investment, is that scams and frauds are out there, and they can have a very real impact on individual investors. Mt. Gox, one of the earliest digital currency exchanges and one of the most popular, collapsed. Others have been hacked or otherwise comprised.
How does one make sure that a particular cryptocurrency exchange offers a legitimate service? First, look for the physical address associated with the exchange. If there is no address readily available, you should not use the exchange. There are many reasons for this. First, transparency is often a sign of legitimacy. Second, without knowing where the exchange is based, you won't have a good sense of the often-thorny legal ramifications of your investments. And third, if your account should get hacked, it is much easier to address these issues with the exchange and any regulators that may need to be involved if you have a physical address for the exchange itself.
2. Do Your Research
When it comes to cryptocurrencies and exchanges, reputation counts. Before you even go so far as to create an account (which should reflect a high level of trust, as it entails a user passing over private information of various types), take time to thoroughly research the exchange you're considering. What do other users say about the exchange? What does the exchange say about itself? Have there been issues with security in the past? If so, how has that exchange addressed those problems? In your search, dig deep; look for potential negative stories that the exchange development team would not want potential customers to see.
3. Go With Higher Security
The harder it is to create an account at a particular exchange, the better. If it's too easy to generate an account, that suggests that an exchange is not particularly trustworthy. What happens, then, if your digital assets suddenly disappear? You may have a much more difficult time tracking down and retrieving your money in those cases.
Regardless of the exchange that you choose, it's a good idea to keep the large majority of your digital assets in an offline storage service like a cold wallet. Exchanges should do the same with their assets that aren't required for liquidity.
5. Beware of Fees and Pairs
You've sifted through the pool of potential exchanges and found some that appear to have excellent reputations, stellar histories with regard to security, and no backgrounds of hacks or scams. That's a great start, but now you'll need to consider how each exchange will impact your investing on a daily basis. Two major factors that distinguish different exchanges are the fees and the currency pairs they offer. Most exchanges will include some type of fee for your transactions; these can be based on the size of the transaction, or they may be dependent upon your level of activity, or, in some cases, they may be unrelated to either of those factors. Learn about the fees and consider how they would impact your investing based on your style; do you plan to be highly active, making some transactions every day? Perhaps consider an exchange with a lower per-transaction fee.
Another important consideration is the cryptocurrency pairs that your exchange offers. Coinbase, one of the most popular and successful exchanges in the world, only offers a relatively small selection of digital currencies for its users. If you're looking for obscure altcoins, you may want to look elsewhere, in spite of the fact that Coinbase is considered to be excellent with regard to security, user experience, and so on. Make sure you're keeping in mind how your own investment practices will relate to the features (and limitations) of any exchange you might use.