Introduction to Bitfinex
Founded in Hong Kong in 2012, Bitfinex is one of the biggest and longest-standing Bitcoin exchanges, though not without controversy. They have endured a number of major hacking incidents and investigations regarding their involvement/ownership with the Tether stablecoin but in the end have managed to make all affected customers whole and put to rest any doubts about their impropriety.
Bitfinex sees over $120 million in trading volume on any given day across over 300 different trading pairs. While they are a bit demanding in terms of KYC/AML compliance, once completed, Bitfinex offers a seamless trading experience that is in some ways unrivaled by other top cryptocurrency exchanges. We have no problem recommending them to our readers as they are a handy utility for any crypto trader, big or small.
Before getting started
Note that Bitfinex is a KYC-heavy exchange (2 forms of ID required even for crypto/crypto trades) and does not support customers from the following countries:
Registering an account at Bitfinex
Opening an account at Bitfinex will require the following:
- Creation of a username
- Email address
- Creation of password (entered twice)
After entering the following information, you will be asked to confirm your email address by clicking a link sent to the email address provided to Bitfinex. After your email address has been confirmed, your account will be created.
Note that in order to use your account you will need to attach a two-factor authentication (2-FA) method. The 2 different options offered are Google Authenticator and Fido Universal 2nd Factor (U2F). You will need to enter in a 2-FA code for the following:
- Withdrawal confirmations
- Password changes
- API Key creation
- Security settings changes
- Some account settings changes
After setting up 2-FA, you will be asked to check your email one more time to click on a link confirming that you have set up 2-FA.
Getting verified at Bitfinex
Once your account has been created and 2-FA has been set up, the next step will be to verify your account by pressing the “Verification” button in the list of account options in the left hand column of the screen. Bitfinex’s verification procedure is a bit heavy compared to most, but this is because they are absolutely serious about maintaining compliance with the KYC/AML policies of the countries of their users, and also because they care about the security of the funds of their users as well.
While you do not need to fully verify your account to get started trading at Bitfinex, you will need to do so if you plan to deposit or withdrawal fiat currency, and Bitfinex may ask you to perform KYC to prove ownership of your account and funds anyway. Bitfinex will ask you to submit the following information:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Residential address
- Identity document (2 sources of ID required: passport, driver’s license, state ID, other photo ID)
For full verification (necessary to conduct wire transfers), you will also need to fill out a financial questionnaire containing your bank name, account number, along with a bank statement. If you do not plan in trading with fiat currency, click on the dropdown box at the top of the Financial Questionnaire section and select the option that says “I do not plan on using bank wires”. In either case, you will need to provide information about your source of funds as well as a short questionnaire about your previous investment experience.
The final step is submission of a KYC Declaration statement in which you attest that all of the information you have submitted is true and that your identity documentation belongs to you. After submitting this and all of the rest of the verification requirements, the verification process will take between 3-5 days to complete. Upon completion, you will receive an email from Bitfinex indicating that your account is now ready to make fiat deposits.
Making a deposit on Bitfinex
To make a deposit, click on the Menu icon (three horizontal lines) in the uppermost left hand corner of the screen. This will open a dropdown list of available options. Under the Wallet section will be the “Deposit” option. Fiat deposits (USD, EUR, CNY, JPY, GBP) can be made using the following methods:
- VISA / Mastercard
- Wire transfer (referred to as “Bank Wire”)
You must be verified if you want to make deposits using credit card or wire transfer (or Tether). Cryptocurrency deposits require ID verification but not the submission of banking-related information.
How to trade on Bitfinex
The main trading screen on Bitfinex can be found by clicking the menu icon in the upper right left corner of the screen and selecting the “Trading” option. This will bring up the BTC/USD screen, complete with order book, recent trades, and even a Liquidations section which shows positions that have recently been liquidated (across all trading pairs). The trading pair displayed can be changed by clicking on one of the available Tickers in the left column or using the search option to locate the coin pair that you wish to trade. Order types include the following options:
- Stop Limit
- Trailing Stop
- Fill or Kill
- Immediate or Cancel
Many coins can be traded on margin up 3.3x, which means coins can be borrowed to increase the size of your trade by up to 330%. This option can be found by switching the trade type from “Exchange” to “Margin” in the Order Form section of the trading screen.
Another type of trading option offered by Bitfinex is Derivatives which are trading instruments that are designed to emulate the movement of certain coins. These are similar to futures-type contracts and can be traded with up to 100x leverage. A few of the coins on which these derivatives are based include BTC, ETH, and AMPL.
Bitfinex trading fees
For traders who perform less than $500k per month in trades, trading fees are 0.2% for Taker (Market) orders and 0.1% for Maker (Limit) orders. Taker fees can be reduced by holding Bitfinex’s LEO token in their account, with a 15% reduction for holding between $1 and $5000 worth of LEO, and a 25% reduction for holding over $5000 worth of LEO. For those who make over $500k in trades per every 30 days, there is a tiered fee structure for both Taker and Maker orders. For more on Bitfinex’s fee structure click here.
Overview of supported coins
For much of its existence Bitfinex was a Bitcoin-only exchange, but they have expanded their list of supported coins tremendously over the last few years. The full list of cryptocurrencies that can be traded on Bitfinex currently includes about 160 entries across 300+ trading pairs, including many top-tier coins as well as some newer, smaller cap coins and tokens.
Perhaps most interesting is Bitfinex’s commitment to providing support for 2nd layer Bitcoin options, including the Lightning Network and Liquid. Bitcoin transactions using these options are both faster and cheaper than regular BTC transaction, and regular BTC can be instantly converted into Lightning Bitcoin (LNX) or Liquid Bitcoin (LBT) for free.
Trading pairs are backed by USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, USDT, BTC, ETH, EOS, and a few other backings which are not always available.
How to make a withdrawal on Bitfinex
Similar to making a deposit, the withdrawal option can be found under the menu options by clicking on the 3 horizontal lines in the upper left hand corner of the screen and clicking “Withdrawal”. Simply use the search tool to find the coin you wish to withdraw and copy/paste your external wallet address into the withdraw screen.
Bitfinex currently charges a withdrawal fee of 0.0004 BTC for Bitcoin and 0.010701 ETH for Ethereum. These fees are pretty moderate compared to many other exchanges of their size, and the withdraw fee for other coins is usually even less in terms of fiat amounts.
While Bitfinex employs top notch security and is generally regarded as being one of the safest, most professional exchanges in the industry, they have unfortunately had a number of hacking incidents which have plagued their reputation in the past. In 2016, Bitfinex was hacked out of about $72 million worth of BTC — a cost which was indeed passed down to their customers in the form of fund “haircuts.” Customers affected by the loss were eventually compensated but the stigma of having suffered one of the biggest hackings in the history of Bitcoin remains hard to shake for Bitfinex.
In addition to the mandatory 2-FA, some of the security features Bitfinex offers to its customers include email encryption, session customization, withdrawal address whitelist, and customizable withdrawal settings. It is recommended that you utilize as many of these additional security features as you personally deem necessary; however, the greatest defense against an exchange hacking is to not keep a significant amount of funds on an exchange at any given time.
Benefits of Bitfinex (over competitors)
- Huge amount of liquidity for top tier trading pairs.
- Significant number of coin pairings across multiple types of backings.
- Support for a number of different fiat deposit options.
- Large number of account security customization options.
Limitations of Bitfinex
- Not available to residents of the U.S.
- History of hacking events with losses passed on to customers.
- KYC heavy (mandatory), takes 3-5 days for processing.
- Long-running association with Tether (USDT) leading to accusations of improprieties.
Wrapping it up
Despite its aforementioned downfalls and limitations, Bitfinex is a great exchange whose reputation has strengthened considerably in the last year or two. They are known for being a stand-up, fair exchange that is willing to work with their customers to resolve outstanding problems quickly and efficiently. Given their massive amount of liquidity and generally good standing with the crypto trader community, there’s basically no reason not to have a Bitfinex account (unless you live in the U.S. or another prohibited country), as having an account there is a great utility for any serious crypto trader.