How to easily acquire Bitcoin on every continent (except Antarctica)
Today we’ll be taking a look at the fastest and easiest way to buy or sell Bitcoin, no matter where you live. In this post we’ll be taking a look at the most reputable exchanges on each continent. If you’ve been struggling to find out where to buy or sell some BTC, then keep reading.
Choosing the right Bitcoin exchange
New Bitcoiners often struggle with figuring out how to acquire their first Satoshis, but it isn’t as difficult as people make it seem. You just need to figure out a reliable solution that fits your personal situation. It is important for everyone to choose the best exchange provider for their individual needs.
There is no such thing as a perfect exchange, they all have their own sets of tradeoffs. Depending on your circumstances, perhaps none of the top 10 crypto exchanges may be a good option for you. Some exchanges have rigid requirements, some block users outside of their jurisdictions, some are more liberal in their policies, with a riskier user experience.
The more regulated the exchange is, means more protections are in place for users, but they are also more rigid in their verification and compliance procedures. Exchanges that are non-custodial have less verification requirements and offer more freedom, but also have less regulatory protections in place for traders.
We’ll be walking you through some tips and tricks before you cherry-pick your exchange of choice.
1. Are you authorized as a customer?
This is the most important thing to check. You need to make sure you’re eligible to trade at the exchange. Some crypto trading platforms might not even be available to you. Most exchanges have a customer verification process where you need to state which country you are from.
If you state that you are from a country whose citizens/residents are not eligible to trade at the exchange, the exchange won’t even let you sign up for an account. Even if they don’t have stringent verification methods, they may still geo block people from certain jurisdictions to dodge excessive regulatory and compliance requirements, costs, or legal headaches.
If you’re unbanked, unable, or unwilling to provide the intrusive level of personal information some exchanges require for verification, then your best bet is to use a non-custodial, peer to peer exchange.
2. Check Deposit Methods
You also need to check whether the exchange supports the deposit method that you want to use. A lot of exchanges do not accept any deposit with “fiat currencies”. This means that you have to fund your account with cryptocurrency, to be eligible to trade at the exchange. If you don’t already have some crypto, you’ll need to find an alternative way to get some, if you want to trade.
Exchanges often do this because adding fiat currencies increases the regulatory burdens for exchanges. They must deal with an array of banking, financial, and tax compliance issues when they add fiat currencies, which can be avoided when only accepting cryptocurrencies. This can be either a positive, or a negative, depending on your use case.
Typically, if an exchange is custodial, (they hold your money or cryptocurrency for you) or handles fiat currency and deposits, their verification process will be more intense. If an exchange is crypto-only, and/or noncustodial, their verification requirements will be less intrusive. Non-custodial exchanges do require a certain level of proficiency with safely storing your own private keys and coins, however.
3. Check. The. Fees.
You might not even notice the fees, and they seem trivial at first but remember that due to the effect of compound return it can generate massive losses/winnings in the long-term. Fees usually consist of the maker fees and the taker fees.
A trade must pay a taker fee if the trade order is matched directly against an order already on the order book. These are trades which take liquidity from the order book, hence the name. Since a taker uses the exchange’s liquidity they pay a fee.
A trade earns a maker fee if the trade order is not matched directly against an order in the books. These are trades which provide liquidity, so they earn the maker fee. Some exchanges are always the maker, so check and see which model the exchange you plan to trade on uses.
A flat fee means it is equally high or low irrespective of whether you are a taker or a maker. The industry average is around 0.25% for takers and slightly less for makers. This means that if you are a taker in an order worth USD 10,000 the exchange takes USD 25 as its fee for executing the trade. But there are also exchanges offering substantially higher or lower fees. Some exchanges charge a whopping 2.00%
Some exchanges have a spread model for fees, which changes in response to liquidity and demand. During peak trading times, the spread fees will be higher than at low trading times. Exchanges that employ a spread fee model, are more common in Forex, or traditional trading exchanges, although they do exist in crypto, too.
Another fee to be aware of is the fees incurred by margin trading, in which a short term loan is issued to allow a trader to take out a leveraged position, which must be paid back with interest. Different exchanges have different rates for margin trading, so be sure to check what the rates are on the exchange you plan on using.
Bitcoin is unregulated and decentralized, compared to traditional financial markets. However, the landscape is rapidly changing, especially with more institutional investors entering the scene. Many governments want to create regulations around Bitcoin. Since they can’t actually impose anything on the Bitcoin software, they are creating regulatory requirements which affect the businesses providing services around the network.
Therefore, it is important to confirm the geographic location of an exchange due to the differences in prices, in some markets Bitcoin trades at a premium. Additionally, the exchange’s location will determine the laws that need to be followed by traders and its investors. This is important because some trading activities which are illegal in highly regulated jurisdictions, may be perfectly legal in jurisdictions that have a lax regulatory regime.
Exchanges to consider from all 6 inhabited continents
Binance is the most popular cryptocurrency exchange worldwide, at the moment. Binance has the most liquidity, and offers a wide variety of trading pairs. Binance has recently begun to offer credit card purchase of cryptocurrencies, and accept fiat deposits and withdrawals. Binance also has a margin trading platform and a decentralized exchange known as Binance DEX. They have a US based platform for US customers, as well. Binance initially started off as an exchange with relaxed customer verification, but they have since transitioned into one of the most demanding in this regard.
Bitfinex is a Hong Kong-based exchange that has been one of the top crypto exchanges by volume for years. Bitfinex has a sterling reputation after making their traders whole after the exchange suffered from significant hacks. Bitfinex offers various trading pairs, margin trading, and caters more towards institutional and professional traders, although it is very popular with smaller traders still.
WazirX was one of the most successful IEO launches on Binance’s Launchpad platform. Since launching they were acquired by Binance and now offer one of the most popular trading experiences for crypto traders in India. India has been a pariah of sorts for crypto traders, since the legal status of cryptocurrency trading and exchanges has been caught in a regulatory limbo, even being banned at one point. WazirX offers a wide selection of trading pairs and access to new listings.
Yellow Card allows anyone to buy with a bank transfer, or ATM card online, and with cash, ATM card or bank transfer from a network of agents, and storefront retailers. With active customers in Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe and several million USD in monthly volume, Yellow Card is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the region as of right now. Africa is one of the regions leading Bitcoin adoption, as many are unbanked and denied financial inclusion.
Luno is one of the more popular exchanges in South Africa, but it also operates in a number of additional developing markets, servicing over 3 million customers in 40 nations. Luno offers fiat deposits and withdrawals and a wide variety of trading pairs. They have offices in Cape Town, London, and Singapore. Luno is a solid choice, not just for African Bitcoiners, but also those looking for a crypto exchange in one of the 40 additional developing countries that they support.
Bitstamp is one of the oldest most trusted exchanges in the world. Founded in 2011, it is still one of the most popular exchanges in Europe. Bitstamp was founded in Slovenia, and later moved its operations to the UK, and then to Luxembourg. Bitstamp serves all 28 member nations of the EU, and also offers a US-based platform. Bitstamp’s selection of trading pairs is not as extensive as other exchanges, they only offer Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and Bitcoin Cash trading, although they also allow for fiat deposits and withdrawals.
While Coinbase is more often associated with N. American crypto traders due to its status as the largest American exchange, it also is one of the most popular destinations for European and UK crypto traders, as well. Coinbase offers a wide variety of crypto trading pairs, staking, custody solutions, and institutional trading for funds and pro traders. Although Coinbase’s fees are higher than other options they offer fiat deposits and withdrawals and many niche crypto services that other exchanges lack.
Kraken is an American crypto exchange, based in San Francisco. It has been around since the early days of 2011. Kraken is a popular Bitcoin exchange with Bitcoiners. Kraken has over 4 million clients across almost 200 countries. Kraken offers support in a variety of languages, and also supports fiat deposits and withdrawals. Even though they are based in the US, they offer service to residents of many other nations, including all EU countries and the UK.
Cash App is Square’s payments platform, it is a mobile app similar to Apple Pay or Zelle, with one key difference. Square’s Cash App is one of the best ways to buy Bitcoin. You can easily purchase right from your phone. Square’s Cash App also lets you set recurring buys, so you can automatically purchase a set amount of Bitcoin, at a regular interval of your choosing. For example, you could set a recurring buy for $200 of Bitcoin every week or month.
Bull Bitcoin is the Bitcoiner’s preferred exchange in Canada. They are a non-custodial option which pioneered the implementation of Wasabi wallet’s Chaumian Coinjoins for all deposits in order to protect user privacy. Bull Bitcoin also offers OTC trading for institutional investors. Bull Bitcoin prides itself on being Canada’s Bitcoin company.
Bitso is the most popular Bitcoin exchange in Mexico, and also offers trading for South American customers with a branch based in Argentina. Bitso offers trading of Bitcoin and 9 other cryptocurrencies. Bitso also has an app which lets its users send peer to peer payments with Bitcoin. Bitso has over 900,000 customers.
Satoshi Tango is an Argentina-based exchange that offers service to many Latin American countries such as Argentina, Peru, Chile, and Venezuela. They also offer service to international customers from every nation except the United States. They have fiat deposits and withdrawals and offer trading for a limited selection of popular coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and DAI.
Buda is another established South American Bitcoin exchange. Buda offers service to Argentina, Chila, Colombia, and Peru. Buda was founded in 2015 and is one of South America’s most popular Bitcoin exchanges, although they are very limited in trading pairs, with only Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash.
Mercado Bitcoin is Brazil’s first and most popular Bitcoin exchange. Founded in 2011, Sao Paulo based Mercado Bitcoin has been the leader in Brazil’s booming Bitcoin market. Mercado Bitcoin has a limited selection of trading pairs, offering Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and Bitcoin Cash. They offer fiat deposits and withdrawals, and the most liquidity in Brazil.
In the land down under, Coinspot is the most popular cryptocurrency exchange. Coinspot has a variety of crypto trading pairs, and also accepts fiat deposits and withdrawals. Coinspot is aimed at beginners who want to start dabbling in crypto trading, although it does have features that veteran traders will feel comfortable with also. Coinspot simplifies the crypto trading experience.
Independent reserve is another leading crypto exchange offering crypto trading to Australian Bitcoiners. As an added bonus Independent Reserve also offers trading to Kiwis as well, with a New Zealand branch. They have fiat deposits and withdrawals, and accept many popular Aussie payment methods. They have a strong selection of trading pairs, although not as extensive as other exchanges. Independent Reserve has a good reputation among traders down under.
International p2p exchanges
Bisq is the first ever, fully autonomous and decentralized trading platform. It is an app which uses the tor network to connect buyers and sellers, who use Bisq’s escrow system to trade in a private and trust-minimized way. Bisq is run by a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) which pays volunteers for their contributions to the platform with money generated by the platform’s fee structure. Anyone can use Bisq from anywhere on Earth, just download the app.
HodlHodl is another peer to peer exchange, which like Bisq, employs an escrow system to allow buyers and sellers to connect in a private and trust-minimized way to buy and sell Bitcoin. HodlHodl offers services worldwide, even to places which are usually excluded from the greater world financial system, like Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran.
CoinCola is a Hong Kong-based P2P exchange. They don’t only offer BTC, they also facilitate P2P sales of other popular altcoins. They also offer a multisig escrow to allow users to safely trade cryptocurrency. They have low fees, a variety of payment methods, and even allow you to purchase Bitcoin with gift cards. CoinCola is popular with Bitcoiners in Nigeria, although the business itself is based in Hong Kong.
These exchanges are by no means the only options, there are many others that are easily found with a search engine. These exchanges listed here are platforms that have a good reputation among traders in their respective regions, they are not fly-by-night washtrading shops, with low liquidity. They are listed here because so far, they have been reputable, up until now.
That being said, always DYOR.
Cryptocurrency exchanges have had a long history of getting hacked, absconding with user funds, pulling exit scams, surprise verification, and other unsavory activities that are realities in unregulated markets. So, always investigate the platform you plan to trade on, before you make a deposit.
Make sure you’re aware of the fee structure, liquidity on the order books, their track record with security and trust issues, the quality of their customer support, etc. Cryptocurrency markets are rapidly becoming more tamed and civilized, but they still have their fair share of similarities with the wild west, even in 2020.
For more in depth information, Cryptowisser provides up-to-date, independent and objective info and reviews on every cryptocurrency exchange in the world. If you found this article helpful, let us know on Twitter, in our Telegram, or our subReddit r/Bitrefill.