In this Bitbuy review we will take a look at a mid-sized cryptocurrency exchange based in Canada.
They offer a simple and effective way for Canadian users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with their CAD. In the parlance of the cryptocurrency community, Bitbuy is a “fiat gateway” for access to a few of the most popular coins.
However, can Bitbuy stand out in an increasingly competitive market? Should you consider them as your exchange of choice?
In this comprehensive review, we will take a deep-dive on Bitbuy. We will go over their security, platform support, fees and technology. We will also gather the opinions of the Canadian crypto community on their experience with Bitbuy.
With that said, let’s jump in.
Page Contents 👉
- 1 Bitbuy Overview
- 2 Bitbuy Fees
- 3 Is Bitbuy Safe?
- 4 Supported Coins
- 5 Customer Support
- 6 Bitbuy Registration
- 7 Bitbuy Verifications
- 8 Deposits / Withdrawals
- 9 Bitbuy Platform
- 10 Mobile Functionality
- 11 Referral Program
- 12 Online Reputation
- 13 Areas for Improvement
- 14 Conclusion
Bitbuy has been around since 2013 but was originally called “InstaBT”. It was founded by Adam Goldman and Ademar Gonzalez.
InstaBT was created as a way for Canadians to quickly and easily get their hands on Bitcoin. For those who can remember, 2013 was still a relatively new time in the crypto markets and exchanges to easily buy Bitcoin were few and far between.
As the exchange progressed, they decided to re-brand to Bitbuy and included a number of other cryptocurrencies on the platform. However, Bitbuy wanted to expand their offering dramatically and accepted an investment from a private equity firm in 2018.
After the investment, Gonzalez left Bitbuy and was replaced by Chris Ragobeer. They are also joined by Jordan Anderson as the VP of Sales and Marketing as well as Dean Skurka who heads up compliance.
The Bitbuy offices are located in Toronto, Canada. They are actually a subsidiary of the First Ledger Corporation which is a blockchain services company.
The primary operation of First Ledger Corporation is the Bitbuy exchange although they do offer other solutions. These include the likes of digital currency merchant solutions as well as blockchain consultation.
One of the most important requirements for regular cryptocurrency users is the fees that are charged by the exchange. These include fees that are charged when sending / withdrawing currency as well as the fees that one could be charged for merely buying and selling.
When it comes to exchange transaction fees, Bitbuy operates a simple flat scheme. They have two different rates for sell and buy orders on ‘Express Trade’. When you are using this type of trade you will be charged 0.5%. According to feedback from BitBuy this fee will be reduced to 0.2% once they launch with their new user interface in the coming weeks.
These fees are currently slightly above average but they are made up for the lower fees that you will pay on withdrawals / deposits.
If you are trading on the “Pro Platform” (explained below) you will be charged according to a maker / taker fee schedule. If you are a taker you will be charged 0.20% whereas if you are a maker you will be charged 0.10%.
If you were to fund your account in Cryptocurrencies, then you would not pay any incoming fees. However, if you were to send CAD to Bitbuy then you could incur the fees below:
So from the above it seems as if the most affordable method for you to fund your account is with a good old wire transfer. You are likely to get them on the exchange in about the same time as a standard Interac funding will take.
While you can opt for the express Interac transfer, we are of the view that it not really worth the fees that are charged. It merely requires you to carefully plan your deposits such that you are getting the most bang for your buck.
When it comes to withdrawal of cryptocurrencies, Bitbuy says that these are free. This is true but only on the exchange side. They are still likely to apply a network or miner fee to your transaction so you should keep that in mind.
If you were going to be withdrawing your funds in CAD then the following fees would apply.
These fees are actually quite reasonable and are below the rates that are charged by some of the other Canadian exchanges. For example, their Interac e-transfer withdrawal commands a fee that is less than that which is charged by Coinsmart for example.
Therefore, if you are withdrawing Canadian Dollars that is less than $3,000 then the Interac e-Transfer is perhaps your best bet.
Note that Bitbuy is fully transparent regarding their fees, so you can always have a look at this page to verify the current fees.
Is Bitbuy Safe?
One of the biggest threats to exchanges and their users are hackers. We know all too well about the damages that can be caused when a hacker is able to penetrate an exchange’s system. Hence, exchange security is a key consideration for us.
When it comes to security at Bitbuy we were able to glean the following information from their site:
Exchange Side Security
Bitbuy says that they operate a policy of 95% cold storage of coins. This is the standard among cryptocurrency exchanges and protects the bulk of user’s assets from hackers.
For those who are not familiar with the concept of cold storage, it is the practice of taking a wallet off line and storing it in an air-gapped environment. It really just means that the exchange is making sure that the private keys of their wallets are inaccessible from digital threats.
Bitbuy also says that they complete daily encrypted and distributed backups of the data on their servers. This will help them should they ever come under any sort of Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
User Side Security
While exchange security is a priority, the user is often the weakest link when it comes to crypto theft. Therefore, Bitbuy has instituted the best practices in user protection on their systems.
The first and most important thing that we will check for is secure SSL encryption on an exchange. Bitbuy has this as you can see from their SSL padlock in the browser. It is also critically important that you make sure that this is visible when you visit the exchange.
If you ever visit Bitbuy and you do not see the padlock then it is likely that you are on a phishing site and should leave it immediately. However, even if a hacker is able to get access to your password, two factor authentication is likely to protect you.
Bitbuy requires all of their users to enable two factor authentication by default. Whenever you log into your account or try to initialise any sort of withdrawal then you will be asked to complete this. You can either use it as an SMS based 2FA or you can sync it with Google Authenticator.
Proof of Reserve Audit
Bitbuy has recently also completed a proof of reserves and security audit. This is particularly relevant in the fallout from the QuadrigaCX collapse.
Bitbuy employed the services of CipherBlade which is a US based blockchain forensics firm. The key findings from the report are as follow:
- Fiat Holdings: All fiat holdings at Bitbuy were verified by bank statements and are well reflected in their back-end systems.
- Digital Holdings: The sum of the digital assets held in their hot and cold wallets matched user account balances 1:1.
- Background Checks: Bitbuy and its operators also passed a number of background checks. They also audited their cold storage management process to make sure it was above board
It is also important to note that this is not a once-off report. Bitbuy has agreed with CipherBlade to conduct these security checks and audits on an ongoing basis.
It is great to see an exchange engage in such transparency and the ecosystem would do well if more exchanges followed suit.
First 1:1 Insured Bitcoin Platform
In May 2020 Bitbuy partnered with Knox to offer fully-insured cold storage of Bitcoin holdings for all Bitbuy users. Bitbuy was the very first Canadian exchange to offer such cold storage and insurance to their clients, marking a significant positive development for the Canadian cryptocurrency industry.
The move was made by Bitbuy as part of their commitment to best practices in the cryptocurrency exchange industry while awaiting greater regulatory clarity in Canada.
The insurance policy from Knox covers both theft and loss of customers Bitcoin holdings up to the full value of the holdings in cold storage, subject to the full policy terms, conditions, and exclusions.
Therefore, Bitbuy has not ventured into the territory of a number of other altcoins that are being offered by Canadian exchanges. However, given that EOS and Stellar Lumens are relatively recent additions, it does show that they are willing to add further coin support. Hopefully we can see another altcoin in their offering soon. They have promised AAVE and LINK are coming soon, so it does look like the number of choices is improving.
Of course, if you have accounts at other exchanges such as Binance or Kraken then you can always use Bitbuy as your CAD fiat gateway into crypto and use the coins to purchase your choice of altcoins on their exchanges.
Many cryptocurrency exchanges have a reputation for having less than stellar customer support. Users often have to wait days before they get tickets answered or verifications completed. While this has improved recently, there is still much to be desired.
That’s why we found it disappointing that Bitbuy has removed the ability to contact their customer support team via telephone and via online chat. Currently the Contact page on the website and the support article regarding contacting Bitbuy only states that they can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We verified that the phone number for contacting support no longer works, although there is a message there stating that Bitbuy is working on a new customer support system to better serve clients. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if that includes a new phone contact or online chat feature.
If your question is more routine in nature then you would be surprised by what information you can glean from their FAQ section. This is shown above and can be reached here. You can also submit a ticket from this support portal should you be that way inclined.
If you have decided that you would like to try Bitbuy then you will need to create an account and complete their registration process. You can follow the sign-up link here. You will then be asked how you would like to sign up. We chose to sign up via email.
Here you should insert your details. If you were referred by a friend and they did not give you a link then you can use their referral code. We will cover this in more detail below in the referral section.
Once you have given them your email then they will send you a confirmation email. You will just need to confirm the email address after which Bitbuy will force you to set up your phone for two factor authentication. Once this has been completed you can move onto the verification stage.
Bitbuy is also in the process of releasing an updated user interface and promises the following account features:
- A quicker, entirely automated sign-up and onboarding process
- A new “username” feature for a faster login experience
- More 2FA options for each user’s preference
- A new “Gold Account” status
You can get a quick look at what to expect once the new user interface rolls out in the video below:
Bitbuy has to make sure that they are in compliance with all of Canada’s Anti Money Laundering and KYC regulations. Hence, they require all of their users to complete their mandatory verifications and KYC checks before they are allowed to buy coins.
So, unless you send Bitbuy some form of identity and proof of address you cannot use them. However, 90% of cryptocurrency exchanges these days have this requirement so it is not so much of a surprise.
There are two methods to verify your account at Bitbuy. The quickest of these is probably through the use of their instant verification option.
The instant verification uses a third party data collection provider (Trulioo). This third party usually has a financial profile on you. If you can corroborate financial information about yourself with this third party then you will be verified.
If the instant verification does not work then you will have to use a more traditional method that requires documentation and manual checks.
For this manual verification check, you are required to provide a government issued identity document as well as a picture of yourself holding this document. You are also required to provide a proof of address.
Verification Details Required by Bitbuy
There are a number of documents that can be used for this purpose and you can find more information here. However, the most important information that is required on this document is that your full name and address are visible.
Once you have submitted these documents then you will have to wait for human verification at Bitbuy. They have stated that this could take between 1-3 business days to process. This is about the standard waiting time for non-automated verifications.
If you would like to convert your personal account into a business account, you will be requested additional information. Amongst them, Bitbuy might request the business articles of incorporation along with other corporate documentations.
It is likely that Bitbuy may inquire about the nature of the business and the need for a corporate cryptocurrency account. This is why it could be the ideal solution for those businesses that either generate cryptocurrency earnings or those entities that are involved in crypto trading on an institutional scale.
If your business has the need to execute larger block trades with lower spreads / commissions then you can always use Bitbuy’s OTC solution. Over-the-Counter block trades allow for a more direct sale / transfer between the two parties.
Deposits / Withdrawals
Now that you have your account up and fully verified on Bitbuy, then you can make go about funding your account.
Sending funds to Bitbuy is pretty simple. All you have to do is head on over to your “Wallet” section. You will select the coin in question and you will hit “Deposit”. This will populate the wallet box with the deposit address where you should send the crypto.
Withdrawing your Bitcoin is much easier. All you need to do is request a withdrawal on the platform, paste your receiving address and then confirm via 2-factor authentication. Bitbuy will send you the funds as a public transaction which will take time to propagate through the network.
If you are sending / receiving funds in CAD then you can use one of the payment methods that we listed in the fees section. It is however important to point out that those processing times are mere indications and will vary greatly depending on your banking provider.
Bitbuy has two trading platforms on offer at their exchange. These are the Express Trade and the Pro Trade.
The Express Trade platform is a quick and simple way for you to buy your crypto. This is perhaps best suited to beginners traders who are looking for the most efficient way to get their hands on some crypto. Note that these platforms have been updated with a more modern, user-friendly interface as of the new updates to Bitbuy.
Below is the main interface of the Express Trade platform:
As you can see, you can access all of the functionality from this main admin panel. This includes the option to buy / sell and deposit / withdraw. When you buy or sell a coin you are buying at the rate Bitbuy is willing to give you at that particular moment.
We checked the spreads on the rate that we were getting from Bitbuy and the live market rate. There was not really any discrepancy which means that Bitbuy was indeed being honest in their pricing of the coins.
Pro Trade Platform
For the more advanced traders out there, you will probably want to trade on Bitbuy’s more advanced trading platform. This is more like your typical exchange with customer order books matched with an exchange “matching engine”.
There are also a host of other features that they have packed into this advanced trading platform. For example, you have a great deal more charting functionality than you have on the Express Trade.
This is because Bitbuy uses Tradingview charting technology. This is well known in the trading community for being one of the best charting packages on the market. You can do extensive crypto technical analysis with their tools and technical overlays.
The Pro Trade platform also has your standard market depth charts. These are helpful as they give you an overview of the bullish / bearish sentiment in the market. This order flow can also complement the technical analysis that you are doing on the charts.
Something else that we really liked about this platform is the fact that it has “break-out” screens. This means that you can pop out any of the screens from the main interface. Essentially, you can set your own trading layout across your screen.
The Pro Trade “Break-out” feature
Of course, in order to supplement the technical analysis you are going to need more order functionality. Thankfully, this platform has the option to place limit as well as market orders.
Market orders are those that get executed at the Ask / Bid for Buys / Sells the moment that you place them. Limit orders are set at a predetermined price and can therefore be set around important technical / retracement levels.
In addition the the standard CAD pairs that you have on the Express Platform, the Pro Trade allows you to trade the Bitcoin pairs as well.
So, all in all, a nifty piece of technology which could help Bitbuy secure the lucrative high skilled trader niche.
Bitbuy has mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices, and both are highly rated. The only real complaint we found is that the mobile app will frequently log users out, requiring them to re-enter their log-in information. While this is certainly inconvenient, it is also in place for security purposes. In this case we think a little inconvenience is worth it for the added safety.
Of course we realize that mobile trading isn’t for everyone, and if you aren’t interested in the mobile app you’ll be glad to know their website appears to be well optimised for mobile. So, should you really feel the need to access the platform on your phone you can still log in and perform the basic buys / sells even if you don’t have the mobile app installed.
Moreover, mobile cryptocurrency trading is not for everyone. Many of the applications that have been put out by other exchanges have paled in comparison to the efficiency trading on PC or web-based interface.
If you have been using Bitbuy and you found the experience great then you can easily refer your friends and acquaintances and earn a referral commission. This could also be a great solution for those users who command a strong following online.
For the Bitbuy deal, if you refer a friend and they sign up and buy $250 of cryptocurrency then both you and your referral will get $20 for the introduction. This is a great way for them to get a 20% boost on a relatively modest portfolio.
If you wanted to refer people, then there were two options that you could consider. One is to give them your referral code for them to use when you are signing up and the other is to give them a referral link. The latter is perhaps your best bet as it makes sure that the user has indeed signed up with you as the referral.
And for those who are able to refer large numbers of new users there’s also an affiliate program that pays up to 40% commissions on all fees from referred users. Bitbuy prefers the following qualifications for their affiliates:
- Greater than 50 referrals from sharing your Bitbuy user referral link
- Experience working with affiliate programs in the past
- Cryptocurrency or finance related website
If you can meet those requirements you could get a nice stream of income since the commissions are paid on all fees for the life of the user’s account.
While we like to do thorough reviews, it’s sometimes hard to get a full picture of an exchange or service without having used it for an extended period of time. Hence, we sometimes like to get the perspective from other users on the platform.
We decided to take a look at what is being said about Bitbuy online.
Probably the most popular Canadian cryptocurrency community that one can find is the Canadian Bitcoin subreddit at /r/BitcoinCA. Community members will share information not only on the best exchanges but also on other hints and tips for buying Bitcoin in Canada.
Overall, we found that the community was quite positive on Bitbuy. For example, in this thread you can see that most of the users who commented had no issues withdrawing coins from their accounts. This was also during the peak bull run in Jan so it shows their consistency.
Questions about Bitbuy on Reddit. Source: /r/BitcoinCA
What we also found encouraging is the Bitbuy regularly responds to any queries on this subreddit and has at times also asked users for their input on any potential changes they may want to see.
Areas for Improvement
While we did like the user friendliness of the platform as well as the efficient customer service and support, there are a number of things that we think warrant improvement on the Bitbuy exchange.
Firstly, while Bitbuy supports most of the top cryptocoins, there are still a number of coins that we would have liked to see on their platform. These include the likes of Cardano and Polkadot, which have become exceedingly popular in 2021. It was exciting to see that they are planning on adding AAVE and LINK in the near future and hopefully that will be the start of a trend that sees many more coins added in the coming months.
We are aware that Bitbuy is making quite a few changes to their platform and technology as a result of their VC funding. Hence, we will eagerly await to see if these points have been addressed.
Our Bitbuy review was relatively straight forward and it seems as if this exchange “does what it says on the tin”. It is a simple and effective way for you to convert your CAD into crypto.
We like the fact that they have a responsive customer support desk, however it was disappointing to learn that they no longer answer requests via telephone. We also thought that their verification and KYC times were some of the lowest in Canada.
They appear to be a relatively safe exchange and their fees are broadly in line with the rest of the market. While trading fees are slightly higher, their deposit and withdrawal fees make up for it.
There were of course a few things that we thought warranted improvement. However, given that Bitbuy are constantly looking for feedback, it is likely that these improvements could be in the pipeline.
In summary, Bitbuy is a great exchange for Canadian users who are looking for the easiest way to get their hands on some cryptocurrency.
Featured Image via Bitbuy
1:1 Bitcoin Insurance
Full Trader KYC