HitBTC claims to be the most advanced Bitcoin exchange in the crypto space.

They are certainly one of the most established, operating since 2013 with over $6m in venture funding and a $300m trading volume. The team consists of software developers, finance professionals and experienced traders.

For the most part public sentiment favors HitBTC for their simple user interface and high volume trading. However, like any exchange, HitBTC has its positives and negatives that have been expressed by numerous traders.

So, can HitBTC be trusted?

That is exactly what we will try and find out. In this in-depth HitBTC review we will dig into the exchange operations, platform, customer support and security procedures.

Overview

HitBTC is a crypto currency exchange owned by HIT solutions Ltd, which is based in Hong Kong.

HitBTC brands itself as a highly advanced exchange for a variety of Altcoins including DASH, ZEC, EOS and BTS. Their core-matching engine includes superior order matching algorithms and real-time clearing.

They also have positive reviews for their high availability, uptime, and fault tolerance.

Key Features:

  • Rebate system – attractive to the most powerful market makers, creating high liquidity
  • No limits for deposit or withdrawal of digital assets
  • Cutting-edge matching engine technologies
  • Wide range of available instruments (more than 500)
  • The most advanced API on the market (REST API and FIX API)

Is HitBTC Safe?

HitBTC did experience a hack in 2015, but have been mostly secure ever since.

They recommend using 2-factor authentication when signing up to strengthen your account’s security. You can activate it when logging in, withdrawing funds, and adjusting settings.

HitBTC Security

As a precaution, users can choose how long their account should remain active before automatically logging them out (30miutes, 1 hour, 8 hours, 1-7 days, or never).

AML/KYC processes are also enforced. To verify, users have to email compliance@hitbtc.com with the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Bank account information (in case you want to deposit and withdraw fiat)
  4. Supporting documents (color copies)
  5. Identity Document (passport/ID card/driving license)
  6. Proof of residence
  7. Proof of bank account ownership

HitBTC uses cold storage to secure the majority of its funds, and relies on advanced encryption technology to prevent important information from being hacked. Email notifications are also sent when your account is accessed from a different IP address.

Under the security tab, you can choose to ‘terminate all sessions’ if you believe there is someone else accessing your account. The site will automatically log out all your active sessions, except for the one you use to perform this action.

To confirm if there was a hack, you can view your latest activity, which records when you logged in/out, withdrew or deposited money or changed your password. All this can be viewed in the security tab.

Supported Assets

HitBTC’s provides access to over 300 crypto currencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lite coin, Doge coin, Monero, and USDT.

The platform offers a simple way to add new tokens to their exchange, you can simply select the ‘Add Token’ button at the bottom of their page, then enter your project website, Bitcoin talk and reddit links, email and a general description.

At this time it’s not clear how selective the process is, but it seems like they are trying to differentiate from other exchanges by offering the lowest barrier to entry to get listed.

ICO Coins

A really interesting feature of HitBTC is their trading of ICO coins.

Even before a company that does an ICO releases their tokens on exchanges, HitBTC allows users to buy the IOU’s of ICO coins and store them in their HitBTC account.

This is made possible because they purchase the ICO coins either at presale or during the actual ICO, enabling them to list IOU’s knowing that they can provide the real tokens to customers when the company eventually releases them to HitBTC.

This saves you the time of having to search for new ICO’s, and also allows you to participate in an ICO without the stress of sending money to a wallet address and not knowing if it was a confirmed purchase (or in the worse case, if the money went somewhere else).

This also provides a possible avenue for US investors, who are restricted by many ICO’s from participating, to finally get in early.

You cannot withdraw or deposit ICO coins before the company issues the real tokens. Once they are issued, the IOU’s are converted to real tokens that can be withdrawn or deposited.

Although details of this feature are shown on HitBTC’s support page, the same ‘ICO’ tab in the Instruments box is not shown on the trading screen:

Support Page HitBTC

This may be due to the feature temporarily being unavailable or perhaps discontinued.

On the surface, the ability to buy IOU’s or ICO tokens seems like a positive, but some users have speculated that HitBTC may be selling IOU’s at a higher price to make a profit.

In any case, users should be careful of this offering because an IOU made between a company that launched an ICO, and its token buyers is enforced by a smart contract, whereas a similar agreement made between the token buyer (in this case, HitBTC) and buyers on the exchange wanting the IOU is not.

HitBTC Fees

HitBTC uses a ‘Maker-taker’ model to maximize liquidity while narrowing the spread on their markets. When you place a market or stop order that is immediately filled, you are a “taker,” and you pay a “taker” fee for this.

This is because you are “taking” the price you want right now (removing the liquidity from the books) by buying or selling limit orders sitting on the books.

When you place an order that doesn’t fill immediately (like a limit order), you are a “maker,” who is providing liquidity to the order book, and you pay a reduced “maker” fee for this.

On HitBTC, “Takers” are charged with a 0.1% fee from the trade. “Makers” are not charged with a fee, and instead receive a 0.01% rebate from the trade.

HitBTC Trading Fees

Customer Support

HitBTC offers a support center that features a variety of articles covering everything from ‘Account & Security’ to ‘Legacy & KYC’.

For issues that require users to email the support team, there have been complaints online about very slow response time (taking weeks and even months before an issue is resolved). Most common problems people have complained about are withdrawal delays and inexplicable loss of funds.

Using HitBTC

Before we dig into the finer details of HitBTC, let’s take a quick walk through the signup and registration with at the exchange as well as the steps required to begin your first trades.

Registration

Signing up on HitBTC is a very simple and seamless process. First, you enter an email and password on the Sign-up page. HitBTC will then send you a confirmation email. Simply click to confirm your email address and you’re in.

HitBTC Login Screen

To begin trading, you need to first make a deposit into your account.

Deposting Funds

Making deposits on HitBTC is quite simple, the site integrates Changelly, which allows you to purchase Bitcoin directly with your credit card. You can then send your purchased Bitcoin to the specific address listed on HitBTC’s exchange.

HitBTC also allows you to deposit or withdraw on any of the available coins by clicking the icons displayed in the deposit and withdraw columns.

Withdraw Coins from HitBTC

To withdraw funds, simply click on the icon in the withdraw row of any Coin you wish to withdraw.

Certain digital assets require more information be inputted when depositing or withdrawing. For example, Monero requires a payment ID when withdrawing, whereas Bitcoin and Ethereum only require the recipient’s wallet address.

HitBTC Trading

Once your Bitcoin is in your account you can transfer it from your ‘Main Account’ to your ‘Trading Account’ to begin making trades. You then go to the ‘exchange’ page to view your trading screen.

On the right side of the screen you can view different trading pairs under “Instruments”.

Trading Platform HitBTC

The graph on the left hand side displays the price changes over a period of days, weeks and months.

On the right (highlighted here) the ‘Instruments’ Box is the ‘buy and sell’ box. Here you can choose which type of order you want to make. Settings for market, limit, scaled and stop orders are all included:

  • Market: A market order is an order to buy or sell a given instrument at the market price
  • Limit: A Limit order is an order to execute a transaction only at a specified price (the limit) or better
  • Scale: Scaled order is a set of multiple orders to buy or sell, automatically distributed among the user-determined price range (from minimum price to maximum)
  • Stop: A Stop order is an order to buy or sell a currency once the price reaches a specified price, known as the stop price

A stop-limit order lets you make a limit order for a specific price. When it reaches this stop price, your stop-limit order turns into a limit order.

The bottom section of the trading screen features the ‘Time & Sales’ Box (which includes the 100 latest LTC/BTC trades, or trades of whatever order pair you have selected), the Market Depth Box, and the Order Book box (which shows the prices that people are buying and selling your selected crypto-currency ordering pair for).

Order Books HitBTC

Once you complete an order, you will be able to see it updated in the ‘My Orders and Trades box’ position in the center of your trading screen. You can also visit the “Reports” page, and click on ‘my orders’.

Another unique feature of HitBTC’s platform is the ‘Trollbox’, a live comments section where traders can engage in discussions and speculate prices.

You can also go to the ‘Markets’ page to view all the latest prices and trading volumes of the last 24 hours for the crypto currencies available. HitBTC’s pairs each Altcoin with USDT (Tether), Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Markets Overview HitBTC

 

OTC Trading

Another exciting feature on HitBTC’s platform is OTC (over the counter) trading.

OTC trading allows users to perform high-volume trades without going through the public order books. It means that you make your deal directly with the counterparty without affecting the market price of the coin or token.

This feature is offered via HitBTC’s partnership with Trustedvolumes.com

OTC Trading on HitBTC

Terms and conditions:

  • Each trade must exceed the equivalent of $100K USDT by volume
  • Commission is only 0.1% for OTC trades

 

 

Other Features

While the core trading offer of HitBTC is pretty standard, there are a few other features that HitBTC has offers that make part of the HitBTC trading experience. These are the attractive referral program, the advanced API offering as well as the real time tracking of system health.

HitBTC Referral Program

Something that many exchanges offer is an affiliate program where you can refer other traders and earn a commission off of their trading. Once you choose to sign up to the affiliate program you will receive a custom link that will be used to track your referrals.

What sets HitBTC aside from many of the other exchanges is that they offer a pretty generous 75% of the trading fees that your referral generates on the platform. The most that we have seen on other exchanges is about 50%.

They also have an advanced tracking and link creation system where you can create different links and monitor their relative performance in your affiliate dashboard. There is a minimum requirement for a withdrawal of your affiliate commissions and that is 0.1BTC.

HitBTC API

For those traders who like to code their own trading bots, HitBTC offers a pretty robust and efficient API. For example, the API has low latency which means that your trading orders are executed much faster than other exchange APIs.

There is also a pretty high limit for API requests. They allow you to send a maximum of 100 API requests per second per IP address. One can compare this to the likes of Poloniex which has a limit of 6 p/s and Kraken which has tiered rate limits.

HitBTC System Health

With System Health, HitBTC attempts to be as transparent as possible about how well their systems are functioning.

On this page, users can view key metrics for the system’s performance and availability, including live statistics of incoming/outgoing transactions.

HitBTC Key Metrics

Below are a collection of all of the Metrics that are important for the HitBTC system health (which is in alpha mode).

  • Deposits: Check on the number of users’ deposits in the queue and the pay-in status before you make one.
  • Online/Offline for Transfers displays whether the funds can be transferred between Main and Trading accounts.
  • Online/Offline for Trading indicates the availability to make orders in the system.
  • Withdrawals: Helps to track the pay-out online/offline status, number of withdrawals in the mempool, number of withdrawals in the system, when the last pay-out was done and the average time required to process 100 transactions for each of the currencies.
  • Maintenance status indicates when any maintenance operation is being performed.

System Health is one of the more impressive features of the platform because it allows traders to decide when to deposit funds or make a trade based on real-time analytics about the site’s performance. This gives HitBTC a competitive edge over exchanges that keep their users in the dark about real time performance issues.

The system provides an online/offline status for every single coin that is tradable on their platform, which for traders is a huge relief as it allows them to plan their trades accordingly, and perhaps trade a specific coin on a different exchange if HitBTC’s system is experiencing issues with it at the moment.

What We Didn’t Like

While it seems that HitBTC has all the features that make it look impressive from the outside, there were a number of things that we were less than impressed with.

Firstly, we have to take issue take issue with their customer support. You do not have to go far to find numerous complaints online about their slow response to customers. This is probably compounded by other accusations that they traders have been unable to withdraw coins or having funds missing when making transfers.

This slow customer support is also not ideal when it comes to verifying your KYC documents. Given that they request so many documents, not only do you have to spend the time properly scanning everything but you may have to wait a number of days before the HitBTC team can properly verify them.

There have also been reported inconsistencies between the fees that some users are paying for transfers. Some users claim they have been charged high fees whereas others have had no issues.

Lastly, you can only buy and sell coins that are divisible by 100, 1,000 or 10,000. This is not ideal especially for those smaller traders who want to trade the more expensive coins.

Conclusion

HitBTC is an established crypto exchange that has provided quality trading services since the early days of cryptocurrencies.

The exchange has developed over the years to provide high volume trades on a secure platform that monitors and constantly updates users on the status of the system’s health. As a result, the platform now has over $300m in trading volume.

However, they still need to improve their customer support, ID verification, and withdrawal processes if they wish to stay competitive with other exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, who have trading volumes of $1.6Billion and $250million respectively.

HitBTC primarily needs to focus on resolving these issues, then repairing their public reputation so as to reflect those improvements and restore trust amongst traders who may have lost money on their platform.

Only then could we see HitBTC strengthening its position amongst other major exchanges in the space.

Featured Image via HitBTC

HitBTC Ratings

7.5 HitBTC Ratings

Pros

  • Extensive Asset Coverage
  • User Friendly Interface
  • Robust API
  • Low Trading Fees
  • Generous Referral Program

Cons

  • Slow Customer Support
  • Excessive KYC
  • Slow Withdrawal Times
Asset Coverage
Customer Support
Fees
Platform
Security

Posted by Toju Ometoruwa

Toju Ometoruwa is a Northeastern University alumni who is the co-founder of Pazima, a start-up that provides secure lending options for low-income workers. His passion is to empower communities across the African diaspora through the blockchain.