Like the world’s most well known Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase, Bitstamp has been around since 2011. It is one of the most respected Bitcoin exchanges in the world and has a number of features that secure it a place among the very best cryptocurrency exchanges. Bitstamp is one of the most respected exchanges due to its track record, trading volume and longevity.
Bitstamp was initially incorporated in Slovenia before moving to London in 2013. It approached the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for guidance in terms of regulation. The response from the FCA was that cryptocurrencies were not currencies and were therefore not subject to regulation.
Following this guidance Bitstamp declared itself a self-regulated entity. A top 4 accounting firm audits its accounts every year, though the exact firm has not been disclosed on the company website.
In 2016 Bitstamp moved its headquarters to Luxembourg. In the same year it was awarded a license by the Luxembourg government to do business in all EU member states.
Bitstamp has been the subject of two prominent hacks. In February 2014, withdrawals were suspended for a week after repeated attacks and in January 2015, over 19000 Bitcoins were stolen.
However, Bitstamp refunded all those affected by the hack. This is to be expected from all of the top exchanges, and the only place where you can’t expect a refund is new exchanges which have no proven track record.
Bitstamp’s security record is actually quite strong, as exchanges are typically under constant attack as well as under pressure to deal with so many new customers.
Bitstamp Advantages and Disadvantages
Bitstamp accepts deposits in the form of USD, EUR, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash. However, the only way to deposit currency without any fees is via SEPA transfer, which limits the market to European residents to some degree.
Bitstamp is a low-fee exchange and the deposit fees are only .05%, compared to other exchanges which tend to be a little greedy in this area, with some charging as high as 3%.
Where Bitstamp can actually be the most expensive exchange is if you are paying with credit card, as amounts under $500 can incur an extortionate 8% fee. If you are interested in paying with credit card, then avoid Bitstamp at all costs.
Like on most exchanges, deposits in Litecoin, Bitcoin and Ethereum are free. Ripple and Bitcoin Cash face a small charge. Bitstamp supports fewer cryptocurrencies than its competitors, Bitfiniex (14), Kraken (14) and Poloniex (27).
The highest trading fees on Bitstamp are .25% for amounts under $20,000. These are tiny fees compared to the other competitors, though the two new Asian exchanges, Binance and Kucoin, are even lower again. But this is a tradeoff, as you are not getting anywhere near the level of security and trust with Kucoin and Binance as compared to a large and recognized exchange such as Bitstamp.
The Bitstamp exchange is not very beginner friendly and is geared more towards traders and finance professionals. The user interface is not as intuitive as Coinbase or some of the other cryptocurrency exchanges.
Bitstamp has large trading volumes, which makes it suitable for traders. For those who are interested in trading large amounts, Bitstamp requires an invasive level of personal information when the account rises above $10,000 or so.
For some reason they ask if customers are affiliated with any other cryptocurrency exchanges or platforms, going beyond what is required of them to meet regulatory procedures. They also, quite bizarrely, ask customers why they used a particular IP address outside certain countries, as well as why they used particular bank accounts.
The Bitstamp customer service team is about industry standard, which isn’t saying much as the standard in the cryptocurrency industry is very, very low. There is no large bitcoin exchange with a fast customer service team, though Kucoin is set to disrupt the cryptocurrency industry with its effective service.
An area where Bitstamp might be ahead of the curve is its verification process, which it recently outsourced to a third party, Onfido. With many other large exchanges it can takes weeks to get verified for no real reason. The verification process could be cleared up with a third party operation.
Many customers of large exchanges fall prey to randomly long verification times, and when they try to complain they find there is no functioning customer service team to resolve their issues. Outsourcing this to a third party is a huge plus.
This is a very recent change, and in the latter stages of December 2017 many users were reporting verification times of longer than one month, sometimes 6 weeks, with no response from the “team”.
It can also be quite infuriating watching the price of coins skyrocket while you wait for a simple verification procedure. Because of this issue Bitstamp cannot be recommended right now as it is simply too much of a risk.
One possible explanation for the slow verification process is that Bitstamp refuse to take on more customers than they have capacity for, while other exchanges take on customers and then try to add capacity with lots of downtime and site maintenance, which is a tradeoff in many ways.
At this time, Bitstamp has very little going for it. Verification times are long, it is not beginner friendly and traders should be prepared to divulge all of their data in the form of a very invasive questionnaire. Its main advantage is that it is one of the cheapest exchanges and it does a tier one job of securing user funds.
Once you do get verified, transactions are generally smooth and quick. And the majority of negative customer feedback has to do with the ridiculous waiting periods, which can be beyond frustrating.
Bitstamp is a large and secure exchange with low fees, and it has a solid reputation. But at present (March 2018) it is to be avoided as you won’t be able to get verified in a reasonable time frame, unless the third party verification procedure kicks in soon.
The site is more suitable to traders and if you want you just want to invest in a small amount of cryptocurrency it might be a better idea to invest through Shapeshift or Changelly, which are beginner friendly with awesome user interfaces.
You could lose between 6-10% on fees, but the price of your cryptocurrency might go up 10-30% in the 4-8 week waiting period while awaiting verification on Bitstamp. On top of this, you could save yourself an awful lot of stress.