With $1 Trillion in yearly trading volume, BitMEX is by far the largest cryptocurrency margin exchange at the moment.
However, a small offering of contracts to trade and issues with the trading engine during high activity periods is making traders look for alternatives.
One such BitMEX alternative is FTX Exchange, a new crypto derivatives exchange aiming to improve on many of BitMEX’s offerings.
Throughout this guide, we compare BitMEX vs FTX Exchange to help you decide which exchange you should use.
Bitmex vs FTX Comparison Table
|Available contracts||Perp. swaps and futures||Perp. swaps, futures, and leveraged tokens|
|Fees||0.075% taker fee||0.075% taker fee|
|Available coins||7 assets||15 assets|
|KYC/AML||No identity verification||KYC required|
|Excluded jurisdictions||US citizens not allowed||US citizens not allowed|
|Customer Support||Fast response via email. Excellent help center.||Quick response via email and Telegram. Good help center.|
Launched back in 2014 and with a $3 Billion daily volume, BitMEX is not only one of the oldest crypto margin exchanges out there, but also the largest one.
BitMEX pioneered the “perpetual swap” in the cryptocurrency space, which is a futures contract with no expiration date. At the time of writing, the Bitcoin perpetual swap on BitMEX is the most liquid trading pair in the space.
That said, although BitMEX is the most popular crypto derivatives exchange at the moment, it is often heavily criticized by a subset of its user base.
The most common criticisms of BitMEX are around its liquidation policy, which is considered unfair by some, and its trading engine which freezes during times of high trading activity.
These are precisely some of the problems that FTX Exchange aims to solve.
Founded by Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency quant firm trading over $1 Billion per day, FTX brings countless new trading products to the table and a massively improved technical stack.
The exchange was born out of the frustration of Alameda Research with cryptocurrency exchanges like BitMEX and OKEx, which the firm trades at on a daily basis.
Although FTX is still significantly smaller than BitMEX in terms of daily volume, it offers some of the deepest order books in the space due to the active support of Alameda Research.
Before diving into the user experience, it’s important to note that both BitMEX and FTX do not allow US Citizens on its platform.
BitMEX purely enforces this policy with an IP filtering system, while FTX requires all users that want to withdraw more than $1,000 to pass an identity verification process.
Aside from the USA, BitMEX also does not allow citizens from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Crimea on its platform.
FTX is slightly less strict by only restricting users from Crimea and Cuba from its platform, in addition to US citizens.
Both exchanges have a very intuitive user experience overall. However, FTX is a clear winner in two key points.
First of all, BitMEX only supports deposits and withdrawals in Bitcoin. This is in strong contrast to FTX, which supports deposits and withdrawals in Bitcoin, Ether, Tether, USDC, TUSD, PAX, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.
Secondly, BitMEX only processes withdrawals once every 24 hours at 13:00 UTC. FTX, on the other hand, enables its users to withdraw their holdings at any moment.
It’s important to note that the way by which leverage is adjusted is also different on each exchange.
On BitMEX, leverage is set with the use of a sliding bar that can be adjusted based on the desired leverage.
On FTX, leverage is set by simply inputting the amount of margin that you want to borrow. Based on the equity in your account, the exchange will then automatically calculate the required leverage.
Although one approach isn’t necessarily better than the other, having a visible bar to adjust the leverage can be more intuitive for traders that are using a margin exchange for the first time.
- Does not allow US Citizens
- No KYC
- Clean user interface
- Does not allow US Citizens
- Mandatory KYC to withdraw $1,000+
- Simple user interface
Available coins and contracts
BitMEX became the largest cryptocurrency derivatives exchange due to its wildly successful Bitcoin perpetual swap contract. However, it is hard to say if that edge will last for a lot longer.
BitMEX currently offers perpetual swap contracts for Bitcoin and Ether, and regular futures for Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, EOS, Litecoin, Ripple, and Tron.
This is a small fraction of FTX’s offering, which includes no less than 15 crypto perpetual swaps, including 3 “Altcoin indices” that enable traders to get exposure to all of the largest altcoins in a single futures contract.
FTX also offers 45 “leveraged tokens”, which enables traders to get 3x long, 3x short, or 1x short (hedge) exposure to 15 different crypto assets.
Some examples of leveraged tokens offered by FTX include LEOBULL, BSVSHORT, and EOSHEDGE.
These leveraged tokens are regular ERC-20 tokens which can be easily withdrawn to an external wallet if so desired.
And that’s not all. FTX also offers so-called “MOVE” contracts, which is a product that enables you to bet on Bitcoin’s volatility.
For example: In the daily MOVE contract, if Bitcoin opened at $8400 and closed at $8600, the contract would settle at $200 (since Bitcoin’s absolute move was $200).
Finally, in terms of leverage both BitMEX and FTX are comparable with each exchange offering a 100x and 101x leverage maximum respectively for its Bitcoin perpetual swap contract.
That said, while BitMEX makes 100x leverage available to all users by default, traders on FTX need to manually increase their leverage limit in the “Settings” section of their account.
It’s important to note that increasing the leverage limit on FTX does not require any additional information from the user and does not come with any waiting time.
- Up to 100x leverage
- Perpetual swaps for BTC and ETH
- Futures for BTC, ETH, EOS, XRP, LTC, BCH, TRX, and ADA
- Up to 101x leverage
- Perpetual swaps for 15 assets
- Offers altcoin indices and also leveraged tokens
Like most futures exchanges, BitMEX and FTX charge 3 main fees: trading fees, withdrawal fees, and funding fees.
Since both exchanges do not charge any withdrawal fees (other than the transaction costs charged by the network itself) and funding fees cannot be generalized as they are constantly changing based on market conditions, we will jump straight to the trading fees.
BitMEX charges a fixed 0.075% taker fee and -0.025% maker fee. The maker fee is noted as negative because individuals creating maker orders are paid 0.025% by the counterparty.
At FTX, trading fees depend on the tier a user is situated in.
Users trading under $3M in the monthly volume are charged a 0.02% maker fee and a 0.07% taker fee. On the other hand, users trading over $100M per month only pay a 0.01% maker fee and a 0.025% taker fee.
Additionally, FTX’s users can use the FTX utility token (FTT) to reduce trading fees even further. For example, holding $10,000 worth of FTT entitles FTX users to a 10% fee discount.
Finally, it’s important to note that FTX charges a fixed 0.10% fee for the creation and redemption of leveraged tokens, and a daily 0.03% management fee.
- Fixed 0.075% taker fee
- Fixed -0.025% maker fee (trader gets paid)
- No withdrawal fees other than network fee
- Standard 0.07% taker fee and 0.02% maker fee
- FTT token can be used to lower trading fees
- 0.10% fee for creation and redemption of leveraged tokens
Security and Trustworthiness
Both BitMEX and FTX have never been hacked and have a highly competent technical team that has security as one of its main priorities.
However, neither of the exchanges has published an official security audit by a third party of its exchange, unfortunately.
That said, with BitMEX having been launched 5 years prior to FTX, it is fair to say that the exchange is significantly more battle-tested than FTX is.
Security aside, both exchanges are also very trustworthy.
FTX was founded by Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency quant firm trading over $1 Billion across hundreds of coins on a daily basis. Further, FTX is also partnered with big names in the cryptocurrency space, like Circle, TrustToken and FBG Capital.
When looking into security settings available to the users of each exchange, BitMEX has a slightly more advanced offering. BitMEX offers IP whitelisting, email verification and two-factor authentication. FTX, on the other hand, only offers the latter.
Finally, it’s also important to note that while BitMEX’s policy of processing withdrawals only once per day is a user experience nightmare, it presents a valuable security measure.
By processing withdrawals only once every 24 hours, BitMEX has the ability to vet transactions manually and filter out suspicious ones that could be related to a security breach.
- Battle-tested for 5+ years
- Founded by an extremely competent team
- Offers two-factor authentication and IP whitelisting
- Relatively new exchange
- Backed by Alameda Research
- Offers two-factor authentication
Customer support and education
Although many cryptocurrency exchanges are known for their slow and poor customer support, that is not the case with BitMEX and FTX.
Both exchanges offer prompt assistance via email, and also have an incredibly valuable help center that answers all the most frequently asked questions.
That said, while BitMEX does offer excellent email support, the exchange does not reply to customer inquiries on social media or chat apps like Telegram.
FTX also doesn’t reply to support related matters on social media, however, it does have a dedicated support group on Telegram.
Finally, one aspect that makes BitMEX truly unique from the customer relations side is its excellent research center.
In this research center, BitMEX publishes periodical (usually, monthly) in-depth research pieces about Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem period.
These research pieces have proven to be incredibly valuable so far for traders, and its a public service that FTX does not offer.
- Customer support via email
- Excellent help center
- Publishes valuable research reports
- Customer support via email and Telegram
- Decent help center
- Actively posts updates on social media
Alexander has worked in community growth for multiple cryptocurrency companies. He is now the Sales and Operations Manager for CoinDiligent. In his free time, he writes articles sharing his industry insights. You can get in touch with Alexander on LinkedIn.