With cryptocurrency derivatives on the rise, traders are constantly on the lookout for new margin exchanges.
Enter BTSE, a margin exchange with up to 100x leverage focused on offering a wide range of cryptocurrency derivatives products.
Is BTSE the right fit for you though?
Read this BTSE review to find out. Here we compare the pros and cons of the exchange, its trading experience fees, leverage, security, trading products, and more.
What exactly is BTSE?
BTSE, pronounced ‘bitsie’ is a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange that was launched in 2018 as a platform designed to bridge traditional fiat markets with a multi-currency derivatives trading platform and spot exchange.
- Huge range of cryptocurrency futures, including some not found elsewhere
- Regulated by the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates.
- Experienced, public-facing team
- Some futures have close to no trading activity
- Limited customer support options
- Spot trading platform is not competitive with major industry players
The platform is managed by an accomplished team led by CEO Jonathan Leong, Co-Founder Brian Wong, COO Joshua Soh and CTO Yew Chong Quak. Together, the executive team bring extensive experience in the financial technology and systems infrastructure industries and have experience working with high-speed trading platforms.
Based in Dubai, BTSE is licensed by the Department of Economic Development, Government of Dubai and operates under the regulations set about by the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates. As a regulated platform, BTSE is able to offer trading services for both cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies.
Designed to act as an interface between the traditional and crypto economies, BTSE features multiple fiat on/off ramps and offers a wide range of crypto-asset futures products, including several indexes.
BTSE reviews the market regularly to cater to user demand and recently became one of the world’s first futures exchanges to offer Monero (XMR) futures.
BTSE’s spot trading platform typically achieves well over $10 million in daily volume, with most of this attributed to its BTC/USD pair. This is on the low side since other BTC/USD exchange platforms like Kraken and Bitfinex achieve closer to $100 million in 24-hour volume.
Despite this, BTSE still manages to maintain a low spread of just 0.01% for the most part.
With that said, BTSE’s futures exchange is far more popular, with it’s Bitcoin perpetual regularly hitting more than $50 million in 24-hour volume, while its Ethereum perpetual see around $2 million traded each day.
However, some of its less popular futures have limited volume, including the recently launched XMRZ19 and XMRH20 futures, which have almost no activity.
Getting around on BTSE is a relatively painless task since the major parts of the exchange platform can be accessed from the header menu.
Both the spot and futures trading platforms feature all the tools you would expect from an advanced trading platform, including extensive charting tools and a wide variety of order options, such as stop and take profit orders, trailing stops and index orders.
Being a regulated trading platform, BTSE requires that all users looking to deposit/trade fiat complete KYC verification.
With that said, unverified customers can deposit Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Monero (XMR), in addition to three different stablecoins—Tether (USDT), True USD (TUSD) and USD Coin (USDC).
Verified customers can deposit any of these cryptocurrencies, plus nine different fiat currencies, including USD, EUR, GBP, and CNY.
BTSE also offers a direct conversion tool between USDC, TUSD, and USD, charging just 0.3% to convert these stablecoins to fiat.
For those less confident in their trading abilities, or simply looking to test the exchange features before risking any real money, BTSE offers a testnet trading platform, which uses fake money to test the market.
Note that this requires registering again since the real money and test trading platforms are technically separate platforms.
Overall, the BTSE exchange platform is much more intuitive to use than BitMEX, but is slightly less accessible than Deribit—which is widely regarded as one of the most beginner-friendly futures trading platforms.
BTSE coins and contracts
BTSE divides its trading platform into two parts: the spot and the futures exchange.
For the spot exchange, BTSE offers a total of 11 markets, five of which are standard trading pairs, whereas the remaining six are indexes. Standard markets include BTC/USD, USDT/USD and ETH/USD, whereas BTSE also offers a BTC, ETH, LTC and XMR index.
Beyond this, BTSE is one of just a handful of exchanges to offer basket indexes—in this case, the BTSE 5 and BNC-BTSE (BBCX) Composite Indexes.
On the BTSE futures exchange, customers can choose from almost two dozen different futures contracts, including those for BTC, ETH, LTC, USDT, XMR, and BBCX.
All available futures have a range of expirations, whereas BTC, ETH, LTC, and USDT also have a perpetual contract option. In line with the industry standard, these can be traded with up to 100x leverage, or an initial margin as low as 1%.
In terms of trading limits, BTSE sets the minimum spot trade size to 0.002 BTC, 10 USDT, 0.05 ETH, 0.05 LTC and 0.05 XMR, whereas the maximum is set to 2,000 BTC, 100,000 USDT, 5,000 ETH, 5,000 LTC and 1,000 XMR.
For futures, BTSE sets a minimum order size of 1 contract, whereas the maximum order size is set to 50,000 contracts for BTC futures, 200,000 for BBCX and 100,000 for everything else.
Overall, BTSE offers one of the largest selections of cryptocurrency futures in the industry—featuring a wider variety than its two major competitors, BitMEX and Deribit. However, its spot trading platform lacks the variety to compete with major spot exchanges like Binance and Coinbase.
BTSE Trading Fees
BTSE uses different fee structures for its spot and futures trading platforms.
For spot trading, BTSE users the industry-standard maker/taker fee model, which sees takers charged more than market makers. For accounts trading <100 BTC per month, maker fees are 0.05%, whereas taker fees are 0.1%.
Higher volume accounts benefit from a trading fee reduction of up to 80% on maker fees and 70% on taker fees, reducing these to as low as 0.01% and 0.03% respectively for VIP VII accounts.
Volume-based fee discounts start for those trading >100 BTC per 30-day rolling window, whereas customers need to trade more than 100,000 BTC in this timeframe to receive the maximum fee discount.
Customers can also get a trading fee discount of up to 20% by registering using our custom invitation link.
Perpetual futures and time-based futures have a 0% maker fee, whereas the taker fee is a flat 0.06% irrespective of the market. Generally, BTSE does not provide any additional discounts for high volume traders, although large market makers might also be eligible for BTSE’s Market Maker Program, and all the perks that come with it.
Compared to the competition, these fees are roughly industry standard, with maker fees that are generally higher than BitMEX and Deribit, whereas its taker fees are lower than its two competitors.
BTSE uses the following calculation for its funding rates: (Interest of Target Digital Currency – Interest of USD) / 365 days of a year / 3 times a day.
The result of this can then be used to calculate the funding fee, using the following calculation: Entry Price (contract price per BTC) x Contract Multiplier x Order Size x Funding Rate.
A history of BTSE’s funding rates can be found here.
Although the platform doesn’t charge any deposit fees, withdrawals are chargeable.
Stablecoins can be withdrawn for under 1.1 USDT/TUSD/USDC each, whereas the Bitcoin withdrawal fee is a flat 0.0005 BTC. Beyond this, fiat withdrawals are charged at 0.09%, with a minimum charge of $25.
Security and trustworthiness
Despite launching in 2018, BTSE has been praised in the industry for striving to bring institutional-grade security to everyday investors.
The platform is a licensed entity and is formed by two registered companies, BTSE Commercial Brokers LLC (814684) and BTSE Payment Service Providers LLC (814678). The company also recently applied for a VFAA ( Virtual Financial Assets Act ) class 4 cryptocurrency exchange license from the Republic of Malta.
As a regulated platform, BTSE can be held accountable for its failures, unlike most other margin exchanges. The team behind the platform also has experience working with trading platforms and has worked with the likes of Goldman Sachs, IBM, and SingTel. Because of this, it is clear that BTSE will do everything in its power to prevent being compromised.
In terms of optional security options, BTSE features support for Google Authenticator as a two-factor authentication system. After setting up 2FA, Google Authenticator will need to be used to log in, withdraw funds and change API keys.
Users also have the option to set a list of whitelisted IP addresses.
Only login attempts coming from these IPs will be allowed, making it practically impossible for a compromised account to be used.
Beyond this, BTSE also features a number of back-end security features to help ensure user data and funds remain safe at all times. For one, the exchange claims to keep 100% of user funds in cold storage, which can only be accessed using multiple keys.
BTSE is also one of the few exchange platforms to self-host, which means it doesn’t need to worry about lax third-party security that could lead to a data breach.
Customer Support and Education
When it comes to customer support, most cryptocurrency exchanges offer much to be desired, with slow, limited customer support options being common grievances in the industry.
Unfortunately, BTSE doesn’t do much better in this department, since the exchange exclusively uses an internal ticket system as the main direct-response customer support option.
The platform also has its own relatively active Telegram community, but the support offered there is limited, with most queries instead of being directed to the BTSE ticket system. Likewise, the exchange can also be reached on Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, though responses are slow and typically limited.
The CEO of the platform is also relatively active on Twitter, and can be reached should the need arise.
Besides its ticket system, BTSE does offer a comprehensive support desk that can be used to resolve most basic concerns. The support desk also features a help chatbot which can also be used to quickly navigate the help center to find the answer to any queries.
With that said, the BTSE exchange help center is designed to answer only general concerns about using the platform. To supplement this, BTSE also provides a separate educational platform known as BTSE Academy, which includes a heap of content designed to help traders grow their skills and knowledge, in addition to regular news and general trading-related tutorials.
How to trade on BTSE
Getting started on BTSE is very simple. Here’s a simple guide of the steps you need to follow before making your first trade on the BTSE exchange.
1. Sign-up and create account
To begin, you will first need to create an account on the exchange by clicking here. You will need to select a username, as well as provide your email address and a secure password.
After registering, you will be prompted to select your base currency. This is the currency you wish to spot trade with, whereas futures are always traded in USD. You will also be sent a confirmation email, containing a link used to verify your account.
Email verification is required before cryptocurrency deposits are enabled.
2. Deposit funds
Once your email is verified, you’ll be able to generate your deposit address for any of the four cryptocurrencies supported by the platform under the ‘wallets’ section of the site. These can be used to top up your balance with your desired cryptocurrency.
Note that if you wish to trade fiat currencies, you will also need to perform identity verification. This can be completed by heading over to the ‘Verification’ section of your account settings page.
Here, select the type of account your account type (either individual or corporate). Here, you’ll need to provide some basic personal information, as well as valid proof of identity and address.
Typically, BTSE reviews KYC documents in under an hour, but this can take longer. Once verified, fiat deposit instructions will become visible in the aforementioned ‘wallets’ section of the site.
3. Start trading
Once your deposit has been confirmed, you will then be free to begin trading. To start, select either the ‘spot’ or ‘futures’ option in the BTSE top banner to open the trading interface.
You will now be able to select the market you wish to trade just beneath the header bar, and next to the ‘Find Markets’ button.
Once your desired market is selected, you will be able to input your order options using the order panel on the left.
What are some BTSE alternatives?
Although BTSE is a capable margin trading platform, there are plenty of others that are also worth considering, particularly if you are looking for a particular futures contract or feature not found on BTSE.
Easily the most popular Bitcoin futures trading platform, BitMEX has been to the go-to platform for most cryptocurrency margin traders since its launch in 2014. Thanks to its incredible liquidity, BitMEX is able to offer close to a dozen different futures contracts, with spreads as low as 0.01%.
Although BitMEX has a massively higher 24-hour trade volume than BTSE, it is not a regulated platform and doesn’t feature fiat trading options. Not only this, but BitMEX only accepts deposits and withdrawals in BTC, which is the base currency used for settlement on the platform, this can be a confusing concept for less-experienced traders.
Deribit is an Amsterdam-based Bitcoin futures and options trading platform that is well-known for its European style options. Although Deribit’s contracts are denominated in USD, it is important to note that these are settled in BTC (USD equivalent), because of this BTC is the sole deposit/withdrawal option supposed by Deribit. It also doesn’t have any KYC requirements.
Unlike BTSE which offers a wide variety of different futures, Deribit keeps things simple, and only offers Bitcoin and Ethereum derivatives. Because it only offers a total of 6 different futures, including 2 perpetual swaps, Deribit is able to ensure excellent liquidity, and keep spreads between 0.01 and 0.03% for all assets.
FTX is a relatively new, but rapidly improving cryptocurrency derivatives exchange that is owned one of the largest cryptocurrency market makers—Alameda Research.
FTX distinguishes itself from the competition by offering an industry-leading (up to) 101x leverage and offers possibly the largest selection of cryptocurrency futures on the market, with over 22 cryptocurrencies being covered by 70 different contracts.
Despite this huge number of available futures contracts, FTX manages to maintain excellent liquidity for most of them, with its Bitcoin perpetual racking up around $400 million in daily trade volume, while even more obscure futures typically have 24-hour trade volumes between $1 to $5 million.