CEX.IO was launched in 2013 in London and initially operated both as a Bitcoin exchange and cloud mining service. At one stage its mining pool, known as Ghash.io, was one of the largest on the Bitcoin network, holding 42% of total mining power of the Bitcoin network. However, in January 2015 the website closed its mining services which means that it now operates solely as a cryptocurrency exchange, allowing users to purchase and sell Bitcoin (and Bitcoin Cash), Ethereum, ZCash and Dash with credit or debit cards instantly.
The CEX platform offers cross-platform trading via website, mobile app (which is available on Android and iOS), WebSocket and Rest API.
CEX is one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges currently operating. One of the primary reasons its popularity is that its website provides users with a very easy to use interface, making it ideal for beginners. It also provides a multi-level account system that is customizable and suitable for both Bitcoin beginners and institutional traders.
How to Register
CEX is incorporated as a private limited company in the UK and is registered with the ICO in the UK and with FINCEN in the US. It applies KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti-money laundering) policies, which requires users to verify their identity with CEX upon registration. This verification involves providing CEX with an email address, telephone number, setting up a password and then verifying both the telephone number and the email address. CEX provides for a two-factor authentication system, using either SMS, automated phone call or through the Google Authenticator app.
How to Purchase
CEX accepts VISA, MasterCard or virtual credit cards. Once registered and having verified their identity with CEX, users can buy Bitcoin or Ethereum using a credit or debit card, a wire transfer or, if they are in the EU, a SEPA transfer. It is then simple for you to add your credit card or debit card to your account. Credit and debit card verification can take up to 48 hours but, once completed, you can purchase Bitcoin and Ethereum instantly through your CEX account. Card verification requires users to take a selfie with their credit card, with the photo including a clear image of the user’s face and the relevant credit / debit card. This photo should be in colour, of high resolution, and the file size should be no more than 15MB. Users should beware that if the quality of the selfie isn’t good enough for the CEX compliance officer, another selfie may be requested.
CEX does not disclose which external agencies they use to verify users’ identification. However, they do state that user ID’s and credit card details are stored for at least five years after accounts are deleted. Once credit cards details are submitted, CEX submit a small verification charge to the credit or debit card. In order to verify the card, users are required to enter the exact amount of this charge in USD. This charge is automatically refunded to users after verification is complete.
Users can also transfer funds by bank transfer. CEX currently accepts US dollars, Euros and Rubles. Fees for bank transfers in USD / EUR are a flat rate of $/€ 10.
CEX.IO clearly explains how its service works, with the below providing a summary of how to purchase cryptocurrency through the platform:
- Once a trade is entered, CEX calculates the price of the trade and freezes that price for two minutes. Users then input how much (in fiat currency) Bitcoin or Ethereum they want to purchase at that price and are shown how much cryptocurrency they will receive. Once users have pressed the Buy / Sell button, the CEX system will check the user’s account to ensure that they have sufficient funds to complete the transaction.
- Once this process has been completed, CEX will complete the transaction, provided that the order can be fulfilled on conditions not worse than those agreed on. Therefore, if the market has gone down, the trade will continue at the more favourable rate. However, if the exchange rate has spiked in the intervening period since the trade is entered, the transaction will not be executed and the user will be notified.
CEX charges 3.5% plus $0.25 / £0.20 fees for credit card deposits to user’s accounts. Credit card purchases should be processed instantly once the card is verified. Some users have complained that these additional fees amount to ‘hidden charges’. However, CEX states that the reason for this premium is to ensure that they will always be able to fulfil their orders, as they operate on a different premise to most exchanges in that they will fulfil orders at the offered rate with no exceptions (otherwise referred to as Fill-or-Kill orders). The advantage of this format is that users are guaranteed that they will receive whatever has been agreed immediately and in full. However, other exchanges such as Bitstamp for example, require users to wait until a seller is willing to sell Bitcoin to the purchaser at the requested price. The upside is of CEX is therefore the guarantees and instant nature of the transaction, but these guarantees are subject to a premium price.
In addition, CEX charges a 7% service charge, which is included in the price of the cryptocurrency being offered on the exchange. However, this service charge is only applicable when users are purchasing directly from CEX. If a user is availing of the trading services, different fees are applicable. The basic fees for trades made on the CEX platform start at just 0.2%. However, higher fees are applicable if using credit or debit cards or making withdrawals to bank accounts.
Commentators have estimated the CEX’s exchange rates are within the mid-market rate, and is reasonable compared with other cryptocurrency exchanges (aside from the service charges).
The minimum purchase amount for Bitcoin is 0.01 BTC, with the maximum set at 10 BTC. CEX offers users a range of different accounts, each of which provide different transaction limits. Upgrades can be a long process, but subsequent purchases with verified accounts are much quicker. The range of accounts available are as follows:
- Basic: Users with basic accounts can purchase up to $500 of Bitcoin or Ethereum per day, up to a maximum of $2,000 per month. In order to obtain a basic account, only a copy of an official government issued ID is required.
- Verified: Verified account holders can purchase up to $10,000 of Bitcoin or Ethereum per day, up to a maximum of $100,000 per month. In order to become verified, users will need to supply an official government ID as well as certain personal information such as proof of residency.
- Verified Plus & Corporate: Holders of these accounts have no limitations on the amount of Bitcoin or Ethereum that they can buy or sell.
In terms of withdrawals, CEX is one of the few exchanges that allow users to withdraw funds onto a credit or debit card. There is a withdrawal limit of €2,000 (or equivalent in other currencies) per day per card, up to a maximum of €50,000 per month. This limit is applicable to all VISA and MasterCard payment systems, as opposed to being specific to CEX. CEX charges a flat rate of $3.80 / £2.90 for credit card withdrawals (plus an additional 1.2% for MasterCard withdrawals). For bank withdrawals, CEX is pretty expensive, with a flat rate of $50 charged per bank transfer. For verified customers, CEX offers users the opportunity to withdraw using ‘Crypto Capital’, a private banking fiat capital service based on the blockchain. Withdrawals using Crypto Capital charge only 1% and are the cheapest rates of withdrawal offered by CEX. Reviewers online have suggested that there have been delays in making withdrawals from CEX, with some users suggesting that it took over 1 month to successfully withdraw funds from the exchange.
CEX claims to use offline cold storage to store users’ funds, although it does not provide additional detail on where or how it undergoes this process. As stated previously, the platform offers two-factor authentication to ensure account protection which, although troublesome for some users, does ensure that accounts are secure.
CEX has suffered at least one hacking incident, although this occurred in 2013 when the exchange was in its infancy. The vulnerability was patched at that time, and there have been no reported security incidents since that time.
Supported Countries & States
CEX operates in most countries worldwide, other than those stated below:
- The following countries are restricted for credit card purchases: Iceland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
- The following countries are restricted from buying with bank transfer: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
CEX is registered in 24 US States, but is NOT supported in the following States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington.
CEX is generally well-regarded for its customer support, which is not a traditional strongpoint of cryptocurrency exchanges. It offers customer support through email as well as an extensive FAQ section. Although many complaints can be found online about CEX’s customer support, it would appear from a number of tests that they are relatively responsive and do take the time to respond to criticism online.
CEX has a mixed reputation within the cryptocurrency community, with it often being the target of bad publicity and poor reviews. Most of these negative comments result from complaints about perceived hidden fees in the service, the difficulties that some users have with verifying their identity or customer support issues.
Although the main downside to CEX are the high service fees, it does remain a reliable exchange for purchasing and selling Bitcoin and Ethereum. Its user-friendly interface is ideal for beginners and it provides a quick and easy entrance into the world of cryptocurrency. It’s cross-platform application makes it easy to keep track of your account on the go.