Keeping it simple
The Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges in United Kingdom
Do you live in the UK and are interested in crypto trading? Do you want to find out what the best cryptocurrency exchanges in the UK are? Then look no further from our in-depth guide!
We’ll list our top five crypto exchanges and give you a detailed review on each one of them. Then, we’ll move on to some practical information on how to choose the right platform based on several criteria, what kind of exchanges exist online and the differences between them, and step-by-step instructions on how to exchange currencies once you’ve chosen a platform.
Reviews of Crypto Exchanges in the UK
CEX.io definitely wins the race for the best cryptocurrency exchange in the UK. The exchange was founded in 2013, with headquarters in London, UK, which is one of the things that make it convenient for UK residents. CEX.io was the first cloud mining provider and the owner of GHash.io, one of the largest Bitcoin mining pools at the time. In 2015, the company terminated the GHash.io project and continued operating solely as a crypto exchange.
The platform supports over ten different cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Tron, Dash, Stellar, BitTorrent, MetaHash, and ZCash. The advantage of CEX.io is that as fiat to crypto exchange, it allows you to purchase the digital coins with GBP and a couple of other fiat currencies. However, when it comes to selling them, only Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Ripple can be exchanged for GBP. The platform offers cross-platform and margin trading with up to 10x leverage.
CEX.io is registered as a Money Services System with FinCEN in the USA which is proof of its reliability. As part of its AML/KYC Policy, the exchange monitors all transactions and reserves the right to report suspicious transactions and illegal activity, and/or request the user to provide additional information. If the user fails to comply, CEX.io can suspend or terminate his/her account.
The only drawback that we could find has to do with CEX.io’s misleading fees. When you check their official website, it shows that they’re using the maker and taker fee schedule that calculates your fee based on the trading volume. Over there, the highest fee seems to be 0.16% for makers and 0.25% for takers. However, what you find out only later is that the exchange has already added a 7% service fee to the market price of a given coin.
As far as deposits and withdrawals are concerned, if you want to fund your account using a VISA or a MasterCard, they charge you 2.99% on the whole amount. For withdrawals, you get a service charge of up to 3% + £ 2.10 plus a £ 2.90 commission. Banker transfers incur zero deposit fee but 0.3% + £ 25 service charge on withdrawals.
CoinBurp is a fresh new UK crypto exchange, based in the heart of the City of London. It was built by a team of seasoned experts whose primary goal was to create a platform that would disprove the common belief that crypto trading is only for the tech-savvy. Instead, what you get is a user-oriented exchange that provides a seamless trading experience for novices and experts alike.
Prior to CoinBurp, its founders, Peter Wood and Bipin Bhanderi, worked on another crypto project called BitBroker, a brokerage for selling cryptocurrencies via LocalBitcoins focused on the UK market. Motivated by the instant success of the brokerage, the two decided it was time to have their own platform and co-founded Coinburp together with Tom Allison, their Chief Design Officer, in 2019.
The platform doesn’t support a whole range of cryptocurrencies but it does list the most popular ones: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and EOS. CoinBurp has some of the lowest trading fees in the industry and zero commission on cryptocurrency deposits. British Pound deposits of over £100 have 0% commission as well.
One of their highest achievements is facilitating secure banking by using the UK Faster Payments Service (FPS), allowing you to fund your account by directly depositing British Pound from your bank account. This makes the onboarding registration process super easy and takes no more than 15 minutes.
Talking about security, CoinBurp complies with the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules and regulations that are compulsory for UK banks and other financial institutions.
Coinfloor is the UK’s longest-running crypto exchange and one of the most reliable ones as well. It was founded in 2012 out of the need to tackle the challenge of buying and selling bitcoins in the UK.
Their stellar team is led by Obi Nwosu, Coinfloor’s CEO, who has extensive experience in the crypto industry and in building online marketplaces like QXL and WeeWorld, and Teggy Altankhuyag, Co-Director and Head of Finance and Operations whose vision has been pushing Coinfloor forwards.
The platform currently supports purchasing and selling bitcoins only. The accepted fiat currencies are British Pound and Euro, and for now, there’s no support for crypto to crypto trading. Coinfloor has recently added an Auto Buy function that protects you against Bitcoin’s volatility. Without having to worry about the daily peaks and troughs, you can activate these automated purchases and buy small amounts of bitcoins every day/week/month instead of buying at the top of the market.
Unlike CoinBurp that focused on beginners, Coinfloor is better suited for experienced traders and corporations that want to invest larger sums of money. For these traders, Coinfloor’s deposit minimum of 1,000 GBP is not really a problem. Some of you might be sceptical to deposit that much money on an online platform but Coinfloor has topnotch security methods!
Since 2013, the platform incorporates a Multi-Signature Cold Storage custodian service and boasts of keeping the majority of clients’ funds in underground vaults as secure as the Bank of England. It’s also the first exchange to publish monthly bitcoin audits to assure clients of the company’s solvency.
Because of all this, Coinfloor has attracted the attention of world-leading venture capital firm Passion Capital and individual investors like Taavet Hinrikus, the co-founder of TranswerWise and first employee of Skype, among others.
The last two crypto exchanges on our list are both well-known American-based platforms that cater to the needs of UK residents as well. The first one is Coinbase, a crypto-veteran exchange founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, two software engineers who based the company in San Francisco, California.
In less than a year, Coinbase was already the largest brokerage in the crypto industry. This means that instead of having traders buy and sell cryptocurrencies among themselves, they do it directly from the platform at a set price according to their market value. Coinbase is pretty strict when it comes to adding coins to its list and they’re judged on a wide range of criteria. Currently, the platform supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin.
You can buy these coins via bank transfer, credit or debit card, and even PayPal. Depending on the payment method, you get different fees with 1.49% on bank purchases and 3.99% on credit or debit card purchases. To make a deposit, you need to complete the Know Your Customer (KYC) check and present your ID for verification and security purposes.
The great news for UK residents is that since October 2019, Coinbase has reinstated UK bank deposits and withdrawals. They were paused in July 2019, when the platform stopped working with Barclays. However, things quickly went back to normal thanks to Coinbase’s new partnership with ClearBank.
Coinbase keeps 98% of the customers’ funds in cold storage. In case of a security breach, the remaining 2% stored online would be recovered thanks to the insurance policy.
Our second US exchange and the last on our list of top five crypto exchanges in the UK is Kraken. Launched in 2011, also in San Francisco, this is one of the oldest crypto trading platforms in the world. Jesse Powell and his team of experts are the driving force behind it and their dedication is the main reason for Kraken’s popularity.
The platform has built a solid reputation thanks to the fact that Kraken has never been hacked. Powell has been working for a long time in the industry and witnessed what happened when Mt. Gox was attacked. He honed his skills and managed to build a fully-fledged and reliable exchange. Some of its praiseworthy methods include the two-factor authentication, the Kraken “Master” Key to access limited account actions, and the Global Settings Lock that locks your account for unknown IP addresses.
Kraken excels when it comes to the number of supported assets, with up to 30 cryptocurrencies on its list. You can use GBP, USD, EUR, CAD, JPY, and CHF to buy these coins. Right now you can only trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Tether with British Pounds.
Kraken uses the maker and taker fee schedule coupled with your trading volume during the last 30 days. For makers, the fee starts from 0.16% and goes down to 0%; for takers, the fee starts at 0.26% and goes as low as 0.10%.
Although the platform is popular with beginners and intermediate traders, it’s also well-liked by experienced traders for advanced trading options like margin trading with up to 5x leverage, conditional closes, and automated trading. Kraken displays real-time market data, polished charting tools, and the chance to make Dark Pool trades.
How to Choose a Cryptocurrency Exchange
With so many cryptocurrency exchanges to choose from, how can you be sure you’re making the right choice? Make sure to familiarize yourself with the market, think about your investment goal, and look for available platforms that have what it takes to help you achieve that.
Consider the following factors:
- Type of trading.
Do you need to deposit fiat currencies in order to buy your first cryptocurrencies, or are you looking for a crypto-to-crypto exchange? Inform yourself beforehand so you don’t get disappointed if your target exchange doesn’t allow you to exchange GBP for BTC.
- Cryptocurrency selection.
If you want to trade Bitcoin or Ethereum, you won’t have a problem finding an exchange that has them listed. However, if you feel adventurous enough to trade some more obscure altcoins, then you’ll have to check which platforms support these coins.
- Payment methods and transaction fees.
Another important thing to consider is payment options. Are you only allowed to deposit funds via bank transfer or bank wire, or you can use your credit or debit card as well? What about withdrawing funds? Don’t forget to check the fees associated with different payment methods and the average transaction fee.
- Limits and discounts.
Next, in order to find out whether the platform is good for the trading size you aim for, check the deposit and withdrawal limits, and the allowed amount of cryptocurrency that you can purchase per day. On some platforms, you can unlock higher tiers if you provide additional identification documents.
When it comes to discounts, see if high-volume traders are rewarded with lower fees, or if the platform allows you to pay with their native token for half the price.
- User-friendliness and trading tools.
Beginners should be looking for a user-friendly platform with an intuitive and easily-navigable interface. Experienced traders prefer exchanges that include a variety of trading tools and options such as margin and automated trading, advanced charting, etc.
The perks of choosing a popular crypto exchange are they tend to have high levels of liquidity, i.e. high trading volumes. This, in turn, allows the platform to link buyers and sellers easily and complete their transactions in a jiffy.
- Registration and account verification.
Some traders like to stay anonymous when trading cryptocurrencies and there are some exchanges that offer you this option. However, we advise you to be sure of the platform’s performance and legitimacy to avoid losing your funds in a scam.
Most exchanges ask you to provide basic information about yourself, such as your name and surname, place of residence, email address and phone number, a scanned copy of any kind of ID including passport and driving license. Some of them might ask you to take a picture of yourself holding the document.
The registration and verification process shouldn’t take more than half an hour, but it’s a sure sign that you’re trading on a reliable and secure platform that takes great care to approve only valid users.
- Security features.
The crypto industry has witnessed many successful malicious attacks and thefts in which users lost all their money that had been stored on the platform. In the last couple of years, the security methods implemented by crypto exchanges have evolved immensely to avoid such issues.
Look for a platform that uses the two-factor authentication method, stores the majority of customer funds in an offline wallet (cold storage) and separates them from company funds. Check if there are lock settings that protect your account from unknown IP addresses and inform you via email or SMS of a suspicious login.
- Reputation and customer support.
A good reputation is built through good rapport with your customers. Having a responsive and knowledgeable support team is a key element of that relationship. Users want to be sure they can rely on the team for any kind of inconvenience they’ll run into.
The exchange team should be available on and use at least two of the following: a box for submitting support tickets, email correspondence, a phone line, live chat, etc. The industry average is waiting 24 to 72 hours for an answer to a support ticket.
Some platforms take the extra mile and include various instructional guides, cryptocurrency courses, manuals, educational videos, ebooks, etc, for free on their website.
The Different Types of Cryptocurrency Exchanges
There are three main types of exchanges:
Brokers are best for crypto trading newbies, as they offer an easy way to purchase your first digital coins using fiat currencies. They offer a good choice of assets that the platform buys beforehand at wholesale rates and then adds its own margin on top of that price.
However, these brokers usually support only the most prominent coins because they have higher liquidity and come at lower risks. The broker knows it won’t be hard to find buyers for those cryptocurrencies. If you’re a beginner that wants to trade on trustworthy platforms and don’t mind paying prices above the market rate, brokers can be a good place to start.
- Trading platforms.
The most popular online places for buying and selling cryptocurrencies are the cryptocurrency trading platforms. They directly link buyers and sellers that are using their platform and allow them to exchange currencies among themselves quickly and easily. Unlike brokers, they only charge a small transaction fee for the service but you still exchange coins at the current market rate. If you’re an experienced trader, you can place stop-loss orders on some of these platforms.
Although these trading platforms tend to support a range of cryptocurrencies, you still have to check if they have your target trading pair before signing up on the platform.
- Peer to peer exchanges.
The third type of crypto exchange is the decentralized or peer to peer exchange. It’s perfect for those of you who value privacy above all and who strongly believe payment systems are better off without central authorities who act as intermediaries in money transactions.
These exchanges connect traders worldwide and allow sellers to set their own price and choose which payment methods they’ll accept. Buyers can browse through the sellers’ offers and pick one that suits them best.
The only drawback is that prices tend to be set above market rates. Plus, peer to peer exchanges are often considered riskier than centralized ones.
How to Use a Cryptocurrency Exchange
Buying Cryptocurrency With Fiat Currency
Alright. So, having compared a number of cryptocurrency exchanges, you’ve finally found one that you like and that seems reliable. The first thing to do is to register for an account on the platform, fill out their application with your personal information, and verify your identity with a suitable ID card.
Next, let’s say you want to buy bitcoins worth £1,000. Find the “Buy” button that will take you to another page. Select that you’re buying BTC, then select your payment currency, i.e. GBP in our case, and set the amount at £1,000. Choose the preferred payment method, probably a credit/debit card or bank transfer and enter the payment details such as the card or account number. At this point, the platform calculated the transaction fees.
Review the details one more time before clicking the “Buy” button. You’ll have to wait for a while before the system processes your transaction and the bitcoins get transferred to your wallet. Some platforms include their own digital wallets, others ask you to provide the address of a third-party wallet you’re using.
Buying Cryptocurrency With Another Digital Currency
Exchanging different cryptocurrencies isn’t very different from exchanging fiat currencies for cryptocurrencies. Again, look for a suitable platform and create an account by providing verification documents.
Let’s say you want to exchange 10 BTC for XRP. If you already have bitcoins in an external digital wallet, send them to your BTC wallet address linked to your account on the crypto exchange. Go to the “Exchange” or “Trading” page and find your target currency pair, i.e. BTC/XRP. Insert the amount you’re exchanging and select the type of order (market or limit). If you choose to make a limit order, you’ll need to include the ETH price that works for you.
Selling Cryptocurrency and Withdrawing Your Funds
Let’s say you have held onto your bitcoins for quite some time during which their price has increased a great deal, so now you want to sell them for GBP and cash out. Simply log into your account and go to the “Exchange or “Trading” page.
Before you select BTC/GBP in the “Sell” section, make sure your bitcoins are either in the platform’s wallet or you’ll have to provide a BTC wallet address to transfer the coins. Based on the platform you’re using, you’ll be given the option to sell at market rate or place a limit order. Double check the information, check the exchange rate, and if everything looks good hit the “Sell BTC” button.
Once the GBP arrive in your wallet, search for a button on your dashboard that says “Withdraw GBP”. Choose a payment method and provide the necessary details if they haven’t been saved together with your account already.
How to Pay for Your Cryptocurrency
Before you conduct any kind of transaction, you’ll be asked to fund your account using one of the available payment methods. Depending on the platform, you could choose one of the following:
- Credit or debit cards
- Bank transfers
- Wire transfers
- Online payment services like PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, etc.
- Cash deposits
- POLi payments
- Cryptocurrency transfers
The Crypto Industry and Crypto Regulations in the UK
For a long time, the UK government was sluggish in its efforts to regulate the crypto industry and the status of cryptocurrencies in general. The absence of regulatory clarity and suspicious treatment has hindered the UK’s potential to build its presence and dominance on the crypto market.
However, things have started to move forward in the last half a year with leading financial and legislative bodies finally recognizing the implications of the blockchain technology and the inevitable truth that the future of business lies within the crypto industry.
As a result, in November 2019, the United Kingdom Jurisdiction Taskforce of the LawTech Delivery Panel published a Legal Statement on Crypto Assets and Smart Contracts, whose objective is “to provide the best possible answers to the critical legal questions under English law” in regards to crypto assets and technology.
As stated in the paper, “(a) cryptoassets have all of the indicia of property; (b) the novel or distinctive features possessed by some cryptoassets — intangibility, cryptographic authentication, use of a distributed transaction ledger, decentralisation, rule by consensus — do not disqualify them from being property; c) nor are cryptoassets disqualified from being property as pure information, or because they might not be classifiable either as things in possession or as things in action; (d) cryptoassets are therefore to be treated in principle as property.”
That’s why cryptocurrencies are now taxable. In the last update of the policy paper Cryptoassets: Tax for Individuals, the HM Revenue and Customs states the following: “The tax treatment of cryptoassets continues to develop due to the evolving nature of the underlying technology and the areas in which cryptoassets are used.”
Depending on the crypto transactions in question, individuals are liable to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) or Income Tax (IT). For example, individuals would be expected to pay CGT when they invest in cryptocurrencies and make a profit of over 12,000 GBP. If their employers decide to pay them in cryptocurrency, they would have to pay social security contributions, i.e. National Insurance (NI).
On the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website, it was announced in January 2020 that the FCA is now the anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) supervisor for businesses engaged in crypto activities. Among other things, crypto businesses need to comply with the following:
- Identify and assess the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing which their business is subject to;
- Have policies, systems and controls to mitigate the risk of the business being used for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing;
- Where appropriate to the size and nature of its business, appoint an individual who is a member of the board or senior management to be responsible for compliance with the MLRs;
- Undertake customer due diligence when entering into a business relationship or occasional transactions;
- Apply more intrusive due diligence, known as enhanced due diligence, when dealing with customers who may present a higher money laundering / terrorist finance risk. This includes customers who meet the definition of a politically exposed person;
- Undertake ongoing monitoring of all customers to ensure that transactions are consistent with the business’s knowledge of the customer and the customer’s business and risk profile.
(Taken from the official FCA website.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Every Exchange List Every Possible Cryptocurrency?
No. Every exchange has the right to choose which currency it’s going to support. Some platforms choose to list only Bitcoin and a couple of other prominent cryptocurrencies because they don’t want to take a gamble with lesser-known coins. Others allow you to choose from more than a hundred different tokens if you’re into purchasing and speculating on the price of obscure altcoins.
How Do I Avoid Scams on Cryptocurrency Exchanges?
Many people consider crypto trading to be a risky job out of fear they’ll fall victim to online hoaxes or run into a disreputable crypto exchange. This isn’t an unfounded fear, as the crypto industry still remains heavily unregulated. Try to avoid websites that have a lot of spelling mistakes, promise you unreasonable profits from the start, or have a lot of negative reviews.
What If I Want to Place Large-Volume Crypto Trades?
If you want to purchase a large number of cryptocurrencies and place large-volume trades of more than £50,000, regular crypto exchanges might not be the right choice. There’s the risk of hacker attacks and security breaches, not to mention the additional cost incurred from the slippage. Instead, you should consider finding an over-the-counter (OTC) broker.
Where Can I Find a List of the World’s Biggest Crypto Exchanges?
Why Do Some Crypto Exchanges Ask Me to Verify My Identity?
A lot of crypto exchanges, including the ones in the UK, adhere to anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations. One of their main rules requires the exchanges to verify the identity of their newly registered users before they allow them to create an account. That’s why you’re usually asked to complete a “Know Your Customer” (KYC) check and provide a scanned copy of any government-issued ID.