When Bitcoin crashed through its previous all-time high of $20,000 in December 2020, many would have been forgiven for waiting with bated breath for a crash. After all, December 2017 saw a similar meteoric rise followed by an almighty fall. But crypto’s flagship asset went on to achieve an even more eye-popping ATH above $50,000.
Although it’s since dipped, BTC prices have mostly held steady above the $40,000 mark, giving investors some confidence that history isn’t about to repeat itself. In fact, some speculators still hold that Bitcoin could go on to achieve six-figure highs within the coming months.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that newcomers are once again finding themselves drawn to crypto, with one survey suggesting that nearly a third of UK respondents are curious about investing in digital assets but were unsure of where to start.
If that sounds like you, then this list of the top venues to buy Bitcoins and altcoins in 2021 may help you navigate the minefield of cryptocurrency exchanges.
Crypto.com is perhaps one of the hardest-working platforms in cryptocurrency, with an ecosystem that allows you to buy and sell your digital assets, as well as earn, save, spend, and participate in DeFi applications.
If you just want to buy and hold Bitcoin or other cryptos, then the Crypto.com app is probably the best place to start. You can then easily top-up from within the app using a credit or debit card or make cryptocurrency deposits. You can also link your bank account for larger payments or recurring transfers.
There are no fees for deposits or crypto-to-crypto transfers, only a fixed fee for withdrawals to external wallets.
However, Crypto.com offers plenty to do with your crypto once you’ve bought it. The company operates its own CRO token, which provides several benefits to holders.
These include lower trading fees if you stake CRO on the Crypto.com exchange, the opportunity to generate up to 6% APR on CRO holdings via its Earn feature, and CRO in cashback when you use the company’s prepaid Visa card. It also recently partnered with Booking.com to offer a 25% discount on accommodations to cardholders.
2020 was a challenging year for KuCoin after hackers hit the exchange in late September. It turned out to be among the biggest heists in crypto history, but the way KuCoin came through the incident showed extraordinary resilience.
Within a little over a month, the exchange had managed to recover 84% of the stolen assets, thanks to a fast response and collaboration with token issuing partners and other exchanges. CEO Johnny Lyu maintained a drumbeat of regular updates on Twitter to reassure users regarding the status of their funds.
KuCoin now appears to be in as strong a position as it ever has been. In early January, the platform broke $100 billion in accumulated transaction volume and maintains that one in every four crypto users trades on its platform.
A significant part of KuCoin’s appeal is the sheer range of trading pairs that it lists – around 450 in total on its spot markets, making it an ideal venue for swapping Bitcoin and other altcoins. However, KuCoin users can also magnify their trades with margin, trade futures contracts, and earn income from lending out crypto.
Nexo is less an exchange and more a full-featured crypto bank that also happens to offer fiat on and off-ramping to crypto, along with trading services.
In terms of exchange features, you can access over 75 fiat, cryptocurrency, and stablecoin pairs, with the best prices thanks to Nexo’s integration with other exchange partners. Once you confirm your order, the price is fixed for execution with zero slippage.
Like Crypto.com, one of the big attractions in using Nexo is that it’s a kind of one-stop-shop for crypto services, meaning that you can immediately start putting your coins to work for you. You can lend your assets and earn up to 12% annual interest with daily payouts, or borrow for an APR as low as 5.9%.
The platform operates its own NEXO token, offering users dividends with yields of up to 30%, and participation in a loyalty program with the benefit of preferential rates on borrowing and saving.
The company has over 13 years of experience in the fintech space, is ISO compliant, regulated in the EU, and offers a multi-million dollar insurance guarantee on assets in custody. Nexo currently has over a million users in 200 countries and is rated “Excellent” on TrustPilot.
Bybit launched in 2018 as a futures trading platform to rival established market leader BitMEX. It’s fair to say that the bid has been successful. According to data aggregated by The Block, Bybit is now significantly outperforming BitMEX both on open interest and trading volume for the flagship BTCUSD perpetual futures contract.
It would be easy to attribute Bybit’s growth to BitMEX having lost market share due to its ongoing regulatory woes. However, Bybit has put significant effort into establishing its reputation as one of the most customer-centric crypto futures exchanges on the market.
With the motto “listen, care, improve,” it has continued to ensure it offers a range of services and features that matter to its user base. These include a 100,000 transactions per second matching engine, a state of the art pricing model, smart trading features such as alerts.
Bybit also runs some of the biggest trading competitions in crypto. Dubbed the “World Series of Trading, the company attracted 12,500 traders to its event over the summer, who competed to win a share of a massive 200 BTC prize pool.
AAX aims to overcome one of the core challenges of cryptocurrency exchanges – latency and downtime. During periods of high volatility in the crypto markets, which happens frequently, some of the biggest exchanges, including Coinbase and BitMEX, simply crash. Traders often find themselves unable to exit a trade and can suffer significant losses.
AAX overcomes this challenge by using the same technology as the London Stock Exchange Group, dubbing itself an “institutional-grade platform for everyone.” The LSEG technology also powers other exchanges worldwide, including Italy’s Borsa Italiana and the Singapore Stock Exchange.
Thanks to the state-of-the-art platform, AAX can handle up to 100,000 transactions per second, with no noticeable performance degradation even when it’s close to full capacity.
The parent company of AAX, ATOM International Technology, is registered in Hong Kong, and the AAX exchange is licensed in Seychelles.
AAX has recently significantly extended its range of supported fiat on ramping currencies. Since December, users can now buy and sell any supported assets with US dollars, euros, pounds sterling, Canadian dollars, and Hong Kong dollars.