In an industry that is growing increasingly wary of financial malpractice, which exchange is the most trustworthy?
The year 2022 saw a historic breakdown of trust in exchanges and other crypto service providers. The collapses of Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried’s FTX and Alex Mashinsky’s Celsius are still fresh in the community’s memory, with SBF’s criminal trial only recently concluding. These cases serve as a painful reminder that fraud and bad business practices can happen in corporations of any size and that crypto, as a nascent industry, is especially susceptible. A sleek website, high trading volume or primetime television ads are no guarantee that a customer’s savings will be safe.
To advance the industry, it is imperative to set new standards for centralized third-party service providers in crypto. To this end, a new report from Cointelegraph Research surveyed nine major crypto exchanges — Binance, Bit2Me, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Bybit, Coinbase, HTX, Kraken and OKX — and compared them with a particular focus on consumer and funds protection.
Looking into the facts
The report analyzed whether companies are located in a tax haven or a pro-customer jurisdiction, the transparency of their corporate finances, and how they ensure the user’s assets are secure and well-handled. These considerations are especially relevant for risk-averse individuals and businesses — those willing to compromise on fees and trading volume to ensure that the funds they hold on an exchange have all possible protections.
Some jurisdictions — often those notorious for being tax havens — offer companies leeway to do less for consumer protection and regulatory compliance. This ranges from the safekeeping of personal data to responsible risk disclosure. All other things being equal, it can sometimes be a red flag if an exchange seeks out a less regulated environment. The map below presents how safe the customer is in some of the most popular jurisdictions among centralized exchanges.
Based on the analysis, Bit2Me and Kraken stand out in all the categories examined. They are both headquartered in jurisdictions with strong customer protection regulations and have credible third-party proof-of-reserve audits and payment infrastructure. Besides, they provide extensive risk disclosure to their consumers through their interfaces.
To achieve true mass adoption, crypto needs to be brought into regulatory frameworks. This doesn’t mean giving up on the principles of decentralization and privacy but instead finding a balance where these principles can coexist with legal and financial safeguards.
Regulatory clarity and compliance, especially those directed to protect customers, would increase trust among potential users and open opportunities for institutional investors and businesses to enter the crypto space. The crypto community should strive to create an ecosystem where the benefits of crypto are accessible to everyone while minimizing the risks of fraud, money laundering and bad business practices that might put personal cryptocurrency savings in jeopardy.
The opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security or investment product.
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