Looking for sites like Coinbase resembles searching the forest for mushrooms after a heavy rain.

Yes, their number is evidently on the rise, but distinguishing between the harmful, superficially similar or genuine sites takes an eagle eye and a good smoke and mirrors detector.

Just like Coinbase, the sites covered here serve the cryptocurrency exchange business which, together with blockchain tech, goes beyond the realm of buzzwords to become a genuine disruptor in the globalized economy.

With that in mind, the sites presented will not sell you dreams of overnight riches, but rather allow you to sail the crypto wave, if you have what it takes.

1) CoinMama

Motherly Love, Fast Trade

Coinmama cryptocurrency exchange was established in 2013 around the mission statement to bring speed and security to emerging crypto trading business. The owner, New Bit Ventures Limited, has its HQ in Israel, while the exchange itself is officially registered in Slovakia.

Despite being built around the concept of decentralization, Coinmama’s services are highly centralized, with the exchange catering to more than a million users from more than 180 countries across the globe. The call all of them heard is the one promising fast, secure and accessible purchase of popular Bitcoin and Ethereum coins with cash, debit and credit cards. As these transactions are often notoriously slow in a fast-moving market, Coinmama plays the speed card efficiently to cut the length of related proceedings to mere minutes.

Initially focused on Bitcoin and Ethereum, the site has followed its growth in the number of users with expanded coverage for other currencies, such as Litecoin, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash, XRP, and Cardano. The minimum purchase amount is 60 USD, with the knowledge that a wide variety of local currencies other than USD are supported, including EUR and the Russian rouble. This makes Coinmama an attractive option for those who prefer hassle-free transactions which will still charge a 5.90 % trading fee from whatever amount you put into them.

The “twist” here is the fact that the site only allows you to buy cryptos, not sell them. Depending on your priorities, this may be seen as a disadvantage, but its existing business model seems to work well at the moment and the prospective buyers will be covered by the purchase guarantee offered by the company itself. The focus on security is further confirmed by Coinmama’s polite refusal to hold your assets in a site-based wallet and thus make it an easy target for dreaded hacking attacks. Instead, you will be advised to buy a cold wallet (preferably) if you are to uphold your security and do the same for Coinmama’s rock solid reputation.

2) LocalBitcoins

Trading Outpost in the Cryptoland

Now for something completely different. Or rather for something which takes the decentralization theme even further than exchange sites such as Coinbase. LocalBitcoins started out as a bitcoin-focused startup from Finland back in 2012, and soon transformed into an informal crypto exchange platform with global outreach. Peer-to-peer is the name of the game here, as this virtual marketplace will allow you to find and get in touch with people who sell or buy bitcoins in your area.

The whole ethos permeating this community will remind the older users of early days of internet social platforms, while drawing comparisons with Craigslist and other classified ads websites. Registering with LocalBitcoins will create a crypto wallet for you and offer you to list what you buy/sell, your location and your preferred payment method. Options on the menu are PayPal, SEPA, wire transfer or direct bank deposit.

In addition, LocalBitcoins’ freestyle approach is evident in the fact that nothing prevents you from meeting your partner in person and receiving or giving money in cash, provided that you arrange your meeting in one of more than 15,000 cities and towns across 248 countries in which this exchange operates.

But, what about security which, as we know, oftentimes isn’t compatible with excessive freedom? Well, con artists and those who hide their schemes between cool buzzwords can be found here, just like in every other walk of life, no more, no less.

In order to protect its freestyle image, LocalBitcoins will open its doors to everyone at first. Yet, those who want to abuse its hospitality will be kept in check with its functional feedback and reputation system between buyers and sellers. In addition, the platform will offer to resolve disputes in the manner of a well-meaning sheriff and give you access to its Escrow system. Last but not least, the price of freedom is a meager 1% fee on every completed transaction.

3) Binance

Enter Red Dragon

Say what you will, but the fact is that you’ll find Chinese tech enthusiasts at the forefront of any new trend. In a world of more than two hundred cryptocurrency exchanges in operation, standing tall among them is, well, a tall order, particularly when your government does not take a friendly stance to the very tech you promote.

Binance is a relative newcomer, being founded in China in 2017. After the crypto exchanges were banned by the Chinese government, the persevering crew moved to Hong Kong, only to finally settle down on the crypto-friendly island of Malta in 2018. You can say that the specter of exile from the homeland haunts Binance in its steady focus on the coins originating in China, but this does not mean that the red dragon among the exchanges is not intent on achieving a global altcoin-fueled domination.

To that effect, Binance is spreading its highly centralized exchange business across the world, with the focus on cryptocurrencies themselves. It operates strictly as a platform for trading cryptos for other cryptos, meaning that fiat currencies like USD, EUR or Yuan are in the no-go zone here.

Instead, you get robust support for all the major cryptocurrencies, such as BTC, ETH, LTC, NEO and others, with trading pairs enjoying an even better treatment.

To make your job easier, the general trading fee is set at a humble 0.1%. Yet, bear in mind that withdrawing various currencies can cost you more, with the addition that Binance wants to smooth things out with a discount. Here, it comes in the form of its native Binance tokens (BNB) which you can use as magical coins allowing you to pay less in terms of the fees.

Finally, Binance is a financial behemoth and one of the top five strongest exchanges by daily volume it handles as well as its liquidity. If all that comes to your mind when working with the exchanges is security, Binance will offer you not only a state-of-the-art technological protection but peace of mind, as well.

4) CEX

Keep Calm and Stay Secure

Unlike Binance, CEX is a veteran in the crypto world. Back in 2013, it started its existence as a London-based cloud mining platform and an exchange for those at the forefront of the nascent Bitcoin mania. CEX’s love letter to Bitcoin did not end there, as its mining pool once accounted for almost half of the total mining capacity of the entire Bitcoin network. Yet, back in 2015, the management decided to focus its attention on cryptocurrency exchange business only, with coverage and credibility as their badges of recognition in the increasingly crowded cryptosphere.

For starters, CEX wants to play it safe with strong support for purchasing the most demanded cryptos, such as BTC, ETH, Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Ripple and others. At the same time, their fiat equivalents such as USD, Roubles (RUB), GBP and the Euro (EUR) are supported for those who want to stuff their virtual pockets with cryptos by means of credit cards or bank transfers.

Now for the interesting part: CEX will charge you rather low fees for its exchange services, depending on the amount of cryptocurrency which is being handled. Bank transfers and cryptocurrency deposits come with no price tag, while withdrawals and card deposits will be processed with a 3% fee.

In exchange for this, you get security and stability of the anti-fraud Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and close cooperation with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Just as its home country once figured as the global trading hub, CEX has the ambition to extend its support to as many countries as possible.

5) Kraken

Not a Monster, Just ahead of the Curve

Sharing its name with a mythical beast of old, Kraken has started spreading its tentacles in the now ancient era of the early 2010s. The mastermind behind it, Jesse Powell, saw exchanges as the important front for promoting cryptocurrency technology.

Besides being Kraken’s CEO and co-founder, Jesse Powell is an expert in virtual currencies, online/international payments and fraud. He is a 15-year veteran of the industry.

Yet, back then, even the strongest global cryptocurrency exchange suffered from porous security, ruining the reputation of the tech in the public and financial circles. In response, Jesse Powell swore to uphold the image of crypto exchanges as safe places for trade and cooperation.

In order to effect this, Powell moved Kraken in the direction of earning customers’ trust by forging alliances with well-established institutions such as Japanese and German banks. Ultimately, it earned Kraken a rare place among those listed on the Bloomberg Terminal software platform, which is the tool of choice for many financial professionals.

To a regular customer, Kraken will offer fiat trading as well as a respectable range of cryptocurrencies to work with. At the moment, this exchange has put the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Japan under its umbrella. Its focus on the users in the EU has paid off so far, earning it the title of the exchange with the largest trading volume in euros.

In order to uphold its image of a trustworthy financial player, Kraken styles its advanced features after regular stock exchanges with the support for short selling and margin trading if a user desires it. The same category of users will also enjoy its support for ETH Dark Pool Trading which makes it possible to effect discreet transactions far from the prying eyes of the public.

6) Changelly

Power to the People

As a relatively young platform, it’s no wonder that Changelly wants to, well, bring change in what they see as the increasingly uniform world of cryptocurrency exchanges. Yes, they have even younger competitors, but what’s the use of them if their mindset is still old-fashioned?

Based in the Czech capital of Prague, Changelly was established by a team of crypto enthusiasts gathered under the moniker of MinerGate back in 2016. Their mission was to do away with technological obstacles preventing people from getting access to the crypto exchange world.

To that effect, the team designed a trading robot which you can easily connect with the major trading platforms and let him automatically handle bids and check the best exchange rates. To give its user an even easier time, Changelly will not require you to register or verify your identity, leaving those matters solely to your conscience.

Changelly’s website gets about three million visitors per month, all of them enthralled with the ability to convert their cryptos in a fast and intuitive manner. Buying with fiat currency is also supported, but this segment plays second fiddle to the exchange business, really. Its agile robots will relieve you of the signup hassle and get the job done without delay. Their services come at 0.5% fee for every transaction, which comes with an added bonus that they will not ask you any superfluous questions.

Featured image by Virgil Pana

Here are Some Exciting Alternatives to Coinbase

Sead Fadilpasic

Sead is a seasoned technology journalist with more than 15 years' experience. For the last two years, he has been extensively reporting on blockchain and crypto technologies. Formerly Al Jazeera. He tweets at @Journalancer.

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