Best FTX alternatives: How to keep your crypto safe in 2023
Best FTX alternatives: How to keep your crypto safe in 2023
This article has been published on 22nd of November 2022 and uses the best available at this time.
The recent bankruptcy of the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, left many looking for more secure alternatives to store their digital assets. A lot of trust in centralized crypto exchanges has been lost, but luckily viable alternatives to FTX exist both in centralized services and non-custodial crypto management.
In this article, we want to provide you with relevant information about how to store your crypto assets safely and highlight a few of the best FTX alternatives in the market.
The topics we cover in this article are:
- What happened to FTX?
- What is a cryptocurrency exchange?
- How to keep your crypto safe
- What should I look for in FTX alternatives?
- Best FTX alternatives for 2023
What happened to FTX?
FTX and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried (also called “SBF”), have been rising stars in the cryptocurrency market. In just a couple of years, SBF built a gigantic crypto empire under the hood of FTX with billions of U.S. dollars in trading volume and trading fees, a valuation of 32 billion U.S. dollars and famous investors such as Sequoia Capital, SoftBank, and Tiger Global. After Binance and Coinbase, FTX became the third largest crypto exchange in the world and was loved by its users and celebrity investors such as Tom Brady or Gisele Bündchen. Incredible sponsorship deals like the 135 million U.S. dollar FTX Arena in Miami finally made FTX’s trading platform a household name known by everyone in the industry.
The Miami Heat stadium was supposed to be called “FTX Arena”
The astronomic rise of SBF and his FTX empire was followed by an even larger fall in November 2022. After FTX’s balance sheet was leaked by the Financial Times on November 10th, events were set in motion that led to FTX filing for bankruptcy just a few days later. Many fraudulent actions became evident, including lending customer assets to SBF’s trading firm Alameda Research. On top of that, FTX’s liabilities were met by the holdings of highly illiquid assets such as FTX’s crypto token FTT and other wrongly valued digital currencies. Before filing for bankruptcy, FTX stopped all withdrawals, leaving more than five million users – with 10 billion U.S. dollars in funds on FTX – in fear for their money.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX and Alameda Research, has once been a highly celebrated start in the crypto industry.
What is a cryptocurrency exchange?
FTX was one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide. But what is a cryptocurrency exchange, and how does it typically handle customer funds?
A crypto exchange, or a digital currency exchange, is a centralized entity that offers its customers to buy and sell crypto assets or digital currencies for other digital assets or traditional fiat money. Typically, crypto exchanges accept multiple deposit options, including wire transfers and credit cards, and let users withdraw their holdings in fiat and digital assets. When customers send funds to a centralized exchange, they give up the custody of their assets and have to trust a third party that safeguards their money. With FTX, exactly this trust was violated when the exchange used customer funds to speculate with high-risk investments.
Many crypto exchanges offer additional products beyond spot trading, such as futures trading, perpetual swaps, different earn features that provide passive income, and other advanced trading features. They make money by charging customers trading fees on their platform.
How to keep your crypto safe
In light of recent events, keeping one’s digital assets safe has become a priority. The promise of the Web3 movement and the whole crypto space, in general, has always been about decentralisation, independence and freedom. But freedom always comes with responsibility. In the case of cryptocurrencies, this responsibility involves taking care of one’s digital wealth when storing digital assets.
“Not your keys, not your coins” is a widely proclaimed saying by crypto-natives, highlighting that you depend on another third party to manage and secure your digital assets when you store your funds with a crypto exchange or trading platform. So deciding on a trustworthy and secure trading platform is vital when you trust a third-party custodian. But even when you own the keys to your cryptocurrencies, security doesn’t stop there; this is just the beginning.
Keeping your digital assets safe, should always be a top priority.
Therefore, we summarised some of the most important security tips for crypto for you:
- Use a separate browser and notebook for all things crypto
- Only use your own device and network and keep all software up to date
- Have unique and strong passwords
- Always use two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Use a hardware wallet if possible
- Backup & store your passphrase securely
- Be mindful when approving transactions and contracts
- Avoid sharing your personal data
What should I look for in FTX alternatives?
When looking for an FTX alternative and a superior online trading service, you have first to decide if you want to benefit from a centralized service like an exchange being part of the institutional digital asset markets or if you want to self-custody your digital assets and therefore to trade on decentralized platforms, often referred to as Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications.
Suppose you decide to use a centralized exchange or transparent cryptocurrency derivatives platforms. In that case, you must be aware that your funds are no longer under your direct control as they are custodied by a third party. You have to trust this party accordingly. On a decentralized finance protocol, you have more control over your crypto assets, and their movement and activity are transparent on-chain. Still also, in this case, you have to put trust in the underlying smart contracts and to a certain degree, also in the application’s team.
Ease-of-use is an important decision criteria when selecting a crypto trading platform
But independent from this decision, there are still some criteria that you should consider before deploying your valuable funds anywhere, for example:
- Ease-of-use: Inexperienced traders might get overwhelmed with complex displays like order books and advanced trading charts. Better decide on a trading platform that fits your experience level and that you feel comfortable using.
- Digital asset support: Does the desired trading venue support the digital assets you want to be trading?
- Liquidity: To support low spreads and 24/7 trading, the crypto platform of your choice needs to have enough liquidity, which means a lot of users must be using it, or a lower number of users must provide enough volume, respectively liquidity.
- Security: A centralized exchange should offer utmost security by offering corresponding security features (e.g. Two-Factor-Authentication), segregation of users’ funds, transparent and verifiable proof-of-funds and ideally, a safety or insurance fund that covers potential losses. In a decentralized protocol, ensure the smart contracts are audited and the team cannot access locked funds.
- Fees: Crypto exchanges and also decentralized protocols make money by charging fees. Make sure to compare costs and be aware of how much percent of your trading volume is taken as a cut by the provider.
- Reputation: Find answers to the following questions: How well-known is the trading platform? Who is the team running it? Is the reported trading volume correct? How transparent has the platform been in the past? Are any past exploits known?
- Customer support: Make sure that customer support is at your side if you are facing a problem. Even decentralized protocols often have people dedicated to supporting struggling users.
Best FTX Alternatives for 2023
Let’s now look at the best FTX alternatives for 2023 that offer the most robust trading platforms in crypto. Still, there is no 100% guarantee for safety of funds, so we strongly recommend to always do your own research and be extra careful in deploying your crypto assets.
If you are alone solely responsible for the safety of your crypto assets, it’s called “self-custody”. This means storing your cryptocurrencies in a secure wallet (ideally a hardware wallet such as Ledger or Tezos) where only you can access the private key or seed phrase. In this case, you are not dependent on a third party, but there is still the risk of losing your private key or falling victim to a hack or scam attack.
Also, self-custody only refers to storing digital assets but does not allow you to trade crypto assets. To engage in digital asset trading, permissionless and non-custodial, you need to further connect your wallet with DeFi applications, such as a decentralized exchange or a derivatives trading platform.
Although DeFi apps are not entities that take custody of your funds, you are still using a smart contract that can be hacked or exploited if it is not written in a 100% secure way. Additionally, the team behind the DeFi protocol might be able to make changes in the contracts, locking you out of your funds. So also self custody needs thorough research and alertness to keep your funds secure.
XDEFI Wallet allows you to swap more than 10,000 digital assets like Bitcoin, Litecoin, ETH, USDT and AVAX and across 15 blockchains within its audited crypto wallet and via its brand-new web application at app.xdefi.io!
Coinbase is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States by trading volume and one of the biggest in the world. It was founded in 2012 and today has more than 3,000 employees. Coinbase is a publicly traded company with more than 7 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2021. It is headed by CEO Brian Armstrong, is well-regulated and has a very positive reputation regarding stability and security.
Coinbase customers can use a wide range of functionalities, from spot trading to Coinbase’s own non-custodial crypto wallet and NFT marketplace. It recently consolidated its two product lines, Coinbase and Coinbase Pro, now offering one central platform suited to both new and experienced crypto traders.
Coinbase is one of the easiest-to-use crypto exchanges, especially catered for beginners.
Kraken is one of the longest-standing and best-known cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. It was founded in 2011 and is based in the United States. The exchange is valued at around 10 billion U.S. dollars and had more than 1 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2020.
With more than 9 million customers worldwide and support for more than 190 countries, Kraken is a household name in the crypto industry and has not fallen victim to any hack or exploit in more than 10 years.
Kraken’s CEO Jesee Powell is one of the most prominent though leaders in the crypto industry.
Kraken exchange offers low fees, strong security protections, and many currency options. It allows customers to buy, sell, send, receive, exchange digital assets and also supports futures trading and staking. With Cryptowatch, Kraken also offers a leading live charting tool.
The biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by trading volume, Binance, is another FTX alternative. Although Binance’s competition with FTX had its part in the latter’s downfall, Binance itself is a well-respected player in the industry. Binance’s CEO Chanpeng Zhao (often called “CZ”) has built an empire of many different products.
CZ founded Binance in 2017 – much later than Kraken and Coinbase – but has grown at rocket speed since then. With about 20 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2021, Binance is now at the top of the industry. Binance’s trading platform offers everything an experienced trader needs, from spot trading to futures, supporting hundreds of digital assets. Binance also offers an NFT marketplace, a launchpad, and a crypto wallet and even runs its blockchain called BNB Chain, which hosts hundreds of decentralised applications. CZ is also very active as an investor, having backed dozens of blockchain projects worldwide.
Binance also offers a variety of security features and constantly invests in security. This also includes the Binance safety fund (called Binance Secure Asset Fund for Users), acting as insurance in case of an exploit.
Binance’s CZ has built a crypto empire which made him one of the richest people in the industry.
With the downfall of Terra-Luna, Three Arrows Capital, Celsius and now FTX, 2022 has been a tough year for crypto. Many crypto investors are scared and have been looking for a secure alternative for their trading operations. At this point in time, well-respected and long-standing cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase, Kraken or Binance seem the best option. Another alternative is to not rely on a third party entirely and only self-custody your funds. The world of DeFi was mostly unharmed by the latest bankruptcies and is model of complete transparency has proven to be a viable option. Whatever option you decide for, always do your own research in advance, invest carefully and be mindful when deploying your hard-earned money.