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FTX Review

What is FTX Exchange?

FTX is a fairly new crypto exchange, having been launched in May 2019 by co-founders Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang. The exchange garnered early support with an endorsement from the quant crypto trading firm Alameda Research, which is not surprising, since Bankman-Fried also founded Alameda back in October 2017, though he has since handed the CEO reins along.

With its focus on futures and leveraged trading FTX quickly filled a niche in the crypto trading ecosystem.

FTX Exchange

Interestingly, one of the early backers of FTX was competing exchange Binance. All the way back in December 2019 they became a strategic backer of FTX. However, as of July 2021, the two exchanges have parted ways, likely because of their competing platforms.

Thanks to the fact that the FTX platform was designed by traders, for traders, it is an easy-to-use and intuitive platform that’s a pleasure for experienced traders and easy to pick up for new traders.

 

FTX Exchange Review Pros and Cons

FTX is an excellent exchange for beginners who are looking for an easy-to-understand platform, but it’s also excellent for seasoned traders thanks to its low fee structure, leveraged trading options, and advanced trading features.

ProsCons
Low FeesU.S. clients have a limited platform
Many tokens to choose fromSome major coins aren’t listed
Advanced trading features
An NFT marketplace
The FTX Debit card (FTX US only)

Pro Exchange

Here’s a closer look at some of those Pros:

Low Trading Fees: One of the primary draws of the FTX exchange is the low trading fees. Maker fees start at 0.02%, while taker fees start at 0.07%. For those unfamiliar with the maker/taker terminology, maker fees are charged on orders that aren’t filled immediately, that is the limit orders that go onto the exchanges order books. Makers get lower fees as a way to incentivize them to provide liquidity. Taker fees get charged to the market orders that are filled immediately. High-volume traders and those staking the native FTT token of the exchange get even lower fees.

Large Cryptocurrency Selection: In total FTX has roughly 300 cryptocurrencies available to trade, either on spot or as futures. This is a great selection and FTX continues adding new coins all the time.

Earn on your Holdings: It’s possible to stake several coins at FTX and as of the date of writing this piece one of them pays 20% APY. That’s a pretty decent rate of return, especially since banks are currently paying interest rates of 0.1% or less.

FTX Pros and Cons
FTX – The Good and the Bad. Image via Medium

Advanced Orders: Besides the basic market and limit orders FTX also has a number of advanced order types to help manage your portfolio and risk. These include Trailing Stops, Take profit market and limit orders, and stop loss market and limit orders. These advanced order types allow you to enter a position and then set all your selling conditions and forget all about the position until it’s closed. It’s very handy not to have to constantly monitor all your open positions.

Margin Trades: Not everyone can access margin trading at FTX, but if your account is over $100k margin trading is enabled. This means you can trade with up to 10x leverage, giving you more efficient use of your capital. Remember that margin trading is high-risk and isn’t recommended for beginners or even most experienced traders.

The NFT Marketplace: FTX has recently opened a marketplace for buying and selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It’s also possible to use the marketplace to mint your own NFTs and then auction them off to other users. As of November 12, 2021, FTX has disabled minting on its international portal, however, it’s still possible to mint NFTs at FTX.us, which is available to users inside and outside the U.S.

FTX Exchange User Experience

The second you land on the FTX homepage you’ll immediately see the amount of effort that the team behind the exchange has put into creating a positive user experience, not only for experienced traders, but for all experience levels. There are a number of customization options such as the sleep interface that will toggle the exchange website between light, dark, and black modes.

Nearly all the information you need about the exchange is accessible from the homepage, even if you aren’t yet a registered client. We loved this level of transparency in a world where so many exchanges try to hide features that prospective clients might not like. But then there’s very little about FTX that you won’t like.

Perhaps one of the greatest customizations is the ability to move elements of the trading platform around to best suit your own style. Note that you do not need to create an account and be logged in for this feature to be active. Simply go to Settings and choose “Unlock Layout”.

FTX Unlock Layout
Have a specific layout in mind. Unlock and get creative! Image via FTX.com

If you have any questions on how to use various features of the exchange there’s a detailed help section where you’ll find user guides and tutorials explaining every aspect of the exchange platform. And those who trade on the go can download the FTX mobile app (for Android and iOS) and have access to all the same great tools and features everywhere they go.

FTX also supports automated trading through its Quant Zone and the use of API keys to automate trading easily.

FTX Exchange Trading Products

Because FTX is primarily a derivatives exchange it means in most cases you aren’t trading the actual asset. That means you can’t buy many of the coins and send them off the exchange to your own wallet. The derivatives offered are simply a reflection of the underlying asset, and so you’re trading on the price.

That said, because FTX is based around derivatives like futures and leveraged tokens they can offer some very unique tradeable products you won’t find elsewhere. Below we take a deeper look into the products being offered by FTX and their features.

FTX Exchange Trading Futures

A future is a financial derivative in which two parties agree to trade a specific asset at a future date and at a predetermined price. This allows for some interesting arbitrage opportunities at times, and it also means that traders can benefit from the use of leverage when trading futures contracts. On FTX most of the futures contracts allow for leverage of up to 10x to be applied when trading. That means your gains and losses are magnified 10x. It’s very powerful, but also very dangerous if not used properly.

One of the other benefits to the futures offered at FTX is that many aren’t offered as futures anywhere else. This is particularly true for the lesser-known altcoins that have smaller market caps and lower liquidity.

FTX Futures
It’s the Futures

As of October 2021, FTX is offering more than 200 different futures contracts on over 100 different cryptocurrencies. These futures are near dated (2 months), further dated (5 months) and perpetual. In addition to individual cryptocurrencies, there are also a number of indices that can be traded as futures. Very powerful stuff.

Note on Perpetual Futures: These are futures contracts that do not expire. Instead, the price of perpetual futures is updated every hour to keep pace with the value of the underlying asset.

FTX Exchange Options

Options are another derivative product available on FTX. These are similar to futures, but don’t require the holder to actually purchase the underlying asset when the option expires. Rather options give you the right to buy or sell an asset at a specific price. You are not obligated however and can freely allow the option to expire without exercising it.

Currently, FTX only offers a Bitcoin option. It’s also possible to design your own options contract and then request a quote on the exchange. If you do this FTX says it will give you the first offer in no more than 10 seconds. Once you receive the offer you can choose to accept it, or decide not to trade. You are also free to wait for additional offers to come in. The request for quote lasts for five minutes, and if you haven’t accepted an offer by that time it goes away.

FTX Exchange Leveraged Tokens

Leveraged tokens are one of the unique offerings being pioneered by FTX. These leveraged tokens are ERC-20 tokens that reflect the actual price of the underlying tokens, but with a leveraged component to allow traders to use their capital more efficiently.

For example, one of the leveraged tokens is the BULLUSD, which is basically a long BTC token that also includes leverage of 3x. That means for every 1% move in BTC the BULLBTC token moves 3%. So, a 1% BTC increase equates to a 3% BULLBTC increase. The same is true for declines, with a 1% BTC decline equaling a 3% BULLBTC decline.

FTX Leveraged Tokens
Leveraged Tokens can be Very Powerful

Currently, there are four flavors of leveraged tokens available at FTX:

  • BULL is +3x leverage
  • BEAR is -3x leverage
  • HEGDE is -1x leverage
  • HALF is +0.50x leverage.

Let’s look at Cardano (ADA) as an example. If ADA goes up 1% in a day, then:

  • ADABULL goes up 3%
  • ADABEAR goes down 3%
  • ADAHEDGE goes down 1%, and
  • ADAHALF goes up 0.50%.

The BULL, BEAR, and HEDGE tokens automatically rebalance themselves throughout the day to maintain the target leverage. In other words, if you made a profit, the tokens will reinvest the money. If you lose money, the tokens will sell some of the position to reduce its leverage.

This ensures that you avoid liquidation risk while trading with leveraged coins. Moreover, as the rebalancing is automated, it saves time and effort from the trader’s side to manually manage their exposure.

FTX Exchange Volatility Contracts

FTX has a number of volatility-based derivatives that allow traders to trade on the volatility in the markets. This can be done strictly for profits or it can be used to hedge other open positions. There are two volatility-based products available on FTX – the MOVE contracts and the BVOL tokens

FTX Exchange Trading MOVE Contracts

The MOVE contract is another unique and innovative product that can only be found at FTX. Basically, the MOVE contract represents the movement of an asset over a specified period of time, making it a way to speculate on the volatility of various assets.

As an example, if BTC moves $100 over a 1-day period, the MOVE contract is then valued at $100.

Long MOVE contracts are best when you believe an asset is going to make a significant move in either direction, while short MOVE contracts are best when you believe the price of an asset will remain relatively stable.

FTX offers MOVE contracts on three different time periods.

Daily: These expire after a single day.

Weekly: These expire after a seven-day period.

Quarterly: These contracts expire after a three-month duration.

MOVE Contracts
MOVE contracts speculate on volatility. Image via Medium

Similar to other tradable assets we have discussed thus far in this FTX review, MOVE contracts can also be traded with leverage.

FTX Exchange BVOL Tokens

BVOL tokens track the volatility in Bitcoin. They are ERC-20 tokens and they get their price data from the FTX MOVE contracts and BTC perpetual futures contracts.

BVOL tokens can be used to go either long or short the market, depending on where you think the price of Bitcoin is headed and how strong the move will be. BVOL tokens reflect the daily returns of 1x long volatility of BTC. Whereas iBVOL (Inverse BVOL) reflects the daily returns of 1x short the volatility of BTC.

FTX Exchange Spot Markets

While the primary focus of FTX is on derivatives, that doesn’t mean you can’t also get some cryptocurrencies on the spot markets as well. This means you are buying and selling the actual cryptocurrency rather than some financial derivative where you are simply speculating on the price movements of the underlying.

As of October 2021, FTX features spot markets for 65 different cryptocurrencies across more than 200 trading pairs. Most of the pairs are USD or USDT, but there are also a few EUR, BRL, and TRY pairs featured.

FTX Exchange Prediction Markets

The prediction markets on FTX are akin to traditional betting setups. Rather than speculating on some financial asset, with the prediction markets you are speculating on the outcome of some real-world event. If your prediction is right you win, and if your prediction is wrong you lose your stake or bet.

Not surprisingly, one recent prediction market was for the 2020 US Presidential election. The exchange allowed users to place trades on contracts named after the different election candidates – such as TRUMP for Donald trump, BERNIE for Bernie Sanders, and BIDEN for Joe Biden, among others.

In October 2021 there is a prediction market speculating on whether Donald Trump will win the U.S. presidency in 2024 and another that’s betting on whether or not Jair Bolsonaro will win the 2022 Brazilian Presidential election.

Such prediction markets are an interesting way of trading outside the traditional norms of cryptocurrency exchanges.

FTX Crypto Exchange New Products

FTX doesn’t just sit on its successes, it is actively looking to constantly expand on its offerings and products. In that vein, two of the more recent additions to the platform are stock and index trading, as well as fiat currency trading. In both cases, there are some spot markets and a number of futures contracts that can be traded.

FTX New Product
New Can be Very Good

In the stocks category, some interesting names available include Tesla, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. All are available as tokenized assets or as futures.

With the focus on innovation and the trader at FTX, it is quite likely we will continue to see new assets and even new tradable products added over time.

FTT Token

FTX is similar to other crypto exchanges in that it’s released its own native token that is the backbone of the FTX ecosystem. And another similarity in this token, which has the ticker FTT, is that it has rapidly jumped into the top 50 cryptocurrencies by market cap. This is partially based on the utility of the token, which can help users save on exchange fees, but it’s also based on the plans FTX has to burn half the token supply to create scarcity.

Of course, FTT is available to trade from other exchanges too. You’ll find it listed on Binance, Huobi, and Kucoin among others.

Apart from its use as a tradable financial asset FTT is used on the FTX exchange to bring a number of benefits to its holders. Lower trading fees are one expected benefit, but users can also realize socialized gains from the FTT Insurance fund. The token can be staked for yield, and can also be used as collateral for futures trading at FTX.

Since the start of 2021 FTT has returned roughly 1,000%, going from the $6 range to the $60 range as of late October 2021.

FTT Staking

As mentioned above, one of the benefits that FTT holders get is the ability to stake their tokens for yield and additional rewards.

FTT Staking
Staking FTT yields more than just $.
  • Improved maker fee schedule: Stakers have a separate maker fee schedule that overrules the normal fee schedule. This is in addition to the standard FTT discounts.
  • Bonus votes: FTX often takes polls from traders before launching a new financial instrument on the site. For instance, until January 11, 2021, traders could vote on which tokenized stock groups FTX should list next. FTT holders get additional votes on such polls.
  • Increased SRM airdrop rewards: SRM is the native token of the Serum ecosystem. FTX is committed to dispersing 5% of the total supply of SRM to FTT holders over time.
  • Increased referral rebate rates: In FTX’s affiliate program, traders who stake FTT receive a higher percentage of their referee fees.

FTT Exchange

Even though the FTT token is the native token for the FTX platform it doesn’t mean that you can’t exchange FTT at other cryptocurrency exchanges. As of the time of writing, the FTT token is tradable at Binance, Huobi Global, KuCoin, and a large number of other small exchanges. Given that prices for tokens vary from one exchange to the next this means you might be able to get some FTT tokens at a discount elsewhere and then transfer them to FTX to secure all the benefits provided by holding and staking FTT tokens.

Note: FTT token is not accessible in the United States, or any other restricted jurisdictions. If you reside in one of these locations, you are not permitted to transact in FTT tokens.

FTX Exchange OTC Desk

FTX also caters to institutional traders looking to buy or sell large blocks of crypto assets through its Over-the-Counter (OTC) exchange service. While this is a commonly offered service, FTX has improved on the process to make it easier to navigate and more cost-effective as well.

The portal to access the OTC market can be found at otc.ftx.com and users can log in using the same credentials they have for the main FTX platform. This allows for access to instant OTC quotes on most major cryptocurrencies. The OTC platform features no fees, tight spreads, and lightening fast settlements.

FTX OTC
FTX Over-the-Counter for Large Traders

Depositing and withdrawing from the OTC platform is simple since it’s connected to the main FTX wallet. Enjoy deep liquidity and no fees outside the spread.

FTX Exchange Quant Zone

Another great feature of FTX is their Quant Zone where users are able to build and share their own trading strategies. Given the background in quant shared by the founding team you’d expect this feature to be quite strong, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

The Quant Zone allows users to create their own predefined set of trading rules, and then automate trades on FTX based upon those rules. While this alone is nothing unique, you can find it on many platforms, FTX has added a number of customization options and flexibility to the rule set.

As an example, with the Quant Zone, it’s possible to design rules using the price action, triggers, and other monitoring rules. And it’s also possible to string together multiple conditions for each rule that’s created.

There’s no limit on the rules you can create, and they can be enabled and disabled as needed.

Once rules are created and enabled they will look at the market every 15 seconds to determine whether or not the conditions specified in the rule are now met. If the trigger for the rule is true when checked the action or actions included in the rule are then executed. This goes on until you pause or disable the rule. And if you have multiple rules enabled they will all continue running simultaneously until they are paused or disabled.

FTX Exchange Margin Lending

This is a really unique and interesting feature offered by FTX to add another arrow in the quiver of what makes the FTX Exchange one of the fastest-growing and most popular crypto exchanges available. Margin lending is an option where users can lend out their cryptocurrency to other users on the FTX exchange, enabling them to borrow funds to use for their margin trading, paying the lender interest in return.

Essentially, users on the FTX platform can enable their balance to be borrowed by someone else, earning some annualized interest paid hourly for the duration that their crypto is lent out. This option can be enabled and disabled at any time without delay if a balance is not currently being borrowed, but it can take up to 6 hours for your funds to be released and returned to your account if they are being borrowed.

FTX Lending

Users can choose to lend their spot holdings for the different coins supported by the FTX exchange, allowing them to benefit from upside market volatility, or they can choose to minimize volatility risk as much as possible by only lending their fiat balance or stablecoin holdings. Users can only lend their tokens if there is someone willing to take up the lending offer and agree to borrow those funds.

FTX states that there is little to no risk to the lender as the borrower needs to have sufficient margin available to borrow and FTX’s risk engine will attempt to liquidate any user before they could incur a negative net account balance. FTX and its backstop fund will attempt to protect users against other accounts’ bankruptcy risk. The only other risk to consider would be if the lent asset significantly dropped in value while it was lent out leaving the lender unable to sell the funds.

To use the margin lending feature, users will first need to enable the option for “spot margin,” in their account settings.  Once that is done, they will be able to see the option for “margin lending,” from their wallet screen and then they will be able to see a list of all the assets available to lend to other users. Lenders then need to choose the quantity they want to lend and the minimum interest rate they require, if the loan ends up being accepted, the lender receives the marginal interest rate hourly.

Lending can provide a good APY by the hour, but there are not always users wanting to borrow and lenders should keep an eye on fees and rates on various coins as they can fluctuate so to make the most of this feature users will need to be quite active in monitoring the lending/borrowing screens.

This feature has a lot of potential and as crypto user adoption grows more people will be using the FTX platform, and there will be more options for lending/borrowing opportunities. This is a great and easy way to make a bit of side income. To learn more about how the lending and borrowing works and see some examples check out the FTX help article on lending/borrowing.

FTX Pay

FTX Pay is a widget that can be integrated into websites and e-commerce sites or apps which allows users to get paid in or pay in crypto and also supports fiat payments. It is fully customizable and allows users to receive payments according to their requirements using FTX’s fast and secure, low-fee payment processor.

Note that FTX Pay is moving to FTX.US which is available for users outside the USA. Current FTX users can continue to use FTX Pay but new users will need to access this feature through FTX.US. Be sure to check out our FTX.US exchange review.

FTX Pay
FTX Pay is Making Crypto and Fiat Payments Easy Image via ftx.com/pay

FTX Mobile App

No FTX exchange review would be complete without mentioning their mobile application. One of the things that stands out with the FTX website is the beautifully designed, easy-to-navigate, intuitive and functional layout and the FTX mobile app meets the high expectations and functionality that users have come to expect from a leading exchange, the app does not disappoint.

As many crypto users are on the go, it is important to be able to place and monitor crypto trades, positions, holdings and make modifications whenever and wherever we are. As we all know, the crypto markets move fast so the ability to access your account on the go is a must. The app provides users with the ability to buy and sell crypto, stocks, NFTs and has become one of the most popular crypto applications for investors as the app was previously known as Blockfolio, a popular crypto portfolio tracking app before being acquired by FTX in 2020.

FTX Mobile

The FTX app currently supports over 10,000 cryptocurrencies for data tracking and receives market data compiled from over 500 different sources meaning that traders will always be getting the most accurate and up-to-date price feeds and data. The application provides users with the ability to purchase some crypto-assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin with fiat currency and users can track and manage their portfolios with precision and ease.

The “Track” tab allows users to organize their holdings and create watch lists so they are always in the know for matters regarding their favorite crypto assets and portfolios. Once a portfolio is set up it can be linked to a user’s exchange enabling the portfolio to be updated in real-time as users buy and sell positions.

FTX App

FTX Exchange Supported Jurisdictions

While FTX is a global exchange, there are a number of jurisdictions where the platform is not legally available due to sanctions or other regulations. The following is a list of the countries where FTX is NOT accessible:

  • Cuba
  • Crimea and Sevastopol
  • Syria
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Antigua, or Barbuda

FTX Exchange USA

In addition, residents of the United States are not permitted to use the main platform at FTX.com, however the exchange has made accommodations and created the FTX.us platform specifically for those U.S. users. That platform has a more limited selection of cryptocurrencies and volatility products, but otherwise, it functions in the same way as the primary FTX platform.

FTX Exchange Fees

As with any exchange, there are several trading fees and commissions to be aware of when trading at FTX. The information and charts below will give you a better understanding of these fees and commissions.

FTX Taker and Maker Fees

Like many of the crypto exchanges, FTX uses a tier-based fee structure for the assets in its spot and futures markets. As you can see from the chart below there are six tiers and fees are adjusted lower based on the 30-day trading volume of the user.

Maker Taker

Tier 1 traders have to pay a taker fee of 0.07% and a maker fee of 0.020%. On the other hand, the highest tier – tier 6, comes with a 0.040% taker fee and a 0% in maker fee.

As you can see, the maker fees are lower. This is commonly done in order to encourage a larger order book, and increased liquidity, on the exchange.

FTX Exchange Fees

In addition to the trading fees, there are some other minor fees to consider when using FTX as your cryptocurrency exchange. Fortunately, there are no deposit or withdrawal fees, unless you are transacting with small amounts of BTC, or if you’re transacting with ETH and ERC-20 tokens. That said, the fees for ETH and ERC-20 tokens can be waived for those staking FTT.

FTX Exchange Fees

In addition, there are no fees on futures settlement at FTX. Leveraged tokens have creation and redemption fees of 0.10%, and daily management fees of 0.03%.

FTX VIP Accounts

If you fancy yourself a professional trader you’ll be happy to know that FTX has a special VIP account waiting for you with a number of perks that aren’t offered to the everyday retail trader. These perks include:

  • Lower trading fees
  • Dedicated account managers
  • Flexible API limits
  • Direct access to senior developers
  • An option to provide inputs on new FTX products
  • FTX customized VIP swag and access to VIP meet-ups
  • Admin whitelisting of withdrawal addresses

FTX VIP Forever
Become an FTX VIP. It’s as good as going to the MOON!

Requirements

In order to qualify for VIP1, you need to either have a 30-day volume of at least $150m, or a 30-day maker volume of at least $40m.

In order to qualify for VIP2, you must constitute at least 5% of the 30-day exchange volume.

Deposits and Withdrawals at FTX Exchange

As a global exchange, FTX supports deposits and withdrawals in a number of fiat currencies. These currencies are currently as follows: USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD, CHF, HKD, SGD, and ZAR

In addition, users are always able to make deposits in all of the following cryptocurrencies:  Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Binance Coin (BNB), Litecoin (LTC), FTX Token (FTT), BitMax Token (BTMX), BiLira (TRYB), USD Stablecoins (USDT, USDC, TUSD, PAX, HUSD, and BUSD).

FTX does not charge any fees on crypto deposits and withdrawals, and they even go as far as to cover the transaction fees on crypto withdrawals. However, fiat withdrawals under $10,000 are subject to a $75 fee. All withdrawals above this amount are free from fees.

All wire transfers are processed on weekday evenings (Monday-Friday) at FTX (except Silvergate SEN). Wire transfers in USD can take up to 24 hours to process, while transfers in any currency besides the USD can take up to several business days.

Users are able to easily make both deposits and withdrawals in fiat directly from the FTX wallet. It’s also possible to convert from other currencies to USD stablecoins within the FTX wallet by choosing the ‘CONVERT’ button that’s located in the wallet.

All fiat transfers are handled via a third-party OTC desk, and dealing in fiat is only available to users who are Level 3 KYC verified.  The FTX team encourages users to get in touch before depositing or withdrawing fiat for the first time, and have also produced a video walk-through to explain the process.

FTX Deposit Withdrawal

FTX Exchange Deposit and Withdrawal Fees

As discussed above, there are no fees associated with any cryptocurrency deposits or withdrawals at FTX. In the event of fiat withdrawals, any withdrawal above $10,000 is free of fees, but withdrawals under that amount are subject to a $75 processing fee. There are no fees associated with fiat deposits.

Note that when your deposit or withdrawal exceeds your trading volume, the exchange can charge you a fee of up to 0.10%. FTX will reach out to you in case you are liable to pay this fee.

Other FTX Fees

Futures Settlement: FTX charges no additional fees for futures settlement.

Spot Trades: Fees on spot trades are deducted from the asset you receive. For instance, if you place a buy order on BTC/USD, your spot trading fees will be charged in BTC. If you place a sell order, the fee will be charged in USD.

Leveraged tokens: It costs 0.10% to create as well as redeem a token. In addition, you are also liable to pay a daily management fee of 0.03%.

Perpetual Contracts: The platform charges a funding fee on perpetual contracts. However, this is not kept by the exchange. Instead, the funding fee will be paid to holders at the other end of the contract.

Fees on Leveraging: Leverage fees will also apply. For example, leverage of 50x increases your trading fee by 0.02%. With leverage of 100x, the trading fee will rise by 0.03%. These additional fees are paid to the insurance trading fund. However, this fee is not applicable if you are leveraging BTC and ETH perpetual contracts.

MOVE Contracts: Fees related to MOVE contracts depend on the price of the underlying asset.

HTT Holders Discount: As we covered earlier, FTT token holders will also receive additional discounts on trading fees. The extent of this reduction will depend on the amount of FTT you hold.

FTX Exchange Review Security

Security is always a top concern when dealing with cryptocurrencies, and FTX takes the security of its platform extremely seriously. One of the steps they’ve taken is to provide the FTX wallet for each user to have a secure place for storing their digital assets.

2-Factor authentication is available and highly encouraged. This type of authentication requires a code, which is generated within a third-party app on the user’s device, to be used when accessing trading funds and when making withdrawals. FTX also has a requirement for minimum password complexity which is a good thing so users cannot simply use “password” as a password, which is just asking for trouble.

FTX have also taken additional steps which allow users to enable 2FA for withdrawals and have added an optional withdrawal password. This is a great second line of defense, if somehow your password to log in gets compromised and someone gains access to your account, they will not be able to withdraw any funds without using an additional 2FA and a withdrawal password if these features are enabled. Users should take full advantage of these additional security features if they want to turn their FTX exchange account into the Fort Knox of safety.

There is also a feature to have a 24-hour lock placed on the account any time there is a 2FA removal or password change. This is also a smart feature to have and will leave bad guys really banging their heads because in the unlikely event they go through all that work and manage to break into your account and remove the need for a withdrawal password or 2FA, now they need to wait 24 hours before they can do anything, and as these shenanigans are going on the user would have been notified of these actions via email so they have 24 hours to go in and secure their account without losing any funds.

Anytime there is suspicious activity on a user’s account such as unusual login attempts, or there is a login attempt without the 2FA, FTX will notify the owner so they can take necessary precautions.

Additional Security Features

Subaccount Login Features– FTX allows users to create custom logins that they can use to allow other people to log into their accounts with configurable permissions. This is quite unique and interesting, not to mention handy for any two or more people who want to share an account, or if someone wants someone else to be able to make trading decisions on their behalf. Users can set the subaccounts to be read-only, or set withdrawal permissions for withdrawals on the blockchain, to OTC, or transfer between subaccounts.

FTX Sub Accounts
Subaccount Setup Screen Image via help.ftx.com

Whitelisting IPs– FTX users can whitelist certain IP addresses when setting up their API Keys. IP addresses can be set to read-only, withdrawals enabled, internal transfers between subaccounts and for API keys to only be useable from a specified IP address.

Whitelisting Wallet Addresses– This is one of my favorite features and is almost enough to make me wish some bad actor would spend hours hacking into my account to finally gain access only to find that they can only withdraw to a whitelisted wallet address, which of course, would be my own wallet address…Foiled again, bad guy! This feature allows users to only select certain crypto addresses that are allowed for withdrawals from a user’s FTX account. Adding or disabling this feature requires the confirmation of 2FA and withdrawal passwords if they are enabled.

FTX Whitelist settings
User Settings for Whitelisting Addresses Image via help.ftx.com

FTX Exchange Security Features

Chainanalysis & Manual Review- FTX has recently collaborated with Chainanalysis to monitor suspicious cryptocurrency transaction alerts in the Chainanalysis Know Your Transaction (KYT) product which is a real-time anti-money laundering compliance solution. This paired with a manual review of large or suspicious deposits and withdrawals adds another layer of safety while using the FTX Exchange.

Backstop Liquidity Fund- The FTX Backstop Liquidity Fund holds approximately $200 million USD and is on reserve to compensate for losses that were not deemed to be the fault of the user.

Based on the information from the FTX website, the company is constantly working with researchers and security experts to ensure the security of all its products and services. You can find the detailed security section on the various security measures practised on the FTX help site.

The company also has a liquidation engine that protects against clawbacks and negative balance situations for users.

FTX Liquidation
The liquidation Process Keeps Traders Safe.

Overall we can tell that FTX has put serious thought and resources into the security of its exchange and wallets. To date FTX has not suffered any serious security breaches or hacks, nor has it been subject to any malware threats or clawbacks on user accounts.

It is clear that FTX has enough protocols and systems in place for the security of its traders.

FTX Insurance Fund

With leverage that goes as high as 101x on some assets, it makes perfect sense that FTX would have some type of insurance against catastrophic losses. Indeed they have created just such an insurance fund, and it can be accessed in the case of a liquidation event.

Traders taking advantage of leverage do pay slightly higher trading fees, with the excess being shifted to an insurance fund that is used to protect against negative balance situations.

In the event that the FTX liquidation engine fails, this insurance fund will be used to pay out traders who were forced to close their positions at a loss. For instance, an unforeseen and sudden fall in the price of Bitcoin could trigger the activation of this insurance fund.

In the event that this insurance fund proves to be insufficient to pay clients, FTX has set aside around 5% of non-FTX-owned FTT tokens as a contingency.

The FTX insurance fund has historically increased in size during periods of high volatility. These additional returns are divided among FTT token holders as ‘socialized gains.’

FTX Account Registration and Login Process

In case you’ve made it this far and are now interested in creating an account at FTX the following section will walk you through the registration and login process step by step. For those who are more visually oriented you can also find a step-by-step guide to FTX from our own Guy.

As you’ll see, the registration process is quite straightforward and easy to complete. Like many other aspects and features, FTX has made the registration process as simple as possible.

How to Sign Up for FTX
  1. Click on the “Register” tab at the top right of the home page.
  2. Fill in your name and email address.
  3. Enter a secure password.
  4. Complete the captcha and click the checkbox to agree to the T&C.
  5. Click on “Sign Up” in the pop-up registration window.
  6. Check the email inbox for a confirmation email.
  7. Verify email address.
  8. Click on “Account Security” and select Google Authenticator or SMS for authentication.
  9. Deposit funds and get a maximum withdrawal limit of $1,000 prior to the KYC verification.
  10. If you’re interested in higher withdrawal limits click on the “Settings” tab and complete the KYC verification process.

FTX KYC Requirements

FTX does not have a requirement to complete the KYC process to trade through them, however, it does provide benefits in terms of trading limits and withdrawal limits. Here are the trading limits for each tier of KYC approval:

For Tier 0 – you only need to provide an email address to start trading. But, your limits will be capped to $1,000 per day.

For Tier 2 – you have to provide your country of residence, which gives you a trading and withdrawal limit of $2,000 per day.

For Tier 3 – you have to provide a photo ID, proof of address, and source of income. This will result in unlimited trading volumes and withdrawal requests.

Who is Behind the FTX Exchange?

FTX was founded in 2018 by current CEO Sam Bankman-Fried who was once a trader on Jane Street Capital’s international ETF desk, and current CTO Gary Wang, who is a former Google software engineer.

Bankman-Fried and Wang
Bankman-Fried and Wang

Prior to founding FTX, in 2017 the pair founded Alameda Research Ltd which is a leading quantitative trading and cryptocurrency liquidity provider, and Alameda assists FTX in maintaining deep order books as well as 24/7 OTC services. As of October 2021, Sam Bankman-Fried has stepped down from his role at Alameda, citing his lack of time to devote to the position.

Alameda also incubated and developed FTX with the exchange successfully raising a total of $8m over three funding rounds. After the Seed and Corporate rounds which took place in 2019, the Series B round was completed on March 2, 2020, and attracted investment from Liquid Value Capital.

Binance acted as a Lead Investor during the Corporate round while FBG Capital, Greylock Partners, Kenetic, One Block Capital, and Proof of Capital were all Seed round investors.

As a result, the exchange is backed by a number of leading crypto venture funds and has a strong network to rely on. The core team behind FTX is also transparent in nature and has made their names and LinkedIn profiles publicly available. FTX exchange is owned by FTX Trading LTD, which has been incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda and retains offices in Hong Kong.

What does FTX Stand For?

Bankman-Fried and Wang avoided getting fancy or cute when naming their new exchange. The ‘FTX’ term is simply a shortened form for ‘Futures Exchange’, which is exactly what FTX started as.

FTX Exchange Customer Service

Customer service, or rather the lack of it, has long been a complaint for crypto exchange users. FTX is trying to change that and has made it possible to contact their customer support team via a number of different channels. These include the usual direct email route and a live chat box in the help section of the site.

Speaking of the Help section, FTX has made an effort to develop a comprehensive self-help portal that is there to answer most of the common questions that new (and experienced) traders might have.

There is also a notable social presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube and users can also take advantage of Telegram and WeChat groups in a number of languages to get answers to their questions.

All of that is very nice, however, we should note that FTX still has a Trustpilot score of just 2.2 of 5 stars. That indicates they haven’t been quite as successful as they might like in transforming customer support for the crypto exchange industry.

Trustpilot

FTX Support

Perhaps if these exchanges simply went back to the old-fashioned method of providing phone support, and enough knowledgeable agents to answer said phones, the support ratings would go up significantly.

Is FTX Suitable for Beginners?

That’s a very good question because, let’s be completely honest, trading in derivatives, particularly with leverage and automation, is a complex and risky proposition, even for those with experience in financial markets and trading.

When you consider the background of Bankman-Fried and Wang, and the features that are offered at FTX, it’s pretty clear that the exchange was not created with beginners in mind. After all, trading in derivatives, options, and futures, not to mention leveraged tokens and automation, requires deep knowledge of financial markets, and extensive experience.

With that in mind, it’s very difficult to recommend FTX for beginners IF they plan on coming to the exchange with the intent for using leverage.

However, if you’re a beginner and plan on trading the spot markets at FTX, or trading the derivatives without using any leverage, then it’s certainly worth checking out FTX. They’ve got a great platform and low fees, so you would definitely be remiss if you didn’t consider using them in a responsible manner.

FTX FAQs

What are FTX Leveraged Tokens?

FTX Leveraged tokens provide FTX users with leveraged exposure to crypto markets without having to manage complex leveraged positions. FTX Leveraged tokens are ERC20 assets that can be traded on spot markets. These are listed in FTX with names like ETHBULL/USD for traders who believe Ethereum price will increase, or ETHBEAR/USD for traders who believe Ethereum price will decrease.

Leveraged tokens provide traders with up to 3x leverage, there are 45+ leveraged assets available, and leveraged tokens are not available to US traders. To learn more, be sure to check out FTX’s help article on Leveraged tokens for a full breakdown of how they work.

What is the FTT Token?

The FTX FTT token is the native token of the FTX Exchange. It provides users with certain perks such as discounted trading fees, provides access to gains from the FTX insurance fund and more.

Is FTX Regulated?

Yes, FTX is regulated and registered as a Money Services Business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), is incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda, holds a licence under The Bahamas’ Digital Assets and Registered Exchange Act, and is regulated by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas. FTX and its subsidiaries also hold various licenses/registrations with authorities in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Cyprus, UAE, Japan, Singapore and South Africa. The massive list and full details can be found on the FTX website in the help section.

Is FTX Publicly Traded?

No, FTX is not a publicly-traded company, that is to say, there is no FTX Stock available for shareholders to purchase on the stock market.

Can You Buy FTX Stock?

No, FTX does not have stocks as it is not a publicly-traded company. Speculators who believe in the success of FTX as a company often opt to purchase the company’s FTT token.

Is FTX Safe?

Yes, FTX holds an impressive list of licenses and registrations globally and is seen in a generally favourable light by the authorities. The FTX platform has never experienced a known hack, they follow industry best practices in terms of security, and dedicate a significant portion of company profits aside to reimburse customers in the unlikely event of a successful hack.

Is FTX Legit?

Undoubtedly so. FTX is backed by some of the largest names and firms in the crypto industry, stays on the friendly side of regulation, and is highly respected within the crypto and FinTech community for their innovation and for driving the crypto industry forward.

Conclusion

FTX exploded onto the crypto exchange scene with a bang, and it continues pushing ahead to try and become the largest crypto exchange in the world. Aside from that, we rate it as one of the best exchanges, despite its relatively short time in the industry. The exchange continually improves on its own features, and on those of competing exchanges. Traders are understandably impressed with the innovative products and services offered by FTX.

The reputation of the exchange has continued improving since its launch, partially because it has been one of the few exchanges to avoid downtime during times of market volatility. When other centralized exchanges have alienated clients with downtime, FTX has continued to provide unparalleled service.

Even their CEO is helping the exchange to shine. Sam Bankman-Fried comes across as an open and trustworthy person, which is a rare trait in the sometimes less-than-transparent world of cryptocurrency trading.

There are also the unique products to be found at FTX, such as the leveraged tokens and prediction markets. Granted the prediction markets are little more than gambling, but it can bring a breath of something different and fun to the sometimes stressful world of the trader.

FTX has rapidly positioned itself as a go-to exchange for many traders, and there’s a reason for that. The reason is that the exchange provides traders with what they’re searching for. It delivers on its features, on the strength of its platform, and in the security and liquidity that all of us need when trading.