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BitMEX is a cryptocurrency exchange based in the Republic of Seychelles. It supports crypto trading with leverage, including futures trades and perpetual swap contracts, but it's not available in the U.S. Experienced traders will appreciate its vast selection of trading tools and trade types, but beginner crypto investors may be better served elsewhere.
- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
Margin and futures trading with up to 100x leverage
Low trading fees
API integration for third-party apps
Beginners may be overwhelmed with trading platform
Only a few crypto available
Not available in the U.S.
- BitMEX is a cryptocurrency exchange started by Arthur Hayes, who was a fugitive from the U.S. until 2021.
- BitMEX offers 100x leverage trading for advanced users and corporate clients.
- BitMEX invented Bitcoin perpetual swaps, which are a derivative product with no end date.
- BitMEX is not available to U.S. users.
- Year Founded 2014
- Official Website www.BitMEX.com
- Cryptocurrencies Available 16
- Customer Support Online chat, email, phone
BitMEX is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to trade cryptocurrency and crypto futures with up to 100x leverage. This exchange only supports a small number of cryptocurrencies, but it's a popular platform for derivatives trading. BitMEX is a crypto-only exchange and does not allow users to purchase crypto with fiat currency.
Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is highly risky and speculative, and the markets can be extremely volatile. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. This article is not a recommendation by The Balance or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.
BitMEX was founded by Arthur Hayes, Ben Delo, and Samuel Reed in 2014 in New York, and was the first exchange to introduce perpetual futures trading. BitMEX quickly became one of the most popular Bitcoin exchanges for futures trading with leverage, but it also caught the interest of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which opened an investigation into the company in 2019. U.S. authorities eventually indicted the founders of BitMEX for failure to implement anti-money laundering measures.
BitMEX is now owned by HDR Global Trading Limited, a Seychelles-based company, and continues to operate in most countries around the world. BitMEX is not available in the U.S. or Canada and has a list of restricted jurisdictions where it cannot operate. BitMEX’s main focus is leveraged futures trading, including perpetual swaps, which are a type of derivative contract based on a cryptocurrency. This exchange could be a decent option for advanced traders that want access to futures trading and high leverage.
Founders Ben Helo and Arthur Hayes avoided being arrested by staying out of the U.S., but they eventually turned themselves in to U.S. authorities in 2021. They are no longer involved in the operation of BitMEX.
Cryptocurrencies That Trade on BitMEX
BitMEX offers access to only 16 cryptocurrencies but supports many types of futures trading contracts for each. Offerings include Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Cardano (ADA), Ripple (XRP), Avalanche (AVAX), and Axie Infinity (AXS). You can view a full list of all supported assets on the trading platform.
BitMEX does not offer popular cryptocurrencies such as Shiba Inu (SHIB), Terra (LUNA), or Uniswap (UNI).
The BitMEX trading experience feels outdated. The user interface is simplistic and not very intuitive, and the live order books and charting may confuse new investors as well. Drilling down into any of the charts or trading sections brings up more information, but it is poorly organized.
That said, BitMEX offers a deep dive into the futures contract details and funding calculations when looking at individual cryptocurrencies. Users can choose from a range of crypto trading pairs, leverage their trades up to 100x, and even connect to BitMEX via a third-party API for high-speed trading.
BitMEX offers low fees for trading cryptocurrency, but its fee structure is complex due to the number of trade types available. BitMEX has multiple fee schedules depending on the type of trade, cryptocurrency used, trade volume, and whether or not a user is considered a maker or a taker. A “taker” is someone that places an order that gets filled immediately, while a “maker” places an order that gets placed in an order book.
Overall, BitMEX charges less than 0.05% per trade for most users, with discounts given to higher volume traders, and market makers. These fees are generally lower than what you’d pay with many other exchanges. There are also no deposit fees, and the only withdrawal fee assessed is a network fee that does not go to BitMEX, but rather the miner for the network.
Here is a breakdown of the standard trading BitMEX fee structure:
|Tier||30-day rolling ADV (USD)||Taker Fee|
There are separate trading fee schedules for perpetual contracts, futures trading, and quanto trading. You can review the entire fee schedule for BitMEX here.
BitMEX offers standard security features for crypto exchange, including two-factor authentication (2FA) and cold storage of crypto assets. It also requires KYC identity verification to protect the exchange from criminal activity.
Here are a few of the security features BitMEX offers:
- Multi-signature cold wallet: BitMEX keeps most crypto assets in cold storage vaults that aren't connected to the internet, and the private keys for these vaults are held in geographically dispersed locations.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA): BitMEX lets users set up 2FA via a third-party app (such as Google Authenticator) for account logins.
- Withdrawal address whitelist: Users can enable whitelisting for crypto withdrawals, only allowing assets to be transferred to specific wallet addresses. This must be requested through BitMEX support.
Opening a BitMEX Account
To sign up for a BitMEX account, you’ll start by providing your email address and password. Once your account is verified via email, you can set up two-factor authentication via a third-party authenticator app (such as Google Authenticator).
Next, you will need to verify your identity. This includes providing your name and address and submitting a picture of a government-issued photo identification, uploading a selfie, and submitting a utility bill (or another bill) to confirm your location.
Once you have passed identity verification, you can start trading by depositing crypto into your account (fiat currencies are not supported).
BitMEX offers live chat support via its website, which states that agents “usually respond within a few minutes.” Users can also submit a support ticket online, and customer service will reach out via email. BitMEX Corporate clients gain access to a dedicated client coverage relationship manager, giving high-touch support for institutional clients.
BitMEX doesn’t list its business hours, and no phone number is available to reach customer service.
In addition to its support options, BitMEX offers several articles in its help center and thorough guides on how to use the platform, as certain trading options are fairly complex.
BitMEX receives mixed reviews from customers. Some reviews praise the accurate order books, while others are critical of outages during volatile times in the market. Other reviewers are critical of the user interface, which feels outdated and clunky. Overall, there is not a lot of feedback on BitMEX, but with its high volume of usage, it seems customers are continuing to use the platform for leveraged trading.
BitMEX is a web-based platform allowing users to trade crypto and crypto futures contracts. There is no BitMEX mobile app, but the website is mobile-responsive, allowing traders to manage accounts on the go.
Users can log into their account using a web browser and easily deposit crypto funds and start trading. Customers can also update account settings and withdraw crypto from both mobile and desktop web browsers.
Users in non-supported countries (such as the U.S.) will be blocked from accessing BitMEX.com on their mobile devices.
How BitMEX Compares to Other Cryptocurrency Companies
BitMEX is a good option for advanced crypto traders who want access to margin, futures, and perpetual swap contract trading, with reasonable trading fees. BitMEX also offers corporate account support, with high-touch service and access to advanced trading tools to institutions.
This exchange focuses on futures and perpetual swap contracts of a few cryptocurrencies, only supporting 16 total assets. With leverage up to 100x, BitMEX is best for seasoned traders that understand the risks involved in derivatives trading.
Here’s how BitMEX compares to Gemini, a popular crypto exchange in the U.S.
BitMEX vs. Gemini
BitMEX and Gemini both allow users to deposit and trade cryptocurrency. Both offer secure cold storage of Bitcoin and other crypto assets, as well as custom services for institutional traders.
But while BitMEX is designed for advanced traders who want access to margin, futures, and perpetual swap contract trading, Gemini is a regulated exchange designed for beginner investors to buy crypto. Gemini offers a wide range of cryptocurrencies and a simple-to-use mobile app. While BitMEX’s user interface is a bit outdated, it offers much more advanced trading products.
Here are a few differences between BitMEX and Gemini:
- Gemini offers a hot wallet and insurance for the cryptocurrency stored on it.
- BitMEX offers access to perpetual swap contract trading, which is a derivative product.
- Gemini is available in the U.S., while BitMEX is not.
- BitMEX allows leverage trading up to 100x, while Gemini does not support any margin or leveraged futures trading.
BitMEX gives active crypto traders access to a huge selection of trading tools and options, as well as the ability to trade on margin. Gemini, on the other hand, offers simple trading tools and charts for beginners, and it could be ideal for users who are new to crypto investing.
BitMEX is a decent platform for non-U.S. residents that want access to margin and futures trading with low fees. It offers unique trading options, such as perpetual swap contracts, as well as up to 100x leverage.
BitMEX is definitely not for beginners, but advanced traders that have custom trading bots, or institutional traders that want access to leveraged trading may appreciate BitMEX’s up-to-the-second indices and trading integration tools.
The Balance is dedicated to helping those interested in cryptocurrency investing make informed and safe decisions. We are committed to providing our readers with unbiased reviews of the top cryptocurrency exchanges for investors of all levels.
Exchanges were reviewed on points including security, fees, number of cryptocurrencies available, and more. We also considered if the exchange is regulated by a proper agency or entirely decentralized. Our full cryptocurrency exchange methodology, including the data collection and review processes and weighted data points, is available for review.
Bloomberg. “Former Bitmex CEO Arthur Hayes Surrenders to Face Charges.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
BitMEX. "Perpetual Contracts Guide." Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
CoinMarketCap. “Top Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchanges.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
BitMEX. “Perpetual Contracts Guide.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
Bloomberg. “U.S. Regulator Probing Crypto Exchange Over Client Trades.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
Justice.gov. “United States of America v. Arthur Hayes et al.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
Bloomberg. “Bitmex Founder Delo Surrenders to Face Bank Secrecy Charges.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
BitMEX. “Fees.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.
Gemini. "Gemini Wallet." Accessed Jan. 25, 2022.