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Best crypto trading exchanges in Singapore: 2022 crypto crash update

Best crypto trading exchanges in Singapore: 2022 crypto crash update
PHOTO: Reuters

In May this year, all was headed down south in the Wild Wild West we call the crypto market. The crypto crash saw Bitcoin (BTC) fall to its lowest since July 2021. The third largest crypto, Tether's (USDT) price also plummeted to below USD$1 (S$1.40). Terra Luna cryptocurrency collapsed 98 per cent overnight.

The numbers were alarming and if you had invested in cryptocurrencies, you had important decisions to make - buy, sell, or HODL ('hold on for dear life'). It's been about three months since we saw the blood bath happen and things have somewhat stabilised. Bitcoin finally topped $25,000 USD since June.

If you're optimistic about the future of crypto and are looking to dip your toes into cryptocurrencies, here's a guide to comparing the different crypto exchanges out there to decide which is the best crypto exchange for your needs.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

By definition, cryptocurrency is a digital currency. All cryptocurrency transactions are verified and records of these transactions are maintained by a decentralised system.

There's obviously more to the story. You'll want to read up on the basics of cryptocurrency before deciding whether you'd want to enter the crypto space.

To help you with that, we've put together a simple guide for you. This primer will tell you seven super important things you should know about crypto before you buy it, including:

1. What the world of cryptocurrencies is like

2. What are the top cryptocurrencies

3. Why cryptocurrencies are the way they are

4. How much cryptocurrencies' fluctuate in value

5. How to store your cryptocurrency

6. What to look out for in a cryptocurrency's whitepaper

7. How to buy/trade cryptocurrency sensibly

When you're done reading that, you'll be informed of the risks involved in buying cryptocurrencies.

If you do decide to dip your toes into the crypto ocean (deep waters alert!), here's how you can choose a cryptocurrency exchange platform and get your hands on some coin.

While some might see the market crash as a golden buying opportunity, there are others who think of it as a warning signal to exit the market. Whichever camp you belong to, here's what you need to know about buying in or withdrawing from the market.

2. Best crypto exchanges in Singapore

There are tons of cryptocurrency trading platforms out there, but we've shortlisted some of the most popular ones.

Cryptocurrency exchange Number of listed cryptocurrencies Trading Fees BTC and ETH purchasable with SGD?
Bitmex 18 0.075% Yes
OKX 300+ 0.1% No
Bitfinex 170+ 0.2% No
Huobi Global (Ceased) 400+ 0.2% Yes 250+ 0.4% Yes
Kraken 100+ 0.9% to 1.5% No
Gemini 100+ 0.4% Yes
Coinbase 100+ 0.6% Yes
Independent Reserve 19 0.5% Yes
Luno 8 0.75% Yes
Coinhako 30+ 0.6% Yes

The fees reflected in the table above vary depending on whether you're using the mobile app or the web interface to trade as well as your trading volume.

Another thing to note is that popular crypto exchange Coinbase's recent statement that in the event that Coinbase goes bankrupt, its users will lose their crypto assets. If I were you, I would transfer my cryptocurrency out of Coinbase account pronto! Better safe than sorry.

Having that in mind, there's more to consider before signing up for an account.

There are lots of factors that go into choosing the best cryptocurrency exchange, but it can be boiled down to the following:

  1. Ability to transact in Singapore Dollars
  2. Transaction fees + difference in pricing for user interface options
  3. If there are any withdrawal fees, and how much
  4. Trading fees according to maximum yearly limit of $30,000, as per stipulated by MAS

We'll run through these three factors in detail below.

3. Crypto exchanges in Singapore that support SGD

Not all crypto exchanges allow you to buy major cryptocurrencies in Singapore Dollars. Here are the ones that do support SGD, at least for Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH):

Cryptocurrency exchange Number of listed cryptocurrencies Trading Fees BTC and ETH purchasable with SGD? 250+ 0.4% Yes
Gemini 100+ 0.4% Yes
Bitmex 18 0.075% Yes
Coinbase 100+ 0.6% Yes
Huobi Global (Ceased) 400+ 0.2% Yes
Independent Reserve 19 0.5% Yes
Luno 8 0.75% Yes
Coinhako 30+ 0.6% Yes

What we noticed is that some crypto exchanges feature very low trading fees, but they only applicable for USD trades, with the use of their proprietary USD wallet. This implies that you'll most likely need to have a USD bank account, or at the very least, a multi-currency bank account.

So if you pick a crypto exchange that supports SGD, it's less hassle.

FYI, we only included BTC and ETH here as the smaller cryptos tend not to support SGD. To buy those, you'd typically buy BTC first, then exchange your BTC to your crypto of choice. Also, the above mentioned trading fees are with the maximum yearly transaction volume of $30,000, as per stipulated by MAS.

4. Crypto exchange's fee structure - Expert vs Simple UI

It's common for crypto exchanges to offer at least two user interfaces: simple mode (for everyone) and expert mode (more technical and aimed at seasoned traders).

But… did you know that some crypto exchanges actually charge more when you use the simple version?! Here's a look at the different trading fees depending on the UI you pick.

Cryptocurrency exchange Trading Fees (Simple UI) Trading Fees (Expert UI)
Coinbase 2.49%++ 0.60%
Kraken 1.5%++ 0.26%
Gemini 1.49%++ 0.4% 0.4% Not applicable
Bitfinex Not applicable 0.2%
Huobi Global (Ceased) Not applicable 0.2%
Bitmex Not applicable 0.075%
OKX Not applicable 0.1%
Luno 0.75% Not applicable
Coinhako 0.6% Not applicable

Here's an example: Gemini. When you first sign up, and you want to make your crypto purchase, you would be greeted with this nice, simple UI. 

To unlock Gemini’s cheaper 0.4 per cent transaction fees, you need to use Gemini’s expert-level ActiveTrader UI, which looks like this.

For simplicity's sake, I've bought BTC by using a limit order - the closest thing you can use to 'buy' cryptocurrency upfront with the ActiveTrader UI. Here, you'll only pay $0.17. However, purchasing BTC for $50 incurs a transaction fee of $2.75 if we stick to the simple UI. Oh, you'll pay for that simplicity. That's a whopping 5.5 per cent in transaction fees!

It’s definitely worth tinkering around in the settings to make the switch to the expert UI for more savings. Go to Account, then select the ActiveTrader option under Trading Interface:

*Screenshots were accurate at the time of writing, however, the prices are constantly fluctuating and will vary from the above.

5. What if you want to stick to the simple UI?

If you can't deal with the expert UI, then you'll have to pay the dummy tax. You can use our crypto exchange summary table to see if it's charging a reasonable fee.

Otherwise, Luno is one to consider. It's known for its beginner-friendly interface and competitive fees. However, a major drawback is the limited coins you can trade on Luno. If you're new to cryptocurrencies and looking to dip your toes, it might offer just what you need.

BUT, if you are not concerned about pretty interfaces, then opting for Gemini's ActiveTrader will give you a much better deal. These fees add up if you keep buying small amounts frequently, and/or buy large amounts of crypto (not recommended for the faint-hearted).

6. Crypto exchange withdrawal fees 

We've covered the fees for buying crypto on an exchange above. But what about if you're thinking of withdrawing your cryptocurrency in this crash? Prepare to upgrade your headache into a raging migraine.

Most cryptocurrency exchanges have their own withdrawal fee structure, and in a perfect world, everything would be simple and intuitive.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when making withdrawals on any cryptocurrency exchanges:

  1. Do I want to withdraw my cryptocurrency into cash?
    • This is a selling order — what are the fees for the selling order?
    • After completing the selling order, is there a fee to withdraw it into my bank account?
  2. Do I want to withdraw my cryptocurrency into a cold wallet or a different crypto exchange?
    • What are the fees to withdraw cryptocurrencies?
    • What are the minimum withdrawal amounts?
    • Is the fee worth paying for the amount you wish to withdraw?

Some of these points are useful to keep in mind especially if you want to store your cryptocurrency into a cold wallet!

7. Crypto exchanges licensed by MAS

Most crypto exchanges in Singapore are operating under exemptions whilst MAS transitions to a formalised, licensing framework under the Payment Services Act.

The officially licensed crypto exchanges in Singapore as of August 2022 are:

  • DBS Vickers
  • Independent Reserve
  • Coinhako
  • Luno

8. Our picks for the best crypto exchanges in Singapore

The best crypto exchange currently is Gemini, if you're looking to optimise trading your crypto with relatively low fees, simple-to-grasp expert UI and ease of purchase with Singapore dollars.

That being said, it bears repeating that the crypto market is still fairly unregulated in Singapore, and that Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said about this crypto in Parliament

"Cryptocurrencies can be highly volatile, as their value is typically not related to any economic fundamentals. They are hence highly risky as investment products, and certainly not suitable for retail investors."

Regardless of your appetite for risk, we definitely don't recommend investing your life savings in crypto. Be sure to balance it out with safer, more established investments like stocks and ETFs. 

ALSO READ: Cryptoverse: Bitcoin wants to break its bond with stocks

This article was first published in MoneySmart.

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