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BitMEX vs. Kraken: What Works Better For Canadians in 2024

Oleg Galeev

Last updated May 25, 2024

In this article, we will compare two major cryptocurrency exchanges, BitMEX and Kraken, focusing on their mobile and desktop trading experiences, security measures, compliance in Canada, and customer support. These platforms differ significantly in areas like user interface complexity, regulatory compliance, and customer support, making them suitable for different types of traders.

Description

BitMEX is a crypto derivatives exchange that offers futures trading, and perpetual contracts. BitMEX aims to become the world’s largest regulated derivatives exchange. You cannot deposit fiat on BitMEX, only BTC and USDT. The exchange is aimed at experienced traders.

Kraken is a Canada-friendly, but US-based crypto exchange that has been operating since 2013. Kraken has a strong reputation due its security and compliance with US regulations. Kraken aims to accelerate mass adoption of cryptocurrency and offers a wide range of coins.

Coins

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Terra, Solana, XRP, EOS, Stellar, Tron, Litecoin, Chainlink, Polkadot, Dogecoin, Binance Coin, Bitcoin Cash, Axie Infinity, Avalanche, Cardano

90+

Fees

  • Free USDT or BTC deposits
  • Free BTC withdrawals
  • Variable USDT withdrawal fees
  • 0.01%/0.05% maker/taker fees
  • nstant buy incurs a 1.5% fee (0.9% for stablecoins) plus: 
  • 3.75% and€0.25 card processing fee or,
  • 3.75% + €0.25 digital wallet processing fee or,
  • 0.5% online bank transfer fee

Pros

  • Low trading fees
  • Advanced order types
  • No BTC deposit/withdrawal fees
  • Futures/perpetual trading
  • Wide range of coins
  • High fees when not using Pro
  • Good for beginners
  • Free CAD deposits
  • Advanced tools with the Pro platform
  • Staking

Cons

  • Not suitable for buying crypto
  • USDT withdrawal fees
  • Only suitable for traders who understand contracts trading
  • No fiat deposits
  • No Interac e-Transfer
  • Deposits can take 1-5 business days
  • Extremely high trading fees
  • Tend to freeze accounts for no apparent reasons
  • Slow support

Account Limits

Low

Low

Methods to buy

  • Wire transfer
  • Debit card

Security

  • All BTC held in cold storage
  • Two employees audit all BTC withdrawals
  • BTC deposit addresses externally verified
  • Multisignature wallets
  • 95% of coins held in cold storage
  • Servers monitored 24/7 by armed guards
  • 2FA available
  • Confirm withdrawals via email
  • Fully Audited

Mobile and Desktop Trading

BitMEX offers a detailed user interface oriented towards professional traders, with an abundance of tools, charts, and indicators for in-depth analysis. Its desktop platform is known for its capacity to handle large trading volumes. BitMEX's mobile app, available on Android and iOS, replicates the desktop experience, though its complexity might be challenging for beginners. The app ratings are slightly lower on iOS and Android compared to Kraken. Kraken provides a more user-friendly experience, both on its desktop platform and mobile app. The app is well-received on both Android (4.2-star rating from 21,000 users) and iOS (4.7-star rating from 3500 users). Kraken Pro offers additional features for experienced traders, with equally high user ratings.

BitMEX

BitMEX’s exchange is confusing, but that’s because it is aimed at experienced traders who understand perpetual and futures contracts trading. BitMEX has a more outdated interface than Kucoin, making it seem clunky and old. However, the lighter colour scheme makes it easier to see the different menus and tabs.

There is a tab for each cryptocurrency market available, which makes it somewhat easy to navigate, view charts and order books.

To start trading contracts, you will need to sign up but you only need to provide an email address to do so. Once you have deposited your Bitcoin or USDT, you can use that to trade for the other cryptocurrencies available.

Leverage is one of the main features of BitMEX and the platform offers a handy leverage slider that can be adjusted to your risk when you trade.

BitMEX is only available as a desktop platform.

Bitmex desktop app

Bitmex desktop app

Kraken

Kraken's app is well-designed and offers tools for both beginners as well as advanced tools for more experienced traders.

Kraken has an “Instant Buy” option, where users can purchase crypto in seconds with their card or from funds in their fiat wallet. Instant Buy, while convenient, incurs high fees. There is a standard purchase fee plus an additional fee depending on the method of payment. Still, the Instant Buy option is suitable for beginners and is easy to navigate.

Kraken Pro has more reasonable fees based on the maker/taker method. However, the interface could be confusing for beginners. It shows advanced charting and offers more trading tools and order types.

Kraken’s mobile app has a 4.5-star rating from 3000+ reviews on the Apple App Store and a 2.2-star rating from over 13,000 reviews on Google Play. A lot of users say the app has trouble loading, certain funding or purchase options are unavailable and it is generally not user-friendly.

Kraken desktop interface

Kraken desktop interface

Kraken Pro screenshot

Kraken Pro Trading view

Kraken app interface #1

Kraken app interface

Kraken app interface #2

Kraken app interface while trading

Security Compliance

BitMEX is stating that it utilizes cold storage for all of the bitcoin funds. BitMEX also uses multi-signatures wallets and every bitcoin withdrawal is audited by hand by at least two BitMEX employees. All bitcoin deposit addresses sent by BitMEX are externally verified to ensure the keys match those of the founders. If they do not match, BitMEX will shut down and halt trading. 

Kraken keeps 95% of users’ funds in cold storage. All account information is encrypted, their servers are locked in cages under 24/7 surveillance by armed guards. 

To help secure your Kraken account you can use two-factor authentication. You will receive an email notifying you of any withdrawal, and there is an account timeout for added protection.

BitMEX employs a multi-layer security system, including multi-signature deposits and withdrawals and offline storage. They haven't experienced any major security breaches since their launch in 2014. Kraken also has robust security measures, with over 95% of digital assets kept in cold storage. Additionally, all account information is encrypted, and they operate a bug bounty program. Users also have several options for securing their accounts.

Regulatory Compliance

BitMEX withdrew operations in Ontario, but was not officially named by the OSC. BitMEX is still operational in other Canadian provinces but it is facing legal trouble with the USA due to allegedly offering securities trading illegally. 

While you can use BitMEX safely, trade at your own risk and be aware that they could cease trading in Canada due to regulations. 

Kraken is fully compliant with US regulations. The exchange is independently audited to show that customers’ funds are properly held. Canadians can use the platform as well.

BitMEX does not provide services to Ontario and Quebec due to new regulatory frameworks in these provinces. Kraken, on the other hand, offers its services to most Canadian provinces, with some services restricted in Ontario due to regulations by the Ontario Securities Commission. Both platforms need to comply with Canada's financial regulations and are subject to oversight by Canadian federal organizations like the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

Customer support

BitMEX offers support via a contact form on their website and has a detailed FAQ section as well. 

Kraken offers a 24/7 live chat and email support. It also offers a good amount of learning documentation and helpful articles on its website. Unfortunately, many people say Kraken has poor customer support with tickets taking a long time to be resolved if ever.

BitMEX provides customer support via email and has an FAQ section and a "References" section with useful information on its website. Kraken offers more comprehensive support options, with 24/7 live chat, email support, and phone support in the USA, UK, and EU. They also have a help center with useful articles.

Conclusion

Both BitMEX and Kraken offer solid platforms for cryptocurrency trading. However, given BitMEX's advanced features, high liquidity, and robust security measures, it stands out as the winner for professional traders seeking a sophisticated trading platform. Its robust security measures and ability to handle large trading volumes make it an appealing choice for experienced traders, despite its regulatory limitations in certain parts of Canada.

We recommend choosing BitMEX over Kraken for your cryptocurrency trading needs. By opting for BitMEX through our referral link, you support us in conducting comprehensive independent analyses of crypto trading options for Canadians.

If you find that neither BitMEX nor Kraken meets your requirements, we encourage you to explore our monthly-updated list of the best exchanges for Canadians to trade crypto. This list provides a range of alternative options that may better suit your specific needs and preferences.

Author

Oleg is a Canadian citizen & crypto expert who has been trading since 2016. He started out with Coinbase, Kraken and Peer-to-Peer exchanges. After some time, centralized exchanges started charging crazy fees to their users.

He decided to review different crypto exchanges that operate in Canada and start a Youtube channel in order to educate Canadians on what kinds of things are going inside each one while giving them unbiased advice. On top of that, Oleg also has experience with NFT, airdrops, and crypto staking and he is constantly checking on new crypto assets.

His writing has been featured in popular Canadian media sources such as Toronto Sun and Ottawa Citizen.