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Founded by HDR Global Trading Limited (which in turn was founded by former bankers Arthur Hayes, Samuel Reed and Ben Delo) in 2014, BitMEX is a trading platform operating around the world and registered in the Seychelles.
Meaning Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange, BitMEX is one of the largest Bitcoin trading platforms currently operating, with a daily trading volume of over 35,000 BTC and over 540,000 accesses monthly and a trading history of over $34 billion worth of Bitcoin since its inception.
Unlike many other trading exchanges, BitMEX only accepts deposits through Bitcoin, which can then be used to purchase a variety of other cryptocurrencies. BitMEX specialises in sophisticated financial operations such as margin trading, which is trading with leverage. Like many of the exchanges that operate through cryptocurrencies, BitMEX is currently unregulated in any jurisdiction.
How to Sign Up to BitMEXIn order to create an account on BitMEX, users first have to register with the website. Registration only requires an email address, the email address must be a genuine address as users will receive an email to confirm registration in order to verify the account. Once users are registered, there are no trading limits. Traders must be at least 18 years of age to sign up.
However, it should be noted that BitMEX does not accept any US-based traders and will use IP checks to verify that users are not in the US. While some US users have bypassed this with the use of a VPN, it is not recommended that US individuals sign up to the BitMEX service, especially given the fact that alternative exchanges are available to service US customers that function within the US legal framework.
How to Use BitMEX
BitMEX allows users to trade cryptocurrencies against a number of fiat currencies, namely the US Dollar, the Japanese Yen and the Chinese Yuan. BitMEX allows users to trade a number of different cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, Tezos and Zcash.
The trading platform on BitMEX is very intuitive and easy to use for those familiar with similar markets. However, it is not for the beginner. The interface does look a little dated when compared to newer exchanges like Binance and Kucoin’s.
Once users have signed up to the platform, they should click on Trade, and all the trading instruments will be displayed beneath.
Clicking on the particular instrument opens the orderbook, recent trades, and the order slip on the left. The order book shows three columns – the bid value for the underlying asset, the quantity of the order, and the total USD value of all orders, both short and long.
The widgets on the trading platform can be changed according to the user’s viewing preferences, allowing users to have full control on what is displayed. It also has a built in feature that provides for TradingView charting. This offers a wide range of charting tool and is considered to be an improvement on many of the offering available from many of its competitors.
Once trades are made, all orders can be easily viewed in the trading platform interface. There are tabs where users can select their Active Orders, see the Stops that are in place, check the Orders Filled (total or partially) and the trade history. On the Active Orders and Stops tabs, traders can cancel any order, by clicking the “Cancel” button. Users also see all currently open positions, with an analysis if it is in the black or red.
BitMEX uses a method called auto-deleveraging which BitMEX uses to ensure that liquidated positions are able to be closed even in a volatile market. Auto-deleveraging means that if a position bankrupts without available liquidity, the positive side of the position deleverages, in order of profitability and leverage, the highest leveraged position first in queue. Traders are always shown where they sit in the auto-deleveraging queue, if such is needed.
Although the BitMEX platform is optimized for mobile, it only has an Android app (which is not official). There is no iOS app available at present. However, it is recommended that users use it on the desktop if possible.
BitMEX offers a variety of order types for users:
Futures and SwapsA futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a given asset in the future at a predetermined price. On BitMEX, users can leverage up to 100x on certain contracts.
Perpetual swaps are similar to futures, except that there is no expiry date for them and no settlement. Additionally, they trade close to the underlying reference Index Price, unlike futures, which may diverge substantially from the Index Price.
BitMEX also offers Binary series contracts, which are prediction-based contracts which can only settle at either 0 or 100. In essence, the Binary series contracts are a more complicated way of making a bet on a given event.
The only Binary series betting instrument currently available is related to the next 1mb block on the Bitcoin blockchain. Binary series contracts are traded with no leverage, a 0% maker fee, a 0.25% taker fee and 0.25% settlement fee.
Bitmex LeverageBitMEX allows its traders to leverage their position on the platform. Leverage is the ability to place orders that are bigger than the users’ existing balance. This could lead to a higher profit in comparison when placing an order with only the wallet balance. Trading in such conditions is called “Margin Trading.”
There are two types of Margin Trading: Isolated and Cross-Margin. The former allows the user to select the amount of money in their wallet that should be used to hold their position after an order is placed. However, the latter provides that all of the money in the users’ wallet can be used to hold their position, and therefore should be treated with extreme caution.
The BitMEX platform allows users to set their leverage level by using the leverage slider. A maximum leverage of 1:100 is available (on Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash). This is quite a high level of leverage for cryptocurrencies, with the average offered by other exchanges rarely exceeding 1:20.
BitMEX FeesFor traditional futures trading, BitMEX has a straightforward fee schedule. As noted, in terms of leverage offered, BitMEX offers up to 100% leverage, with the amount off leverage varying from product to product.
However, it should be noted that trading at the highest leverages is sophisticated and is intended for professional investors that are familiar with speculative trading. The fees and leverage are as follows:
However, there are additional fees for hidden / iceberg orders. A hidden order pays the taker fee until the entire hidden quantity is completely executed. Then, the order will become normal, and the user will receive the maker rebate for the non-hidden amount.
Deposits and WithdrawalsBitMEX does not charge fees on deposits or withdrawals. However, when withdrawing Bitcoin, the minimum Network fee is based on blockchain load. The only costs therefore are those of the banks or the cryptocurrency networks.
As noted previously, BitMEX only accepts deposits in Bitcoin and therefore Bitcoin serves as collateral on trading contracts, regardless of whether or not the trade involves Bitcoin.
The minimum deposit is 0.001 BTC. There are no limits on withdrawals, but withdrawals can also be in Bitcoin only. To make a withdrawal, all that users need to do is insert the amount to withdraw and the wallet address to complete the transfer.
Deposits can be made 24/7 but withdrawals are processed by hand at a recurring time once per day. The hand processed withdrawals are intended to increase the security levels of users’ funds by providing extra time (and email notice) to cancel any fraudulent withdrawal requests, as well as bypassing the use of automated systems & hot wallets which may be more prone to compromise.
Supported CurrenciesBitMEX operates as a crypto to crypto exchange and makes use of a Bitcoin-in/Bitcoin-out structure. Therefore, platform users are currently unable to use fiat currencies for any payments or transfers, however, a plus side of this is that there are no limits for trading and the exchange incorporates trading pairs linked to the US Dollar (XBT), Japanese Yen (XBJ), and Chinese Yuan (XBC).
BitMEX supports the following cryptocurrencies:
Trading Technologies International PartnershipHDR Global Trading, the company which owns BitMEX, has recently announced a partnership with Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), a leading international high-performance trading software provider.
The TT platform is designed specifically for professional traders, brokers, and market-access providers, and incorporates a wide variety of trading tools and analytical indicators that allow even the most advanced traders to customize the software to suit their unique trading styles. The TT platform also provides traders with global market access and trade execution through its privately managed infrastructure and the partnership will see BitMEX users gaining access to the trading tools on all BitMEX products, including the popular XBT/USD Perpetual Swap pairing.
The BitMEX Insurance FundThe ability to trade on leverage is one of the exchange’s main selling points and offering leverage and providing the opportunity for traders to trade against each other may result in a situation where the winners do not receive all of their expected profits. As a result of the amounts of leverage involved, it’s possible that the losers may not have enough margin in their positions to pay the winners.
Traditional exchanges like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) offset this problem by utilizing multiple layers of protection and cryptocurrency trading platforms offering leverage cannot currently match the levels of protection provided to winning traders.
In addition, cryptocurrency exchanges offering leveraged trades propose a capped downside and unlimited upside on a highly volatile asset with the caveat being that on occasion, there may not be enough funds in the system to pay out the winners.
To help solve this problem, BitMEX has developed an insurance fund system, and when a trader has an open leveraged position, their position is forcefully closed or liquidated when their maintenance margin is too low.
Here, a trader’s profit and loss does not reflect the actual price their position was closed on the market, and with BitMEX when a trader is liquidated, their equity associated with the position drops down to zero.
In the following example, the trader has taken a 100x long position. In the event that the mark price of Bitcoin falls to $3,980 (by 0.5%), then the position gets liquidated with the 100 Bitcoin position needing to be sold on the market.
This means that it does not matter what price this trade executes at, namely if it’s $3,995 or $3,000, as from the view of the liquidated trader, regardless of the price, they lose all the equity they had in their position, and lose the entire one Bitcoin.
Assuming there is a fully liquid market, the bid/ask spread should be tighter than the maintenance margin. Here, liquidations manifest as contributions to the insurance fund (e.g. if the maintenance margin is 50bps, but the market is 1bp wide), and the insurance fund should rise by close to the same amount as the maintenance margin when a position is liquidated. In this scenario, as long as healthy liquid markets persist, the insurance fund should continue its steady growth.
The following graphs further illustrate the example, and in the first chart, market conditions are healthy with a narrow bid/ask spread (just $2) at the time of liquidation. Here, the closing trade occurs at a higher price than the bankruptcy price (the price where the margin balance is zero) and the insurance fund benefits.
Illustrative example of an insurance contribution –