OKEx Exchange Review (2020): Is it a good exchange?

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OKEx cryptocurrency exchange is one of the top-ten global cryptocurrency exchanges by daily volume (over USD$1.68 million) and provides services in over 100 countries. This popular Exchange conveniently offers fiat-to-fiat and crypto-to-fiat trading, futures trading and wallet options all on one site. In this review, we’ll look at OKEx’s features and some controversies that you need to know.

Key Advantages of OKEx

  • High trade volume;
  • Fiat-to-crypto exchange provides a one-stop shop for entering or exiting out of cryptocurrency trading; and
  • Good track record in terms of security.

Key Features and Functions

OKEx exchange
OKEx exchange

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Here are some of OKEx’s key features and functions on offer:

  • Crypto-to-crypto and crypto-to-fiat trading pairs;
  • Customer to customer (C2C) trading platform;
  • Spot and Margin trading;
  • Futures contracts;
  • Perpetual swaps;
  • Options; and
  • Integrated storage wallet.

Let’s take a look at each of these features in detail.

There are only a handful of exchanges out there that offers crypto-to-fiat trading pairs. With OKEx, customers can purchase cryptocurrencies directly on the Exchange. Most major fiat currencies such as USD, EUR, GBP, CAD etc. are accepted, as are most payment methods.

OKEx’s C2C trading platform allows users to trade a selection of cryptocurrencies amongst themselves, similar to an Over the Counter (OTC) trading desk. Payment can be made using fiat currency.

Spot trading allows users to buy or sell cryptocurrencies instantly using the funds they have on hand. Whilst Margin trading lets users use borrowed funds to increase their profits.

Futures contracts allows trading of the cryptocurrency at a predetermined price at a future date, irrespective of the market conditions at the time the contract expires. OKEx has a peer to peer leveraged trading platform, and does not require traders to top up additional margin. According to OKEx, a trader’s losses are limited to the margin they paid for entering into the futures contract. Learn more about futures trading at OKEx here.

Perpetual Swap trading allows traders to buy and sell contracts which do not have an expiry date and are essentially bets on the future value of a cryptocurrency. For OKEx’s Perpetual Swap, a traders’ profits and losses are realised and settled twice a day and trading up to 100x leverage is available. However, leverage trading is very risky so extra caution is essential. Learn more about OKEx perpetual swap and its fees here.

Options entitle the contract holder to buy and sell (depending on what contract they hold) the underlying asset i.e. cryptocurrency on a fixed day in the future. It is different from futures contracts in that the person who holds the contract can choose to exercise the option of buying or selling the underlying asset within a specified time. However options contracts still have an expiration date by which the contract holder must exercise their option.

One unique feature of OKEx is its integrated storage wallet called OKEx Wallet. Similar to many other exchanges, OKEx has a mobile app available on the App Store and Google Play Store for convenient trading on the go. However with the OKEx app, the OKEx Wallet serves as a software wallet where you can store multiple cryptocurrencies separately from your trading account. This can also give you an extra layer of security by having your assets spread out in different locations.

OKEx mobile app
OKEx mobile app

History of OKEx

OKEx was founded in 2017 by Star Xu. Originally based in China, the Exchange relocated to Malta in 2018 which has a better regulatory framework for blockchain related activities. OKEx is part of OK Group, which is a blockchain technology company founded in 2013. As at 2018, the Exchange has over 800 employees and serves customers in over 100 countries.

Supported Countries

OKEx is available in more than 100 countries. However its unavailability in the US is a huge downside. These are some other countries where the Exchange is unavailable:

American SamoaBangladeshBolivia
CrimeaCubaEcuador
GuamHong KongIran
KyrgyzstanPuerto RicoSudan
SyriaUS Virgin Islands

Supported Cryptocurrencies and Payment Methods

OKEx supports a wide array of cryptocurrency options for traders and investors to transact. The list numbers in the hundred and include:

Bitcoin (BTC)Bitcoin Cash (BCH)Ethereum (ETH)Ethereum Classic (ETC)Tether (USDT)
Litecoin (LTC) EOS (EOS)Qtum (QTUM)NEO (NEO)Ontology (ONT)
Mithril (MITH)Nano (NANO)FirstBlood (1ST)Ark (ARK)Bitcoin Diamond (BCD)
Bitcoin Gold (BTG)Zilliqa (ZIL)DigiByte (DGB)Stellar (XLM)Monero (XMR)

Notably, as mentioned above OKEx accepts fiat currencies including USD, EUR, GBP, CAD etc.

Traders also have a wide variety of payment methods for purchasing cryptocurrencies. These include:

  • Bank transfer;
  • Credit (Visa and Mastercard) and debit card payments from select jurisdictions;
  • Cryptocurrency transfer from an off-exchange wallet or from a separate exchange to the OKEx exchange;
  • WeChat; and
  • Alipay.
credit card payment
Credit card payments are accepted

Deposit and Withdrawal Fees

OKEx does not charge deposit or withdrawal fees.

Trading Fees

OKEx adopts a maker-taker fee schedule to encourage more placements of orders and liquidity. Accordingly, the maker fee is lower than the taker fee. The maker and taker fees start from 0.10% and 0.15% respectively. Here’s the differences between maker and taker fees:

Maker fees: Payable when the trade order isn’t immediately matched with an existing order on the order book.

Taker fees: Payable when the trade order is immediately matched with an existing order on the order book.

Like other exchanges, OKEx has a VIP program to reward users who frequently trade with them. Users who hold more of OKEx’s token-OKB and have a high 30-day trading volume can get progressively more discounts on the maker and taker fees. In particular, higher level VIPs are even given rebates on the maker fees.

OKEx VIP tiers
OKEx VIP tiers

Moreover, traders who satisfied OKEx’s KYC verification process, have at least 20 BTC balance and satisfy the Exchange’s trading requirements are eligible to join OKEx’s Market Maker program. Depending on whether you are joining the program for OKEx’s Spots, Futures or Perpetual Swaps markets, users can get -0.005% (i.e. a rebate) on maker fees and 0.04% on taker fees.

Accepted Payment Methods  

The exchange has a number of payment options for customers depending on your location. You are advised to reach out to the support team if unsure that a payment option is not available in your country. These options include:  

  • Bank transfer;
  • Credit and debit cards;  
  • Cryptocurrency transfer from an off-exchange wallet or from a separate exchange to the OKEx exchange; 
  • WeChat network payments; and
  • Alipay system. 

Controversies

The Exchange faced several challenges in 2018. In August, after a large wrong way bet by one of its users, the Exchange transferred the losses onto its other traders. Later on in November, the Exchange suddenly change the terms of its Bitcoin Cash contract, forcing an early settlement and leaving traders suffering from losses. The Exchange’s explanation was that it was to protect traders from any volatility which may arise out of the Bitcoin Cash split. Yet some traders lost over USD $700,000, and many were prompted to file complaints with the Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

Further, there was a massive scare in September 2019 when Twitter user Whale Alert found that more than USD $270 million was sent from the Exchange to an unknown account. This prompted OKEx’s head of PR, Jennifer Chow to go on Twitter to confirm that it was only a regularly scheduled wallet maintenance. No one has come forward on that occasion saying they suffered any losses as a result. So it was unlikely to be a hack.

Tweet from OKEx clarifying the situation

Is OKEx Safe in 2020?

OKEx uses distributed storage to safeguard against losses in the event of hacking. This is because the exchange has various cold storage locations across the world to limit asset exposure. Additionally, the network has offline private keys for exchange hot wallets. Therefore, only a minimal amount of assets is held in the exchange hot wallet to boost security.

OKEx also has a robust system to ensure customer account security. These tools include 2FA verification, mobile verification codes for withdrawals and changing settings and anti-phishing codes in every OKEx email.They also have a bug bounty program to reward any persons who discover and report security vulnerabilities in the Exchange.

The Exchange did suffer a hack in August 2017 where one user’s account was compromised and lost 200 Bitcoin (then worth around USD $750,000) as a result. In that case, OKEx blamed the situation on hackers, rather than any issues with the Exchange itself. It is also still unclear whether the Exchange was really hacked in September 2019. Though there are no reports of any users coming forward to say they have suffered losses. So far, unlike some other cryptocurrency exchanges, OKEx has not suffered a confirmed hack involving multiple victims.

Based on their track record, OKEx seems to be a safe Exchange to use. But some other exchanges have insurance funds to cover any potential losses from hacks, which does not seem to be the case with OKEx. This could be a turn-off for some users. Notwithstanding this, they do have the usual security measures that you’d expect from any reputable exchange. However, it is still advisable to only store assets you will trade imminently in an exchange wallet and store the remainder of your funds in an offline hardware wallet.

Which hardware wallet should you get? We’ve compared the top 3 hardware wallets on the market. Or check out our individual detailed reviews for the Ledger Nano XTrezor Model T and KeepKey.

Conclusion: OKEx Pros and Cons

OKEx Exchange has a simple and easy to use interface. This makes it a solid exchange option for customers. The exchange features a large number of listed coins with various functions and competitive trading fees. On the downside, the mobile app has room for development. The Exchange also has to be more transparent regarding the veracity of its daily volume figures. This is something certain analysts have looked into. Nonetheless, the fact that OKEx is accessible and fairly liquid keeps it in good standing with most in the crypto economy.

Pros

  • Good track record with no significant hacks so far.
  • Offers fiat-to-crypto trading so users can easily enter into, and “cash out” their cryptocurrencies.
  • Built-in software wallet in its app means convenient on the go trading and using cryptocurrency.
  • Wide range of functions for traders to choose from.

Cons

  • Not available to those in the US.
  • Unknown whether they have an insurance fund to cover users’ losses in the event of a hack.

Final Score

Services offered: 4.5/5
Cryptocurrency support: 4.5/5
Fees: 4.5/5
Security: 4/5
Review Score: 4.4/5

FAQs

What is OKB?

OKB is OKEx’s own utility token. On the Exchange, users can hold OKB to enjoy trading fee discounts. OKB however has lots of different functions outside of the Exchange. Such as using OKB to subscribe for BitTorrent’s high-speed ad-free downloading or pledging your OKB for cryptocurrency lending. To learn more about OKB’s functions, click here.

Is OKex available to US customers

Currently OKex is not available to US residents or citizens.

Where can I download the OKEx trading app

OKEx offers both iOS (iPhone) and Android apps for trading on the go. You can download these apps via the official Apple Store or Google play store

How to avoid OKEx Fees

To get the lowest exchange withdraw fees, withdraw with options such as ERC-20 Tether (no Omni). You can also reduce fees by using the OKB coin, which offers trading discounts.

Is OKEx safe to trade

Yes. OKEx is one of the top tier exchanges in the world.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Services offered
Cryptocurrency support
Fees
Security
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Angela loves cryptocurrency, technology that improves our lives...and food. Anything that merges these worlds together is even better.

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