Cryptocurrency exchanges have been an important part of the crypto and blockchain space for a long time. Being gateways to the world of cryptocurrency trading, crypto exchanges have repeatedly influenced the development of the space through the years. One need only remember how Mt. Gox almost single-handedly created the crypto market, while its untimely demise in 2014 nearly toppled it. In more recent times crypto exchanges like Coinbase, Kraken and Binance have been instrumental for the maturation of the market. And while decentralized exchanges like Uniswap are becoming increasingly prominent, centralized exchanges still account for the vast majority of crypto trading. That’s why in this article we’re focusing on centralized exchanges, with a separate piece on DEXes also on the cards.
So here’s our list of what we believe are the top five centralized cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
Binance came onto the scene during a rather turbulent time for the cryptocurrency space. The big South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges like Bithumb had just lost their dominant hold of the market amid a string of security breaches that prompted reactions from regulators. Meanwhile, China’s hostile stance on cryptocurrency trading had left the country’s traditional cryptocurrency exchanges (Huobi, OKex) scrambling to find ways to continue their operations. The conditions were rife for a new major player to emerge.
Binance came at the right time to fill the void and become a market leader, but it was not all just fortunate circumstances. The exchange attracted users with a convenient interface and support for a large number of cryptocurrencies, including many niche altcoins.
In the years since its arrival, Binance has further cemented its place as the leading platform for crypto trading. The platform has launched two proprietary blockchains – the Binance Chain for fast trading and the EVM compatible Binance Smart Chain. It has also launched two tokens – the BC-native BNB and a stablecoin called BUSD. Among the company’s many initiatives are also a token-launch platform called the Binance Launchpad and a great educational resource for blockchain technology called Binance Academy.
The exchange’s more recent endeavors include the launch of an NFT marketplace where users can create, buy and sell non-fungible tokens.
Currently, Binance is by far the largest crypto exchange in the world, regularly generating tens of billions of dollars per 24 hours. This does not include trading on Binance US, a spin-off platform for US residents.
Having started as a wallet provider, Coinbase has established itself as one of the most reputable platforms for crypto trading. Being the largest US crypto exchange, Coinbase has often been a catalyst for growth in the crypto market, especially in the early days, when the news of a listing on the exchange could have a dramatic impact on a token’s price.
Coinbase has always stood out from the crowd for its credibility and reputation. This was partly due to its status as the largest US crypto exchange, making it a leader in a market that’s been notoriously stringent in terms of crypto regulation.
Over the years, Coinbase has built an impressive portfolio of products and services aimed at boosting the platform’s utility and supporting the emerging crypto ecosystem. Among those are a comprehensive product suite for businesses, an educational programme on blockchain technology and crypto, stablecoin, a lending service allowing people to borrow using Bitcoin as collateral and more.
In a recent development, Coinbase also announced plans to launch a dedicated platform for trading and creating NFTs.
One of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in the US, Kraken has been at the forefront of crypto trading for over a decade now. While it’s never been among the biggest exchanges in terms of trading volume, Kraken has, nevertheless, become the preferred platform of a passionate community of crypto enthusiasts. This is in part why Kraken has a reputation of being geared towards more advanced crypto users.
In line with that reputation, the exchange offers a strong portfolio of sophisticated services, such as staking, which allows users to utilize the cryptocurrency in their accounts by joining Kraken’s validator nodes, margin trading and over-the-counter trading. The platform also offers a number of crypto futures, as well as real-time indices.
Kraken’s relatively high trading volume (24-hour volume of just over $500 million according to the most recent data from Coinmarketcap), combined with the low fees – especially for market makers – and the abundance of funding options the platform offers, gives te exchange deep liquidity, which allows users to easily buy and sell assets.
Finally, the exchange also has plenty of high-quality educational content, including crypto guides, videos and a podcast.
Gemini is another popular US exchange that’s known for offering interesting advanced options in addition to regular crypto trading. Founded by the Winklevoss brothers in 2015, Gemini is available in all US states and supports over 70 cryptocurrency. The platform is regarded as one of the most secure exchanges out there thanks to its strong security controls and compliance.
One of Gemini’s most enticing features is its Gemini Earn program, which allows users to earn interest (up to 8.05% annual percentage yield) on their crypto assets. Another interesting offering is the Gemini credit card, with which users can get up to 3% instant crypto rewards on every purchase.
Gemini also has a number of products geared towards more experienced traders and institutional investors. Those include a clearing service, which allows two parties to settle trades of the order book; a custodial service; a wallet and a crypto payment service.
In late 2021, Gemini raised $400 million in a funding round that gave the company a total valuation of $7.1 billion.
One of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges on this list, Crypto.com enjoys high trading activity, with its 24-hour trading volume generally occupying the $2 billion – $3 billion range, which puts it in the same tier as Coinbase. With a large selection of supported cryptocurrencies and a variety of advanced trading options, the platform’s popularity is hardly surprising. Crypto.com supports over 70 cryptocoins, including some of the most popular DeFi tokens.
Crypto.com’s popular products include Visa debit cards that give rewards to stakers of the exchange’s stablecoin CRO (up to 8% back in CRO on debit card spending), a crypto payment service, a crypto lending service and more. Meanwhile, advanced traders will welcome options like margin trading, derivatives trading and DeFi token swaps.
Recently, Crypto.com also made its foray into NFTs by launching a marketplace for non fungible tokens.