Experts say, Most exchanges make you weigh fees against protection.
Other exchanges — with fewer guarantees, perhaps — can charge as low as 0.2 percent while Coinbase charges a base rate of up to 4 percent for all transactions which make sense as more secure exchanges charge a higher transaction rate.
Experts say cryptocurrency exchanges should follow what are called “know your customer” (KYC) and “anti-money laundering” (AML) procedures, which are designed to reduce the risk of illegal or fraudulent activity by certifying customers’ identity.
“If it’s really easy to open an account, and it’s really easy to shield your cryptocurrencies from the IRS, then it’s going to be just as difficult to get your money back when things go south,” Gün Sirer said.
“Is it a fly-by-night operation operating out of a P.O. box or is it a genuine operation, of which we have many?” Gün Sirer said.
A simple Google search can turn up some telling results about potential problems. You should also try to speak to other users of an exchange and inquire about their experience.
Not all cryptocurrency exchanges accept U.S. dollars. If you don’t have any digital tokens yet, like most people, you’ll need to find an exchange that takes cash.
Make sure the exchange will work with you. For example, one of the biggest exchanges, Bitfinex, doesn’t accept United States payments, citing, among other reasons, a challenging regulatory landscape.
Look for an address for the company. If you can’t find one, that should be a red flag.
If you don’t know where your exchange is located, “when you get hacked it’s going to be very difficult for you to even find the right jurisdiction in which you should sue the people who stole your money,” said Emin Gün Sirer, an associate professor of computer science at Cornell University who writes about bitcoin.