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Digital currency exchangers (DCEs) or Bitcoin exchanges are businesses that allow customers to trade digital currencies for other assets, such as conventional fiat money, or different digital currencies.[1] They are market makers that typically charge fees or take the bid/ask spreads as transaction commissions for their services.[1]

DCEs may be brick-and-mortar businesses, exchanging traditional payment methods and digital currencies, or strictly online businesses, exchanging electronically transferred money and digital currencies.[2] Most digital currency exchanges operate outside of Western countries, avoiding regulatory oversight and complicating prosecutions, but DCEs often handle Western fiat currencies, sometimes maintaining bank accounts in several countries to facilitate deposits in various national currencies.[3][4] They may accept credit card payments, wire transfers, postal money orders, or other forms of payment in exchange for digital currencies, and many can convert digital currency balances into anonymous prepaid cards which can be used to withdraw funds from ATMs worldwide.[3][4]

Some digital currencies are backed by real-world commodities such as gold.[5]

Creators of digital currencies are often independent of the DCEs that trade the currency.[4] In one type of system, digital currency providers, or DCPs, are businesses that keep and administer accounts for their customers, but generally do not issue digital currency to those customers directly.[2][6] Customers buy or sell digital currency from DCEs, who transfer the digital currency into or out of the customer's DCP account.[6] Some DCEs are subsidiaries of DCP, but many are legally independent businesses.[2] The denomination of funds kept in DCP accounts may be of a real or fictitious currency.[6]

Regulatory issues

In 2004 three Australian–based digital currency exchange businesses voluntary shut down following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The ASIC viewed the services offered as legally requiring an Australian Financial Services License, which the companies lacked.[7]

In 2006, US-based digital currency exchange business GoldAge Inc., a New York state business, was shut down by the US Secret Service after operating since 2002.[8] Business operators Arthur Budovsky and Vladimir Kats were indicted "on charges of operating an illegal digital currency exchange and money transmittal business" from their apartments, transmitting more than $30 million to digital currency accounts.[6] Customers provided limited identity documentation, and could transfer funds to anyone worldwide, with fees sometimes exceeding $100,000.[6] Budovsky and Kats were sentenced in 2007 to five years in prison "for engaging in the business of transmitting money without a license, a felony violation of state banking law", ultimately receiving sentences of five years probation.[9]

In April 2007, the US government ordered E-gold administration to lock/block approximately 58 E-Gold accounts owned and used by The Bullion Exchange, AnyGoldNow, IceGold, GitGold, The Denver Gold Exchange, GoldPouch Express, 1MDC (a Digital Gold Currency, based on e-gold) and others, forcing G&SR (owner of OmniPay) to liquidate the seized assets.[10] A few weeks later, E-Gold faced four indictments. Here is the DoJ release [11] and here is the rebuttal by Douglas Jackson, CEO.[12]

In July 2008, Webmoney changed its rules, affecting many exchangers. Since that time it became prohibited to exchange Webmoney to most popular e-currencies like E-gold, Liberty Reserve and others.[13]

Also in July 2008 E-gold's three directors accepted a bargain with the prosecutors and plead guilty to one count of "conspiracy to engage in money laundering" and one count of the "operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business".[14] E-gold ceased operations in 2009.

In 2013, Jean-Loup Richet, a research fellow at ESSEC ISIS, surveyed new money laundering techniques that cybercriminals were using in a report written for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.[15] A common approach to cyber money laundering was to use a digital currency exchanger service which converted dollars into Liberty Reserve and could be sent and received anonymously. The receiver could convert the Liberty Reserve currency back into cash for a small fee. In May 2013, digital currency exchanger Liberty Reserve was shut down after the alleged founder, Arthur Budovsky Belanchuk, and four others were arrested in Costa Rica, Spain, and New York "under charges for conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy and operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business."[16] Budovsky, a former U.S. citizen and naturalized Costa Rican, was convicted in connection with the 2006 Gold Age raid.[9][17] A U.S. indictment said the case "is believed to be the largest international money laundering prosecution in history."[17] More than $40 million in assets were placed under restraint pending forfeiture, and more than 30 Liberty Reserve exchanger domain names were seized.[16][18] The company was estimated to have laundered $6 billion in criminal proceeds.[16]

List of Bitcoin exchanges

Title Country Fiat money Bitcoin Altcoins Commodity Trade Fee Decentralized Website Notes  Belize Yes Yes Yes No n/a No Instant fixed-rate exchange service provided by InterMoney Exchange™, licensed International Money Exchange operator.[19] Supports 6 fiat currencies and a number of deposit/withdrawal methods: credit/debit cards, SEPA, international bank transfers, local bank transfers and cash deposits in Australia, Europe.
ANX  Hong Kong Yes Yes Yes No 0% No Supports 10 fiat currencies. Offers debit card. It charges fees on withdrawal.  USA Yes Yes Yes Yes - GH/s Mining 0.2% No Supported Currencies: USD, EUR, GBP & LTC, BTC, GH/s (provided by BitFury). Trade and Mine GH/s (Mining Capacities). Multi-signature addresses & transactions and 2 factor authentication. is a trademark of XBIT Ltd., a licensed Forex participant (#70  Germany Yes Yes No Yes, Gold 0.5% Yes Decentralized: Transfers are made person to person.  Poland Yes Yes No No 0.25% - 0.43% No Supports PLN, USD, EUR. Offers express deposits (Cashbill - PLN; OKPay - USD, EUR), withdrawals (Bluecash - PLN; SEPA and OKPay - EUR; OKPay - USD). Supports Polish and English language.
BitPesa  Kenya Yes Yes No No 3% No n/a
BitStamp  UK Yes Yes Yes No 0.2 - 0.5% No n/a
Bleutrade  Brazil Yes Yes Yes No 0.25% No • Trade Crypto2Crypto • Trade 65 cryptocurrencies • Possibility to trade 2080 pairs • Supports English and Portuguese.
BTC-e  Bulgaria Yes Yes Yes No 0.2% No Supports English, Russian and Chinese language. МetaTrader 4 platform for live trading of the BTC/USD currency pair.[20]  UK /  Singapore No Yes No No 0.5% No Allows Leveraged Trading.
BTCChina  China Yes Yes Yes No 0% No n/a
Buttercoin  USA Yes Yes No No 0% No US bank transfers and wires for deposits and withdrawals. US residents only.
CEX.IO  UK Yes Yes Yes Yes, GHS 0.2% No Also a cloud mining provider.
Circle  USA Yes Yes No No n/a No Links credit card to account.
CleverCoin  NLD Yes Yes No No 0.3% No n/a
Coinfloor  UK Yes Yes No No 0.08 - 0.55% No n/a
Coinbase  USA Yes Yes No No 1% No n/a
CoinMama  USA Yes Yes Yes No n/a No Buy bitcoins with credit/debit card or cash - Worldwide service including the US.  UK Yes Yes No No 0.2% No BTC/USD trading. SEPA, CZK, PLN bank transfer, EgoPay, OKPay.
CoinGateway  UK No Yes Yes No 0.5% No Instant Exchange, No account required.
Cryptsy  USA Yes Yes Yes No 0.2 - 0.3% No n/a
Gatecoin  Hong Kong Yes Yes No No 0% for 15 days, from 0.05% to 0.6% then No Supported currencies: USD, HKD, EUR, BTC.
itBit  Singapore Yes Yes Yes No 0.35 - 0.50% No n/a
LocalBitcoins  Finland Yes Yes No No 1% Yes All countries and currencies, p2p Bitcoin marketplace for optional escrow
LakeBTC  China Yes Yes No No 0 - 0.2% No Support USD, SEK and CNY.
Multigateway No Yes Yes No none Yes Decentralized. Based on Nxt's Asset Exchange.
Mycelium  Austria Yes Yes No No 0.2% Yes Android wallet and trader. All countries and currencies, p2p Bitcoin marketplace for optional escrow
Mt. Gox  Japan Yes Yes No No n/a No n/a Shutdown in 2014
Unocoin  India Yes Yes No No 0.7 - 1.0% No n/a
UseCryptos  Brazil Yes Yes Yes No 0.25% No • Trading, Wallets and Payments Processor

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Digital Currency Exchanger (DCE) Definition". Investopedia Dictionary. Investopedia US, a division of ValueClick, Inc. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Working Group on Typologies (18 October 2010). "Draft Report on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing through New Payment Methods" (PDF). Paris: Financial Action Task Force. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Substantiation – Money laundering in digital currencies (Unclassified)". Money Laundering in Digital Currencies. National Drug Intelligence Center, US Department of Justice. June 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Sood, Aditya K; Enbody, Richard J; Bansal, Rohit (2013). "Cybercrime: Dissecting the State of Underground Enterprise" (PDF). IEEE Internet Computing (1). IEEE Computer Society. pp. 60–68.
  5. Byrnes, William H.; Munro, Robert J. (2 October 2013). Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture and Recovery and Compliance – A Global Guide. LexisNexis. p. 2802. ISBN 978-0-327-17084-6. (Page number assigned by Google Books.)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Hesterman, Jennifer L (17 April 2013). The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups. CRC Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-4665-5761-1.
  7. "ASIC acts to shut down electronic currency trading websites" (Press release). Australian Securities & Investments Commission. 9 November 2004. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  8. McCullagh, Declan (30 March 2001). "Secret service raids Gold-Age". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Boddiger, David; Arias, L (24 May 2013). "Millions of dollars in limbo after shuttering of digital currency site Liberty Reserve". The Tico Times. San José, Costa Rica. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  10. " is offline". Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  11. "#07-301: 04-27-07 Digital Currency Business E-Gold Indicted for Money Laundering and Illegal Money Transmitting". 24 April 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  12. "e-gold® Founder Denies ..." Archived from the original on 4 June 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  14. Grant Gross (22 July 2007). "IDG News Service Internet currency firm pleads guilty to money laundering". Archived from the original on 14 April 2009.
  15. Richet, Jean-Loup (June 2013). "Laundering Money Online: a review of cybercriminals methods". arXiv. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Written testimony of U.S. Secret Service for a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs hearing titled "Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats, and Promises of Virtual Currencies"". United States Department of Homeland Security. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Matonis, Jon (28 May 2013). "U.S. Shuts Currency Exchange Allegedly Tied To $6B In Money Laundering". Forbes. LLC. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  18. "Digital currency biz Liberty Reserve shut down, founder arrested | VentureBeat | Security | by Sean Ludwig". VentureBeat. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  19. "List of Belize-based financial compalies, holding International Money Exchange license at the local regulators IFSC website".
  20. "The long awaited MetaTrader 4 platform is ready for live trading of the BTC/USD..." Retrieved 1 November 2013.

External links

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