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  • >What the Top Ten Exchanges by Volume Tell Us About the Crypto Market

What the Top Ten Exchanges by Volume Tell Us About the Crypto Market

You may have noticed that the cryptocurrency market has been booming in recent months. Not only does this mean all-time highs for numerous cryptocurrencies, but it also means that crypto-exchanges themselves have been growing at a dizzying rate, as revealed by Coinbase’s recent SEC filings and quarterly reports.

While we continue to see many of the usual suspects at the top of leaderboards for trading volume, such growth has also provided an opportunity for newer exchanges to rise up and challenge the bigger platforms. So given that the current bull market has helped to instigate change within the industry, we thought we’d provide a rundown of the ten biggest exchanges by volume right now.

As the following list indicates, the key to success as an exchange appears to be offering the widest possible of coins for trading, with the biggest exchanges generally hosting the most markets. And if nothing else, this highlights how we are currently in a highly bullish market, where new opportunities for outsized short-term gains take precedence over the stability of a store of value such as bitcoin.

Trading volume is a complicated metric when it comes to reviewing cryptocurrency exchanges.

1) Binance

With a 24-hour volume that currently ranges from $48 billion to $120 billion (depending on your data source and the day you check), Binance is definitely the largest crypto-exchange in the world in operation today.

According to CoinMarketCap, Binance accounts for 23.6% of all trading volume in the cryptocurrency market ($65.3 billion out of $275.8 billion, as of May 11). This highlights the dominant position it has assumed within the industry, despite occasionally angering its customers via the freezing of trades/withdrawals (something which happens to most big exchanges during peak periods), and despite a high-profile hack in 2019.

One thing that’s worth pointing out with Binance is that it lists more coins and offers more trading pairs than pretty much any other exchange out there. CoinMarketCap (which is owned by Binance) puts its markets/pairs at 1,223, while Nomics lists it at 1,557, while CoinGecko puts the individual coins it supports at 304. This is the highest of any exchange listed on CoinMarketCap (save for the very obscure Hotbit, which doesn’t even have a trading volume listed for it).

In other words, one of the big reasons why Binance is so popular is that it lets you trade pretty much any significant cryptocurrency out there, including many of the smaller altcoins that are rising very quickly. It also has a fairly aggressive promotional strategy, organising giveaways at a fairly regular rate.

2) Huobi Global

On most days of the week, Seychelles-headquartered Huobi Global is usually the second-biggest crypto-exchange by 24-hour trading volume. As of writing, CoinGecko puts its 24-hour volume at $21.9 billion, although this has varied from $267.9 million (in October 2020) to $6.6 billion (in January 2021) and beyond (since January).

This indicates that Huobi Global has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the current expansionary bull market. It almost never figured in the top ten of exchanges prior to 2021, but since the middle of January it has consistently occupied the number-two spot in terms of daily trading volume.

As with Binance, one of the keys to Huobi Global’s success has been its wide listing of cryptocurrencies. CoinMarketCap puts its markets at 968 and coins at 328, just behind Binance as far as choice goes. So by serving the growing demand for low-liquidity coins that can suddenly shoot up in price, it has climbed the ranks.

3) Upbit

Upbit is so close to Huobi in terms of daily trading volume that it sometimes swaps places with its rival, taking the number two spot depending on which day you check the data.

It also has a volume of $21 billion, as of writing, and like Huobi it has expanded significantly during the bull market. Back in October its volume was only $86.6 million, while in December and then January it had a volume of around $1.7 billion and then $3.7 billion, respectively.

Upbit doesn’t offer quite as extensive a range of coins and pairs as either Binance or Huobi, but it’s still wider than the selection offered by the reputable American exchanges. For instance, CoinGecko data shows that it lists 175 cryptocurrencies, while Coinbase Pro, Kraken and Gemini list 60, 55 and 40, respectively.

4) OKEx

Based in Malta, OKEx is currently the fourth biggest crypto-exchange, boasting a volume of $13.3 billion according to CoinGecko. This can rise as high as $17.4 billion (early May) or $18.2 billion (late April).

Unlike Huobi or Upbit, OKEX has been one of the biggest exchanges for a while. It was the third-biggest in January, and the second-biggest back in October, before the bull market really kicked off.

Once again, its selection of coins is pretty broad: 263, with as many as 715 markets.

5) VCC Exchange

Vietnam- and Singapore-based VCC Exchange is possibly a surprise entry on this list, but data from both CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap show that it has consistently been the fifth-largest exchange for a few weeks now.

As of writing, its 24-hour volume sits at $12.9 billion, although it has risen as high as $17.8 billion (in early May). This stands in stark contrast to the volume it tallied on February 10, when it traded only $97.6 million.

It therefore stands as another example of the extremely precipitous growth the cryptocurrency industry has witnessed over the past few months. Coins listed: 131.

6) Coinbase Pro

While volumes for Coinbase itself aren’t shared with data aggregators, Coinbase Pro (which is aimed more at experienced traders) is the next exchange on this list, boasting 24-hour trading volume (as of writing) of $10.3 billion.

This is pretty modest as far as the exchanges above are concerned, but it’s possible that, if the main Coinbase platform were added, the exchange would be number one. As of Q1 2021, it claims around 56 million users, a 30% rise compared to the previous quarter.

Needless to say, Coinbase Pro has been one of the biggest exchanges in the world for some time now. But even if it has been in the top ten for numerous months (and years), it has also witnessed stunning growth in volumes, rising from $197.9 million on October 3 to the $10 billion of today.

7) BitForex

Here’s where things get kind of sketchy, because while CoinMarketCap lists Hong Kong-based BitForex as the seventh-biggest exchange by volume, CoinGecko puts it all the way down in 42nd. However, because a third aggregator — Nomis — currently has BitForex’s volume as the fifth biggest (above Upbit and Coinbase Pro), we’ve decided to give the exchange the number seven spot. (If nothing else, this shows how contentious volume rankings are in crypto.)

According to CoinMarketCap, BitForex currently has a daily trading volume of about $10 billion. This is up from $6.3 billion at the end of April, and $513 million as recently as March. So it’s another exchange that has benefitted massively from the public’s rush to jump on the crypto gravy train.

8) XT.com

CoinGecko data shows that Hong Kong-based XT.com has a daily trading volume of $8.3 billion, a more than 1,000% rise over the $708 million it recorded in January (when it was ranked 69th by volume). It’s another exchange that lists a wide range of cryptocurrencies, at 160, making a favored destination of traders looking to buy newer, more illiquid coins.

9) CoinTiger

Another Singaporean exchange, CoinTiger has daily volumes of $6.8 billion, which is a 2,400% increase over the very modest $262 million volume CoinGecko listed it as having in early January.

It presently supports 274 cryptocurrencies.

10) CoinBene

At $6.6 billion, CoinBene rounds out this top ten. It’s also based in Singapore, and has been a top-ranking exchange (in terms of volume) for several months now, with $2.8 billion in volume recorded in early January and $1 billion recorded in October (although CoinGecko notes that it offers trading incentives). At the moment, it facilitates trades in 143 different coins.

Conclusion

It needs to be pointed out that volume (as with price) data isn’t always wholly reliable in crypto. While the volumes cited above have been taken from CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap, many of the exchanges featured in this list have received a transparency rating from Nomics of only C (or “fair”), while two of them have a D (“poor”) rating. This means they don’t provide high-quality trading data with a full history, so their volumes aren’t as trustworthy as those for an exchange with an A rating.

  • Binance – A

  • Huobi Global – C

  • Upbit – C

  • OKEx – C

  • VCC Exchange – D

  • Coinbase Pro – A

  • BitForex – C

  • XT.com – A+

  • CoinTiger – D

  • CoinBene – not rated

It’s arguable that this is the main reason why many of the most well-known exchanges — Kraken, Bitmex, Gemini, Bitstamp — aren’t included in this top ten. If you look at Nomics’ ranking of all exchanges it has given an A for transparency, such exchanges figure higher up in the list, with Kraken coming sixth, for instance, and Bitmex coming seventh.

Still, assuming that such volumes are largely reliable (and CoinMarketCap and CoinGecko tell a similar story), they offer a clear window into just how fast crypto has expanded in recent months. Trading cryptocurrencies has become exponentially more popular, with many exchanges — particularly those that support more coins — rising up the rankings as they attract new traders.

Of course, whether many of the exchanges above retain their new positions once the current bull market ends is an open question. But for now, trading volumes provide yet more evidence that crypto is on the up.

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CryptoVantage Author Simon Chandler

About the Author

Simon Chandler

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London. He writes about technology, markets and politics, and has bylines for Forbes, Digital Trends, CCN, Wired, TechCrunch, the Verge, RT.com, the Sun, the New Internationalist, and TruthOut, among many others. His Twitter handle is @_simonchandler_

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