New! Bitsquare Exchange Review 2018 (UPDATED) | READ FIRST

Bisq (formerly known as Bitsquare) is something totally different. This decentralized Bitcoin exchange puts users only 10 minutes away from their first trade. And it’s all 100% anonymous. You can trade almost any major currency or any coin in mere minutes without giving any ID.

But there’s a lot you need to know to safely make a trade and ensure that you aren’t the victim of a scam. Frankly, most of the reviews I read had outdated or outright WRONG information.

Bleeding-edge technology like this is still in its infancy. Read this new Bisq Bitcoin exchange review for 2018 to sign up, get started, and stay safe.

Bisq is a peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange that embraces the original values of Bitcoin: decentralization, anonymity, and transparency. Unlike most exchanges, there is no central authority or single point of failure, making it impossible to “hack”(much, much more on this later). Instead of thinking of it as a company, think of it as a community.

The difference between the former Bitsquare and most other competitors is that it’s a network where peers trade with each other directly. Everything is open-source and 100% transparent. You can buy and sell Bitcoins for national currencies or other coins as long as both users agree.

But if it is so popular among the crypto community, why do so many still have doubts? I’ll cover everything you need to know about the exchange from safe trading protocol to fees, limits, and public opinion.

NOTE: If you’re looking for a more established P2P network, read the full review of LocalBitcoins from CryptoPositive. It might be what you’re looking for, but you must learn how to trade safely.


What is Bitsquare.io (now Bisq)?

Founded by Austrian crypto whiz Manfred Karrer in 2014, this is a totally different animal from what you’re used to. His goal was to keep the original spirit of Bitcoin alive. Bitcoin was started as a means to let people trade without needing a centralized authority, yet most exchanges are companies that rely on the traditional financial system and require ID.

Not Bisq.

Instead of being a company, it is a Decentralized Anonymous Organization (DAO). A DAOs are organizations with rules digitally encoded that function without the need for middlemen. In English, this is basically the same as companies you are used to except their rules are digitally enforced. The computer can’t break the rules like a human can. And, instead of having a central authority (like an HQ or board), it is run by this set of digital rules and a community surrounding it. Making sense?

The best thing about it being open-source is that it is run and supported by the community.

For a better understanding of DAOs and their potential to change, well, everything, kind of….read this interesting article from Coindesk.

For a better understanding of DAOs and their potential to change, well, everything, kind of….read this interesting article from Coindesk.

Features

Security

Bisq takes security seriously and designed the system for max trader safety. Still, any P2P network comes with risks. However, since it is decentralized and Bisq holds none of your money, you aren’t at risk of a hack. My only caveat is to beware of chargebacks (more on this in the FAQ).

Privacy

Everything is 100% anonymous.

Ease-of-use

You can start trading in as little as 10 minutes.

Coins

Bisq supports dozens of altcoins including DOGE, ETH, DASH, ZEN. For a full list, see the support FAQ.

Functionality

It’s a bit complex with the arbiter, but the functionality is smooth. Transactions take a long time though depending on the payment option.

Fees

The deposit and high fees per transaction make trading a bit on the steep side.

Overall

If you’re comfortable using a P2P network and paying a bit of a high fee, Bisq is great. 100% anonymous, decentralized, and safe—sounds like something cryptomaniacs would love.


How Does it Work?

Instead of going through a website, this exchange is run through an app. It lets you start trading in as little as 10 minutes! All you’ve got to do is add your bank account or select a payment method, and you are ready to go. Because it is P2P, there is NO NEED TO VERIFY ANYTHING.

Unlike other exchanges, Bisq is not dependent on a single provider. Banks serve only to transfer your national currency to the other user. This means nobody is cancelling, controlling, or mingling in your private trade. It is meant to be a means to avoiding all of the issues with today’s financial system.

Here’s how a trade works:

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    You decide you want to make an offer or accept one on the market and the platform links you two lovebirds together.
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    Both users then must make a deposit of .03 BTC plus the amount of the trade into the wallet. The deposit is to ensure that both parties follow the rules. It’s used as collateral in case something goes wrong.
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    Once things go forward, the deposit, trade amount, and mining fee (explanation later) is placed in a 2-out-of-3 multisig wallet.
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    An arbitrator is selected at random (see below for explanation) to make sure everything goes right.
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    The trade is executed once all 3 parties sign off that it went right.

**MUST READ SECURITY FEATURE** - What Are Arbitrators?: Arbitrators are a trusted 3rd party that ensure trades go right. They are the only other party aside from the 2 peers. Arbitrator security is a major issue that the company takes seriously. They are community users who guarantee an honest deal. How? Because they put up megabucks deposits (2 Bitcoins!) to take the job. If anything goes wrong, the dispute is settled with their deposit. You’re 100% safe!

How arbitrators works

Is Bisq Exchange Safe? | How Does Bisq Prevent Scams?

As with any peer-to-peer exchange, safety is a huge concern. Normally, a company is in place that the user puts their trust in. At first, it might seem like a P2P network is unsafe compared to a centralized exchange; however, the opposite is true. They are actually safer than a traditional exchange. Here’s why:

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    Bisq Holds NO Funds: Your funds are not stored anywhere on the site. This means you can’t get hacked. A traditional exchange would store your BTC in a wallet on their site. That means if a hacker or employee gets control, your money is gone. Your funds are only entered into a wallet once a trade is agreed on.
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    Deposits in Case of Emergency: There’s always the risk that something could go wrong during the trade. In case that happens, you are insured by the transaction deposit.
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    Arbiters: Random 3rd parties are selected to oversee trades.
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    No Single Node of Failure: Unlike a traditional exchange, there is no single point of attack for Bisq. It is a decentralized network. There is no way for a hacker to “get in” because there is no “in” to get to (and nothing to access there).
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    No Information Stored: If you connect your credit card or account to an exchange, the information is stored on premises. If there’s a hack, that info is now compromised. With Bisq, your information is stored locally and only pieces are shared with the other party you are dealing with.

So, unlike traditional exchanges or brokers, you are much safer on this type of exchange because there’s nothing to steal. Instead of vesting your trust in a company, security is determined by cryptographic proof.

“What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust” - Satoshi Nakamoto

What Are Bitsquare.io (now Bisq) Deposit Fees, Arbiter Fees, and Trade Fees?

One of the major drawbacks of using the Bisq platform is the amount of capital you need to start making trades. Fees themself are high, but you also need to pay a large deposit. Even though it is returned to you, simply having the .03 BTC ($316 | 2-28-18) on hand to put a deposit down is annoying. Imagine trying to rent a room for $500 a month but needing two months rent as a deposit. A $500 room costs you $1500 today. It’s a pain.

Fees are extremely complex compared to other exchanges. Here’s a breakdown:

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    Maker/Taker Trade Fee: If you are adding liquidity to the market (maker), you pay .002BTC or somewhere in that vicinity based on an extremely complicated algorithm. If you’re taking away liquidity (taker), you pay min .002BTC again subject to some crazy formula. In the end, it works out to about .20%.
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    Mining Fees: You will be charged mining fees. This could be as much $20 for even small trades. The site claims the fee is .003BTC, but there are actually 3 separate mining fees put into the trade. See the screenshot below.
Here is a screenshot from a Reddit user detailing their trade.


Here is a screenshot from a Reddit user detailing their trade.

So you will need to fund the trade with the trade amount + deposit + fee (.20%) + the mining fee (.95%). The mining fee and deposit functionally make small trades NOT WORTH YOUR TIME.

What Are Bisq’s Trading Limits?

Bisq places trade limits on each trade for security purposes. This is to deter criminals and protect the traders via a deposit (for example, if the trade were for 10BTC, then a .03BTC deposit wouldn’t deter criminals). The limit is determined by the payment method. For higher-risk payment methods like SEPA, it is .25BTC per trade. For lower risk ones like Alipay it is .5 BTC. Altcoins are as high as 1BTC.

For your first month, the trade limit is 25% of the total limit.

For an exhaustive list of limits, see the FAQ page for limits.

How to Trade Bitcoin on Bisq

When Bisq says you can be trading in 10 minutes, they are being a bit optimistic. Still, my experience was seamless. Getting started is extremely easy. Here’s what you’ve got to do.

1) Download the App

Bisq is not a central exchange. It’s actually a client that works on your desktop. Go over to Bisq.network and download the app to get started.

Click on Download

2) Connect Your Bank Account or Crypto Wallet

Either choose an account in your currency or connect your wallet to the exchange and then deposit funds into your account. Be sure to take into consideration the deposit and mining fees when considering how much you deposit.

3) Buy or Sell Bitcoin

Now that the money is in your account, you can buy or sell your currency. Be sure to check the markets and filter everything by currency. Once you’ve chosen an offer, you must specify how much you are buying/selling.

Trading on Bitsquare is as elsewhere

4) Enter into a Trade and Confirm

Just follow the prompts given to you by the software. It will automatically calculate the fees and ask you to fund the deal. From there, you must sign off that the trade was done successfully.

Reviews - Is Bitsquare (Bisq) Legit? | Public Opinion

There’s a unique sense of community around Bisq. It is a DAO, after all. Since there is no real central authority, there isn't really anyone to complain about. It isn’t viewed as an evil corporation by users, so it isn’t the target of the same negative press that most are.

In general, public opinion is pretty high and the community trusts the platform. Bisq is definitely legit. There are some legit gripes about the service (confusing fees for one), but with no reported hacks, solid UX, and complete anonymity during seamless trades, it’s hard to dislike the platform.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons that nobody is complaining is that there just aren’t that many people using Bisq yet. The community is a small but cult-like circle of devotees evangelising the wonders of P2P exchanges.

Bisq Reddit thread is quite empty

Bisq Reddit thread is quite empty

Only 7 active readers :/

Only 7 active readers :/


R/Bisq is relatively quiet. According to Coinmarketcap, the 24-hour trade volume is a shade over $26,000 (2-28-18). That’s next to nothing. Just to note, that doesn’t mean it is a bad exchange, it’s just still in its infancy.

Positive Reviews

The positive reviews focus on the anonymity, ease of signup, lack of verification, and P2P nature of the platform. For those who really embrace the philosophy of BTC, it is the exchange of choice.

Negative Reviews

There are a few negative reviews out there. Most focus on high fees and deposits and lack of liquidity. There is a large swath of people complaining about the functionality, but that’s because they have no idea how the platform is supposed to work. For a P2P exchange, there were very few allegations of fraud at all.

A quick Google search reveals everyone’s major concern.

A quick Google search reveals everyone’s major concern.

Exchange Comparison: Bisq vs. LocalBitcoins | Which is the Better P2P Network

100% anonymous. No verification. All types of payments you could imagine.

P2P networks truly embrace what Bitcoin was supposed to be: decentralized and anonymous. Bisq might be closest to Satoshi’s true dream, but it’s far from the only peer-to-peer exchange on the market. LocalBitcoins.com, the “Craigslist” of Bitcoins is big brother of the young upstart. Let’s compare them to see which one is the best place to hide behind your mask and buy some BTC.

Bitsquare logo
LocalBitcoins.com logo

LocalBitcoins at a Glance

LocalBitcoins was founded in Finland in 2012 by Jeremias Kangas. It is another, larger peer-to-peer network that embraces the spirit of Bitcoin. It is available globally and offers users the ability to buy Bitcoin with ALMOST ANYTHING (gift cards included). The downside is that usually you both have to meet up to make an exchange. There are ways of doing it over the web though.

BEWARE: LocalBitcoins.com is a Bitcoin-only exchange.

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    Type: P2P Exchange.
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    Founded: 2012.
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    Location: Helsinki, Finland.
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    Users: 1,000,000.
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    Currencies: Bitcoin.
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    Payment: Limitless. Anything from bank wire to gift cards.
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    Mobile App: Android.
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    Verification: Not required by LocalBitcoins.com, but some users may require verification.
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    API: Yes.
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    Support: Good.
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    Community Reputation: Pretty good.
Pros:
  • Fast
  • Any Type of Payment
  • 100% Anonymous
Cons:
  • Bitcoin Only
  • Lots of Scams

Head-to-Head

Even though they are both P2P networks, they are quite a bit different. Here’s how they stack up against each other.

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    Fees: LocalBitcoins.
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    Coins: Bisq.
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    Payment Options: LocalBitcoins.
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    Security: Bisq.
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    Liquidity: LocalBitcoins.
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    Interface: Wash.
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    Ease-of-Use: Bisq.

Verdict: Wash!

USE LOCALBITCOINS if you want to trade Bitcoin for any payment method imaginable. Be sure to watch out for scams.

USE BISQ for more secure trades of other coins with fewer payment methods (no cards or PayPal).


FAQ

Bisq is an exchange shrouded in mystery, and nothing like what most are used to. So no wonder there were tons of questions floating around that needed answering. I’ve aggregated the most frequently asked questions about Bisq here and answered them for you.

Q: Is Bisq Safe to Use?

A: Yes. The fact that your money is never stored anywhere means you are safe from hacks. The only risk is during the transaction itself. However, the arbiters, large deposits, and banning of all “high-risk” payment methods like PayPal effectively mitigates that risk.


Q: Where is it Located?

A: Bisq is not a centralized exchange. There is no central node. It is a network of users and totally open-source.


Q: What Does an Open Source Exchange Mean?

A: By open-source, they mean that the code is open for all to see and modify. It doesn’t mean your information is open-source.


Q: Which Coins and Currencies Does Bisq Support?

A: Bisq supports almost all major fiat currencies and well over 100 different coins. You can see the full list here.


Q: Does Bisq Accept PayPal?

A: No, it is considered too high risk.


Q: What Happens if Someone Initiates a Chargeback After Money Has Been Released?

A: This is quite rare but in the event that a chargeback is initiated by the trader from their bank, there is nothing you can do. However, this is almost totally preventable by Bisq protocol—not allowing easily-chargebackable (new word?) payments, trade limits that deter criminals, age-based trade limits, etc.


Q: How Long do Trades Take?

A: This is dependent on the payment method. SEPA payments are the longest (6 days) and other common payment methods are as follows: Western Union - 4 Days | Cash Deposit - 4 Days | National Bank Transfer - 4 Days | Alipay - 1 Day.

Likes/Dislikes

My experience with Bisq has been perfectly fine so far, but the platform is far from perfect. Here are some of CryptoPositive’s likes and dislikes. I think you’ll find the same thing that I did: if you are a cryptomaniac that loves privacy, it’s great. If you prefer traditional methods, it’s a bit scary.

Likes

Ease-of-Use

Download the app, connect your account, and start buying in 10 minutes. You’ve gotta like that.

Decentralization

I like how they are staying true to the original philosophy of Bitcoin. With no central node, there’s no way to hack.

Payment Options

There are loads of easy payment options that go through in 1-4 days.

Anonymity

Everything is 100% anonymous and the exchange has none of your info.

Anonymous meme

Dislikes

Fees

The fee schedule is a headache and mining fees are pretty heavy. Bisq is not for small trades.

Long Trades

Some trades can take up to 4-6 days to complete.

Chargeback Risk

Chargebacks are rare but they do still happen.


Is Bitsquare.io (now Bisq.network) a Good Bitcoin Exchange?

Totally decentralized, 100% anonymous, and impenetrable to hackers—Bisq intrigued me from the get go. With a ton of currency options, a range of payments, no verification, and easy setup, it’s a great place to dive right in and start living the original Bitcoin dream. As soon as it grows to a more liquid market, Bisq will be a great P2P network.

The fees, trade times, and risks involved might be a bit much for new traders, and the lack of liquidity is tough to stomach. But the potential is certainly there.

Use Bisq if: 

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    You want to exchange fiat for crypto easily
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    You don’t trust exchanges to hold your money
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    You believe transactions need to be private

CryptoPositive Verdict: It’s got a lot of potential, but needs more liquidity to be worth your time.

New! Bitsquare Exchange Review 2018 (UPDATED) | READ FIRST
5 (100%) 1 vote
Kevin Meng
 

Writer, musician, and world wanderer from the USA. After years of writing and traveling, I happened upon a group of crypto traders in Thailand and was fascinated with the ideas of decentralization, transparency, and accessibility. The crypto revolution is in full swing and we can’t escape its power…..but this is just the beginning.

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