FTX is a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange that is quickly establishing itself in an ever-expanding segment of the crypto trading market.
The exchange has generated a significant amount of positive sentiment among the crypto trading community and already boasts high daily trading volumes. This is quite impressive due to the relative youth of the platform, and the fact that FTX is unavailable to anyone based in the US.
The exchange launched in May 2019, and provides its users with access to a range of innovative trading products including Bitcoin options, over 45 leveraged tokens, 20 perpetual swaps, MOVE contracts, and prediction markets.
The exchange also provides access to regular spot trading and supports transfers in fiat and a range of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and a selection of stablecoins. FTX aims to cater for both retail and institutional traders and provides a range of products and services aimed at more dedicated traders.
The platform also provides an OTC service for anyone interested in making large crypto purchases, while the mobile app suits anyone who likes to keep up with their accounts while on the go.
Who is Behind FTX?
FTX was founded in 2018 by current CEO Sam Bankman-Fried who was once a trader on Jane Street Capital’s international ETF desk, and current CTO Gary Wang, who is a former Google software engineer.
Prior to founding FTX, in 2017 the pair founded Alameda Research Ltd which is a leading quantitative trading and cryptocurrency liquidity provider, and Alameda assists FTX in maintaining deep order books as well as 24/7 OTC services.
Alameda also incubated and developed FTX with the exchange successfully raising a total of $8m over three funding rounds. After the Seed and Corporate rounds which took place in 2019, the Series B round was completed on March 2, 2020 and attracted investment from Liquid Value Capital.
Binance acted as a Lead Investor during the Corporate round while FBG Capital, Greylock Partners, Kenetic, One Block Capital, and Proof of Capital were all Seed round investors.
As a result, the exchange is backed by a number of leading crypto venture funds and has a strong network to rely on. The core team behind FTX are also transparent in nature and have made their names and LinkedIn profiles publically available. FTX exchange is owned by FTX Trading LTD, which has been incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda and retains offices in Hong Kong.
FTX Key Features
As an emerging crypto derivatives trading platform, FTX has been attracting users at an impressive rate by providing a wide range of advanced trading products.
The exchange has also been the first to launch a number of unique and innovative trading products such as leveraged tokens and MOVE contracts that have helped to set FTX apart.
The team cater to both retail and institutional traders and incorporate solid trading features such as low fees, and tight spreads, in addition to an OTC desk, extensive customer service support, TradingView charts, and IOS and Android mobile apps.
Other key features include:
- Fiat Currency Transfers – Users can make transfers in currencies such as USD, EUR, CAD, GBP, and AUD. The exchange also accepts credit card deposits.
- Up to 101x leverage – FTX provides generous leverage which allows traders to maximise their profit potential.
- Easy Conversions/Stablecoin Settlements – Users can easily convert currencies within their accounts and trade all derivatives with one margin wallet.
- Institutional Grade Services – FTX incorporates top class features such as deep liquidity and orderbooks, unlimited withdrawals, a liquidation fund, and an OTC desk.
- Extensive Customer Support – FTX provides a wide range of features and resources aimed at helping its account holders to navigate the platform and also provides chat groups in over 10 languages.
Tradable Products on FTX
The team behind FTX have identified a number of gaps in the market and are working towards establishing their exchange by offering an innovative range of trading products. These include futures, leveraged tokens, options, MOVE contracts, and prediction markets.
Currently, account holders can engage in futures trading on over 20 assets, while over 45 tokens can be traded with leverage, and the exchange also caters for users looking to engage in more straightforward spot trading.
FTX has quarterly and perpetual futures on over 20 popular cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH, BNB, and LINK. The exchange also lists Index Futures which allows users to trade various segments of the crypto market more easily. These include large-cap coins (ALT-PERP), mid caps, (MID-PERP), and small cap coins (SHIT-PERP). User can also trade exchange tokens (EXCH-PERP), privacy tokens (PRIV-PERP), and regional baskets (DRGN-PERP) by choosing the appropriate index. In addition, FTX also lists Oil contracts which expire to the spot price of WTI oil.
Up to 101x leverage available on the platform, although FTX places a maximum leverage of 10x on all accounts by default as a safety precaution.
The exchange also provides over 45 different leveraged tokens which present a relatively straightforward way for users to get leverage, and the BULL and BEAR tokens automatically manage their exposure, and rebalance daily in order to maintain their target leverage and prevent liquidations.
These act as ERC20 tokens which allow you to go 3x long or 3x short in a variety of popular digital assets including BTC, ETH, LINK, XTZ, BNB, and XRP.
FTX also provides pioneering MOVE contracts which act as futures that expire according to the raw amount BTC moves within a certain time period (daily, weekly or quarterly).
This allows account holders to trade on the amount Bitcoin is going to move and profit regardless of the direction. With MOVE contracts the overall volatility of BTC price over a set period acts as the main determinant of a contract’s value.
Bitcoin options are also available to be traded with the options contracts on FTX cash expiring in USD. Traders can open call or put options contracts, which work as ‘right to buy’ and ‘right to sell’ positions, and in the same way as futures contracts, users can opt to go long or short with leverage.
In general, options contracts allow the trade of “the right” to buy or sell an underlying asset at a set price, by a set time/date, and FTX’s options can be customized in a variety of ways as users can configure strike prices and expiration times as they like.
Spot markets enable users to make purchases of a number of popular cryptocurrencies and trade in more traditional ways. Popular digital assets such as BTC, ETH, BNB, LINK, FTT, BCH, USDT, PAXG, XAUT, TRYB, and BTMX are all available for spot trading on the exchange.
The current US Presidential Election prediction market allows users to trade on candidates in the 2020 Election race. Futures contracts which expire to set values once the final result has been confirmed are currently available to be traded on the market.
FTX Account Types and Limits
FTX operates three main account tiers with differing KYC requirements. It’s possible to withdraw up to $9,000 a day without submitting any verification documents, while unlimited crypto withdrawals are reserved for Tier 2 account holders, and Tier 3 account holders gain access to unlimited fiat withdrawals via an OTC desk.
How to Open an Account on FTX
The registration process is pretty straightforward and is similar to signing up to other crypto exchanges. You can get started by:
- Clicking on the “Register” tab at the top right of the home page. From here you will need to fill in your email and password in the pop-up registration window.
- Click the “Sign Up” to register an account and receive a confirmation email.
- You can now secure your account by setting up 2FA by clicking on “Account Security” and choosing Authy, Google Authenticator, or SMS.
- You can now deposit funds in order to trade; however, your account has a total withdrawal limit of $1,000 until you complete KYC verification.
- Head to the “Settings” page to complete the KYC verification process and unlock higher withdrawal limits.
FTX Account KYC
For individual accounts, the Level 1 Identity Verification form requires a full name, country of residence, and state, province, or region to get $2k daily withdrawal limits.
For Tier 2 KYC verification, you need to fill out the form and upload your proof of identity and proof of address documents. Tier 3 KYC verification requires you to upload a recent bank statement from the bank you plan to use for fiat transfers.
Despite being a relatively new entrant to the digital asset trading sector, FTX supports the deposit, trading, and withdrawal of an impressive number of fiat and digital currencies. Anyone interested in depositing and withdrawing fiat can currently do so in the following currencies:
FTX also allows its users to trade in a wide range of cryptocurrencies with perpetual swaps being available for 15 assets, while over 45 tokens can be traded with leverage.
FTX also offers unique altcoin indices, Bitcoin options, MOVE contracts, and spot trading. As a result, the following cryptocurrencies can be traded on FTX:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Binance Coin (BNB)
- Tether (USDT)
- FTX Token (FTT)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Tezos (XTZ)
- ChainLink (LINK)
- Ethereum Classic (ETC)
- PAX Gold (PAXG)
- Huobi Token (HT)
- Tron (TRX)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- UNUS SED LEO (LEO)
- Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV)
- BitMax Token (BTMX)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Algorand (ALGO)
- TomoChain (TOMO)
- BiLira (TRYB)
- Cosmos (ATOM)
FTX currently supports over 20 different perpetual swaps with futures trading available for coins including BTC, ETH, LTC, LINK, XTZ, XRP, BNB, EOS, MATIC, HT, OKB, ALGO, LEO, BTMX, PAXG, XAUT, DOGE, TOMO, and ADA.
Over 45 leveraged tokens are available including BULL/USD (3x long BTC), BEAR/USD (3x short BTC), ETHBULL/USD (3x long ETH), ETHBEAR/USD (3x short ETH), LTCBULL/USD (3x long LTC), LINKBULL/USDT (3x long LINK), BNBBEAR/USDT (3x short BNB), and LEOBULL/USD (3x long LEO).
FTX also supports Bitcoin options trading as well as BTC MOVE contracts, and anyone looking for more straightforward trading can do so on spot markets which support BTC, ETH, BNB, LINK, FTT, BCH, USDT, PAXG, XAUT, TRYB, and BTMX.
FTX supports fiat deposits and withdrawals in USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD, CHF, HKD, SGD, and ZAR, and the following cryptocurrencies can all be deposited into your FTX account.
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Binance Coin (BNB)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- FTX Token (FTT)
- BitMax Token (BTMX)
- BiLira (TRYB)
- USD Stablecoins (USDT, USDC, TUSD, PAX, HUSD, and BUSD)
There are no fees for crypto deposits and withdrawals as FTX pays the withdrawal blockchain fees. However, fiat withdrawals below $10,000 accrue a $75 fee while all other transfers are fee free.
FTX only processes wire transfers on weekday evenings (except for Silvergate SEN), and USD wire transfers can take up to one weekday to process while non-USD transfers can take longer.
You can make a fiat deposit or withdrawal from your FTX wallet and selecting whichever fiat currency you prefer. You can also convert other fiat currencies to USD by using the ‘CONVERT’ button within your FTX wallet which will see your chosen fiat currencies being converted into USD stablecoins.
All fiat transfers are handled via a third party OTC desk, and dealing in fiat is only available to users who are Level 3 KYC verified. The FTX team encourage users to get in touch before depositing or withdrawing fiat for the first time, and have also produced a video walk-through to explain the process.
FTX Fees and Charges
When using FTX there are no deposit or withdrawal fees, and there are also no fees on futures settlements. OTC trading or trading from within your wallet is also fee free as all costs are built into the price you are quoted.
Leveraged tokens have creation and redemption fees of 0.10%, and daily management fees of 0.03%. If you choose to use leverage of 50x your trading fees increase by 0.02% and opting for 100x increases your trading fees by 0.03% which is paid into the insurance fund.
It’s worth noting that the fees for MOVE contracts depend on the price of the underlying index, and not the price of the MOVE contract.
FTX operates the following tiered fee structure for all futures and spot markets:
It’s also important to note that FTT holdings cannot decrease taker fees below 0.015%.
Discount for FTT holders
There are fee discounts available for FTT holders, and the current discounts are based on your FTT holdings and range from 3% to 60%.
The FTT Token
In keeping with other crypto exchanges, FTX maintains it own ecosystem utility token. The FTT token allows its holders to receive benefits including lower FTX trading fees and socialized gains from the insurance fund. The team perform weekly buy-backs and burn tokens equal to:
- 33% of all fees generated on FTX markets
- 10% of net additions to the insurance fund (‘Socialized Gains’)
- 5% of fees earned from other uses of the FTX platform
It’s important to note that the FTT token isn’t available in the USA; however, anyone in a jurisdiction which supports the token can keep track of the latest developments here.
How Suitable is FTX for Beginners?
When looking at the range of products and services on offer, it’s quite clear that FTX isn’t aimed at beginners. Products such as Bitcoin options, leveraged tokens, perpetual swaps, and MOVE contracts take some time to understand and do not suit people that are at the start of their trading journey.
Derivatives trading is more complicated than spot trading, and leveraged trading can result in higher losses than first expected, and the more complex nature of these trading products makes them most suitable for more experienced traders.
With that being said, the FTX team make sure to provide a range of resources that allow their users to continue to increase their knowledge and improve their trading skills. These include a Help Center which contains guides that cover key areas and common questions, a blog which contains details articles and the latest announcements, and a YouTube channel.
The FTX team also make sure to cater to a wide range of their user base and maintain numerous social media channels including a Twitter account, WeChat Group, and Facebook. In addition, the team also run over ten Telegram groups in languages such as English, Chinese, Russian, Korean, French, and Spanish. As expected, the team also provide live chat and emails as part of their customer support.
FTX generally provides features that suit both retail and institutional traders such as high liquidity levels, deep orderbooks, and unlimited trading/withdrawals. The OTC desk also suits anyone looking to deal in higher amounts while the mobile app which is available for both IOS and Android devices allows users to keep an eye on their accounts around the clock.
The exchange has also made it clear that its services along with the FTT Token are not available in the United States or any other prohibited jurisdictions. Trading OIL contracts is not permitted by residents of the United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the UAE, Turkey, China, and Hong Kong.
As a result, the exchange is best suited to more experienced traders who like to stay on top of all the latest financial and legal developments.
How Secure is FTX?
Due to having only been in operation since 2019, the exchange has managed to avoid any significant hacks and malicious attacks. However, the team don’t give much away with regards to their security protocols and we have to assume that they make use of all the established security best practices.
We do know that the FTX team make use of full SSL encryption on their website, and incorporate two-factor authentication (2FA) to help users secure their accounts by using Authy, Google Authenticator, or SMS verification.
The team also elaborate on their unique liquidation engine and backstop liquidity provider system which help to make up a three-step solution aimed at handling margin calls, and limiting clawbacks. The FTX liquidation engine uses intelligent and efficient values in order to manage liquidations, and to close positions before they become negative.
In addition, traders are sent warnings to monitor and close any open positions that fall below a maintenance margin of 4.5%. This helps to minimize the adverse effects of risky trades, as well as to prevent clawbacks. FTX also displays an estimated liquidation price in the information box which is on the right hand side of any market page and helps traders to stay on top of things.
The FTX Insurance Fund has also been put in place to help prevent customer losses in the event of any sudden, adverse market movements, which could result in the swift liquidations of multiple open positions on the exchange.
Anyone making use of 50x to 100x leverage pays higher fees which are allocated to the insurance fund, and if the liquidation engine fails to deal with a severe market movement, then the insurance fund will be used to pay up anyone who had an open position that was unfairly terminated at a loss. The FTX team have also set aside 5% of non-FTX owned FTT tokens to be used to pay out customers should the insurance fund be unable to complete the process.
As a result, FTX appears to be a secure platform as the team have incorporated some sophisticated insurance mechanisms and are also headed by the founders of Alameda Research, who acted as market makers for BitMEX and OKEx, and have a wealth of experience in the sector.
The exchange has also entered into a strategic partnership with Binance, in addition to partnerships with Circle, Paxos, FBG Capital, and Proof of Capital. Interestingly, the FTX team also state that all deposits and withdrawals are subject to inspection using blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis which may or may not suit individuals concerned with privacy.
FTX is proving to be a popular destination for crypto traders looking to engage in a wide range of derivative and leveraged trades. It’s quite easy to sell what the appeal is when you consider that the exchange offers Bitcoin options and cryptocurrency futures linked to both popular and overlooked tokens. On top of this, the platform allows leverage of 101x, alongside unique products such as MOVE contracts, OIL futures contracts, crypto indices, and prediction market tokens.
Additional features such as deep liquidity, fiat transfers, unlimited withdrawals, and an OTC desk suit both high frequency retail traders and institutional traders. At the same time, features such as the liquidation fund, stablecoin settlements, margin wallet conversions, and the mobile app will suit everyday retail traders.
As a result, the exchange is quickly establishing itself as the go to destination for experienced crypto and/or derivatives traders aiming to widen their range of trading options. Despite its relative youth, FTX is developing at an impressive rate and continues to regularly introduce new trading products and tokens and this should help it to carve out its own space in a highly competitive market sector.
That being said, the exchange is not for everyone and residents of the United States are not able to make use of its services. Also, the trading of OIL contracts on FTX is not permitted for the residents of the United States, Canada, the EU, the UK, and China which helps to put some of the issues with dealing with a fast moving innovative exchange into context.
Furthermore, the large body of cryptocurrency traders that perform spot trades on the current leading exchanges may find it best to stick to placing more straightforward market/limit orders for their favourite cryptocurrencies rather than jumping into derivatives trading.
As is well known, derivatives and futures trading can lead to high losses and are best left to experienced traders. As a result, FTX is a solid option for anyone already engaged in options and futures trading, and for anyone with a good understanding of leverage.