What is bitFlyer?
bitFlyer is the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange worldwide by market volume and the world’s largest crypto exchange for the Japanese yen. Being the largest Bitcoin and blockchain company in Japan, bitFlyer started to expand its operations into the European and US crypto markets to compete with its Euro and US-dollar market competitors, Bitstamp and Kraken. bitFlyer has offices in Tokyo, San Francisco and Luxembourg.
Who is behind bitFlyer?
bitFlyer was founded in January 2014 by two former Goldman Sachs bankers: Yuzo Kano, who was a trader for derivatives and bonds, and Takafumi Komiyama, who developed settlement systems for the elitist investment bank.
Since then the company received venture capital in several rounds from companies such as Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group and the venture capital arm of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.
In 2019 investors of bitFlyer’s parent company, bitFlyer Holdings, Inc., replaced founder Yuzo Kano as CEO with Yoshio Hirako, a financial industry veteran, with the aim to "strengthen management structure upon further building corporate governance". However, Yuzo Kano still serves as CEO of bitFlyers USA subsidiary.
How to buy bitcoin on bitFlyer
As soon as you visit the bitFlyer website you will see a banner at the top asking you if you’re a resident of Europe, the United States or Japan, depending where you access the website from. This is because there are different legal entities behind each website variant and each entity is subject to their regional legal regulations, as mentioned before.
For the sake of completeness, we would like to remind you that we are testing the European version of the bitFlyer exchange.
bitFlyer Signup & Funding
Getting started with bitFlyer is relatively easy. After signing up with an email address and checking the email inbox to confirm the signup, it is necessary to set a password and agree to the terms and conditions.
Once registered, the next step is to transfer funds to your account, which is possible through a variety of payment methods if you’re using the European version: SEPA bank transfer, iDeal, Sofort, Giropay, Visa or Mastercard.
bitFlyer Fees & Limits
You can keep fees really low if you choose to fund your account with a simple SEPA wire transfer (may take up to 3 business days) and if you opt for spot orders on the bitFlyer professional exchange called Lightning.
After Euros are credited to your account, you can buy any small or large amount of Bitcoin, with fees as low as 0.20%. Theoretically, even fees as low as 0.10% are possible, but only if you have a trading volume of over 10 million euros in the last 30 days.
However, if you’re just getting started with bitcoin and crypto in general, bitFlyer’s Instant Buy and Buy/Sell markets will probably be more appealing to you.
bitFlyer Instant Buy
The Instant Buy feature is available on desktop and mobiles and allows users to buy cryptocurrencies for euros instantly from bitFlyer, with a variety of instant payment options like iDeal, Sofort, Giropay, Visa or Mastercard.
Convenience has its price which is why the Instant Buy payment options are a little more expensive. You will be charged 1.95% of the transaction amount for purchases made through Instant Buy. Thus, if you buy €200 worth of bitcoins via credit card, the transaction fee is €3.90 and the flat fee is €0.25 = €4.15 fees in total.
bitFlyer Buy/Sell markets
In the Buy/Sell markets section bitFlyer charges an inside spread, which means, it is making money on the difference between its own buying and selling prices. However, the main advantage of the Buy/Sell platform is that users cannot encounter price slippage and only pay the displayed price. The maximum amount to be purchased via this feature is 20 BTC per transaction.
bitFlyer Lightning Exchange
bitFlyer Lightning is the company’s professional exchange for spot trading. The difference between bitFlyer Lightning and bitFlyer’s Buy/Sell markets is that in the Buy/Sell markets, your trading partner is bitFlyer, who acts as a broker.
Generally, brokers have their own stock of crypto assets and you can buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from bitFlyer or sell them to bitFlyer. On the other hand, bitFlyer Lightning is an exchange platform provided by bitFlyer, where customers can place orders on an open order book and execute trades between themselves and other customers.
In 2019 bitFlyer has launched its app (“bitFlyer Wallet”) available on iOS and Android across Europe and the US, which allows you to quickly buy, sell, send or receive any of the following cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, Monacoin and Lisk.
After acquiring your digital assets, you can either keep them safely stored in your wallet and track your portfolio's performance or divest them again by selling them back to bitFlyer or sending them to friends. You can also trade on bitFlyer Lightning directly within the app.
Is bitFlyer trustworthy?
In Europe bitFlyer is supervised by the CSSF, the Luxembourg financial regulator, after having been granted a Payment Institution license by the Ministry of Finance. The license allows bitFlyer to operate across the European Union as the license is passportable.
The license obliges bitFlyer to have strict and strong standards when it comes to consumer protections (i.e. asset segregation between corporate funds and users funds) as well as to have internal and external audits from auditing companies for it’s IT security, financials and operations.
In the U.S., bitFlyer has close to 50 state MSB licenses, including the BitLicense - with bitFlyer being the first non-US entity to obtain it. In Japan bitFlyer is fully supervised by the Japanese FSA.
Is bitFlyer safe?
Apart from the US and European regulations that bitFlyer complies with, there are several security protocols that bitFlyer employs. When accessing bitFlyer, you are connected through an SHA-2 (Secure Hash Algorithm 2, the latest set of cryptographic hash functions) encrypted server.
Any sudden changes or manipulations detected within the server are identified and dealt with appropriately. A firewall is also employed as one final layer of security.
Encouraging passwords that are difficult to hack, bitFlyer mandates a password strength threshold for new users, two-step authentication and an account lock function if a password is entered incorrectly too many times.
Additionally, bitFlyer hires top security professionals including from ex-governmental agencies and uses industry-leading controls, procedures, and detection systems.
At a time when one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges - Mt Gox - fell victim to a hack and had to cease its operations, bitFlyer rose from the ashes like a phoenix and created a solid trading platform with state-of-the-art security standards.
Even if bitFlyer may not please everyone from a design point of view, it is very easy for users to find their way around the trading platform. The opportunities to buy cryptocurrencies quickly and directly, as well as to trade with other users on the exchange, appeal to newcomers and professionals alike.
A good selection of the most important coins and payment methods complete the offer. Verification should take no longer than an hour. In the current market situation this may be the case, however, we are curious whether the verification process passes the load test as soon as the market pulls up stronger again.
As regards customer service and support, since bitFlyer is moving into new markets, they are trying to ensure that all users have the opportunity to access support in a timely and convenient way, wherever they are. All in all, let’s say that you can't really go wrong with bitFlyer.