Financial technology is redefining what financial freedom means for The Great White North. Crypto companies like Bitvo, have become some of the most influential players in this space. They’re advocating for the kind of meaningful change that actually puts power and wealth back in the hands of everyday people. But in true Canadian fashion, they’re doing it without a lot of pomp and circumstance. Case and point, Bitvo is the homegrown Calgary-based cryptocurrency exchange platform you probably haven’t heard of. So allow us to introduce you to a crypto company committed to making the digital asset market safe and accessible for everyone. Let’s talk about Bitvo and what to expect from this by-Canadians-for-Canadians platform.
Behind the Bitvo platform
Launched in the summer of 2018, Bitvo hit the Canadian market on a mission to make crypto trading as accessible and painless as possible. In less than 2 years, Bitvo was making international waves. In January 2020, they ranked among the top 10 of the 50 best cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world by HackerNoon, a leading online tech publication. At the time, Bitvo was the highest-ranked Canadian platform on the list.
But that didn’t happen by accident. The driving force behind Bitvo’s success is a stellar team of experienced professionals. President and CEO, Pamela L. Draper, brings 14 years of experience in corporate banking and investment services. Working for heavyweights like BMO Capital Markets and Pateno Payments Inc, Draper understands financial markets and the payments industry like the back of her hand.
By her side is CFO and COO, Brenda L. Krause, a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). To the table, Krause brings over 20 years of experience working for institutions like Digital Commerce Bank (DCBank) and Pateno Payments Inc. She specializes in areas such as risk management, financial modelling and analysis, compliance, as well as strategic, financial, and operational leadership for businesses at home and abroad. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
So, if you’re wondering if Bitvo is legit, I think we can put that speculation to rest. Bitvo has some of the smartest people in the industry hustling hard to normalize crypto for Canadians. It’s safe to say, they know what they’re doing. With two powerhouse women leading the company, the future of crypto is female and I am here for it.
What to expect from the Bitvo platform
There are a couple of features of the Bitvo platform that make it stand out. As mentioned before, the killer corporate team alone is enough to make me say, “take my money.” Their combined experience is a value proposition in and of itself. Bitvo is also one of the exceedingly few exchanges to offer a Canadian Dollar-backed stable coin. Here are some other features that make Bitvo one of the fastest ways to buy crypto:
The Bitvo Guarantee
Bitvo offers a same-day guarantee. They promise to verify and register your account the same day you sign-up. This might seem like a no-brainer but bigger, more well-known exchanges have been known to take days to verify a new user account. I would know, it's happened to me. They also promise same-day processing for deposits and withdrawals as well as instant access to live customer support any time of the day or night. Should they break their promise, they’ll credit your account for the withdrawal fee to a maximum of $300.
The Bitvo pricing model is easily accessible on the website. Visit the Fees tab at the top of the homepage. Bitvo offers zero-commission trading. Instead, there is a spread that fluctuates according to market conditions and is built into the cost of the trade. It typically ranges between 0.5 and 1% of the trade value. To see the estimated spread, use Bitvo’s Advanced TradingView feature. You can also find the pricing policy for all their other services in the Fees section as well. Most Bitvo transactions use a 1% fee structure. Deposits are free but withdrawals can be pricey. Withdrawals of fiat or crypto out of your Bitvo account are charged 1% or a flat $15 fee, whichever is greater.
Bitvo Cash Card
Bitvo is one of a few cryptocurrency exchanges to offer a cash card. With the Bitvo prepaid Visa card, you can instantly access the Canadian cash in your Bitvo account through any ATM. The card can also be used for purchases anywhere that Visa and Plus are accepted. You can order the card for $10, or get it free if you fund your Bitvo account with $25,000 or more within a 12-month period. There is no activation or monthly fee. Purchases and automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals cost $1 per transaction plus a 1% withdrawal fee. The foreign currency conversion fee per transaction is $1 plus 3% in addition to the 1% withdrawal fee, for a total of $1 plus 4%.
The Bitvo app is available in both the App Store and on Google Play so you can trade on the go. You can also access Bitvo through your desktop. The platform is crisp, clean and easy to navigate. For new crypto traders, the layout is intuitive and you’ll have no problem accessing the features you need. The Advanced Trading tab, located at the top of your dashboard, opens to a more sophisticated interface. Here, you can see the order book, access the price charts and other features like limit orders and stop losses. Again, the layout is simple and easy to navigate which makes more advanced trading accessible to users regardless of experience level.
Bitvo currently offers 11 of the most popular cryptocurrencies, a very modest selection compared to the competition. Coins available on the platform include:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Ripple (XRP)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Uniswap (UNI)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Dash (DASH)
- USD Coin (USDC)
If you haven’t heard of QCAD, it’s a Canadian digital stable coin developed by Canada Stablecorp Inc. According to the Bitvo website, “Each QCAD is worth 1 Canadian Dollar and backed by a Canadian Dollar held in a Canadian bank account.”
Security and digital asset storage
Bitvo is a registered Money Service Business (MSB) and compliant with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada known as FINTRAC; our country’s financial intelligence agency. Beyond the standard Know Your Customer (KYC) reporting requirements by FINTRAC, Bitvo will never sell or share your data to a third party without your consent.
Bitvo has compliance standards in place to vet and evaluate digital assets before they can be listed on the exchange. This protects investors from purchasing scam-coins on the platform. Only 5% of digital assets are held in hot storage connected live to the platform through institutional hot wallet provider, BitGo. For those who choose to keep their digital assets in Bitvo’s custody, 95 to 100% of holdings are held in offsite cold storage. You also have the option to transfer your crypto holdings off-platform to another exchange or private digital wallet.
The Canadian money that customers use to fund their accounts and purchase crypto are stored in a regulated Canadian bank; held in a separate account from Bitvo’s regular business accounts. Bitvo also uses extensive online security measures to ensure customer privacy and safety. Bitvo also has strict internal protocols to create a safe operating environment in order to protect the platform and its incumbent functions. To learn more about how Bitvo provides a safe crypto exchange, visit the Security section of the homepage.
Opening your Bitvo account
Ready to get started? Opening a Bitvo account is fairly straightforward. You’ll need to provide the following information:
- Full Name
- Phone Number
- Date of Birth
- Social Insurance Number (SIN), this is optional
- Current Occupation
- Intended Use of the Account
- Physical Address
Once you’ve entered your information, you’ll be sent an email with a link to activate your account. The nice thing about this signup process is that you do not need to verify your identity through credit report questions or uploading ID verification like a driver’s license or selfie. I opened my account within 2 to 3 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised how quick and painless it was.
Funding and withdrawals
Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see two buttons to the right of the screen. You can add funds to your account through the purple Deposit button. Bitvo offers 4 funding options, all of which are free:
- Interac eTransfer: funds are received within 24 hours
- Wire Transfer: requires you to wire a minimum of $10,000 from your financial institution. Funds are received as soon as the transaction is complete
- Canada Post: available at any Canada Post location. You can load your account with your Interac Debit card or with cash. Restrictions apply. The funds are received as soon as the transaction is complete
- Cryptocurrency: transfer in crypto from another wallet. Transaction speed varies depending on network congestion.
To withdraw, simply click the green Withdraw button. Each withdrawal will cost 1% of the amount withdrawn or minimum $15 fee, whichever is more. You have 4 ways to send Canadian funds back to your financial institution:
- Interac eTransfer: to a maximum of $10,000 per day and takes up to 24 hours to complete
- Wire transfer: a minimum amount of $10,000 per transfer and the funds are received soon as the transaction is complete
- Electronic funds transfer (EFT): to a maximum of $10,000 per day and $50,000 per week typically takes about a full business day
- Cryptocurrency: unlimited amount and speed of transaction depends on network congestion
- Bitvo Cash Card: Canadian funds in your Bitvo account are immediately accessible with the cash card. You can spend up to $500 per day and $3,500 per week.
Bitvo Pros and Cons
Bitvo is a particularly great exchange for new crypto investors and is designed to grow with you. You can easily deposit, withdraw and buy crypto all from your account dashboard. For more advanced trading tools, simply click the Advanced Trading tab in the purple header at the top of the screen. The Bitvo Cash Card gives you instant access to the funds in your Bitvo account without the hassle of withdrawing back to your bank account.
On the downside, their fees are not the most competitive. The spread is not as low as some other cryptocurrency exchanges in Canada, and the coin selection is limited. I find the 1% or $15 withdrawal fee very expensive compared to other platforms.
Having said that, I am the type of person who doesn’t mind paying more for convenience, and Bitvo certainly offers that in spades. I also love the Cash Card feature. Again, Bitvo is only one of a few crypto exchanges to offer a card product.
For those who are unbanked, they can still access the crypto market with cold hard cash through any Canada Post location. Not many exchanges offer this funding feature. I also love the user interface, which is incredibly simple and straightforward without feeling juvenile. The Advanced Trading feature offers most of the trading features and charting tools I like to use.
I tried the exchange for myself and I am extremely happy with my experience as a first time user. They deliver on the guarantee to get your account verified quickly and to make the trading process quick and painless. I can definitely see the team’s collective experience in the finance industry come through in the design and functionality of the platform.
As someone who does most of my personal finance management online, the Bitvo platform felt strangely familiar and comforting in a way; reminiscent of other finance platforms I use regularly. This is a great exchange to get your feet wet in the digital asset market and I am excited to see how this women-led crypto company progresses.