Most of us already know that storing cryptocurrency is inconvenient and almost too difficult. It’s not surprising, given how new the technology is.
We’re still a little while away before we hit high adoption rates for cryptocurrency because of this. But with tech startups paving the way for innovative solutions around storing cryptocurrencies,we’ll hopefully experience more convenience, security, and trustworthy services.
For some of us that continue with the struggle, we continue the with the hard route and ‘be our own bank‘. Others continue to go down the somewhat easier route: leaving their cryptocurrency on the exchange.
Keeping your cryptocurrencies on exchanges does offer some benefits though.
- Offers liquidity – transfer coins in/out very quickly
- No danger of losing access because of forgotten passwords or seeds
- Low fees to transfer between coins
- Access to a large number of altcoins
- Offer multi wallet capability (storage for multiple cryptocurrencies)
- No technical knowledge required to setup
- Offers two factor authentication
These are significant advantages over cold storage solutions currently. However, the following will make you think twice before you keep your cryptocurrency on an exchange.
Here are 5 reasons why it can be a bad idea!
5. Exchange BTC-E seized by FBI- locking users funds
BTC-E, a popular exchange in the past, was seized by the FBI over the alleged Alexander Vinnik who was found guilty of laundering funds through the exchange. Alexander Vinnik was originally thought to be one of the operators of the website, however these claims were denied by BTC-E later on.
Since then BTC-E has shipped operations to New Zealand and re-branded to WEX. It is believed that most users have been able to access their funds.
Having said that, it was difficult time during the down-time, with all users unsure if they’d ever be able to access their funds. Although the user base continues to grow, the community had been split over BTC-E. Several users have resisted transacting on the exchange due to their secretive operations.
On the other hand BTC-E has had significant support, one user commenting “BTC-E deserves respect” over their commitment to re-opening the portal to it’s users.
It has been in-evident that BTC-E played any part in the laundering. So, although BTC-E may not have been 100% at fault- the story does show you the risk you put yourself against trusting a third party to mind your coins for you.
4. Indian crypto exchange Coinsecure loses $3.5m in customers’ bitcoin
An exchange operating in India had nearly $3.5 million worth of user’s Bitcoin stolen. The company blamed the security chief, Dr Amitabh Saxena for stealing the funds. Regardless of how the 438.318 Bitcoin went missing- it clearly shows the lack of protective measures exchanges get away with.
Coinsecure claims that they are working “day in and day out, and investigations are in full swing for a possible recovery of the lost BTC“. However they are treading carefully, even with their promises, their website states “should we be able to recover all of our BTC, all BTC holdings will be refunded”. Key words being ‘should we be able to’.
3. Italian exchange BitGrail claims $195 million worth of Nano (XRB) lost through hack
The exchange claimed that the cryptocurrency was stolen through a hack. Bitgrail have not accepted responsibility for the breach, claiming that the Nano cryptocurrency was flawed.
Nano on the other hand continues to hold its ground, stating: “to date, all reliable evidence we have reviewed continues to point to a bug in BitGrail’s exchange software as the reason for the loss of funds.”
Once again, BitGrail confirms to have been a victim of theft. A crime made possible by taking advantage of known failures in the NANO team’s various software (Rai Node and the Official Block Explorer) and therefore, for these reasons and in accordance with the law, BitGrail doesn’t consider itself responsible for the unforeseen circumstances.- Official statement from BitGrail
After several months of halt, Bitgrail has announced a commencement of operations on 2 May 2018 at 10:00 UTC stating, “the markets and withdrawals will be operating for all coins, except for NANO/XRB. BitGrail re-open the NANO/XRB market for users at a date to be announced shortly.”
2. $400 Million Goes Missing From Japanese cryptocurrency Exchange Coincheck
Yet another unsettling few months for investors as they wait for 500 million XEM tokens to be refunded after they were stolen. The Japanese exchangehalted all trading at the time and have recently restarted trading. This was regarded as one of the biggest cryptocurrency thefts, next to the infamous Mt Gox saga.
1. Mt. Gox Declares bankruptcy over 850,000 missing Bitcoin
2011 – 2014
Mt. Gox at its prime was regarded as one of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges. Unfortunately, it came to a nasty end once it was found that an extensive number of Bitcoins went missing. Investigations in 2015 found that the coins went missing over time, starting in 2011.
By far, the most infamous and nerve wrecking loss in the history of cryptocurrency. The saga continues to date though, with the trustee claiming to have sold a large chunk of Bitcoin in early 2018. It was speculated but not definitive that this had a large hand in causing the Bitcoin crash around the time.
The above is not intended to spread FUD. It is a reminder to be careful on how you store your cryptocurrency and raise awareness of the potential risks.
The statement ‘be your own bank‘, rings true still. It will continue to do so until we can receive service offerings that combine cryptocurrency with convenience, trust, and security. Having said that, there are also severe risks you carry if you do become your own bank. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!
Most of the cryptocurrencies in the market today are based on ERC20. So you can also download this free guide on storing Ethereum and ERC20 tokens.
But if you decide to continue storing your cryptocurrency on an exchange you may want to do the following:
- Diversify across multiple exchanges- keeping your crypto on multiple exchange means less risk of losing ALL your holdings in case one exchange goes down or shuts down
- Keep a small portion on an exchange for transfers while the rest in cold storage.