Welcome to another edition of our head-to-head exchange comparison series, where we break down the top crypto exchanges to help our community figure out which crypto exchange is right for them. No two exchanges are created equal, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is vital to find the proper exchange that fits your needs.
In this edition, we have the previous champion KuCoin who has held the number three spot as the largest exchange for a long time behind Binance and Coinbase, versus the new champion FTX who has recently dethroned KuCoin and now sits comfortably in the number three spot. So, does KuCoin have what it takes to reclaim the third spot, or will FTX remain ahead of KuCoin as they gun for the top spot?
This article is going to cover a high-level comparison of the two. I have used both exchanges myself over the years and will put together my research and my experience with both. We have an in-depth KuCoin review here and a deep dive review on FTX here that you may want to check out. For our US-based readers, you want to check out the FTX.US review here.
Summary: FTX vs KuCoin
|Product Features:||Cryptocurrency Exchange, margin trading, derivatives, options, NFTs, prediction market, Earn, Leveraged tokens, Tokenized stocks
|Cryptocurrency Exchange, margin trading, derivatives, options, trading bots, Earn, leveraged tokens, P2P|
|Crypto Assets Supported:||275+||600+|
|Maker/Taker Fees:||Lowest: 0.00%/ 0.04%
Highest: 0.02%/ 0.07%
|Lowest: 0.00%/ 0.04%
Highest: 0.08%/ 0.08%
|KYC/AML Verification||Yes||No for limited trading. Users will need to KYC for higher volume trading. Limits can be found here.|
|Fiat Currency Support||USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, HKD, SGD, TRY, ZAR, CAD, CHF, BRL||50+ Currencies supported through integrations and various methods|
|Deposit/Withdraw Methods||ACH Bank Transfer, Wire Transfer, PayPal, Credit/Debit Card||Sepa Bank Transfer, Debit/Credit card, P2P, Apple Pay, Simplex, Banxa.
Withdrawing cash is not supported
FTX vs KuCoin
Let’s look at each exchange individually, but first, we will cover an overview of our findings when comparing FTX to KuCoin.
Currencies and Products Offered
I would have to say that FTX and KuCoin are both fantastic options for any traders who want to take advantage of derivatives and margin trading. Both platforms offer an advanced trading screen with all the technical analysis and charting tools that traders need to make well-informed trading decisions. For anyone looking to improve their technical analysis skills and improve their trading, be sure to check out Guy’s three-part series on how to perform technical analysis; the first video in the series can be found here.
Both exchanges offer trading with up to 100x leverage for professional traders, leveraged token trading, and staking and earning features such as lending and borrowing. A word of caution for new traders considering leverage: leverage can be a hazardous tool that causes more blown accounts than profitable traders and has been the cause of multiple mass liquidation events in the crypto markets. Be sure to understand the risks associated with leveraged trading before jumping in.
The real difference lies in that FTX has an NFT marketplace, while KuCoin does not. KuCoin has automated crypto bot trading directly accessible on the platform. In contrast, FTX has a debit card for US users and FTX pay which integrates into online shops for direct payments. In addition, FTX offers prediction and volatility markets for traders. At the same time, KuCoin has “gamified” trading by running frequent trading competitions, daily reward giveaways for activities, offers a lottery-style section called KuCoin Win and has Kucoin Brawl, which allows users to wager USDT and choose to go long or short on the price of Bitcoin. Traders who are fans of casinos and gambling will enjoy the gamified trading features on KuCoin.
Both platforms have an intuitive, clean, and easy to use mobile application though I prefer the FTX look and layout; that is just personal preference. Both exchanges have perks and benefits such as reduced fees for holding the native exchange token, and both platforms have low fees, with FTX beating out KuCoin for having slightly lower fees. As for asset support, KuCoin is the clear winner with a whopping 600+ digital assets and supporting over 50 fiat assets through various integrations.
Both KuCoin and FTX offer trading products and features that are not beginner-friendly, nor are they designed for beginners, such as leveraged tokens/trading, trading derivatives, and auto trading bots. KuCoin and FTX are well-suited suited for professional traders. However, both platforms work just fine for beginner and average users looking to use the basic spot purchase crypto exchange and staking features. Users will easily get familiar with both platforms quickly, and anyone who can navigate an online banking platform will be able to manage either one as they are intuitive and have drop-down menus that make navigation a breeze.
Both platforms have a handy and robust self-help knowledge article section to help with any navigation issues or questions users may have. However, if I had to recommend one to a brand-new user who was only planning on trading crypto, I would have to give the edge to FTX as KuCoin can be a bit overwhelming for new traders with all the features and different sections of the platform.
FTX has a slight advantage over KuCoin in terms of fees, with rock bottom fees of 0.02% for the maker and 0.07% for the taker, which is the highest fees traders will pay. However, traders on FTX can lower those fees a further 60% depending on how many FTT tokens they hold, as shown below.
The most traders will pay on KuCoin is 0.1% for both maker and taker, with KuCoin traders also able to save an additional 20% if they pay fees in KuCoin’s native KCS token. Both platforms have a tiered pricing structure based on trading volume. Interestingly, the lowest fees are 0% and 0.04% on FTX for high-volume traders, while KuCoin pays whales an incentive for high volume trading. The tier structures can be seen below.
As if the fees on these platforms aren’t low enough already, the Coin Bureau has even managed to sweet talk both exchanges to give our community further discounts. Using our sign-up link, users who sign up to FTX can enjoy an extra 10% discount for life and have their first $30 in trading fees covered. Users who sign up for KuCoin using our sign-up link can enjoy a discount of up to 60% on trading fees for life and a free trading bot! We care about you guys stacking those sats, and the lower the fees, the better 😉
Deposit and Withdrawal Fees
Crypto withdrawal fees on KuCoin are dependent on the token. A complete directory is located here. The fees to purchase crypto via debit or credit card ranges from 3.5% to 5%, depending on the third-party application. There are no fees for SEPA bank deposits, and withdrawing fiat is not supported on KuCoin, which is a major drawback.
FTX has no deposit fees, which the fine print states may change at some point, but it is sweet free deposits for now. FTX only charges withdrawal fees for USD and BRL, so this is an excellent choice for European and UK readers. But, again, for our US audience, I would recommend using FTX.US as users on FTX could be seeing a hefty $75 fee for USD withdrawals under 10k, and users who withdraw BRL are looking at a 0.3% + R$10 withdrawal fee.
FTX is immeasurably better in this regard as they have a fiat off-ramp, allowing users to withdraw cash to their bank account. The fact that KuCoin has no option to withdraw cash is likely one of the reasons that they have fallen below both FTX and Kraken in the rankings, as most traders want a way to convert crypto to cash and withdraw it.
Pro Tip: Be sure to check with your bank before making crypto purchases or deposits, as they may charge additional fees. Make extra sure that you won’t have your card blocked if you use a credit card and won’t be hit with a nasty cash advance fee. Those are things I have faced myself as my bank took a hard-nosed, anti-crypto approach blocking all crypto-related transactions (so naturally, I changed banks).
Both KuCoin and FTX place a strong emphasis on security as any good exchange should. KuCoin states that their crypto is kept in cold storage but do not say what percentage, and they have partnered with a company called Onchain Custodian to help ensure the crypto on the exchange is secure. KuCoin is also covered by insurance to reimburse customers from hack attempts which is fortunate as the KuCoin exchange did experience one of the largest exchange hacks in history in 2020, where hackers made off with over $275 million worth of customer’s funds. Luckily all the customer funds were reimbursed.
KuCoin offers a mix of security procedures and protocols at the system and operational levels. KuCoin offers the following security features:
- 2FA for login
- Security questions
- Anti-phishing safety phrase
- Login safety phrase
- Trading password
- Activity monitoring on the system
- Phone verification
- Email binding and notifications for suspicious activity
- Whitelisting IP addresses.
FTX, on the other hand, is one of the very few exchanges that have not suffered any known hacks to date, and the company does keep funds set to the side to reimburse customers in the unlikely event a hack does occur. In addition, FTX has the following safety features:
- 2FA for login, account changes and withdrawals
- Minimum password complexity
- Secondary withdrawal password
- 24-hour lock features
- Whitelisting withdrawal addresses
- Whitelisting IP addresses
- Partnered with Chainanalysis to monitor suspicious transaction activity
- Manual review process for suspicious or large withdrawals
- Email notification for suspicious activity.
The KuCoin hack aside, both platforms follow industry best practices, and users can feel confident using both of these platforms. However, I would have to give FTX the edge here as being one of the very few exchanges that have never been hacked gives me a lot of confidence in their security protocols, and the partnership with Chainanalysis is also a nice additional touch to safeguard user funds.
For years, poor customer service has been a common complaint from crypto exchange users. Many crypto exchanges are constantly under harsh criticisms from their customers for deplorable response times; you’d think a multi-billion dollar earning company could afford to spend a bit more on scaling support staff. Luckily, both KuCoin and FTX are pretty good in terms of support.
FTX has made it possible to contact their customer support team through Telegram channels and offer email ticket support. KuCoin offers online chat and an email ticketing system as well. Both platforms provide a self-help FAQ section which is well built out, though FTX has done a better job in terms of filling out their help articles and making them easier to follow.
Ultimately, I would have to say that KuCoin support is better for the simple fact that they offer live chat support. Though FTX has various Telegram channels, Telegram is a perilous place to try and get support as there are scammers everywhere. I once posted in a Telegram support chat for help on a technical issue and instantly received over a dozen DMs from scammers pretending to work for the support team trying to get me to send them personal info. Remember that no member of any support team will ever ask you for passwords or seed recovery phrases, and anyone who asks for this information is most likely trying to gain access to your funds.
Pro Tip: If you have questions about the platforms, don’t forget that most crypto exchanges have very active communities on social media sites like Reddit, Facebook and Telegram. KuCoin even has a community section on its site. Therefore, it is often worth posting questions in these community forums as it can result in quicker answers.
Now, Let’s dive into each exchange individually.
What is FTX?
I’m sure you’ve already pieced together that FTX is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange that features derivatives/futures, spot crypto, margin trading, volatility and prediction markets with options to use leverage. FTX was founded in May 2019 by Sam Bankman-Fried (currently the CEO) and Gary Wang (currently the CTO), with the headquarters located in the Bahamas. FTX has been expanding and growing its client base at a very impressive rate, being one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
FTX has leapt into the number three spot as the third-largest exchange after an aggressive marketing and fundraising campaign, which saw the company acquire the naming rights for an NBA Arena in Miami, sign deals with America’s Major-League Baseball, and signed the largest naming rights deal in eSports history, acquiring the naming rights for eSports organization TSM.
Along with their marketing efforts making FTX a household name, FTX was also able to rise in popularity as they were able to fill a niche in the market. FTX was one of the first exchanges to primarily focus on the derivative and prediction markets, offering trading for futures, options, and volatility markets. FTX also provides a place for traders to speculate on world events such as in 2020 when the exchange issued TRUMP-2020 Presidential 2020 futures contracts and others which allowed traders to speculate on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. As a result, FTX has become the go-to exchange for many professional and beginner day traders who rely on an efficient platform and high liquidity, as well as a multitude of trading options.
Thanks to the fact that the FTX platform was designed by traders for traders, it is an easy to use and intuitive platform that’s a pleasure for experienced traders and easy to pick up for new traders.
FTX supports over 275 crypto assets traded against six base currencies. The base currencies are BTC, USDT, BRZ, TRYB, USD and EUR. In addition, FTX also has great fiat support for fiat onboarding, including USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, HKD, SGD, TRY, ZAR, CAD, CHF and BRL, with TRY coming soon.
FTX exchange also has their exchange token, the FTX token with the ticker symbol FTT. The token has a lot of utility and use cases within the FTX ecosystem, providing benefits such as trading fee discounts, creating leveraged tokens, and can be staked to earn passive income. The FTT token can be picked up on FTX, Binance, Huobi, Bitfinex, etc.
FTX offers a great variety of trading products and features, making the platform excellent for not only day traders but crypto holders looking to take advantage of many different crypto benefits. FTX provides traders with plentiful options, along with some of the most unique trading products available in the Crypto markets.
Staking and Earning
No crypto holder should be denied the option to earn some sweet passive income from staking and earning features, and FTX has users covered here. FTT token holders can stake their tokens for an impressive APY and additional rewards. In addition, FTX users can also take advantage of lending their crypto to other users, earning a nice kickback in return. You can read more about how this works in our in-depth FTX review.
Staking on FTX provides the following benefits:
- Maker and Taker fee discounts: FTT stakers enjoy a discount on their trading fees.
- Bonus votes: FTX often takes polls from traders before launching a new financial instrument on the site and FTT holders get additional votes.
- Increased SRM airdrop rewards: SRM is the native token of the Serum ecosystem. FTX disperses 5% of the total supply of SRM to FTT holders over time.
- Increased referral rebate rates: Traders who stake FTT receive a higher percentage on rates for their affiliate sign-ups.
FTX offers the highest number of Futures markets available among its competitors. FTX has over 80 Cryptocurrencies in the futures section and allows for high leverage options of up to 100x. There are three types of futures contracts: maturity, perpetual and index.
Another hugely popular feature that has attracted traders is that FTX provides traders with an option to gain exposure to stocks. Popular stocks such as the ones seen below can be traded, though it is important to note that these are only tokenized versions of the stocks that track the stock price, not the actual stocks themselves.
FTX offers leveraged token trading. The leveraged tokens are ERC-20 tokens that mimic the underlying token’s movement using a defined leverage level. For example, if Ethereum moves up by 1%, the ETH/USD Bull 3x Long token would move up by 3%, but if it drops by 1%, the leveraged token will drop by 3%. Traders can choose long or short leveraged tokens by selecting the ones that say bull for long or bear if they anticipate the markets will drop. There are three types of leveraged tokens: Bull, Bear, and Hedge.
Prediction markets are a fun way for speculators to bet on global events. For example, traders here can bet on the outcomes of events such as elections and political decisions such as the Brexit vote.
BVOL tokens are ERC-20 tokens that track the volatility of the Crypto markets by gaining exposure to volatility using FTX MOVE contracts and BTC-PERP contracts. There are two BVOL tokens: BVOL and iBVOL. BVOL attempts to track the daily returns of being 1x long on the volatility of Bitcoin, while inverse BVOL (iBVOL) attempts to track the daily returns of being 1x short of the volatility of Bitcoin
What is KuCoin
KuCoin is one of the first crypto exchanges to cater to serious traders, offering an advanced trading platform and futures trading options. KuCoin also gained mass adoption by supporting an impressive directory of altcoins. They still do both things very well, with many cryptocurrency enthusiasts turning to KuCoin to pick up rare altcoins as they are often supported on KuCoin well before many other exchanges.
KuCoin has been providing high quality and reputable services since launching in August 2017 but has a history dating back to 2011, when the founding team members first began working in the early days of blockchain technology. The team began KuCoin’s design back in 2013, but the platform wasn’t launched for years until the team felt it was polished enough and suitable for the market and met the team’s expectations. Talk about perfectionism! Since 2017, the platform quickly rose in adoption and has become a favourite for its gamified, almost Vegas-like trading competitions, promotions, and giveaways. Once launched, KuCoin branded itself as “The People’s Exchange” due to its heavy emphasis on user experience.
KuCoin is also popular as they have very low fees, a platform interface suitable for pros and beginners, institutional-grade security, and several other services that can be difficult to find elsewhere. Their peer-to-peer trading service has also become popular. Many traders who do not want to submit KYC identification verification choose KuCoin over any other large exchange if they only want to purchase coins and do not anticipate high trading volumes. The limits for trading amounts and KYC verification are as follows:
KuCoin is one of the most “global-friendly” exchanges in fiat support, boasting support for an impressive 50 different fiat currencies. Users from exotic locations are likely to opt for KuCoin as they know what a pain it can be to try and use an exchange that doesn’t support their local currency and need to exchange funds and get hit with nasty conversion fees. As mentioned, KuCoin also supports an incredible list of 600+ crypto assets, making it an excellent exchange for rare altcoin gem hunters. A complete list of their supported fiat currencies is here, and the list of crypto assets and Futures markets can be found here.
KuCoin launched its futures platform as KuMEX in mid-2019 and later rebranded it to the more easily recognizable KuCoin Futures. Here users can trade several margined contracts for various popular crypto assets with leverage as high as 100x.
Traders can go long or short, which is great as they can take advantage of bear markets. The platform comes in both a Lite version for beginning futures traders and a Pro version for those with more experience. The Pro Futures platform provides additional insights into the Futures markets and features a more powerful trading and analysis interface.
Futures Brawl began as a promotion in August 2020, and it remains on the platform ever since due to its popularity. Users became hooked as they could win prizes such as an iPhone, a full Bitcoin and cash prizes. Additionally, users can participate by betting USDT on whether they think Bitcoin price will increase or decrease. Bets can be placed once per day, and there is a Wheel of Fortune to spin daily for a chance to win extra points.
P2P Fiat Trading
KuCoin users also can buy and sell major cryptos like BTC, ETH, USDT, USDC and KCS peer-to-peer directly with other members. This can be done via ACH and PayPal.
Like FTX, users on KuCoin can earn extra APY from lending out their crypto to other traders, staking tokens or participating in pool-X. Passive income is a big attraction for crypto holders, and KuCoin is an excellent place to benefit from both staking and the ability to lend out coins for 7, 14, or 28 days. Pool-X is essentially a staking pool designed to provide liquidity services for staked tokens.
FTX and KuCoin have more similarities than differences in their features, and the choice will come down to user preference. Unfortunately, KuCoin missed the boat by allowing FTX and Binance to beat them to the punch in having an NFT marketplace. NFTs have been an explosive phenomenon recently, and many people believe that as NFTs become a mainstay in the gaming and Metaverse industries, these NFT marketplaces could become an integral part of our lives as more and more assets become digitized.
After using both exchanges for a couple of years now, I do have to say that I prefer FTX due to the lower fees and easier to use and navigate platform. I keep a KuCoin account for the rare occurrence that I want to pick up a super rare altcoin that I cannot find elsewhere, and that is about it. I do find the KuCoin exchange to be a little less user-friendly as it is just too busy and packed with features that I do not need. However, many crypto traders like the gambling style games and competitions offered on KuCoin, plus the use of the trading bots directly available on the platform is a must-have for many traders.
Both platforms are ideal for pro or beginner traders and have great passive earning features. Another factor to consider for anyone who is going to stake on these platforms is they should think about whether they would rather hold and stake a bunch of FTX’s FTT token or KuCoins KCS token. FTX is becoming much more of a household name thanks to their aggressive marketing campaign and features that helped them rise to the third-largest exchange as KuCoin continues to lose market share, recently falling below FTX and Kraken.
In my opinion, the FTX token has more capital appreciation potential and higher demand as the exchange is available both globally and in the US, unlike KuCoin, which is not licensed in the US. FTX also has significantly more VC funding and hype behind it, which can carry a project a long way. Look at what Elon Musk was able to do for Dogecoin, and that was just one person. FTX is also becoming very close and friendly with the entire Solana ecosystem, further increasing demand for the FTX platform and, therefore, increasing demand for the FTT token.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.