We’ll come right out and say it – no crypto exchange in the world, however big and established, can claim to have mastered the art of delivering the ultimate user experience. While one may offer the best-in-line privacy and ease-of-use, for example, it may not have a very convincing track record when it comes to security and reliability.
That is why while choosing a new trading platform to settle on, your focus should always be on finding out what features or perks you absolutely can not compromise on and how the exchange you are considering fits in that spectrum.
If your priorities are based on security, brand value, reliability, and the availability of a wider pool of digital currencies to trade, STEX is definitely one option that deserves your serious consideration. Especially if you are among those traders with an affinity for trading new and/or obscure cryptos.
We hope by the time you’re done reading this review, you will have gained a fair bit of insight into the kind of an exchange STEX is, its safety and reliability, how much it costs, and most importantly, whether or not it’s the right choice for you.
Let’s start with a bit of a background of the platform:
STEX: A Brief Overview
STEX, formerly known as Stocks.Exchange, is a European cryptocurrency exchange based in Estonia. It is legally owned by Etna Development, an Estonian FinTech firm. The company was founded in 2017 by Vadym Kurylovych and is currently operating worldwide under the leadership of CEO Izabela Daržinkevič.
STEX is an acronym for Smart Token Exchange, which reflects the platform’s emphasis on facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and altcoin trading opportunities that users wouldn’t normally get elsewhere.
STEX is a centralized and regulated exchange licensed to offer a “virtual currency service,” which means it is legally required to comply with Estonian and EU regulations. This is one major factor that has added a lot more charm to STEX’s credibility along with a growing user-base of more than 300,000 (as of March 2021).
STEX is also a part of a working group that advises the European Commission on MiCA, a comprehensive legislative proposal to regulate crypto assets in the EU. Based on these factors, STEX indeed brings enough trust and legitimacy to the table that you would expect from your go-to crypto exchange.
Getting Started on STEX
Creating an account on STEX is relatively simple, but can be somewhat time-consuming due to the stringent identity verification process. Especially, if you plan on making deposits and withdrawals in fiat currencies.
This is a trade-off against the security and reliability provided by STEX’s “regulated” status. After all, being a regulated exchange, the platform has to follow all the KYC guidelines mandated by Estonian and EU regulators.
The registration itself will barely take a couple of minutes. All you have to do is enter your name, email address, and a password of your choice, and then confirm that you’re an adult. Up next, a verification link is sent to your email address, which you need to open and validate in order to proceed.
STEX uses Cryptonomica, an online and offline identity verification service, for KYC verification. You need to follow the on-screen instructions and provide your identity proof (typically your passport, driver’s license, etc.) for verification.
Once the system approves your documents, you are officially a part of the STEX ecosystem.
Fiat and Cryptocurrencies
STEX offers more than 400 coins and tokens and an equally large number of trading pairs to choose from. As previously mentioned, the exchange offers a wide variety of relatively lesser-known cryptos that you are unlikely to find in most other established exchanges.
Deposits and Withdrawals
For deposits, you can either make a crypto-to-crypto transfer from an external wallet or buy crypto directly on STEX using any of the available payment options. As of March 2021, you can buy the following cryptocurrencies on STEX: BTC, ETH, NXT, ETH, DOGE, EOS, ARDOR, IGNIS, XRP, XLM, BNB, DOT, USDC, USDT, UNI, and XTZ.
You can use any of more than 50 available fiat currencies including the USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, INR, CHF, and AED, just to name a few. Supported payment methods include SEPA transfer, VISA/MasterCard, Apple Pay, iDEAL, and Bancontact.
Deposits may take up to 30-60 minutes to show in your account balance.
For withdrawals, you can simply go to Profile > Balance, click on the “Withdraw” option next to the required currency, and then enter the withdrawal address.
If you have two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled, you will need to enter your secret six-digit code. Additionally, you will also receive a confirmation email in your registered email address where you can authorize the withdrawal.
If you don’t have 2FA enabled, you will just have to tend to the email confirmation message to authorize the withdrawal.
STEX has a fee-structure that doesn’t differentiate between makers and takers. Instead, there is a flat fee of 0.20% and 0.1% per trade. 0.20% applies to L1 users verified by STEX, Smart-ID, and Fractal, whereas L2 users who are verified by Cryptonomica have to pay only 0.10%.
While the transaction fee is slightly below the industry average, the withdrawal fee can be sometimes a little bit on the higher side depending on the crypto or fiat you choose. On average, it tends to hover between 0.001 and 0.002 BTC.
Trading on STEX
Interestingly, STEX doesn’t offer any trading pair involving two unknown or obscure assets. You can, however, trade an obscure coin against Bitcoin or any of the major altcoins such as Ethereum or Ripple, and only then trade it to another obscure cryptocurrency.
The trading dashboard is simple and easy-to-use even for inexperienced users. You can sort all the assets alphabetically or by quotation. There is also a “Search” field that allows you to quickly find any asset you are looking for.
Selecting a trading pair and executing a buy or sell order is pretty much a run-of-the-mill experience — it’s simple and convenient, but there’s nothing extraordinary about it that could add charm to the overall user experience.
As of today, STEX only offers spot trading because crypto margin trading is restricted in the UK and many parts of the EU.
Being a regulated exchange, STEX seems to take the security of its technological infrastructure and user funds with the seriousness it deserves. And to their credit, the platform has so far done a neat job maintaining an impeccable record. Since its launch in 2017, STEX has never fallen prey to a hack attack.
Also, given that the company seemingly uses cloud clusters hosted in several countries, it is less likely to fall prey to any large-scale and targeted malicious attacks.
STEX deploys the CryptoCurrency Security Standard (CCSS) to protect user accounts, which is a common industry-practice among most mid-to-top tier exchanges. Additionally, it also supports 2FA (optional) to add more meat to the overall security apparatus.
Other security features include – IP access control, Granular security settings, email encryption, and Web Authentication with Security Key, just to name a few
Pros and Cons
- STEX is a regulated crypto exchange in compliance with Estonian and EU laws.
- Advanced security infrastructure with a neat track record.
- A wider asset-pool with 400+ trading pairs. This includes even lesser-known altcoins that can’t be found on any major exchange.
- Low-fee structure.
- Trading on the platform is easy even for newbies.
- 50+ fiat currencies supported along with several payment methods
- Not enough educational content for new traders. A comprehensive FAQ section could be a welcome addition to the website
- There is scope for improvement in customer support
All things considered, STEX does, in fact, seem to offer a balanced package if you’re looking to switch to a regulated exchange with a clean record, good security, and a low fee structure. At the same time, it also delivers a unique touch by offering so many lesser-known and obscure coins and tokens.