In this review of Huobi, we are going to take a look at one of the most prominent cryptocurrency exchanges with roots in China.
The exchange has grown substantially since then and is one of the go-to platforms for traders to get their hands on some of the most promising Altcoins.
The most important question though is whether it can be trusted?
We will attempt to answer this by taking a deep dive into the exchange and give you everything that you need to know. We will take a look at the asset coverage, support, fees, platform, support and numerous other factors for you to consider.
We will also give you an overview of how to make the most of the Huobi platform should you choose to use the exchange. With that being said, let’s jump right in.
The Huobi.pro exchange is a subsidiary of the Huobi global group. The latter was founded in 2013 by Leon Li and was one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in China. Huobi group has its head office in Singapore and started off with only 10 employees.
Since the founding, the exchange has grown as the markets have rallied. They have expanded volume to become the world’s 4th largest cryptocurrency exchange and have established offices in Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China and Korea. They have grown to over 1,000 employees.
Huobi Global also established an office in the USA as they anticipate the launch of their USA trading arm. This will be the US side of the exchange that will service only US clients. This will be launched in July of 2018.
While these are just offices of Huobi, they claim that they have traders who come from over 130 countries around the globe who use their platform.
Huobi Global as the parent company has also branched out into a number of other business ventures in the cryptocurreny field. These include such ventures as Mining, development as well as investing in blockchain based startups.
What this clearly shows is that Huobi is quite an advanced and established cryptocurrency exchange. You can feel slightly more comfortable trading with them than you can on other exchanges with less volume.
While the size of the exchange and the reach are important considerations for the trader, the most important criteria comes down to the impact on their wallet. Exchange fees are sometimes what can make or break a traders experience and profitability.
To that end, Huobi’s fees seem to be some of the most reasonable and straightforward in the market. They operate in a similar way to a number of other exchanges in that they have maker / taker fee schedule.
What does this mean exactly?
Quite simply when you are a maker, you are adding liquidity to Huobi’s order books. This happens when you place a limit order that is below the most recent price for a buy and above the most recent price for a sell.
On the other hand, when you place an order and it is immediately matched, you are “taking” liquidity off of the books of Huobi and this means that you are a taker. You will have to pay the taker fee for doing so. These fees will be deducted from the total amount that you trade for BTC.
The fees themselves are pretty simple at 0.2% across the board for all assets for both the maker and the taker fee. This is actually quite low when you are to compare it to the likes of Bitstamp which are at 0.25% or at Coinbase that has the fees at 1.49%.
Moreover, Huobi offers fee discounts for those traders who are part of their VIP trading group. For example, if you are member of the first level of VIP trading group you will get 10% off of your fees. This goes all the way down to 50% for those who are in the VIP5 level.
Huobi also applies what they term a “withdrawal fee”. However, what this is really is just the cryptocurrency network fee or “mining fee”. This is predetermined by Huobi but one hopes that it will vaguely track the actual cost of mining.
To give you a rough indication of these fees, here are the withdrawal fees (per request) of some of the top 10 coins in market cap.
Another thing that Huobi is well known for is the range of cryptocurrency assets that they offer. They appear to have a majority of coins in the top 10 of market cap expect it seems as if they do not have Stellar (XLM) and Cardano (ADA). Why these coins are not included is quite surprising.
However, they have at least 50 other coins that you can trade on the exchange. In fact, for a good few of these coins, Huoubi makes up a sizable chunk of the volume. This means that they have some really healthy order books and you will find the most liquidity on the exchange.
They also have a handy overview page where they take you through each coin with a fairly thorough description of the coin. They also provide you with a range of links to the project in question.
Huobi is one of those exchanges that you can use without handing over KYC documents in order to run an account. However, this means that they will place restrictions on the amount that you are allowed to withdraw within a period / time.
We were actually quite surprised at the Huobi withdrawal limits in that they were really restrictive. Below are the withdrawal limits per time and per day for the top 5 coins in market cap. You can see the full list of coins and their prices here.
|Coin||Min Per Time||Max Per Time||Max Per Day|
So, if you are unverified you can only withdraw up to 0.1 BTC a time in a day. At current prices this implies that the user will only be able to withdraw $600 a day which is severely limiting for those people who would like to trade with larger amounts of coins.
Hence, if you think that this could be a problem for you then there are two options. One is that you could verify your account by completing the mandatory KYC requirements. The other is that you could use an exchange such as Binance which has withdrawal limits up to 2 BTC in a 24 hour period or HitBTC that does not have limits.
If you want to create an account and start trading at Huobi, then you should head over to their signup page. Huobi only requires a working email address in order to first create your account. You can see the signup form below.
We found it slightly weird that for an initial anonymous account that they required your nationality as no other exchanges require this. However, if you are going to be verifying then this does not really matter in the end.
Once you have completed the form they will send you an email with the verification code that you will need to use to log back in. Then Huobi has a really helpful beginner’s guide that will take you through everything on the platform.
They will highlight each of the exchange features and then give you a short overview of what they are exactly. We have not seen something like this in other exchanges and found it quite refreshing for those traders who are still trying to find their feet.
If you would prefer to verify your Huobi account and have your withdrawal limits drastically increased, then you will have to complete some KYC. In order to do this they will need some personal identification.
This is done by exchanges in order to prevent the threat from money laundering and is starting to become the norm with a number of exchanges requiring it as mandatory. While cryptocurrency users are naturally privacy conscious, one cannot see any easy way around this.
However, given the size and scope of Huobi, it is unlikely that they can ever do anything reckless with your personal documents. Hence, you are perhaps quite safe from a identity documentation perspective in sending your ID to Huobi.
Once you have submitted your verification to Huobi, they have to have someone to manually look over your documents. This means that it will take at least 24 hours to verify the documents. This is about in line with the other exchanges and is also what other traders are claiming in online forums.
Now that you have an account, one of the most important aspects of your trading experience is the Huobi exchange platform. It is very hard for an exchange to get a good balance between a very advanced platform that is still relatively easy to use for beginners.
We think that Huobi was able to achieve this quite well.
What you will notice when you first login is that you can select three different trading platforms between the Huobi OTC markets, the standard exchange and the margin trading exchange. Users can also select the HADAX platform which is where voting takes place for coin listings.
If you just want to buy / sell the cryptocurrency then you can select the Huobi pro exchange. This is the standard plain vanilla cryptocurrency exchange where you can place your orders and trade coins based on the balances in your wallet.
Taking a look at the exchange screenshot below, it seems as if it has everything that you could need from a trading platform. As you can see it has all of the markets laid out on the left. Here you can toggle between the coins that you want to trade.
Below the charts you have all the order books and buy / sell walls. You also have a breakdown of all the orders that were just placed as well as orders that you may have on the books. As with their coin overview page, you can also see a breakdown of the coin as well as helpful links at the bottom of the exchange.
In terms of the trading chart itself, this is a Trading View chart. This is third party technology but is some of the best on the market. You have all of the standard tools that you would need as a technical analyst or day trader.
In terms of the UI, there is also the option to change the currency that all of your balances are displayed in as well as the color of the UI. They have a dark color (as in screenshot) or light.
For those traders who like to trade on the margin, then Huobi has a separate platform for you to do just that. This is different from the other exchanges that will merely have a margin order form on the standard crypto exchange platform.
To access the margin platform, you will merely select the “Margin” tab in the header and this will open it up. As you can see, it looks very much the same as the standard exchange with the only addition being the margin management widget slightly above the order form.
In order to trade on the margin, you have to first make sure that you have margin funds in place as collateral for the trades. You can transfer this in by selecting the “transfer in” link in your balance widget just below your chart.
Once you have done this, you can now take out coins on a “loan”. You would head over to the margin management section on the exchange. Here you can take out a loan and settle others as well as monitor all of your margin positions.
In terms of the leverage that you are entitled to on the Huobi exchange, this will differ for each coin. But, for indicative purposes the leverage on BTC is 3X. This is lower than the leverage that is present on other exchanges. For example, leverage rates are 5X at Kraken and up to 100X at leverage at Bitmex.
However, it is still a relatively attractive way for you to enhance your returns with borrowed money. Once you have taken out the loan, you will charged an interest on the outstanding position. The daily rate of loaning USDT is 0.1% and the daily rate of loaning BCH, ETH, LTC, ETC, DASH, XRP, EOS, OMG, ZEC is 0.02%.
Before you can take any margin position on you need to make sure that you have the right amount of margin available in your account. This is the initial margin that they require and it is calculated as:
Initial Margin = (Tradable Balance)*(Loan Multiple - 1) - Total Borrowed Value
If you are going to be trading on margin, you need to be well aware of the risks. As you can tell, leverage is a double edged sword and you need to use it wisely. Markets can go against you and you can have your positions liquidated.
For those traders who would like to trade amongst themselves with Over the Counter (OTC trades) then they can make use of the OTC trading functionality on Huobi. This can be accessed in the header of the trading platform.
This is kind of like a local bitcoins version of the Huobi exchange. Here you can find dealers who would like to trade with you based on particular parameters like payment options, currency and amount. Huobi is not acting as the centralised market maker and you can arrange the transaction off exchange.
For example, when taking a look at the buyers who are interested in buying USDT with pounds (GBP) I got the following summary. As you can see there is someone who is looking to buy 1 USDT for 0.85.
If you wanted to trade a large of block of cryptocurrencies then you can place an order for a block trade. This is in all essence just a much larger OTC trade and a single order that is usually too large for most of he regular OTC traders.
So, should you use the Huobi OTC platform?
Well, when we logged on there were only 2 ads running for the USDT. There were no other orders placed on the OTC market. What this shows is that there is very little interest and liquidity. It also seems as if the local traders and OTC buyers are more willing to use other platforms.
The Huobi mobile application is ideal for those traders who would like to be able to trade while they are on the go and do not have access to their computers.
This is available on iOS as well as Android devices. We decided to take a look at the apps to get a better sense of how functional they were as well as what other users thought about them.
The Huobi app is no doubt well laid out and relatively easy to navigate. It has much of the same functionality as the web platform. Surprisingly, you can also do verifications and registration straight on the mobile phone itself.
So, while there were no obvious issues that we had with the Huobi app, we tried to get a sense of what other users were saying. There were three positive reviews in the app store that were all pretty recent. They also looked quite similar so one will have to draw their own conclusions.
Unfortunately we could not get an idea of what people thought about the app in the Google Play Store. This is because it is not listed in the play store and the user has to download the apk files. We think Huobi is better suited to list these files in the play store.
While customer support is often overlooked, it is perhaps one of the most important considerations when it comes to choosing which cryptocurrency exchange you want to trade with.
Speaking from experience, there is nothing more frustrating than having to wait days for a ticket to be answered or having to chase the customer support team on reddit and other platforms.
To that end, we were quite surprised with the Huobi customer support. Huobi is also one of the first exchanges that was able to implement 24/7 customer service and have been able to service this with their massive increase in support staff.
There are really two ways in which you can reach out to the Huobi support staff. One of them is through the chat app that is available right on the platform. You just have to hit “contact us” and they will open up the chat function.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to deal with them through emails then you can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org. When contacting them make sure that you are using the registered email address with the exchange and you include the user ID that applies to it.
Of course, if you are asking a general question then it is more than likely that someone has asked it before. They have quite a comprehensive FAQ section where they have extensive overviews and guides that you can read.
If you have used the Huobi platform and exchange and have had a pleasant experience then you can earn commissions for the friends that you refer to the platform.
This is through the Huobi Invite program. Quite simply when you refer a trader to the Huobi platform, you are given a 30% fee as cashback once the trader that you have referred places trades. This is a better referral program than others where you will merely get a fixed commission.
The funds are paid to you in the form of USDT or “points”. The Huobi invite program keeps a running list of all the traders that have referred clients and they maintain a leader board on the invite page. As you can see, these referral schemes can be quite lucrative.
However, there is a catch with the Huobi invite program and that is that the cashback period is limited. You are only entitled to the cashback over a period of 3 months from the registration date. Hence, you will have to make sure that those traders that you are referring trade once they register and in adequate volumes.
Slight point to note is that these fees only apply to the fees that Huobi earns from the client trading and not from other fees associated with the account such as deposit fees.
If you are one of those traders who likes to code their own trading bots then you will want to make use of the Huobi websocket or REST API.
Before you can start trading using the Huobi API you need to generate an API key. This can be done in your Huobi API management section. You will also need to bind the API key to an IP address. This is done to make sure that no one has unauthorised access to your account through the key.
It is also important to note that you should never give your API key to someone else as this will compromise your account and allow them to manipulate the pricing on the exchanges.
Creating Your API Key
You head on over to the API management section of your account. Here you are presented with a form where Huobi is asking for the IP addresses that you would like to bind it to. You can bind it to multiple addresses but Huobi suggests that you only use a maximum of 4 for security.
You will then need to confirm the creation of the API key with the code that they send to your email. Once that is done you are given your key and the API is created. You can edit it afterwards as well as create a fresh key if you so desire.
If you wanted to merely pull market data then you will be making use of the simple Huobi websocket API. If you also wanted the bot to also place trades in your account then you will want to use the REST API. The documentation for both can be found on the Huobi API Github.
When it comes to centralised exchanges, one of the most pervasive risks is that of exchange hacks. Many exchanges have fallen victim with the most stinging example being that of Mt Gox.
Having said that, is Huobi a safe exchange?
Well, to this day they have not suffered a hack of any kind. This is in fact quite a feet as even some of the most established exchanges now have fallen victim including Poloniex and the Bitstamp Exchange. Huobi puts this down to their experience as an exchange (over 5 years).
They claim that they have top security and risk controls that have been developed by the likes of Goldman Sachs. They have also developed a decentralised exchange structure which can reduce the impact of Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attaks on their infastructure.
However, something else that we found quite interesting is the Huobi User Protection fund which was launched earlier this year.
User Protection Fund
While protecting against the threat of a hack or loss is important, Huobi has gone one step further by creating a fund that will cover those affected from any losses should they at all occur.
According to this medium post, the exchange will use 20% of the net revenue that they generate from trading and use it to buy back Huobi Tokens. These will be placed in the Huobi User Protection fund. It says:
The HTs inside the protection fund will be used solely for security purposes and for user compensation in case of theft or a security breach
This also comes on top of an announcement just prior that talked about the Huobi Security Reserve. The exchange said that they would be storing 20,000 Bitcoin in this reserve for insurance should there be any breaches from hackers or funds lost.
Huobi User Security
Lastly, there are also a number of security procedures that Huobi has in place to make sure that users are individually protected from hackers and account breaches.
For example, they have the standard two factor authentication that will be a backstop in case any hacker or phisher is able to get your password. This is not engaged by default so we would recommend that you activate it the moment you have an account.
Of course, even if you are taking these precautions, you should avoid leaving a large number of coins on any exchange. You should make use of cold storage in hardware wallets for a large bulk of your coins.
While Huobi appears to be a safe bet on a number of metrics, there are few things that we didn’t like and thought they could improve.
Firstly, the withdrawal limits on unverified exchanges are very restrictive. They are so restrictive in fact that no trader who wishes to remain anonymous would use their exchange.
We know that regulations are quite a concern for exchanges these days but there are other exchanges which have higher limits and still are able to keep above board when it comes to KYC. Whether this will change in the near term is hard to tell.
We also would prefer if Huobi would provide larger leverage levels for those who would like to trade on margin. They are competing against exchanges such as Bitmex and brokers such as IQ Option that have 100X and 20X leverage respectfully.
Lastly, we would like to see them added some of the more obvious coins in the top 10 of market cap that they have excluded. It is hard for us to understand why they would have excluded coins such as Stellar and Cardano when they are widely traded at other exchanges.
This Huobi exchange review has confirmed to us that Huobi is indeed a reliable and effective cryptocurrency exchange. There is a reason that they have become so successful and expanded their operations.
We found the platform to be greatly efficient as well as well laid out and beginner friendly. It also has many tools that day traders and technical analyst would find useful.
It is also quite impressive that Huobi has set up reserve funds that will act as insurance in the case of any hacks or unforeseen breaches. This is something that more exchanges should, and in fact are, doing.
While there is room for improvement as mentioned, these are relatively minor and should not detract you from using the exchange. Moreover, Huobi is only set to improve as it expands its operations globally including in the USA.
In short, a well-established exchange with a strong reputation and a smooth trading experience.
Featured Image via Huobi.pro