Huobi Exchange Review: Is it the Best Cryptocurrency Exchange in 2019?

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This review is part of a crypto exchange review series. Our last five reviews evaluated KuCoin, Kraken, Bittrex, Binance, Poloniex, and Coinbase Pro. We are publishing reviews for each of the top exchanges, so don’t miss any of these updates by joining our Telegram group.


In the crypto world, memory is short term. A week can feel like a month, and a month, a year. Just thinking back to the depths of the 2017-2019 bear market feels like a remembrance of ancient history. Considering that, when we think of how long Huobi has played the part of underdog superstar exchange, we’re tempted to say that it’s been decades.

While nothing in crypto has been around for decades, lasting for even just a few short years is enough to gain OG status. Huobi has stood the veritable crypto test of time, having come online around the era of dinosaurs like Mt. Gox way back in 2013. You read that right, 2013. YouTube videos from 2013 look like ancient PBS documentaries filmed on 8mm film — so just consider what the Bitcoin trading environment was like back then.

The fact that most anyone who took crypto up in those years has been washed away by the sands of time speaks volumes about anyone who is not only still standing — but also thriving. Huobi is just such a rare example. Having weathered the tempestuous nature of crypto year on year only to gain strength, consolidate gains, and deliver an increasingly satisfying exchange experience means Huobi is firmly entrenched and worth your consideration.

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Huobi’s story starts with Leon Li, a former Oracle engineer who, in 2013, decided enough was enough and bought the Huobi domain before taking BTC trading live later in that same year. Quick on its feet and ready to capitalize on the steam being gained around the emerging Bitcoin market, Huobi angel investments from notable places including the now-legendary Sequoia Capital group.

In proving that it was no slouch in capturing market share from the likes of Mt. Gox, Huobi was doing over $4 billion in turnover three months after going live. By 2014, it had more than quadrupled its turnover and proved that Asia had a real need for digital asset exchange that was finally being fulfilled.

For many, the cryptocurrency bear market from 2014-2015 proved to be too much to handle. Exchanges like Mt. Gox folded in a heap of drama while other newbies struggled to find the right formula to attract traders. In the meantime, Huobi was busy eclipsing its competition. In 2016, the exchange reported $247 billion in turnover — yes, you read that correctly — giving it just over half of the world’s digital asset exchange market share.

Of course, crypto is nothing if not unpredictable. If you’ve been around the industry long enough then you’ll surely remember when China, just as the summer was wrapping up in 2017, dropped the banhammer on crypto exchanges. In one sudden move, the world’s most populous nation decided to pull out of all crypto trading, meaning China-based exchanges like Huobi had to hit pause and come up with a plan b.

It was then that the exchange relocated to Singapore and seemed to undergo a bit of soul searching. Until that moment, Huobi had always focused exclusively on the Chinese market. Now that China was out, it had to reinvent itself if it was going to survive the moment. At that realization, Huobi began to globalize its platform, beginning with Japan, Korea, Russia, and an international main exchange.

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Its efforts were not in vain. Huobi’s team knew that it had a winning formula — it’s trading engine was fast, the UI was clean and responsive, and exchange security has optimal. The problem was that audiences outside of Asia had little trust in the exchange and had never given it a shot.

Binance’s success probably parlayed into an opening into the international market for Huobi. Binance, itself a Chinese exchange initially, became so popular and trusted that other Chinese exchanges began to seem less suspect. Huobi’s name recognition from being in the space so long certainly helped it go the distance for international audiences. Additionally, the introduction of both Huobi Token and, more recently, Huobi’s IEO platform Spotlight, have helped garner the exchange more attention than ever before.

Huobi’s renaissance since the 2017 conundrum has seen the ultimate confirmation — by the end of 2018, the exchange’s turnover was well over $1 trillion, securing its position as one of the world’s top three crypto exchanges. Over the years, the exchanges near-unrivaled growth has catapulted it into contention with Binance for designation as the world’s top crypto platform. However, Huobi has one major advantage of the rest — since its founding, Huobi has never suffered a large hack as have nearly all other exchanges.

So, all told, Huobi’s illustrious crypto history paired with top-ranked security, a simple and elegant user interface, and internationally focused packaging makes it an essential exchange for today’s crypto trader. There’s certainly more to Huobi than meets the eye, so let’s take a deeper look at the exchange’s offerings.

Opening an Account

As one might expect, opening an account with Huobi is simple and straightforward. The only thing to pay special attention to in the beginning is which version of Huobi you need. That’s determined by your country of residence. For most, the answer will be Huobi’s international site, but for Americans, Huobi US, or HBUS, is the answer. Whichever site you choose, always make sure to double then triple-check that the web address is correct to avoid being phished.

Admittedly, choosing the right Huobi site can be a bit complicated. There’s huobi.com, hbus.com, huobi.pro, and hbg.com — which is the correct site? The answer is all of them. Hopefully, Huobi management clears up its current excess of domain names which would also keep users safe from logging into scam sites.

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Once you’re at the version of Huobi that best accords with your citizenship, all you need to do to get started is tap the ‘Sign Up’ button on the upper right. That’ll bring up the usual prompt for your basic information:

After entering the required information, you’ll find a verification email in your inbox that requires your click. Once done, you’ll be sent back to Huobi where your account is ready for action. A few things to mind are your own personal security and choosing a password that is both robust and easily remembered. OK — no problem — once you’ve configured 2FA on your account and trading passwords to protect yourself, you’re ready to rock.

Head over to Huobi’s markets and you’ll find a nifty feature that’s great for beginners. Basically, any asset you check into will have a neat summary attached. What a coin’s supply is like, what its purpose is — all of that is quickly covered by Huobi to make for a guided crypto shopping experience. Of course, you should still do your own research, but having these waypoints doesn’t hurt.

 Features and Services

  • Huge variety of trading pairs — With Huobi, you almost never have to see the same digital asset twice if you don’t want to. That’s because the exchange boasts an impressive array of trading pairs that you’re probably unfamiliar with as a westerner. Huobi’s selection puts a big emphasis on projects from Asia and, as such, is usually the first landing for many up-and-coming coins from Korea, Singapore, and China.

  • On-the-spot customer service  — It’s crazy how fast Huobi responds to customer claims. Contacting Huobi regarding account issues often means you can expect a response within the hour. That quick response time puts it well above any other exchange.

  • Huobi User Protection Fund  — Similar to Binance’s SAFU, Huobi funnels profits into its User Protection Fund as an insurance policy against hacks, thefts, and other unforeseen events that affect users’ wallets. As a customer, this is a huge plus because it means you can feel relatively assured that if something goes down well beyond your control, you’ll be safe and sound with Huobi presumably restoring you to rights.

  • Institutional trading accounts — As one of the largest exchanges in the world year on year, Huobi has attracted the attention of institutional traders and accounts the world over. As such, Huobi has created a separate trading desk for institution and firm size users that involves both OTC and dark pool trading.

Fees

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Huobi is super competitive when it comes to trading fees and that's mostly owing to its wise decision to transition to a native token-based economy similar to KuCoin, Binance, and Bibox. Huobi Token, or HT for short, gives users the right to slash trading fees in half, engage in governance decisions regarding the platform, and participate in IEOs.

Fee reduction on the platform using HT is easy. Just hold HT in your wallet and, in your user configuration panel, select the option to use HT for trading fees. Now, you’ll enjoy a big discount against the standard fee which amounts to:

  • Maker fee, 0.2%

  • Taker fee, 0.2%

Using HT, each of these fees is slashed in half. Additionally, there are VIP memberships you can book that reduce those same fees up to 65%.

The Good and the Bad

Overall, Huobi offers an elevated exchange experience that lives up to its high-flying reputation as one of crypto’s best exchanges. It’s not easy to impress when it comes to exchanges but Huobi does exactly that with its instant customer service, fast and smooth user interface, and highly secure exchange with a litany of options for protecting your account.

About the only thing that’s not to like is that some aspects of the exchange are quite confusing. The excess of domain names and complicated presentation of its VIP memberships against Huobi Token make it difficult to parse through which is the best option. It’s odd that Huobi even bothers with VIP membership at all when it can simply roll all those benefits into owning HT at different tiers (like Binance does).

Despite those shortcomings, Huobi delivers where it counts and gives us access to tokens from the Asian market that we wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable trading.

Rating

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Total Rating - 4.3

Huobi has been a global crypto exchange leader for years. With exceptional security, customer support, asset listings, and trading fees, Huobi is a great option for any serious crypto trader.


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