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GDPR-compliant Blockchain: possibilities and solutions

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Blockchain and GDPR working together Crypto Heroes

On March 25th, 2018, the GDPR came into effect and with that came stiff fines and restrictions on companies that process and control data. The regulations are aimed at protecting EU citizens from companies and bad actors who want to harvest and use personal data unscrupulously. Some of the provisions of the GDPR towards individuals include the following rights:

  • right to erasure,
  • right to rectification,
  • right to data portability
  • and the right to object processing of personal data.

With that in mind, a good number of businesses have been working to ensure compliance with the EU GDPR laws. For businesses that use or plan to use Blockchain networks for their customer data management, the question of whether enterprise Blockchain applications can comply with EU GDPR laws is still unanswered – additionally to other regulations for crypto in the country. In this post, we aim to come closer to explaining whether and how it is possible to design a GDPR compliant Blockchain.

Blockchain and GDPR

First of all, is it even possible to design a GDPR compliant Blockchain? Well, given that the GDPR laws go against the grain of the nature of Blockchain technology, experts agree that compliance is certainly difficult but not at all impossible.

According to Akshay Sharma, an analyst at neXt-Curve (an advisory firm), auditing is key, and businesses can achieve compliance with GDPR by “leveraging Hybrid Public and Private Blockchain Technology, with permission-based controls”.

He further mentions that “Blockchain technology can facilitate the managing and auditing process of personally identifiable information by leveraging its underlying encryption capabilities, logging of all transaction, policy controls within its smart contracts and resiliency within its highly replicated architecture”.

Therefore, if companies conduct thorough risk management with a complete understanding of Blockchain‘s infrastructure and its vulnerabilities towards compliance with GDPR, they could re-configure the Blockchain architecture to fit their needs.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways Blockchain can be configured to remain GDPR compliant.

Choosing between changing regulations or the Blockchain

To begin with, Blockchain’s essential architecture makes it impossible to delete data. All the information entered on the blocks is immutable meaning it cannot be edited or deleted. Therefore, the only viable solution around this question of immutability is to either convince regulators to redefine their meaning of erasure or find a way to make data on the Blockchain completely inaccessible.

Since influencing the EU parliament to amend the meaning of the term “erasure” might take a lot of lobbying and court debates, let’s take a look at how Blockchain can be configured to achieve compliance.

According to the GDPR, personal data entails any data that is identifiable to the individual. In fact, the GDPR provisions only provide a surface definition of the word “erase.” Therefore, in the absence of a clear-cut definition, most businesses will have to approach the matter on the basis of legal conformity.

Next, let’s take a look at several solutions to consider.

Personal data encryption and the Hashing Function

The hashing function is one of the most fundamental aspects of Blockchain technology. It refers to the transformation of data to an unrecognizable format through an irreversible process. The understanding with the GDPR provisions is that if data can become anonymous then it falls outside the jurisdiction of personal data. Hashing can be used to make personal data anonymous thus lifting the requirements set up by the GDPR. The downside with this strategy is that even though it makes practical sense, the theory of attackers performing a brute force on the encrypted data still stands. A brute force attack is an attack on the encrypted data whereby the attackers run a program that undertakes extremely large guesses in an attempt to break the encryption and reverse it. Although it a completely difficult task, in theory, a brute force attack can actually break the encryption.

Keeping personal data off the Blockchain

All GDPR sensitive data can be stored off the chain to ensure compliance with the GDPR laws. Once the data has gone through the hashing process, the actual documentation can be stored on a cloud-based server while the hashes remain on the Blockchain. Since the hashes are unreadable, they will perform the function of pointing back to the personal data on the cloud while maintaining anonymity. The hashes simply act as control pointers that are not subject to GDP’s regulations and therefore information on the personal data can be edited or even removed without changing the structure of the Blockchain. Keeping the data off-chain also solves the problem of privacy as required by GDPR. All personal data needs to be in the control of the subject. Keeping the actual data off the Blockchain keeps it out of reach of the decentralized public on the network.

hyperledger fabric walkthrough - Crypto Heroes

What about adapting a Hyperledger platform?

A Hyperledger platform operates pretty much like a Blockchain network but with a few differences. Basically, a Hyperledger is an umbrella open source project of Blockchain that seeks to modify and develop the original open-source Blockchain for enterprises. There are various Hyperledgers currently being developed however one of the most outstanding projects is Hyperledger Fabric. This platform allows businesses to use smart contracts, programmable mechanism and pluggable modular protocols that make Blockchain applicable for any enterprise needs.

The modular architecture of the Hyperledger Fabric, in particular, features a channel system that allows participants on the distributed network to communicate exclusively. This means participants can share information on the network without that information being public. Furthermore, you can program your own network with pluggable protocols and smart contracts so as to fit the specific needs of your company.

Conclusion

Apart from the GDPR laws, Blockchain based companies must prepare for more regulations from different institutions and government institutions around the world. So far, most stakeholders believe that compliance between GDPR and Blockchain is difficult and almost impossible. But, as you can see, there is an opportunity for exploring different possibilities towards designing a GDPR compliant Blockchain. After all, Blockchain has already proven to be an innovative technology that can improve transparency, data security, and interoperability. As long as lawmakers, enterprise owners, and developers work hand in hand, a viable solution can be achieved.

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Cryptocurrency ATMs and where to find them

Bitcoin ATMs are still a novelty since cryptocurrencies are still far from mass adoption in their current state, but where can you find them?

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Bitcoin ATM as a slot machine Crypto Heroes

While we are all accustomed to usual ATMs that can be found practically on every corner in every city, Bitcoin ATMs are still a novelty since cryptocurrencies are still far from mass adoption in their current state. However, for those who are keen on using Bitcoin just like usual dollars or euros in their daily lives, we’ve got good news: cryptocurrency ATMs already exist and their number across different cities is rapidly increasing.

What is a Bitcoin ATM

A Bitcoin ATM is a machine that can be used for purchasing Bitcoin and sometimes a few other major cryptocurrencies using cash. It’s very similar to usual ATMs with the only difference that you insert cash and get bitcoins to your cryptocurrency wallet.

Typically, such ATMs are located not far from shops and cafes that are keen on implementing cryptocurrency payments into their business models. But since the Bitcoin popularity keeps on growing, such Bitcoin ATMs can be found in other areas as well. Some of these ATMs work only in one direction meaning that you can only purchase bitcoin with cash with their help. Two-ways ATMs exist as well and allow you not only to buy but also to sell cryptocurrencies.

The best thing about Bitcoin ATMs is that they significantly simplify the BTC buying process and serve as a bridge between the traditional financial world and the new world of digital payments allowing you to stay incognito at the same time. Some of them may require to provide your phone number, your scans of your documents, but only if you purchase cry[tos for a really huge sum.

However, there’s always a flip side of the coin and convenience has its price. The rate at which Bitcoin ATMs sell cryptocurrencies is typically worse than the market average and they also charge their own fees on top.

Bitcoin ATM producers

There are many Bitcoin ATM producers worldwide, but the major part of the market share belongs to only two of them, Genesis Coin and General Bytes.

Genesis Coin offers 2 types of ATMs:

  • Genesis 1 (2-way, $14,500)
  • Satoshi 1 (1 or 2-way, $6,800)

General Bytes is a Czech enterprise that specializes on Android devices. It has a broader choice of ATM packages and also sells a cryptocurrency point-of-sales solution and neon signs stating that your shop accepts bitcoins.

How to buy Bitcoin via ATM

The process differs in details for General Bytes and Genesis Coin ATMs, but the overall logic is the same.

  1. Select the language and press “Start” button.
  2. If the given ATM support multiple cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin or other altcoins) select the one you want to purchase.
  3. Choose how much you want to buy.
  4. Enter your mobile number and then the verification code you receive.
  5. Specify your cryptocurrency wallet or create the new one to receive the funds.
  6. Put the cash into the dispenser.
  7. Finish the transaction by pressing the “Send” button.
  8. Get a receipt and receive cryptos to your wallet.
  9. The process of selling bitcoins via ATM is no more difficult. The only difference is that you will need to scan the QR address via mobile wallet to send your bitcoins.

How can I find cryptocurrency ATMs in my region?

There is a very useful service designed specifically for this purpose, CoinATMradar. With its help, you can find Bitcoin ATMs in your region. According to the map, most of them are located in the US (in spite of SEC strict regulations) and in Europe, but there are also such machines in other parts of the world which is a very encouraging piece of news.

You can find a Bitcoin ATM in your city by typing your address in the search field or by simply clicking on the location and gradually approximating the scale. There are a few things that you should pay attention to:

  • ATM fees: They charge 5-10% for the purchase on the average, but there are exclusions and the fees may be higher.
  • Bitcoin price: The rates change in the real-time and with ATMs, they are usually 7% higher than the CoinMarketCap average. Together with the ATM fees, the ultimate price may be discouraging, as we’ve already stated above.
  • The transaction limits: Different crypto ATMs have different limits per transaction and per day.

Once you have selected a cryptocurrency machine, click on the “get directions” button and see how you can find it on the Google maps.

Another service that has been created specifically for Australian citizens is called Find Bitcoin ATM. Australia is one of the first regions that has created conditions for cryptocurrency legalization and there are numerous bitcoin machines across its major cities such as Perth, Melbourne and, of course, Sydney. The problem with both of these services is that none of them displays the fees that the machines impose or the transaction limits, so you will have to find it out only when you get there.

Conclusion

The number of Bitcoin ATMs is constantly growing. Since the first machine was launched in Vancouver in 2013, several thousand more have been opened worldwide. Of course, these ATMs are placed only in the regions where cryptos have not been officially banned since there is still a cryptocurrency legalization question that must be resolved. But the tendency is obvious and we may still live to see Bitcoin selling machines on every corner.

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How to find a good ICO: a comprehensive guide

There are over 2,000 cryptocurrencies on the market today and each claims to have something unique to offer. So how can you find a good ICO?

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how to find reputable ICOs - cryptocurrency Tinder - Crypto Heroes

Initial Coin Offerings are the new IPOs. However, unlike IPOs, ICOs are not regulated by the government. This has created the ideal environment for scammers seeking to profit from the ongoing crypto craze. Because of this, investors are advised to be cautious about the ICOs and coins they invest in.
Generally, it’s not that easy to actually find a good ICO: there are over 2,000 cryptocurrencies on the market today and each claims to have something unique to offer. So, what do you look for in an ICO or a coin to determine whether it is worth investing in?

First, you find interesting ICOs

ICOs are launched every other day. In fact, it is not uncommon to find dozens of ICOs running simultaneously. Nevertheless, although it is easy to find some at any point in time, sorting through them can be difficult.

Responding to this problem, there are numerous sites that have both the search and the sort functions. Some are biased, but some are definitely professional. Here are three reputable recommendations:

ICO Alert: ICO Alert is a comprehensive ICO directory. It lists all active ICOs and ranks them according to their performance – it also offers links to all ICOs’ whitepapers. Additionally, here you can find the logs of previous ICOs’ performance statistics.

ICO Alert main page including the list of current token sales - Crypto Heroes

List available on the main page of ICO Alert

ICO Tracker: ICO Tracker is another website where you can look up which ICOs are ongoing at the moment. It organizes the listed ICOs in a neat manner and provides access to comprehensive information, including each ICO’s strengths and weaknesses, goals, visions, and milestones, among others. A great feature that ICO Tracker has, are the insights into the teams behind each of the listed ICO.

ICO tracker view on a part of the page with current ICOs - Crypto Heroes

ICO Tracker – an excerpt of the list of current ICOs.

ICO Rating: ICO Rating goes a step further than just listing all the ICOs taking place at the moment by helping visitors with the analysis. Each ICO has a description and an evaluation conducted by cryptocurrency and financial experts. It helps to make decisions easier.

ICO Rating Agency main page view - ICO listing of upcoming ICOs - Crypto Heroes

ICO Rating Agency listing the upcoming ICOs

Find a good ICO through research

Do not take ICO ranking sites at face value – some of them are biased and may promote unworthy ICOs. As such, always be sure to conduct thorough research into the ICOs or coins which interest you to confirm that they are indeed good enough to bet money on. There are several factors to consider before choosing a really good ICO. Below you can see the main points, but if you want to go in depth, read our article about how to recognize scam ICOs.

The team

There are human faces behind each ICO. These are the people behind the business’ idea and it is their responsibility to ensure that their idea succeeds. People are the most important component of any ICO and the team’s credibility reflects the ICO’s credibility.

Because of this, make sure to invest time into reviewing each person on the team. In short, ensure that each team member is competent to get the job done. Consider each team member’s role and crosscheck to see that they have the necessary skills to match. Education backgrounds are also important. You can even go a step further and look into the developers’ personal backgrounds to ensure that their profiles are legitimate and these are real people.

Whitepaper

Most people equate whitepapers to the “terms & conditions” sections of websites. However, whitepapers are of significant importance in ICOs. In fact, they explain everything there is to know about an ICO. They function like constitutions – ICOs have to do everything that is specified in their whitepapers. As such, you are guaranteed to find all the information you need to make an informed decision before risking your money.

As such, if you are really interested in an ICO, take some time to read its whitepaper. Be patient and attentive so as not to miss any detail. Pay attention to what you are reading and make sure you understand it: sometimes questionable whitepapers are written in a difficult language with the intent to puzzle. You should also consider reading other documents associated with the ICO.

Viability of a crypto coin

As mentioned, most ICOs are designed to generate funding for new businesses. Most of these businesses claim to have solutions to existing problems by leveraging the strengths of Blockchain technology. In cases where this is true, the outcome is almost always rewarding. However, it is not easy to tell at first sight which ICOs are lying and which ones are legitimate.

As such, take your research a step further and evaluate your chosen ICO’s industry. Consider what it is worth, the underlying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and most importantly, whether there are companies similar to the upcoming startup. Finally, get a second opinion on whether the startup can actually do what it promises to – you should consider consulting an expert for this especially if you are considering a large-scale investment.

Numbers help find a good ICO

Numbers do not lie. In the case of ICOs, they are important factors in future performance analysis. For instance, the hard cap is important in decision-making – the right hard cap, as is the case with Bitcoin, creates the ideal environment for the coin to gain value. Obviously, you will also want to check the price of the coin and determine whether it is correctly valued. Consider all the figures and get a second opinion if necessary.

Finally, it would also help to know how many people have bought into the ICO if it is already ongoing. But be careful: market movements are not always a reliable indicator. Because of this, make sure to back up all your decisions using comprehensive analysis.

Is there an ideal coin?

Don’t worry if you are late to buy into an ICO. After all, you can always buy the coin. Coins are just as profitable but this also depends on how well you pick them. The two most important factors to consider when investing in existing coins are volume and volatility. A high trading volume for both sales and purchases is a good sign, but you should be careful with volatility levels. Additionally, study the coin’s past performance – it can offer accurate insights into its future outlook.

Apart from trading volume and volatility, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the other factors such as the type of coin, its usage, circulation, and every important detail no matter how small.

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Top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges

For wise investors who want to diversify their portfolio and buy different cryptocurrencies instead of relying solely on Bitcoin, many different cryptocurrency trading platforms have been created with a different set of supported altcoins and different requirements for verification.

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crypto exchange illustration - Crypto Heroes

Cryptocurrency exchange platforms are the websites where you can buy, sell or exchange Bitcoin, Ether or any other altcoin to another digital currency or the traditional fiat currencies such as the Euro or US dollar.

The total number of cryptocurrencies already exceeds 2,000, according to Coinmarketmap stats. For wise investors who want to diversify their portfolio and buy different cryptocurrencies instead of relying solely on Bitcoin, many different cryptocurrency trading platforms have been created with a different set of supported altcoins and different requirements for verification. In this article, we are going to review the best cryptocurrency exchanges mentioning both their pros and cons in order to help you choose the platform that would best suit your needs.

5 tips to find a trustworthy cryptocurrency exchange

When estimating bitcoin trading sites you should pay specific attention to the following five aspects.

Reputation

Before you entrust your funds to the third-party platform you should always check its reputation. The best way to estimate the reliability of a given bitcoin trading platform is to find what users say about it on the internet. Look through such popular platforms as Reddit, Bitcointalk or Quora, read the users’ comments in the existing threads or ask your own questions.

Verification requirements

Most of the largest bitcoin exchanges require to upload some documents to give you the full access to their features. As users are aplenty, you may have to wait for several days or even weeks for your account to be approved, but it’s worth waiting. This is the best way for a platform to protect itself against scam and money laundering, and the longer verification takes, the higher is reliability.

Geographical limitations

Typically, bitcoin exchange platforms work in a limited number of countries, so check the list of supported regions before you sign up.

Customer support

If you are a newbie in cryptocurrency trading most likely you will have many questions about how these platforms work. Make sure that on the platform of your choice there is a real human to answer your questions in the live chat or a convenient knowledge base.

Fees

Most bitcoin trading websites display the fees they take per transaction. Check if the amount is reasonable.

Now that you know what aspects are most important, check the following digital currency exchanges.

1. Binance

Binance market screen view - Crypto Heroes

This cryptocurrency exchange platform works best for those who are keen on crypto-to-crypto trading. Launched in 2017, Binance has quickly gained popularity and now keeps stable positions at the top of Coinmarketcap with $1 billion daily trading volume and more than 130 supported altcoins. Initially based in China, the platform had to move to Malta when new local regulations were released.

Apart from multiple altcoins, Binance also offers its own token, Binancecoin (BNB). If you hold a decent amount of BNB coins on your wallets you can get a discount for transaction fees. Also, every month, Binance lists one new project for free and motivates users to vote for their favorites with BNB.

Pros: low transaction fees, available worldwide, own token, relatively simple verification procedure.

Cons: limited payment options, no fiat trading.

2. Coinbase

Coinbase market screen view - Crypto Heroes

Launched in 2012, Coinbase is one of the eldest and most reputable bitcoin exchange sites. Apart from a crypto exchange platform, Coinbase also provides a set of crypto payment tools for merchants, a cryptocurrency wallet and one of the easiest way to buy bitcoin for end-users. The purchase fees are reasonable, 1.49%-3.99% for buying crypto. Coinbase is justly regarded the best site to buy bitcoins.

The main disadvantages of this platform is the limited geographical coverage. It works in the US and in most of the European countries and buys orders are available in Singapore, Australia and Canada. All other countries are still out of reach.

Pros: reputable platform, additional services, user-friendly, accepts fiat, funds’ security is backed by Coinbase insurance.

Cons: limited support and payment options, a small number of supported currencies.

3. Kraken

Kraken market screen view - Crypto Heroes

Kraken is also one of the most reputable cryptocurrency trading sites famous for its high security level. It may be really hard to pass full verification, and the whole procedure may take up to several weeks or even months, but your efforts won’t go wasted. Once you are in, you get access to the advanced trading tools, super-fast transactions with very low fees (0-0.26%) and the possibility to buy bitcoin online not only for USD and EUR (via wire transfer), but also for Japanese Yen and Canadian dollar.

Kraken supports around 20 cryptocurrency pairs, including EOS, Monero and Zcash and it works in almost all countries.

Pros: good reputation, very low transaction fees, rich functionality, customer support, security, no geographical limits.

Cons: complex interface for beginners, long verification.

4. CEX.io

cex.io market screen view Crypto Heroes

This digital currency exchange platform offers its users not only an online edition, but also a cross-platform tool that you can access from your mobile device. Although CEX.io suffered a small hack in summer 2017, the security breaches are already fixed and you may no longer worry for your funds.

Cex offers a set of tools for professional traders as well as brokerage services for those who only start to investigate this area. The maker-taker fees are relatively low and there are also special conditions for huge amounts.

Pros: multiple payment options, beginner friendly, decent fees, works worldwide.

Cons: limited support options, strict verification.

5. Poloniex

Poloniex smarket screen view - Crypto Heroes

Founded in 2014, Poloniex is one of the most popular cryptocurrency markets as it offers its services all over the world and has around 100 trading pairs for altcoin exchange. Based in the US, it was recently boxed into a corner by the government and purchased by Circle, but this act didn’t have any effect on the platform as it continues to work just as it used to.

Poloniex provides its users with a set of professional trading tools including bitcoin price graph compared to other altcoins, market depth chart, the price history and many other features. The fees vary from 0 to 0.15% for makers and from 0.1 to 0.25% for takers. To withdraw your funds, you only need to pay the network fee.

Pros: easy KYC procedure, many trading pairs, low fees, high-volume trading.

Cons: slow support, no fiat.

6. Coinmama

Coinmama market screen view - Crypto Heroes

Coinmama is one of the best sites to buy bitcoins for beginners as it has a very user-friendly interface and allows to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card. Unlike Coinbase, this platform doesn’t provide you with cryptocurrency wallets, so you will have to get them yourself. At Coinmama, you can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, Qtum, XRP, Litecoin, BCash and Ethereum Classic. It works with almost all countries including the US (check if your state is in the coverage area) and the fees for buying crypto with a card are only 5.5% which is lower than the market average. There’s no way to switch crypto back to fiat, though.

Pros: you can buy bitcoin with a card and with a bank transfer, relatively simple verification, good reputation, user-friendly, available all over the world.

Cons: not the best rates, no way to sell bitcoin, the average level of user support.

7. Local Bitcoins

localcoin market screen view - Crypto Heroes

Local Bitcoins is an ideal platform for those who want to buy cryptocurrency without revealing their identity. This is a peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange where you can find people in your country and even in your city and buy bitcoin for cash, deposit funds to their bank account or pay via PayPal, Dwolla or Skrill. To make sure that users don’t cheat, the platform provides the escrow service, rates the reputation of its participants and publicly displays their previous deals.

Pros: possibility to buy bitcoins with cash, escrow service, privacy, user-friendly, available all over the world.

Cons: not the best rates, difficult to buy large amounts of crypto.

8.  Bitmex

Bitmex market screen view - Crypto Heroes

The abbreviation that is used in the name of this cryptocurrency trading platform stands for the Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange. The target audience of Bitmex consists of dedicated traders rather than cryptocurrency investors as the platform offers leveraged contracts and provides the users with much higher profits (or losses) per contract. There is no fiat currency support as all orders are made using bitcoin. There is no verification procedure as well. All you need to do to sign up is to provide your name, email address and the country of your residence. The maker/taker fees vary from 0.05 to 0.25% per contract.

Pros: high liquidity, easy verification, low fees, margin trading.

Cons: not suited for beginners, higher risks, no fiat support.

9. Bitfinex

Bitfinex market screen view - Crypto Heroes

This is also one of the best cryptocurrency trading platforms with high trading volumes and maker-taker fees as low as 0-0.2%. Based in Hong Kong, this cryptocurrency exchange doesn’t allow US citizens to use the service.

In the past, Bitfinex had some security issues. In 2016, it was compromised by hackers’ attacks and lost more than $70 in bitcoin and it was accused of speculations a year after that. However, now all the security breaches seem to be disposed of as the platform maintains the reputation of a secure tool for cryptocurrency traders.

Pros: a huge variety of trading pairs, low fees, easy verification procedure, a wide range of trading tools.

Cons: security issues in the past, doesn’t work in the US.

10. Huobi

Huobi cryptocurrency exchange screen view - Crypto Heroes

Initially founded in China in 2013, Huobi is now headquartered in Singapore and has offices in the US, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. The US citizens are not allowed to sign up on it. The maker-taker fees make up 0-0.2% and the verification procedure is relatively easy.

Huobi has a built-in interface of a famous service TradingView which provides cryptocurrency fans with a huge variety of trading tools. Also, Huobi was one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges to declare the support of EOS-based projects. If you hold your EOS tokens on Huobi, you will receive the airdrops of all new EOS-based ICOs directly to your Huobi account.

Pros: low fees, simple verification, advanced tools for traders, a wide range of supported altcoins, 24/7 customer support.

Cons: no US support, withdrawal limits, accused of falsifying trading volumes in the past.

Conclusion on best cryptocurrency exchanges

The cryptocurrency boom in the last few years has drastically increased the demand for bitcoin exchange websites with different tools for cryptocurrency traders. We have reviewed top bitcoin exchanges to help you make the right choice. Whether you want to become a professional cryptocurrency investor or make money on the short-term trading you can find the tools that will suit your requirements no matter what is your country of residence.

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