It’s been a while since I last looked at the UX of a trading platform/exchange and I felt BitMEX was rather fitting after using the platform regularly with the recent BTC volatility. Because of this, I feel I’m in a good place to discuss the platform and I often read about how the BitMEX platform can be an intimidating place for beginners to trade. I am hoping that as well as a UX review, this article can also help beginners become more comfortable with the platform.
But first, what is BitMEX?
- “BitMEX is a Peer-to-Peer Trading Platform that offers leveraged contracts that are bought and sold in Bitcoin.”
- “BitMEX only handles Bitcoin. All profit and loss is in Bitcoin, even if you’re buying and selling altcoin contracts. BitMEX does not handle fiat currency.”
- “BitMEX allows trading with a high amount of leverage.”
Why can BitMEX be seen as intimidating for new users?
The average beginner in crypto is going to typically come across platforms such as Coinbase or similar to purchase their first chunk of Bitcoin and may then venture into popular alt exchanges such as Binance once they have built up some confidence. Because of the purpose of BitMEX, the platform and user interface (UI) doesn’t look like either of the above platforms. The users naturally fear having to learn something new. It’s also important to recognise that BitMEX is predominantly aimed at traders rather than investors or people who are more suited to the old HODL strategy.
Users of BitMEX have the option of trading with leverage which can be extremely appealing to a lot of individuals but you really have to understand what trading with leverage means first. ‘What is cross margin?’ ‘What happens when I get liquidated?’ These are some of the things that 99% of users are not going to understand unless they already have a background in trading. Using leverage and essentially gambling is one thing, but understanding it and using it responsibly is a different ball game.
How do BitMEX overcome this?
Firstly, BitMEX offer plenty of information for the user to read to familiarise themselves with the platform. If you visit the ‘about’ page on the BitMEX website there is an overview page that gives an adequate introduction to what the platform is and where to start. If this information isn’t enough there is a huge list of FAQ’s and much more material that goes into detail explaining the in’s and out’s of BitMEX, margin trading, fee’s and everything else that comes with it.
The most valuable thing in my opinion that BitMEX offer to their new users is the Testnet platform. Using the Testnet platform is using the exact same platform as the real thing with the only difference being that you are using a demo account. This allows you to familiarise yourself with BitMEX without risking any real Bitcoin. This has a great impact on the user experience (UX) as it means that users can take their time discovering the platform without feeling uneasy about the chance of making a mistake or losing any money.
Lastly, there are a number of external resources and demonstrations that can be found across other websites such as Google, YouTube and Twitter. Giving you even more variety before diving deep into the unknown.
The User Interface
Many people will complain about the user interface not being simple or intuitive but one thing that we have to remember is that BitMEX is a more complex trading platform and it isn’t going to be as simple as a purchase on Coinbase. I agree, it may not be the prettiest to look at and could be modernised but I think the functionality works exactly as expected and allows the user to execute trades efficiently. Being able to drag and drop the the components to adjust the interface allows the user to personalise the platform to their own preferences which can be useful.
There is definitely an argument that the interface is not user friendly for beginners but that is exactly what the Testnet website is for. Familiarise yourself on there first before moving over to the real thing. It honestly is like riding a bike, once you can use the platform, it becomes second nature.
Although there are a number of features that complete the overall user experience, I am going to talk about two features that enticed me to use the platform much more frequently. The first feature is the ability to trade using leverage.
Leverage creates a unique user experience by allowing your order value to be higher than the amount of BTC that you are risking on that particular trade. You are essentially borrowing money from the exchange. With this comes great risk and it’s important to understand exactly what them risks are, especially when it comes to liquidation. Although you are given the option to trade up to 100x leverage, I rarely exceed 5x and strongly advise you not to go anywhere near the maximum leverage available.
The second feature that I personally benefit from hugely is having the ability to set a take profit order and stop loss order simultaneously. This is something that a number of exchanges across crypto haven’t yet introduced but it creates a much more convenient and automated user experience. As a swing trader, I can ‘set and forget’ as I know that my trade plan will be executed one way or another with little to no manual intervention. Arguably the only way this feature could be improved is by the system automatically removing the opposite order once one of the orders is filled. At the moment you do have to log in and close this manually. If you forget, you do risk getting filled on a position that you probably won’t want to take.
Liquidity and Funding
Liquidity is something that is unique to trading and investing when comparing to other digital products or online services but it plays an extremely important role in the user experience. Without liquidity, order books will be very thin and can result in your orders not being filled at the price you expected or sometimes not being filled at all. This can be extremely frustrating and something that would prompt you to look at alternative platforms. BitMEX is currently the leading derivative platform in the cryptocurrency space. With the volume that they generate, liquidity is very rarely an issue for the average retail user. This creates a better UX as users can rest assured knowing that their orders will get filled 99% of the time at the price or similar to what they expected.
Funding is a feature within BitMEX that can be relatively confusing to beginners. In a nutshell, depending on the market conditions either short positions will pay a fee to long positions or long positions pay to shorts. The purpose of this article is to look at the UX so I won’t be diving deep into what this means. However, as mentioned earlier BitMEX offer a range of support and FAQ’s and explain funding within this. Users have the resources to educate themselves on what funding is and how it works within the platform. Additionally, you can find out more from external sources such as Romano’s article which can be found here.
In my opinion the biggest issue that BitMEX have when it comes to UX is the ban on American users. Although I appreciated that this isn’t a simple fix and is rather complex when involving law and regulation, it is a huge blocker in making a user friendly platform for all cryptocurrency traders. If a user cannot use the platform, then you are stuck at square one indefinitely. Although they are not the only trading platform with this issue, it is still an issue that you would hope can be resolved in the future by a leading platform.
Before people come at me, I am from the UK and can legally use the platform.
Although there are a number of alternative platforms such as Bybit and Deribit, I personally have never had an issue with BitMEX since beginning to use the platform early this year. Users typically get used to how a service or product works and have the mindset that if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Of course, I am always open to using other platforms that may have more advanced features that will ultimately benefit me and my trading personally, but right now BitMEX is doing a good job.
I’m sure Arthur is well aware of some of the potential improvements that can be made to the platform and will hopefully be working on them in the background. I personally think that although the user interface works and the functionality is good, it could be updated to give a more modern look and feel. I often think that it looks like a website from 5–10 years ago. Simple styling changes could go a long way!
You can sign up to BitMEX using my ref link here.
I did not get paid to write this review so any tips are much appreciated.
- BTC tip jar: 3Lrf6trAgzL9QWtMfbjMTqaJ4RyzS8vWSK
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- I have not been paid by the BitMEX team to write this article. This is something I volunteered to do due to my background in UX.
- All opinions and views within this article are my own.
- This review was based on Bitmex.com as of August 16, 2019.