Cryptocurrency Exchanges

A free beginner guide on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Updated: January 2021

What is a cryptocurrency exchange?

A cryptocurrency 'exchange' is a service that matches buyers and sellers of crypto currencies. Similar to a stock exchange. There are two kinds of cryptocurrency exchanges, I would generally classify them as local and global. A local exchange will convert legal currencies, like the Canadian dollar, to one of the main crypto currencies, like Bitcoin. A global exchange will let you trade most (hundreds) crypto currencies and coins.

Why use both a local and global exchange?

A local exchange will often only have a small number of crypto currencies listed and the features and fluidity of the platform are often lacking. For example, Shakepay has only Bitcoin and Ethereum, whereas Binance has hundreds, limit orders and is ranked number 1 for global volume.

Local Exchanges


  • — No fee Interac e-transfer, Wire Transfer and funding and withdrawals.

  • — Good web and mobile app.

  • — Easy verification process, pretty standard.

  • — Established in 2015, with about 15-20 employees, so a bit of a track record and people operating it

  • — Free $30 CAD for signing up and buying $100 CAD worth of crypto, when you use a referral code (please consider using ours)


  • — Only Bitcoin and Ethereum are currently supported.

  • — Not the best spread, compared to Binance , but not a huge deal, unless you have alot of volume.

Why use Shakepay?

No fees, good apps, and they have been around since 2015. I would suggest using Shakepay to convert Canadian funds to cryptocurrencies or from cryptocurrencies to Canadian funds, but would use Binance for actual trading.

Create Shakepay Account


  • — No fee Interac e-transfer, Wire Transfer and funding and withdrawals.

  • — OK web app, good mobile app


  • — Verification uses the Canada Post autocomplete database, with no option to manually enter your address. The small percentage of people (myself included) will need to message support to get this step done.

  • — Automatic verification failed, and the manual process took a couple attempts when testing out the verification workflow.

  • — Founded in 2019 and a small team. While not a red flag, it does worry me a bit in terms of stability and longevity.

Why use Newton?

No fees, decent apps. I would suggest using Newton to convert Canadian funds to cryptocurrencies or from cryptocurrencies to Canadian funds, but would use Binance for actual trading. If you don’t want to use Binance, I would suggest using an offline wallet to hold the assets whenever possible.

Create Newton Account


  • — Most recognizable cryptocurrency exchange in Canada.

  • — Exclusive relationship with one of Canada’s Big 5 banks

  • — Founded in 2014, Toronto based, with 80-150 employees, so fairly established.


  • — Fees.

  • — There was a small data breach in June 2020, so some worry about how well they have their internal security processes in place..

Why use Coinsquare?

If you want some peace of mind being with the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Canada that has relationships with the big banks then use Coinsquare. However, you will pay the fees for this.

Create Coinsquare Account


  • — No Wait Period - Buy without a verification delay

  • — Pay with credit card (note some credit card companies do not allow crypto currency transactions.

  • — Nice mobile application for both iOS and Android

  • — Fastest way to buy a small amount of cryptocurrency


  • — Limited to $375 a week until you become more verified and trusted

  • — No ability to use Interac e-Transfers for funding or withdrawals.

  • — Only able to sell at market price and be paid out via Paypal.

  • — High Fees - Funding fee is 3.84% - 3.99%

Why use Coinbase?

Use Coinbase if you have the need for speed and want to buy a small amount right now. Waiting several days in the world of cryptocurrencies can mean losing out on an opportunity. Valuations can change significantly in a day or two, so if you feel strongly about buying something now, use Coinbase. It could be worth the extra fees if you want something today. You can transfer your purchases to another exchange to sell the asset and get Canadian funds later.

Create Coinbase Account

Global Exchanges


  • — The largest global exchange by volume

  • — Over 900 trading pairs so you have access to the most popular alt coins and currencies.

  • — Advanced trading features compared other exchanges.

  • — No verification required for withdrawals of 2BTC or less

  • — Easy to use

  • — Low fees


  • — No easy way to trade back to fiat (CAD), you have to withdraw to Shakepay or another local exchange to get back to CAD

Why use Binance?

Binance is the best exchange in our opinion. It has the best trading features, the most liquidity, and the most number of listings. Use Binance to get access to cryptocurrencies not offered by local exchanges or if you want better trading features compared to the basic ones offered by local exchanges.

Create Binance Account