What is a Bitcoin exchange?

Bitcoin exchanges are online platforms that allow users to do various things, such as buy, sell, or trade bitcoin. Exchanges are key players in the Bitcoin network as not only do they provide on-ramps and exit-ramps for users, they provide a marketplace for trading, liquidity, and price discovery.

Some exchanges offer different variants of the above, but in order to be a Bitcoin exchange, the service must allow users to do at least one of those things. You can buy bitcoins from exchanges or directly from other people selling them. You can pay for bitcoins in a variety of ways, ranging from hard cash, wire transfers, and credit cards depending on who you are buying them from and what country you live in.

Bitcoin exchanges typically have multiple components to their service offerings such as buying, selling, trading (user-to-user), specialized computer algorithms to match together buyers and sellers, order books, fast deposits and withdrawals, multiple currencies, compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws, a focus on user security and Bitcoin security, Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), proof of solvency, integrated wallets to store bitcoin, and so on.

To see a list of the top Bitcoin exchanges in the United States, visit CoinSalad.com and view the markets section.

You can also compare top Bitcoin exchanges by trading volume or user votes and see the total trading volume of all major exchanges in USD or BTC.

If you’re new to Bitcoin, make sure to read our Bitcoin FAQ which answers other common questions.