Wex trading might sound like a new platform, but that’s only half true. Wex, which describes itself as a payment service provider, was rebranded from BTC-e amid a scandal that rocked the company’s former incarnation. Dmitry Vasiliev is the CEO of Wex. Daily trading volume is approximately $79 million at last count. The exchange platform is good for spot trading in bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), ether (ETH), Namecoin (NMC), Novacoin (NVC), Peercoin (PPC), Dashcoin (DSH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Zcash (ZEC) also takes trades in EUR, RUR and USD for currency pairs.
While BTC-e was domiciled in Russia, World Exchange Services, or Wex, has taken on a new headquarters in Singapore, making itself as far removed as possible from its former stigma-tainted life. But traces of company’s former life are still evident in features such as Russian-language material on the website and in videos.
It is important for users to get to know the faces behind the new Wex platform, but there’s not a ton of information about the management team on the website. Wex, however, was a general sponsor at “Crypto Bazaar 2017” in December in which the Wex team boasted they are “the largest exchange in the post-Soviet territory,” showing off a bit of their personalities in the video.
Following the demise of BTC-e, one in which the US FBI seized assets amid a drug-fueled money laundering scam, the exchange was apparently taken over by new owners and rebranded as Wex. The company insists that it’s separate and apart from BTC-e, though the fact that a database and digital account balances (though not fiat) were transferred from BTC-e t Wex suggests differently, boasting instead all the features of a reorganization. The following is the final tweet by BTC-E sending followers to Wex’s New Zealand-based URL (despite its Asian headquarters.)
Wex touts the following features of its site –
One Wex user on the following Twitter thread complained of Wex holding “thousands” of his coins and failing on support. Wex, meanwhile, defended itself, claiming to only need more time for the verification process. In this specific situation, the user claims that it was Wex that reset the password, leaving his hands tied to perform account recovery. Wex appeared unable to provide specific answers to this user’s queries, which despite not knowing every detail gives the impression of poor customer service.
Wex charges no fee to register an account, whether corporate or private. There is, however, a trading fee of the following: “Commission for trading on WEX for all currency pairs constitutes 0.2%,” as per the Wex trading website. Wex updates the status of commission on its social media pages including the following –
The following fee structure applies to withdrawals “in corresponding currency units” --
Fiat deposit and withdrawal fees are outlined on the Wex platform and in individual user accounts based on the following system –
Meanwhile, Wex in response to demand has earmarked a special section for the highest rollers at the following site, with account sizes reaching the $10,000 and $100,000 milestones at - wex.kayako. This section can only be accessed by contacting management directly via the site. Something that users should also keep in mind is that credit card issuers may tack on additional fees to cryptocurrency exchanges that are not transparent at the exchange level.
All exchanges are at risk of a hack but Wex lived to tell about theirs. As of February 2018, the exchange revealed that in the past month, it “detected more than 100 attempts to hack accounts,” according to the company’s Facebook post. Vigilance is the responsibility both of the exchange and users. For a little history, in July 2017, BTC-e revealed that the US federal investigators had seized bitcoin wallets and company servers.
A company executive was charged with alleged anti-money laundering activity. Wex’s customer response thus far has been somewhat “dry” by the company’s own admission, and this has alienated some users.
Today’s Wex is an unregulated exchange that’s domiciled in a jurisdiction that’s known for having greater clarity on cryptocurrencies versus other countries and boasts one of the most popular choices among ICO issuers.
Wex 2.0, however, features security prominently throughout its social media, website and marketing materials. Some users may accuse the exchange of taking security too far, especially BTC-e users who are locked out of their accounts on Wex. As one Reddit poster said: “They know the balance of the accounts but only give it back for people that can provide screenshots of every account movement on btc-e.” Chief among its standards are know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) protocols, which are the laws enforced in countries such as the United States and Australia. Wex, however, is closed to US investors. BTC-e, on the other hand, was active in the US market before federal officials shut the exchange down.
Wex officials engage with users on social media to warn the about apparent scams, such as the following tweet -
While Wex appears to be taking security more seriously this time around, they remain highly targeted by hackers, which is fueling the confusion and mistrust between legitimate platform users and the exchange. Wex has combatted fraud everywhere from on messaging platform such as Telegram, issues that have since been fixed, to fraudulent email communication with its user base. The following tweet is a perfect example of what both Wex and traders are up against -
And this –
Wex chief executive Dmitry Vasiliev believes that the ICO market will lose traction in the coming year. Meanwhile, he also expects greater professionalism to enter the market as it matures. He doesn’t invest in ICOs.
Wex gave returning users from the old BTC-e platform a choice. They could accept approximately 55% of their account balance from the old system or wait, receiving instead debt tokens – which are classified as bonuses or options -- that Wex offers to redeem within one to two years (the ratio of tokens to account balance has since improved.)
Taking the tokens exposes users to a certain degree of risk, particularly considering the unique nature of the token structure not to mention the possibility of another scandal unfolding again. The company similarly admits to risks, both operational and legal in nature, for the tokens. Wex tokens can be traded and performance can be monitored here - wex.nz/news/4
To sign up for Wex, former BTC-e users should sign in with their previous credentials including email and password to access the new platform. Unfortunately, some users no longer have access to the same email address as they did before, or they’ve lost the password. As a result, Wex has been riddled with complaints by investors.
Wex explained in a tweet: “We remind you that the password for the account is valid only for six months. At the end of this period, when you log into your account, you will receive a message, suggesting you change your password. Please do so in order to avoid the hold on your account.” Users who have let their account untouched for months or longer may find themselves locked out of their own account. The additional hoops that investors must jump through are presumably meant to protect them from bad actors. Wex seems to mean well and no doubt is looking to protect its own reputation as well.
There is a clear disconnect, however, between Wex customer service and legacy users, as evidenced by unhappy customers voicing their frustration on certain Wex forums. Where Wex seems to be falling short is in communicating the new standards with these users. In short, they need better customer service if they want to restore their image among all users.
The following video explains to Wex traders how to verify their account, though the video is in the Russian –
Basically, new users must have an email account and are urged to use a provider with two-factor authentication. It’s not a sure thing that an account with 2FA won’t be hacked, but it’s solid start to protect an account from bad actors. In the event that a user no longer has access to the device they used to set up their account, they should follow these steps that the company outlined here. Users must follow a series of steps requiring them to prove their ID and country of residence with the following or similar examples –
Users should further be prepared to prove their identity at any time in Wex’s attempt to prevent fraud and comply with KYC rules.
There is an open source Wex mobile app available on Google Play, which appears to be a hit with traders, as evidenced by hundreds of reviews in which Wex earned about four out of five stars (the actual Wex exchange doesn’t appear to host its own app.)
The open-source app is free and according to the app store it’s secure, as it doesn’t permit withdrawals and therefore is not password protected. Users should just be sure to update to the latest version to get the most out of features such as charting. The reviews range from “overall not bad” to “perfect,” both of which were written since the changeover from BTC-e to Wex. Many of the other reviews were written prior to the change.
Wex has staged a comeback from its former version. But they still have work to do to remove the stigma that has carried over for some users, particularly those who can’t access their account. Wex’s strict KYC/AML standards is a plus for security, but some remain frustrated for a lack of communication by support. This is a balance that Wex will have to strike sooner than later in order to compete with the hundreds of exchanges that are out there. This is especially true with exchanges such as Robin Hood offering commission free trades for users on its platform.