Following our initial piece on the reasons why Asian consumers are increasingly considering cryptocurrencies as a part of their investment portfolios, we decided to evaluate some of the key players shaping the user experience for holders. Singapore alone hosts a litany of cryptocurrency services and solutions, with an increasing number of crypto firms applying for MAS licenses seeking to set-up shop in a country positioning itself as a global fintech and crypto hub.  

Image from Singapore Fintech Report 2021

Our evaluation focuses on a review of select Asian crypto exchanges – a common starting point for new crypto consumers – to see what we can learn from different product strategies. To provide a broader perspective on crypto product development, we have selected the three exchanges of Binance Singapore, Coinhako and Tokocrypto for the following reasons: 

1. Binance Singapore: to understand the product strategy of a leading global service provider that has been adapted for local market needs - even as Binance closes operations in Singapore.

2. Coinhako: to understand a Singapore-developed product that targets an entry-level segment in a financially and digitally mature market.

3. Tokocrypto: to understand a leading Indonesian-developed product implemented for a rapidly developing crypto market.

To serve as our guiding framework, we created a simple customer journey of a crypto trader. This journey outlines common tasks that three varying levels of users may want to accomplish: beginner traders, intermediate traders and advanced traders.  

With our framework in place, all three exchanges were evaluated by how they enabled users to complete their tasks. A traffic light rating system was used to distinguish between green for implemented well, yellow for those implemented less well and red for missing features and functionalities. 

Great, let’s begin and follow our trader’s journey into the cryptoverse! 

Beginner trader

An introduction to cryptocurrencies

Just like any endeavor, many newcomers enter the crypto realm with little to no knowledge. But with the vast number of online articles, community forums and social media posts, the sources of information on the topic are endless. So how does one begin to further their crypto education?  

In the ideal scenario, a prospective investor would start by gaining a basic understanding of cryptocurrency concepts, terms and processes before taking the leap. If they could receive this introduction via their exchange of choice, even better. Of course, online exchanges should not serve as the single source of truth for crypto education. But as a common entry point into the cryptoverse, there lies great opportunity for exchanges to provide the initial exposure to fundamental concepts. 

This takes us to the first leg of our journey where each of our evaluated exchanges varied in their roles as elementary crypto educators. To that end, Tokocrypto provides external learning environments through its dedicated YouTube channel and e-learning mobile application. Its YouTube channel features videos on onboarding guides, crypto news, industry events and trading analysis. But where Tokocrypto’s education really shines is in its “Learn & Earn” e-learning mobile application: Kriptoversity.  

Kriptoversity offers newcomers an environment to learn the basics of cryptocurrencies, covering concepts including blockchain technology, wallet functionalities, exchange tutorials and more. Users are incentivized to complete modular courses and quizzes to earn TKO tokens that can be traded on the exchange. This simple (and incentivized) solution effectively kickstarts consumers on their trading journeys. 

Image from Tokocrypto Kriptoversity

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Coinhako and Binance Singapore do not perform as well in educating their users. With Coinhako primarily focused on entry-level consumers and Binance Singapore geared for less active traders, the two exchanges do not prepare emerging traders on their platforms. Binance Singapore does not provide any form of customer onboarding to basic concepts – a stark contrast in user experience to the “Binance Academy” offered on its international counterpart. Some answers to common queries on platform troubleshooting exist on their support page, but fresh traders are left to orient themselves on fundamental concepts with little guidance. This is particularly challenging given some proprietary terminology, such as cold wallets and smart contracts to name a few, which may not be obvious to new consumers. 

Coinhako digs a little deeper into Bitcoin and token overviews with its “Crypto Basics” helpdesk. Although the helpdesk educates users on various main and alternative currencies, new traders may find themselves wanting more on fundamental concepts. Purchasing, holding and trading digital currencies involves concepts that will be unintuitive to many. Being able to grasp processes such as digital wallets, private keys, mnemonic phrases, transaction confirmations and trading fees to some degree is needed to establish new mental models about currency. It’s also difficult to find this helpdesk content, where “help” is accessed by the navigation footer or support pop-up on the exchange, rather than an initial onboarding and orientation guide during sign-up. New traders may not look for cryptocurrency concepts housed under here, as they may associate helpdesks with platform and technical problem-solving. 

The world of cryptocurrencies can be overwhelming for many. To combat this, online exchanges can play a vital role in preparing new investors on what to expect. A well-structured, progressive pathway leading the trader’s journey will help make cryptocurrencies more accessible and ultimately, increase the likelihood of first-time purchases. 

Buying crypto for the first time

Provided our beginner trader has grasped a basic understanding of cryptocurrencies, the next step would be to make their first purchase. Even with a successful introduction, it is crucial that their initial purchasing experience be easy to navigate and understand. 

In this aspect, both Coinhako and Binance Singapore offer simple and easy to use interfaces for new traders to make their first purchases. The availability of recognizable and commonly used payment methods also help to alleviate growing pains associated with the new process. Binance Singapore offers purchases in SGD unlike its international counterpart, and Coinhako cuts out third-party payment platforms to allow for direct purchases with bank transfers and credit cards. Familiar payment methods such as these can reassure new traders who are navigating their first purchase.

Image from Coinhako trading interface

Image from Binance Singapore

Regarding the UIs of Coinhako and Binance, both offer minimalist trading interfaces with simple buy and sell options. Although this means that coins are traded at market prices, the trade-off of less competitive prices and trading fees is worth it for new traders to make their first purchase. What we see is the successful execution of user experience design to meet both platform’s goals: a simplified purchasing experience with familiar payment methods for new or less active traders.

As for our third exchange, Tokocrypto involves some preliminary hurdles for new users to overcome. The exchange features a trading platform with candlestick charts, technical indicators, order books and comprehensive trading functions. A comprehensive UI such as this is great for experienced traders, but may be potentially challenging for a new trader to navigate. Beginners will likely not require more advanced trading features and will be looking to easily purchase their first cryptocurrencies. This misalignment between user maturity level and platform design may overwhelm new customers and demotivate them from continuing their trading journey. 

Gaining a fundamental understanding of cryptocurrencies and making first-time purchases mark significant milestones for a new consumer. Traders will now need to keep track of their investments in the various coins they are holding, which brings us to the next and final task of our beginner phase. 

Tracking cryptocurrency investments 

Now that we have invested in our first cryptocurrencies, we’ll need to keep track of performance. Wallet dashboards, overviews and portfolio summaries can provide traders with this master view.  

In terms of availability, all three exchanges offer some form of wallet overview, differing in the depth of information provided. Each platform allows users to see the number of coins they hold as well as their FIAT balances, but none go into much detail surrounding overall portfolio performance. Binance Singapore’s wallet lists coin balances and portfolio composition, yet there is no indication of trading volume, price changes or purchase points of one’s investments. Trading volumes can provide some level of social proof for beginner investment decisions and having the ability to monitor performance from initial purchase points gives new traders concrete information on how their investments are doing. Coinhako and Tokocrypto provide more information on 24-hour trading volumes and price changes, but users have to navigate to individual currency pages to view them. Consolidating this information in a single view would provide users with quick-access to their portfolio performance. 

Even with the varying levels of information provided, none of the three exchanges feature direct investment and portfolio tracking. Traders would have to go through transaction histories and note which price point they bought cryptocurrencies at, something even more complicated when dealing with multiple purchases. Traders can always access and track portfolios using manual methods or third-party software, but beginners may be unaware of how to use alternatives or unwilling to manage multiple sources of information.

This direct feedback on portfolio performance can highlight opportunities for a trader’s improvement. Herein lies the opportunity for exchanges to be designed for self-evaluation of one’s trading decisions, something we see implemented on the Gemini exchange when we look beyond our three exchanges. 

Best practice 1: Gemini

Gemini provides an example of well-implemented beginner features that help new traders start their crypto journeys. In terms of education, Gemini houses various informative content including video webinars and its “Cryptopedia”. Content ranges from introductory concepts on blockchain technology to advanced trading tutorials. Gemini’s “Cryptopedia” is organized by introductory content appearing first, allowing new traders to immediately find and access preliminary education. As for buying and tracking digital currencies, Gemini offers a simplified purchasing experience similar to CoinHako and Binance Singapore. Customers can select from an advanced trading UI or a simplified trading experience with easy to use buy and sell buttons.

Image from Gemini exchange homepage

But what differentiates Gemini with our selected exchanges is its portfolio tracking. Traders are able to view their overall portfolio performance in a chart, portfolio breakdowns of amounts and percentages of each cryptocurrency, and quick links to view completed transactions and price alerts. New traders would especially benefit from these features as they get accustomed to the volatility of cryptocurrencies. These consolidated tracking features give beginning traders passive (in the form of price alerts) and active tracking of their portfolios. 

Intermediate trader

Fees and trading rules

One of the hallmarks of intermediate trading is to begin branching out and diversifying investments into other digital currencies. As they will be trading more frequently, intermediate traders would benefit from understanding the fee structures and trading rules of their online exchange.  

Though difficult to find, trading fees and deposit limits on Coinhako are available for view. Coinhako fees and limits are listed under their FAQ and Helpdesk which may not be the first place traders look. Furthermore, when logged into the exchange, this information is only available from the support pop-up. As fees and trading rules are frequently found in the footer of online exchanges, traders will have to blindly navigate and find the fee schedule on Coinhako. 

Binance Singapore and Tokocrypto provide quick-access to their trading fees, deposit and withdrawal limits. Both exchanges follow common placement of fee schedules on their page footers that lay out their respective fees for all digital assets on their platforms. Tokocrypto takes this one step further by implementing a VIP system which rewards higher trading volume accounts with lower exchange fees. Although many of these trading volumes are hard to attain for a retail trader, VIP levels, trading volume thresholds and current trading volumes are clearly indicated.  

Fee schedules and trading rules should first and foremost be easy to find on an online exchange. One of the selection criteria traders frequently consider is exchange trading fees, and providing this information upfront will enable intermediate traders to pursue more frequent trading. With the endless controversies surrounding cryptocurrency services and solutions, transparent and easy to find fees and trading rules establishes a foundation of trust between the exchange and trader. This becomes especially important as intermediate traders begin to diversify their currency choices.  

An introduction to altcoins and fundamental analysis 

To separate the wheat from the chaff, intermediate traders must gauge the intrinsic value of specific cryptocurrencies over others. Learning to conduct fundamental analysis, due-diligence research and an initial exposure to alternative currencies would serve traders well in this regard.  

Both Binance Singapore and Tokocrypto offer little in the form of introductions to alternative currencies. Binance Singapore does not feature information on the digital assets it offers and the majority of Tokocrypto’s educational content focuses on crypto concepts rather than currency overviews.

Out of all three, Coinhako provides the most exposure to alternative cryptocurrencies. In their Coinhako Crypto Basics series, traders can find informative summaries on a wide range of digital assets offered on the exchange. This introductory series also encourages traders to pursue further reading on each digital asset with links to whitepapers and project homepages. Although we run into the same problem of finding Coinhako’s helpdesk or FAQ, the information contained within serves as a starting point for intermediate traders to explore. Users may not think to seek altcoin information at a Helpdesk and a simple “Education” navigation bar menu could expedite traders reaching the page. 

Images from Coinhako helpdesk and currency details page

Coinhako features an interesting approach to guiding fundamental analysis directly on its platform. When viewing the summary and price chart pages of currencies, traders can read quick descriptions of the asset in question and utilize quicklinks that redirect to relevant whitepaper, homepage and social media pages. Each listed cryptocurrency page also hosts a curated news list of related articles and updates. Although it is a unique approach, there are some problems with Coinhako’s implementation. Not all digital assets listed on the platform have a dedicated summary section and there are inconsistencies across all listed currencies. The curated news list is also not unique to the digital asset being viewed; despite being labeled as “Related news”. Content tagging based on the cryptocurrencies mentioned in each news article could prove useful in displaying relevant information for each coin. 

By learning about different cryptocurrencies and building a foundation for fundamental analysis, intermediate traders will begin to explore and invest outside of their initial purchases. This would also mark an increase in trading volume and active trading for our intermediate trader. 

Infrequent active trading 

At this stage, intermediate traders may require more advanced features to trade cryptocurrencies. Exchanges that offer a wide range of digital assets and limit orders would be optimal for infrequent, but active, trading. With these criteria in mind, let’s take another look at our three cryptocurrency exchanges. 

With regards to trading interfaces, many online exchanges fall into one of two camps: simple buying and selling or an advanced trading interface. Tokocrypto features the most comprehensive trading experience out of the three, comprised of detailed candlestick charts, order books, limit and stop order types, and a wide selection of currency pairs ranging from stable coins, FIAT tethers and alternative tokens. While intermediate traders may not fully utilize all the functionalities of Tokocrypto’s trading tools, multiple currency pairs provide a suitable environment for them to actively trade cryptocurrencies. It’s also likely that the currency they are holding is included in one of the currency pairs listed. This would allow intermediate traders to jump straight into trading between cryptocurrencies without the need to make FIAT purchases again. 

Image from Tokocrypto trading interface

Coinhako and Binance Singapore serve as prime examples of a well implemented, simple trading UI, but do they accommodate intermediate trader tasks?  Although the trading fees on Binance Singapore are low when compared to many online exchanges, the smaller cryptocurrency selection and lack of trading between currency pairs makes it less suitable for increasingly active trading. 

With CoinHako, the platform offers a wide variety of digital assets with the added option of swaps between any two currencies. Simple price charts, 24-hour volumes and a wide variety of cryptocurrencies make it a suitable platform for intermediate traders to explore. However, one key feature not available on the platform is limit orders. Traders have no option of stipulating their preferred price points, a limiting factor for this phase as consumers will be at the mercy of market prices, greatly impacting them as they increase their trading volume. 

In terms of record and bookkeeping, all three exchanges provide transaction overviews along with deposit and withdrawal histories. Transactions are detailed with date and times, fees, payment channels and other information that may be relevant to intermediate traders looking to manage their records. CoinHako also allows traders to export transaction histories via CSV format, making personal bookkeeping that much easier when tracking independently. When taking into account that many traders use multiple online exchanges, the ability to provide ‘master’ templates that can be used across all platforms would prove beneficial when users are looking to consolidate their transaction histories. 

Just like with the beginner phase of our crypto trader journey, the intermediate trader tasks laid out have been implemented in our three exchanges with varying results. As we leave Asia again to review other examples, we start to see well-implemented features on CoinBase. 

Best practice 3: Coinbase

Our second featured exchange is one of the largest online exchanges in the United States by trading volume. Coinbase clearly articulates its trading fees, breaking down variation by region, types of transactions and payment methods used to purchase cryptocurrencies. CoinBase’s help center lays out trading limits that vary by account level, also indicating what is required to increase account limits through methods such as KYC verification (a feature similar with what we observed in TokoCrypto). 

To educate users, CoinBase features a comprehensive knowledge base of crypto education, ranging from term definitions to video tutorials on technical analysis. Traders can begin to explore and learn about cryptocurrencies through their in-depth articles that cover the history of various digital assets up until its future vision and emerging opportunities. Through this, CoinBase provides a strong start for fundamental analysis when traders are looking to venture into alternative currencies.  

Coinbase also takes a similar approach to Tokocrypto’s Kriptoversity for educating consumers on alternative currencies. Coinbase Earn allows users to learn about different cryptocurrencies, watching educational videos and being rewarded with the asset they just learned about. Designing a well-structured and informative educational knowledge base is an already impressive feat for an online exchange to serve as both educator and service provider. CoinBase then takes this one step further by offering concrete incentives in the form of token rewards, an extra push to explore alternative currencies and more frequent trading. 

Image from Coinbase Earn

Boasting an impressive 100+ cryptocurrencies on its exchange, CoinBase offers intermediate traders every opportunity to begin trading alternative currencies. The platform exposes traders to alternative currencies and the fundamental analysis that comes with seeking more information from its incentivized educational content. 

Advanced trader

Advanced crypto education

At this point, our traders have the know-how to conduct fundamental analysis on cryptocurrencies, learning about the underlying technology, projects being backed, financial details and future vision of the digital asset. Where fundamental analysis gives more insight into the why of an investment decision, technical analysis comes into play heavily for when to invest. Understanding candlestick patterns, support and resistance lines, volume and moving averages can give traders an extra edge in choosing competitive entry and exit price points. 

Our final phase is marked by an increased usage of these technical indicators and the diversification of income streams separate from trading. Just like our first two phases of our crypto journey, the advanced trader resumes their crypto education. 

Equipped with a trading interface of detailed charts and technical indicators, Tokocrypto provides advanced traders with the tools necessary for complex trading strategies. But what about teaching consumers on how to use them? Tokocrypto’s educational YouTube channel contains live video sessions going through chart and price analysis, where local language streamers walk through support and resistance lines, moving averages and other technical analysis on real cryptocurrency charts. These demos not only serve as an introduction to technical analysis but provide guidance to new traders who have recently reached this maturity stage. Viewers can chat and ask questions on the fly to learn more about how to incorporate them into their trading.

Image from Tokocrypto YouTube Channel

Tokyocrypto’s Kriptoversity offers additional education that encourages users to “learn and earn” tokens. Although the app does not have lessons on advanced trading and strategies, it does cover introductory courses to Decentralized Finance (DeFi) services, such as crypto lending and borrowing, as alternatives to traditional finance solutions. Advanced traders can learn about how to diversify their income streams and begin using alternative crypto finance solutions to supplement their active trading.  

As both exchanges feature simple trading UIs and not offer additional DeFi services on their platforms, it is no surprise that Coinhako and Binance Singapore do not provide advanced crypto education. There would be no need for the platform to educate traders on technical analysis or diversified income streams, as traders would have to look beyond their platforms to pursue them.  

Advanced trading and diversified income streams 

This brings us to the trading interfaces provided by all three exchanges. Coinhako and Binance Singapore do not give traders much room to explore advanced trading, as customers cannot set their own limit orders to buy and sell. One core function of technical analysis is for traders to identify entry and exit price points of assets they are trading, and with the lack of limit orders they are subject to whatever the market price is at the time.  

On the other hand, Tokocrypto provides a suitable environment for incorporating technical analysis with its comprehensive candlestick charts and indicators. Users are free to draw support and resistance lines and make use of a litany of technical indicators directly on the trading platform. Where customers would have to use separate charting software for our other two exchanges, Tokocrypto enables users to conduct technical analysis in a single view With advanced trading strategies involving shorter timeframes to make buy and sell decisions, this consolidation of trading tools directly on the exchange make Tokocrypto an all-encompassing platform for advanced trading. 

But perhaps what’s even more important is that Tokocrypto offers different types of trade orders - notably limit and stop-limit orders. After conducting technical analysis and identifying entry or exit points, traders are free to dictate their price points as opposed to buying and selling at market prices. Without the availability of limit orders, order books and stop limits, traders would only be able to see and trade within market prices at the point of purchase or sale. 

Image from Tokocrypto market order

Image from Tokocrypto limit order

Although none of our three exchanges provide other DeFi services apart from trading, we can see a divergence in experience across platforms for our advanced traders. This contrast between a simplified, easy to buy or sell process on Coinhako and Binance Singapore, and the visually complex, but more equipped, trading interface found on Tokocrypto begs an interesting question: can an exchange implement both user experiences within a single platform? This takes us to our third outside example of Binance Global.

Best practice 3: Binance Global

Binance Global features the Binance Academy for varying maturity levels of crypto education, with a starting guide for new consumers to catch up to speed. One design choice of note is Binance Academy’s comprehensive tagging system. Articles and educational content are tagged by varying levels of difficulty (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and topics such as trading or technical analysis. This allows traders on the platform to quickly find relevant lessons to upskill their fundamental and technical knowledge. 

When it comes to trading, Binance Global provides multiple interfaces to accommodate users of varying maturity levels. Beginner traders can use the “Convert” interface to quickly swap between available assets or purchase currencies directly using familiar payment methods such as credit cards and bank transfers. Intermediate to advanced traders can always use the “Classic” or “Advanced” trading platform to implement their trading strategies with charting and technical indicators. While our three exchanges were intended for a single trader type, Binance Global enables users just starting to continue their education and trading on the same exchange, as they progress through their trading journey.   

Images from Binance Convert and Classic trading interfaces

One of the most notable features found on the platform is the availability of DeFi services apart from trading. The exchange offers alternatives to traditional finance through Binance Earn. Consumers can invest their currencies into fixed savings and staking, with access to additional financial services such as lending when required. These DeFi solutions also apply to currency trading, with derivatives, futures and margin trading available to advanced traders. Combined with Binance Academy, the platform offers traders an experience of continuous education and exploration of diversified streams as they become more comfortable with cryptocurrencies. 

These additional DeFi services can come with higher risks, especially as one starts exploring futures and margin trading. Users not able to assess relative risk face damaging consequences if not careful. To combat this, Binance Global provides disclaimers to customers seeking to pursue these services. Binance Academy and their Responsible Trading guides help users learn about financial management and protecting one’s capital. But what makes the platform really stand out (in regards to risk management) is its active protection. Customers experiencing losing streaks in their investments are reminded of trading risk, with temporary suspensions from trading in the case of heavy losses. Users can also proactively setup “Cooling Periods” to self-limit borrowing and access to more risky financial services. Ultimately, risk assessments and responsible trading must be owned by traders themselves. Nevertheless, the design choices seen here enable Binance Global to play a more active role in developing responsible traders. 

Image from Binance Responsible Trading

Lessons learned

While our evaluation of our three exchanges may not be a direct “apples to apples” comparison given the various product strategies and target audiences, there are some key design features in their user experiences that we can learn from. Here are some of the principles that we’ve uncovered to help guide product and experience design: 

1. Developing a clear proposition: who you are targeting and what one can expect to gain from the product is critical. Whether it’s a service geared towards new consumers, crypto enthusiasts or all of the above, potential users must be able to determine if the platform aligns with their current and target trading maturity.

2. Education and upskilling: getting users to join your platform just isn’t enough. With the complex subject matter surrounding cryptocurrencies, emerging traders must embark on a continuous learning journey to increase their chances of success. Incentives, educational milestones and smart organization of content can help to ensure that platforms accompany users on their educational journey. 

3. Balancing empowerment with responsibility: informative educational content relies on traders to actively seek answers. There is a significant opportunity for platforms to proactively encourage users to pursue crypto education and explore alternative services. But exchanges must balance empowering their customers with sharing their responsibilities. Risk disclaimers and prevention procedures, structured lessons and qualifications, contextual suggestions and platform nudges (based on maturity evaluations) can all guide traders further along their crypto journey, and grow customer lifetime value at a steady, yet sustainable pace.

References

  1. The Asian Crypto Investor: Motivations and Barriers to Adoption 
  2. Singapore’s Cryptocurrency Industry: How Are Key Players Positioning for Growth? 
  3. Singapore Fintech Report 2021: Blockchain Dominates Singapore’s Fintech Scene 
  4. Binance Singapore 
  5. Coinhako 
  6. Tokocrypto 
  7. Announcement to all Binance.sg users
  8. Kriptoversity 
  9. Binance Academy 
  10. Gemini Exchange 
  11. CoinMarketCap: Top Cryptocurrency Spot Exchanges 
  12. Coinbase Earn 
  13. Coinbase Asset Directory 
  14. Tokocrypto YouTube Channel 
  15. Binance International 
  16. Responsible Trading with Binance