Bitrue is a Singaporean centralized cryptocurrency exchange, founded in July 2018 by a team of cryptocurrency enthusiasts and finance professionals. The founder, Curtis Wang, is also the one behind the Bitrue Space project – an incubator for blockchain-related startups. According to a statement on their website, the team running the project consists of “senior management team from Capital One” and security experts that “represent the apex of their professions at the international level.” However, this does not seem to be convincing enough. Bitrue is Curtis Wang’s first blockchain project, having no prior experience in the cryptocurrency niche. His background includes almost four years of telecom experience in positions such as Head of Innovation Business Development, Senior Director and Business Development Director.
If we get into more details, we will find further organizational issues. At the time of writing, Bitrue has headquarters in Taiwan and Singapore, as well as local offices in the US and Europe. In particular, it claims to operate five offices around the world. What is strange here is the fact that, at the time of this writing, its team is comprised by no more than nine team members, according to their LinkedIn page – the only available information about the team. This fact makes it quite hard to understand how such a small group runs a massive project like this.
After the launch of the exchange, it made the local headlines with the introduction of XRP base market. This resulted in attracting a significant base of XRP enthusiasts. However, over time, there have been many issues with the exchange and XRP trading accounts in particular.
When it comes to security, it is worth noting that Bitrue takes this matter very seriously. Alongside the statements that it has a team of the leading talent in their respective professions, you can find the word “security” all over their website. The platform’s architecture includes two-factor authentication and cold wallets with multiple signatures. However, despite all security measures, Bitrue proved to be very vulnerable when its website was put to a real test an year after its launch. June 27th, 2019 was the day when the exchange was hacked and proved that the team of security experts does not seem to have done their job at the desired level. The cyberattack resulted in the loss of approximately $4.2m in XRP and Cardano (ADA) tokens. The security breach affected 90 Bitrue clients and, at the time, was the 17th biggest cryptocurrency exchange hack in history. The attack has been a big blow to the cryptocurrency exchange’s reputation as “security”, one of their three main pillars (the other two are speed and simplicity), was compromised.
Immediately after the security breach, the exchange contacted local authorities and issued a statement that it would refund all victims of the attack, and all tokens will be returned safely to their respective owners. According to the exchange, the refund process was completed on July 4th, 2019.
Bitrue’s operational problems do not end with the hack. The exchange launched its own token, BTR that went live on July 4th, 2019. However, immediately after launch, their server crashed, and a problem with the pricing of the digital asset on mobile devices occurred. The result caused some buyers to buy on way higher prices, while sellers exploited the vulnerability to make money. To overcome the situation, the exchange froze some of the affected users’ accounts and canceled a big part of the trades.
For its short history, Bitrue has experienced other security issues as well. On January 8th, 2019, the exchange was a subject to a 51% attack by a hacker who tried to steal 13 000 ETC. However, according to Bitrue, the system prevented the attack and the users’ funds were safe.
In all fairness, it is worth noting that the exchange reacted quickly to resolve all security-related issues or system breakdowns. The immediate reaction helped minimize the extent of the hacker attacks and leave no negative consequences for the users.
If you scroll through Bitrue’s Twitter profile, you will also see that the exchange suffers periodical problems with deposits and withdraws, mostly for XRP. These issues often lead to temporary shutdowns and maintenance breaks, which may be inconvenient for some investors.
Aside from that, it is worth noting that the exchange offers a poorly constructed website, often hard-to-understand for English speakers and very basic in its core. It struggles to ensure the safe and stable trading environment, which is the primary basis of a successful cryptocurrency exchange. When it comes to transparency, Bitrue does not shine as well. Plenty of customers report a lack of adequate support, frozen accounts, stolen funds, etc.
Bitrue offers an interesting feature called “Powerpiggy”. Powerpiggy is a deposit program where investors are incentivized to store their digital assets on the platform by receiving 7.3% annual interest rate. According to the exchange, most of their customers’ funds are stored in cold wallets, and there is no risk of losing money with the additional insurance for funds up to $1 000 000 worth of tokens. However, there is no info where does this 7.3% interest come from.
For the time being, Bitrue has struggled to offer a competitive advantage within the crowded cryptocurrency exchange niche. Although the Bitrue’s CEO has set the ambitious goal of becoming a top 20 exchange in the world, at the time of this writing, this seems unrealistic. Bitrue has many issues to deal with, and until the team manages to solve them, there are many other options worth considering.