Canadian Securities Administration (CSA) has made the process of applying for a crypto exchange license in the country quite stringent, which means that several global crypto trading giants, including Binance, KuCoin, and OKX, are not available in the country (or more precisely, they are available but in a severely stripped down version of their global platforms).
In this article, we are going to examine the best crypto exchanges that are legal in Canada and explore their main features as well as their pros and cons.The best crypto exchanges for Canadian users: Kraken – The best crypto exchange for Canadian users overall Coinbase – The most user-friendly crypto exchange Crypto.com – A powerful crypto trading app with a focus on DeFi Gemini – A trusted crypto exchange for users from Canada Bitbuy – A CSA-regulated crypto trading platform
The 5 best exchanges in Canada: Examining top platforms in 2023
In the following sections, we are going to examine the best cryptocurrency exchange available to Canadian users. Keep in mind that the ranking doesn't necessarily mean that one exchange is better than the other but that it rather reflects this author’s opinion on the matter.
1. Kraken – The best crypto exchange for Canadian users overall
Kraken is arguably the best choice when it comes to trading crypto assets in Canada. It provides a rich selection of cryptocurrencies, including staples like Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as smaller market-cap coins and tokens like Waves and Zcash.
In its more than a decade-long history, the platform has never been hacked or been a victim of any other kind of successful malicious attack, which speaks volumes about its security capabilities. In addition to spot trading, Kraken supports a range of other trading features, including margin trading, futures, an NFT marketplace, and more. Users can also make use of the platform’s Earn platform, which provides the ability to stake crypto assets in exchange for staking rewards of up to 26% APY.
It is worth noting that the CSA has not yet officially approved Kraken’s request for a crypto exchange license as of November 2023, but the company has stated that it is committed to the Canadian market and continues to accept new users from the country. Overall, Kraken is not only one of the top trading platforms for users from Canada but one of the best crypto exchanges in the world period.
Key features:One of the safest cryptocurrency exchanges in the industry Supports over 200 cryptocurrencies across more than 600 trading pairs Wide selection of educational material Supports futures, passive income strategies, and margin trading Offers markets denominated in fiat currencies, including the Canadian dollar Founded 2011 Supported Cryptocurrencies 216 Crypto Trading Pairs 641 Daily Trading Volume $863 million
2. Coinbase – The most user-friendly crypto exchange
Established in 2012, Coinbase is a pioneer in cryptocurrency trading. The exchange is perhaps best known for its ease of use and simple approach to crypto investing, which has made it one of the most popular trading platforms in the space.
Like Kraken, Coinbase’s primary attribute is arguably its impressive security – the platform never suffered a meaningful attack, and users’ funds were never in any kind of jeopardy. Coinbase offers an impressive catalog of supported cryptocurrencies, including over 220 coins and tokens.
While this article is primarily focused on exchanges supported in Canada, it is worth noting that Coinbase supports SEPA payments as well, which can make it a solid option if you plan on traveling overseas and using the euro to buy crypto.
Key features:Focus on simplicity and ease of use Self-custodial crypto wallet NFT marketplace Publicly traded in the US, exposing it to more scrutiny than other exchanges One of the leading exchanges by trading volume Founded 2012 Supported Cryptocurrencies 226 Crypto Trading Pairs 387 Daily Trading Volume $1.57 billion
3. Crypto.com – A powerful crypto trading app with a focus on DeFi
Crypto.com is a massively popular crypto trading app with more than 80 million users from around the world. It provides one of the most effective fiat-to-crypto onboarding services. In addition, the exchange is working very closely with regulators and strives to provide services that are in line with what regulatory frameworks allow.
In addition to cryptocurrency trading, the platform provides access to NFTs and crypto staking. Crypto.com is arguably a leader when it comes to crypto credit cards, giving CRO holders the ability to earn up to 5% cashback (but you need to lock up at least $400 worth of CRO to start accumulating cashback rewards).
It is worth pointing out that Crypto.com provides a wide range of decentralized finance (DeFi) features as well, headlined by DeFi Wallet, DeFi Earn, and DeFi Swap products.
Key features:A sleek app user interface Supports NFT trading Wide range of DeFi features Crypto credit card with CRO cashback rewards Support a large number of cryptocurrencies Founded 2016 Supported Cryptocurrencies 279 Crypto Trading Pairs 480 Daily Trading Volume $679 million
4. Gemini – A trusted crypto exchange for users from Canada
Gemini, founded by the Winklevoss twins in 2014, is a prominent cryptocurrency exchange that has garnered attention for its commitment to regulatory compliance and security. The platform has positioned itself as a trustworthy gateway for both novice and experienced traders entering the crypto space.
While Gemini still provides interest-bearing products, it is worth mentioning that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged the exchange with the unregistered offer and sale of crypto securities through its Earn Lending program. This means that the offering might be discontinued if the court finds that Gemini’s offering broke securities laws.
Key features:Founded by the Winklevoss twins, one of the earliest Bitcoin whales One of the oldest crypto exchanges A relatively low number of supported cryptocurrencies Earn Lending program Founded 2014 Supported Cryptocurrencies 44 Crypto Trading Pairs 67 Daily Trading Volume $9.48 million
5. BitBuy – A CSA-regulated crypto trading platform
BitBuy is the smallest exchange on this list in terms of trading volume. However, what makes BitBuy a good platform to use if you are from Canada is its unambiguous legal status as one of the regulated crypto trading platforms in Canada. The exchange received its license by the CSA in November 2021.
BitBuy is available on both desktop and mobile platforms for iOS and Android devices. The platform supports a couple of different options when it comes to crypto deposits and withdrawals, including Interac, bank wire transfers, and debit and credit cards.
The platform currently charges no deposit fees for deposits with Apple Pay, Interac, and wire transfers. Deposits made with cryptocurrencies are also free of charge (apart from fees accrued on blockchain networks themselves).
Key features:Regulated with the CSA Based in Canada Supports dozens of crypto exchanges Native application for iOS and Android Founded 2016 Supported Cryptocurrencies 36 Crypto Trading Pairs 48 Daily Trading Volume $459,000
The bottom line: Canadians lack options compared to some other countries
The cryptocurrency landscape in Canada is interesting – on the one hand, the country is home to 4 million crypto owners (10% of the entire population), and the OSC survey published in 2022 found that over 30% of Canadians plan on buying crypto in the coming year. On the other hand, the country has strict laws when it comes to crypto exchanges, which means that a number of global exchanges like Binance, KuCoin, OKX, Bybit, and several others have no presence or very limited presence in the country.
Luckily, users can choose between Coinbase and Kraken, and Canada’s own exchanges like BitBuy if they want to buy, sell, and trade crypto. Also, the number of supported exchanges will likely increase in the future as more crypto trading platforms apply for license.
If you are a crypto newcomer and don’t know when to start, we suggest you check out our crypto crash course that covers everything from exchanges to wallets, and more.