Changelly Review: Is Changelly Safe & Legit in 2020

Cooper HaywoodBy: Cooper Haywood
Published: March 9, 2020

Changelly Quick Facts

Available Countries
All countries, but limited countries for crypto-to-fiat transactions
Fees
0.25% for floating exchange rate; additional fees apply for fixed exchange rate
Payment Methods
USD, EUR, & GBP via MoonPay, Simplex, & Indacoin, or any supported cryptocurrency
Deposit Methods
Fiat & cryptocurrency
Withdrawal Methods
Cryptocurrency only

If there is one thing that the cryptocurrency ecosystem does not suffer from it's a lack of exchanges. A quick glance through the market pairs section on CoinMarketCap is enough to confirm the staggering number of choices available to cryptocurrency traders.

Most of these exchanges require some kind of registration, however, and depending on their KYC requirements it could be several days between the initial sign up and the time when a user can make their first trade.

Changelly is different. It's a no-registration exchange designed to let users instantly swap between different cryptocurrencies. We'll cover Changelly's service extensively in this article. However, first it would helpful to look at some of the pros and cons of using this exchange.

Pros

  1. Dead simple UI. Changelly is designed to be as simple as possible, even for traders who are new to crypto. Forget about cluttered layouts and complex trading views, Changelly is simple and beautiful.
  2. Low trading fees. Changelly charges just 0.25% on their floating rate exchanges. That's lower than many other popular exchanges. Coinbase Pro, for instance, charges 0.5% on their transactions.
  3. Changelly has more than 100 trading pairs. They support almost all of the most popular cryptocurrencies.
  4. Changelly allows its users to purchase crypto with a credit card.

Cons

  1. The Changelly rates can be different than what you're initially quoted. With their floating exchange rate you don't know what price your trade will go through at. This can be especially bad in crypto where the short term volatility can be massive.
  2. It may be possible to get a better rate by going directly to a cryptocurrency exchange. Binance, for instance, has a trading fee of just 0.10% which is quite a bit lower than Changelly's 0.25% rate.

What is Changelly?

The Changelly history starts with its founding in 2015 by Konstantin Gladych. For three years Konstantin served as Changelly's CEO. Then, in 2018, he stepped down and was replaced by Ilya Bere.

Originally Changelly was headquartered in Prague in the Czech Republic. However, the exchange later moved to Malta due to the country's crypto-friendly regulations and the presence of other blockchain firms. Bere referred to Malta as, "the hub of the cryptocurrency world."

According to Crunchbase, Changelly has between 51 and 100 employees.

Trading on Changelly

Changelly acts as a middleman between cryptocurrency traders and large exchanges, I.e. Binance, Coinbase Pro, Kraken, etc. Here's how it works: a user visits Changelly and selects the trade that they're interested in. For instance, trade two Ethereum for a corresponding amount of Bitcoin.

Changelly takes that information and queries all of the large exchanges, looking for the best possible exchange rate for this trade. Once the Changelly protocol finds the best deal it returns that rate to the trader.

If the user finds this rate favorable they can proceed with the trade. Changelly will provide a deposit address that the trader must send their crypto to. The trader must also provide a deposit address where they'd like the exchanged crypto to be sent to. After the user sends the crypto, Changelly will automatically complete the trade and send the exchanged crypto to the trader's account.

It's really that simple. The major advantage for users is that they can get the best rate from any number of major exchanges without have to actually register on them.

Changelly Fees

Changelly offers two different types of trading services. The first is a floating rate exchange. For this type of swap Changelly will exchange a trader's cryptocurrency at whatever the price is at the time that the transaction clears.

For example, a crypto trader may be quoted a price by Changelly, however, if he sends Bitcoin it could take twenty or thirty minutes to confirm and by that time the exchange rate will be different.

The downside of this floating exchange rate is that it's impossible to say what the final trade will end up being. The upside is that the trading fees are low. Changelly charges just a 0.25% commission for the floating rate exchange.

The second type of exchange that Changelly offers is a fixed rate trade. In this case Changelly provides a user with an exchange rate and guarantees that their funds will trade at exactly that price. The advantage is that everything is known upfront, there will be no volatility surprises. The disadvantage is that the fees are higher than a floating rate exchange.

Given these factors, the floating rate exchange probably makes sense during times of low volatility. The fixed rate exchange may be better when the crypto market is particularly volatile.

Is Changelly anonymous?

Yes! Changelly is one of the few anonymous exchanges left in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Regulators are increasingly pushing exchanges to make KYC mandatory and many are choosing to comply with the law.

When looking at Changelly vs Shapeshift, for example, Shapeshift gave in to pressure and started requiring KYC from all of its traders. This was seen as a betrayal by the crypto community especially given that Erik Voorhees, Shapeshift's CEO, is a crypto pioneer and a well-respected member of the community.

Defending their decision to implement KYC Voorhees claimed that it would be mandatory sooner or later and they just wanted to stay ahead of regulators.

Changelly, however, has not given in to the pressure. Currently all they require from their traders is an email address. Since it's possible to create anonymous email addresses it's possible to trade anonymously on Changelly. While there's always the concern that Changelly may store IP addresses, using a VPN can solve that problem.

Does Changelly Require ID verification?

Changelly does not require ID verification for crypto-to-crypto trades. As already mentioned, the only piece of information that's required is an email address.

However, Changelly does require a valid ID for credit card and fiat currency trades. Mostly this is done to ensure that someone cannot use a stolen credit card to buy cryptocurrency.

Buying With a Credit Card

In order to use the Changelly exchange to buy with a credit or debit card the first thing a trader must do is create an account. Doing so requires a valid email address.

After a trader has created an account they should select which fiat currency they would like to use. Currently Changelly accepts USD, GBP and EUR. Unfortunately, as of yet they do not accept PayPal.

The next step is to begin the debit card purchase process. For this Changelly requires a scan of either a driver's license or passport. They may also ask for a selfie although the required documents may be different depending on where the cryptocurrency trader lives.

It's worth noting that all credit and debit purchases are actually cleared by a third party, not Changelly. The Changelly exchange merely connects the crypto trader with a reliable payment processor. For a full guide on purchasing with a credit card please check Changelly's website.

Payment Methods

A vast majority of the trades on Changelly are crypto to crypto. When looking at Changelly vs Coinbase, for instance, the biggest difference is that Coinbase, with their bank account integration and ability to receive wire transfers, is designed for fiat transactions while Changelly is not.

That being said, Changelly can accept several fiat payment methods. Besides a credit card, it's also possible to sell Bitcoin via a SEPA bank transfer.

Is Changelly secure?

A lot of cryptocurrency traders want to know: is Changelly legit? The answer is yes, Changelly is not only legit, it's also extremely secure.

Changelly does not have a wallet and it does not custody funds. Because of that setup there is little for hackers to steal. They may be able to briefly divert funds but Changelly would quickly shut down deposits and anything the hackers took would be insignificant compared to what they can steal from a custodial exchange.

Since its founding in 2015 Changelly has never been hacked. Sometimes, however, there are other problems. For instance, some traders have accidentally sent the wrong coin to an address, I.e. Ethereum to an Ethereum Classic address.

When this happens the funds can get stuck and the transaction does not go through. Thankfully Changelly has good customer support and their customer support specialists are usually able to sort out the problem. Sometimes, however, a trader will not receive a full refund. As the mistake was the trader's fault though it's hard to blame the cryptocurrency exchange.

While most people prefer to use Changelly anonymously with just an email address, some users may enjoy the increased security and peace of mind that comes with using Changelly via the mobile app. By using the app it's simple to track transactions and keep a trade history.

Where is Changelly located?

As mentioned, Changelly is based in Malta where crypto regulations are very friendly. Despite these friendly regulations, Changelly still bans users from certain countries.

According to their website, Changelly cannot be used by traders from the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Crimea, Sudan, Syria, United States of America (including all USA territories like Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Island, and the US Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas), Bangladesh and Bolivia.

Of course innovative users may find it possible to access Changelly with a VPN even from a restricted country. However, if Changelly finds out that transactions are originating from a prohibited country they may freeze the funds.

Does Changelly have a wallet?

No, Changelly does not have a wallet. The entire idea behind the exchange is that they're non-custodial and they don't store user funds.

When comparing Changelly to another cryptocurrency exchange this is really the feature that sets them apart. By not storing funds Changelly doesn't have to worry about getting hacked. That's good for them as crypto thefts have netted billions of dollars' worth of coins in the last few years.

Changelly is however integrated with several cryptocurrency wallets and there are a couple of advantages that come from this integration. First, it makes trading easier. Users don't have to send their funds to Changelly, they can initiate the trade directly from their wallet. Second, it's more secure. Since the trade happens in the wallet there's no chance that a user mistypes a wallet address and accidentally loses any funds.

Ardor wallet and Exodus wallet are both integrated with Changelly, as are about a dozen other popular wallets. A full list of wallets that support Changelly is available here.

Trading on Changelly

In this Changelly review we covered a lot of topics, from the way that Changelly determines fees to their policy on anonymous trades. By most accounts Changelly's largest selling point is its ease of use. They make it easy to trade cryptocurrency without having to register on an exchange. This can be especially helpful as Changelly has more than 100 trading pairs.

Changelly is also known for their competent customer support. In the event that traders have a problem on the platform they can contact customer support and get the problem resolved quickly.

The Changelly app also makes it easy to trade cryptocurrency and keep track of transactions. This can be helpful for tax reporting, especially for countries with strict cryptocurrency taxes like the United Kingdom.

Overall Changelly is one of the better exchanges in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Unlike some other centralized exchanges it's never been hacked and with its unique non-custodial model it's unlikely it ever will be. Given that Changelly is easy to use and makes it possible to buy cryptocurrency with a bank card, it's probable that their trading volume is only going to rise in the future.

About the author
Cooper Haywood
Cooper Haywood
Cooper is a former equity research professional/finance analyst who holds an MBA in Financial Instruments and Markets from New York University's Stern School of Business. He left the investment banking world in 2015 to become a full-time investor and joined CoinFi as an analyst in 2019.