With the growing need for faster transactions in the cryptocurrency space, verification procedures that take weeks to complete before a user can buy cryptocurrency from a major exchange can prove to be a hassle.
It gets especially daunting because verification is not just a one-off process, and gets even more worrisome when users want to avail the services of different cryptocurrency exchanges at the same time for ease of use.
For instance, if a user who is already registered and verified at an exchange like Gemini – which only offers trading in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Zcash – has to move forward with availing the services of another exchange that offers more cryptocurrencies, then they have to go through the whole verification procedure once again no matter if they completed it with Gemini in the first place.
The redundancy of the process alone makes a user feel wary of being a part of the larger cryptocurrency ecosystem, but rapidly-acting exchange services such as ShapeShift and Changelly have been changing this for the better.
With their focus on faster cryptocurrency trading that does not require users’ personal information in most cases, both exchange services make it possible for traders to change the cryptocurrency they hold with another one easily, with the process being completed within minutes on end.
Exchanging cryptocurrencies is not the only task which these exchange services carry out, however, since both of them also offer users to purchase select cryptocurrencies with credit card.
Seeing the ease of use which these services provide along with the similarities between them, it is easy to start wondering which exchange service deems to be better for its users.
To answer this question for you in a detailed manner, we have put together a comprehensive, comparative guide for both ShapeShift and Changelly, including a look at their history, their services, their processes and overall experience for users in order to let you determine with ease which of these services could be a better fit for you.
So without any further delay, let’s move forward and start this little expedition of learning more about ShapeShift and Changelly.
History of ShapeShift
Founded in 2013, ShapeShift started off as an exchange services platform which was meant to cater to its users without any stringent requirements in order make the trading process a stress-free experience for them.
Having this approach in mind, the company went through a preparatory phase for about two years before it launched its operations from Switzerland in 2015 and gradually started to garner the attention of the cryptocurrency community.
In 2015, ShapeShift received seed funding about two years into its initiation, finding investors in the likes of the Digital Currency Group, Bitfinex, and Roger Ver.
Through these investments and with a growing user base, ShapeShift kept adding cryptocurrencies to the list of its trading roster in order to offer the best value to the people who were looking for an instant exchange service.
ShapeShift was created by cryptocurrency entrepreneur Erik Voorhees, who was previously associated with projects such as Satoshi Dice, Coinapult, and BitInstant.
At the time of writing, Voorhees continues to serve as ShapeShift’s CEO despite having troubles with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the past due to a stock offering case of Satoshi Dice, his former company.
What Does ShapeShift Do?
ShapeShift is a cryptocurrency exchange service that specializes in facilitating instant exchange between cryptocurrencies without its users having to divulge their personal details to the company.
Users that want to trade their existing cryptocurrency with a different one can connect with ShapeShift through their desktop or mobile device, enter their blockchain wallet address as well as the details of the cryptocurrencies they want to exchange along with making their cryptocurrency deposit, and have ShapeShift complete the exchange procedure within minutes.
ShapeShift primarily works as a standalone exchange service through its website as well as its mobile apps for iOS and Android, but it also has its API and services integrated throughout various platforms and applications in the cryptocurrency industry, such as Exodus and Jaxx.
At the time of writing, ShapeShift allows its users to trade over 50 cryptocurrencies through its platform.
ShapeShift offers trading services in the following cryptocurrencies:
In addition to accepting cryptocurrency deposits and providing cryptocurrency exchange services in return, ShapeShift also allows its users to purchase Bitcoin and Ethereum through credit cards. The process requires ID verification, but that is usually completed within a couple of hours.
How Does Trading On ShapeShift Work?
Trading on ShapeShift takes place through a simple interface.
To execute a trade, ShapeShift requires its users to only enter basic information through its interface, such as the cryptocurrency they would like to receive along with specifying the cryptocurrency that they will be transferring for the exchange, as well as their wallet addresses so they could receive their new cryptocurrency or receive a refund in case the trade does not go through.
The exchange service does not require users to create an account or provide their contact information. All that they have to do is to select the “Quick” or “Precise” trading type, and enter the cryptocurrency and deposit details accordingly.
When “Quick” transaction is selected, users can select the cryptocurrency that they want to deposit and the one that they want to receive in its place. The exchange rate for these cryptocurrencies is shown at the top of the message box and fluctuates every 10-30 seconds.
Users then need to provide their sending address for their existing cryptocurrency along with the wallet address for the cryptocurrency that they are to receive from ShapeShift. Afterward, ShapeShift provides users with its deposit address where users can send the deposit amount.
In “Quick” transactions, the exchange rate keeps fluctuating for users until ShapeShift receives the amount in its deposit address. When that is done, it sends users their selected cryptocurrency in return and the procedure gets completed depending upon the network speed.
In the “Precise” transaction model, in addition to providing the same details as the Quick option, users also need to specify the amount of cryptocurrency that they are going to deposit or the amount that they expect to receive from ShapeShift in their choice of cryptocurrency.
This also provides users with the benefit of having the shown exchange rate being locked for 7 minutes with the expected deposit amount shown right at the interface. If the user makes the deposit within the specified time, then the same exchange rate applies and the user is given the exact amount of cryptocurrency they were shown on the screen.
The transactions in both of the models, Quick and Precise, are initiated by ShapeShift as soon as a user deposits their cryptocurrency at ShapeShift’s wallet address. The deposit from ShapeShift is performed just as instantly, with the trade speed being dependent on the respective cryptocurrency network.
There are minimum and maximum deposit limits for each cryptocurrency, which are shown in real time values at the interface.
As for buying Bitcoin and Ethereum with a credit card, ShapeShift has the process powered through Simplex, a French Fintech company that specializes in facilitating large-scale online transactions. The process requires users to complete identity verification, but the process is usually completed within a few hours.
The minimum limit for credit card purchases is $50 while the maximum limit is $20,000. This also includes the exchange and processing fees.
What Is The Fee Structure At ShapeShift?
At the surface, ShapeShift does not have any fees for its users and instead maintains that it only makes its profits through the spread of the exchange trades.
However, in layman terms, that is just another way of referring to the trading fee that is charged by almost every other cryptocurrency exchange.
ShapeShift includes its exchange fee within the rate that is shown for the cryptocurrency being deposited and the one being received by the user in exchange. This makes it difficult for users to determine if the fees are competitive enough when compared with other exchanges. Yet, ShapeShift remains adamant on keeping the fee structure hidden within the final exchange amount that it shows to its users.
One of the explanations provided for ShapeShift’s exchange rate by the company itself is shown below.
“The exchange rate is our own, derived from several market sources and based on the amount we feel comfortable exchanging at that fixed rate (whether you do small or large order, the rate stays the same – no slippage). We earn a profit to the extent we can source coins in other markets for a lower cost to replenish our reserves.” The company states on one of its support pages.
In another definition, the exchange insists that it does not charge any specific fee but earns revenue “by offering a profitable exchange rate.”
“Typically we earn in the range of 0.5% (50 basis points). You receive exactly what the exchange rate shows, there is no additional fee for the service.” Another help page on the support section reads.
The network also charges the miner fee, which is the industry standard since that fee goes directly to the respective cryptocurrency network itself.
How Safe Is ShapeShift?
Despite its cryptic approach to fees, ShapeShift actually remains quite safe for its users.
One of the biggest advantages of using ShapeShift as an exchange is that users do not have to store their funds with ShapeShift for long and be wary of their safety. The only time that they will actually provide their funds to ShapeShift’s name is during a trade, which itself is completed within a few minutes at most.
One thing that alludes towards ShapeShift having access to high-level security solutions is the fact that it acquired KeepKey, a hardware wallet provider, in 2017.
Now having control over the security capabilities of KeepKey’s hardware wallet solutions through its acquisition, ShapeShift could most certainly boast about being one of those exchange services that have an immense understanding of safeguarding cryptocurrency assets, which adds to the exchange’s portfolio in a sense.
How Is The Customer Service On ShapeShift?
The Support staff for ShapeShift is quite active as it is available to answer inquiries almost instantly through the chat interface. In case someone is not available, then users can drop their inquiries through the exchange’s Contact page, where such type of tickets typically gets answered within hours.
There haven’t been many negative complaints against ShapeShift except for a few instances, but that remains the norm for any credible business no matter which industry it belongs to in the world.
History of Changelly
Since we have discussed a great deal about ShapeShift in the exchange’s respective half of this guide, we will now start comparing Changelly’s offered services directly with ShapeShift in order for the information to flow optimally for you.
Founded in 2013, Changelly is another cryptocurrency exchange service that focuses on making instant trades possible between cryptocurrencies.
Created by a team of individuals at MinerGate, a Bitcoin mining pool, Changelly slowly evolved and saw significant advancements in growth not long after its inception, where it finally went on to be launched as a standalone exchange in 2015.
The platform was launched from Prague, Czech Republic, where it has remained operational to this date and continues to maintain its headquarters from the location.
After having launched as an individual service, Changelly also found its new team which was spearheaded by Konstantin Gladych, a technology marketing, and business development specialist with a Ph.D. in data mining and machine learning, who joined Changelly as its CEO in April 2016 after having served in multiple ventures in different capacities.
What Does Changelly Do?
Changelly provides an easy to use platform to its users through its website where it allows users to exchange cryptocurrencies easily without any verification and long wait times.
Much like ShapeShift, by using Changelly, users can exchange a cryptocurrency they hold with another cryptocurrency almost instantly. All that they require are wallets/addresses for both cryptocurrency networks. As soon as users enter the detail of their deposit and their specified cryptocurrency, they can receive their new cryptocurrency almost instantly.
Changelly’s solutions are also used through its API in trading platforms of popular exchanges such as Bittrex and Poloniex.
The API allows Changelly’s trading bot to check latest prices and trade opportunities through multiple exchanges. Due to the variety of solutions that Changelly provides, its technology and exchange solutions are used by various services across the cryptocurrency space, such as Coinomi, Coinpayments and Trust Wallet.
Changelly supports more than 70 cryptocurrencies, all of which are listed below.
Apart from cryptocurrency deposit and trades, Changelly also allows its users to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum with credit card.
How Does Trading on Changelly Work?
Trading on Changelly is simpler than trading on ShapeShift gets to be.
Instead of having to choose between two options and receive fluctuating rates in one and a temporarily-fixed rate in the other, Changelly’s interface seems to be easier but with the lack of the temporarily-fixed rate.
The initial options are available right at Changelly’s homepage, from where users can select which cryptocurrency do they want to deposit and which one do they want to receive in exchange.
Next comes the requirement to create an account. While Changelly requires users to sign up, it does not require them to perform any verification for cryptocurrency deposits and quick exchange.
Users can sign up using an email, or if they are not too worried about anonymity, they can use their social media accounts namely Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to sign in.
Once the short sign-up process is completed, users get directed to a separate page which outlines the exchange rate, the amount to be executed in cryptocurrency, both the one being deposited and the one being exchanged, the transaction time as well as the exchange’s clearly defined fee.
Users can then move forward with receiving the deposit address by Changelly and transferring the required amount in cryptocurrency to the exchange. The provided exchange rate might fluctuate for users depending upon when the transaction is executed, but the difference is always presented to them through the respective page (the exchange rate fluctuates almost every minute).
Depending upon the respective network’s congestion, transactions usually take place within minutes. Changelly does not have any maximum deposit limits and thus users can exchange any amount of their choice in higher values. However, it does have a minimum amount limit in order to ensure that any transferred amount is not lower than the network miner fee itself, as that causes the exchange to have issues in processing refunds.
Buying Bitcoin and Ethereum from Changelly is an identical process to ShapeShift, since Changelly also uses the same payment provider as its competitor.
Since Changelly’s payments are also facilitated through Simplex, the transaction limits, as well as the verification process stays the same, and to check this further, we took snapshots of both ShapeShift and Changelly’s exchange rate for credit card transactions, which also remained identical.
What is the Fee Structure at Changelly?
While Shapeshift claims that it does not charge any fee while also charging it at the same time, Changelly defines its own fee structure as being 0.5% for all trades, which applies throughout for every cryptocurrency exchange made through the site.
Apart from its own fee, Changelly also has the industry standard miner fee apply to all the transactions, with the fee directly going to the respective cryptocurrency network and defined differently for each cryptocurrency.
There are no other fees for deposits at Changelly, just like there are none at Shapeshift.
How Safe is Changelly?
Changelly also does not hold its users cryptocurrencies within its wallets except for periods of each trade, and thus remains on the same scale of safety as ShapeShift. Users have not experienced any issues with the service in terms of safety except for a few isolated instances, which happens with every other business.
However, Changelly does not have the capabilities of a hardware wallet at its disposal like ShapeShift does, which is one aspect where it stays behind the other exchange service. With that being said, ShapeShift’s ownership of KeepKey has not had much effect on the wallet’s value proposition since they remain two different services, which is why this could be considered as an aspect of minimal difference.
However, since Changelly remains as a sign-up centric service even without verification, it allows its users the freedom and assurance to sign-in using two-factor authorization (2FA). This adds an extra layer of security to the exchange service which translates tangibly to the end user.
How is the Customer Service on Changelly?
Changelly does not have a live chat option, but it allows users to fill in support inquiries through its website. The inquiries are typically handled within a few hours, but the glaring omission of readily available support staff through the website does affect Changelly’s status in this area.
That being said, the exchange has not faced any issues except for a few disgruntled customers here and there, which again is something that remains usual and prevalent through multiple industries.
ShapeShift versus Changelly – Concluding Thoughts
As you may have noticed by now, both ShapeShift and Changelly sport nearly-identical services with very little differences between them. However, the differences that you can notice are prominent enough for anyone to declare one clear winner over the other when it comes to choosing a service provider that is user friendly from the aspects of ease of use, security and budgetary requirements.
While ShapeShift offers more or less the same services in terms of security, it does excel in customer service on the surface with its staff being readily available through the chat line. However, with the cryptic answers that they often provide in terms of fees and calculation leaves a lot to be desired even while being actively communicating with their users.
On the other hand, when it comes to Changelly, while it may not have a live chat option on its site, its 2FA and the ability of having defined its fees clearly is enough for users to decide which exchange they should be going with.
In case you were wondering if ShapeShift’s fees was any lower than Changelly’s defined 0.5%, then a quick test would reveal that this is not the case.
We checked both ShapeShift and Changelly at the same time for their exchange rate of Ethereum against Bitcoin, and ShapeShift seems to be offering a higher exchange rate than Changelly.
ShapeShift proposed to provide 0.383798 Bitcoin in exchange for 5 Ether.
Whereas, Changelly proposed to provide 0.384538 Bitcoin against the same amount of 5 Ether, which included its 5% fee as well.
We noticed the same instance on a different time as well, which seemed to cement the notion that it was not just a one-off incident.
ShapeShift proposed the exchange rate of 1 Bitcoin to be equal to 12.600352 Ether.
While Changelly provided the exchange rate of 1 Bitcoin to be 12.621575 Ether.
Therefore, with near-similar services but with a difference in exchange rate, we would call this detailed round in favor of Changelly.
With justifiable rates for the service that it provides along with support for over 70 cryptocurrencies without verification, 2FA and the option to purchase $20,000 worth of Bitcoin or Ether through credit card after verification, it seems that Changelly could be the one stop shop for users who are looking to perform their instant trading operations through such services even if it comes at a higher fees than conventional exchanges.
That being said, users should do their own research and be wary of spending their savings in cryptocurrency, because as with any other investment model, users should spend funds that they can afford to part ways with in case things start going South at some point.
However, those who know what they are doing and could easily determine what they want out of an instant cryptocurrency exchange service would find Changelly to be a good experience for them.