Founded in 2013, Huobi is a cryptocurrency exchange with over a million users and more than $1 billion in assets under its custody. Headquartered in Singapore, the company has an international presence, with subsidiaries in China, South Korea, and the United States, where it is registered with FinCen under HBUS Inc. Since March 2018, Huobi has been active in 52 US states as a Money Service Business (MSB).
Huobi offers nearly 280 crypto assets, including 88 ETH-priced pairs, 105 BTC-priced pairs, 37 priced in USDT, and over 50 on its Huobi Autonomous Digital Asset Exchange (HADAX) platform.
Through HADAX the community votes for which new tokens will become listed from a list of proposed projects that compete .
Commissions & Fees
Huobi offers competitive trading fees when it comes to its commissions, as the broker charges 0.2% on major crypto pairs such as BTC/USDT, whether your order is helping to create liquidity or take it away.
Huobi also offers a VIP trading commission schedule akin to an active trading offering where the higher the membership tier, the greater the commission discount is. However, rather than requiring volume to be traded first to receive the discount, users must pre-purchase the VIP tier they require, which can only be done with the Huobi Token (HT) issued by Huobi (merely holding the token is not enough, as it must be spent to purchase VIP access).
The Huobi Token acts as a discount token for its VIP program, in which the number of tokens determines the level of VIP access. The levels range from level 1 (120 tokens per month) to level 5 (12,000 tokens per month). This means a user looking for a 10% discount from trading fees for at least one month would need to pay 120 HT, which, with HT at $3.69 per unit, would cost $442, and therefore would only be worth it if a trader is expected to spend more than $4,420 in commissions (which at 0.2% commission would require $2,210,000 in trading volumes). Considering that the firm gave away some three million HTs for free in early 2018, the earliest users appear to have access to the greatest discounts if they use those tokens to purchase VIP membership.
Overall, at current prices, the HT make VIP membership expensive, and unless a trader expects to notch up more volume than it would cost to purchase membership, it wouldn’t make sense; accordingly, this calculation should always be done beforehand. Nonetheless, even without the VIP pricing, Huobi’s base commission fees are still competitive.
Huobi offers a hosted wallet solution whereby users can enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA), which is the industry standard in terms of adding an additional layer of security tied to a user’s device. Users are also notified via an SMS message sent to their registered mobile phone upon each successful login. Huobi keeps 98% of its digital assets in cold storage, and multiple signatures (multi-sig) from internal staff are required for access.
Huobi has also built an anti-DDOS attack system. If users change their security settings and then attempt to withdraw funds, the company will manually review the withdrawal and may email or call the user directly to confirm. Otherwise, to withdraw you must provide three separate codes, one sent via SMS to the user, one sent via email, and one 2FA code generated by the authentication app on the user’s device.
In addition, in January 2018, Huobi created an Investor Protection Fund from which it buys Huobi Tokens with 20% of revenues. Such funds are put aside for cases such as compensating investors in extraordinary circumstances.
Platforms & Tools
Huobi mainly offers a web-based trading platform that comes with basic trading functionality, in addition to a desktop version of the app for Windows and Mac computers. The desktop versions were not available in English so we analysed the web platform for this review.
The Huobi web platform has a fixed layout, in which each section is neatly organized into a fixed position that can be expanded or minimized by dragging the mouse over the section edge. The focus in the main view is the charts and watch list. The order windows section appears towards the bottom center of the screen. Traders can choose from two main order types, market and limit orders. The market orders are available for buys and sells, and the limit orders, known as stop-limit orders, can be used for long or short positions.
Charts come powered by Trading View, which provides a powerful array of technical studies and drawing tools, and the main chart window can also be detached from the platform view.
Placing an order on the Huobi.Pro platform is easy, and the value of each field is shown in USD, which is helpful when dealing with non-fiat crypto pairs. There is also a field that shows the max trade size and lets you drag the slider to the desired trade size value, which is a nice feature when a user is deciding on how much of one cryptocurrency to use to trade another.
Changing the language was not a straightforward process, so I would like to see the desktop version of the platform default to an English installation. The Huobi web platform has a modern feel and provides a smooth user experience, thanks to its clean layout and responsive interface, which makes it my choice from the broker’s platforms on offer.
Huobi provides several mobile apps that are available for iOS and Android devices. The Huobi Bitcoin app is the latest to focus on trading capabilities, and is available both from the iOS and Google Play Store.
The broker also offers the app directly on its website in the form of an APK (probably so users can access it, as Google is restricted in places like China), and there are two additional versions on Google Play Store.
For this review, I focused on the Huobi Bitcoin app from Google Play, running on a Samsung Galaxy S8+ mobile phone.
The app, like the web platform, follows several steps for user authentication, with fingerprint and security patterns available. The same platform features are generally available, although the layout is a bit different.
Charts, for example, come with just six indicators, although they are very robust and responsive, which makes it easy to pinch and zoom on prices and reveal a crosshair for any point in time on the chart history, where the open-high-low-close prices of the candle appear.
One nice feature I noticed upon logging into the mobile app is that favorites selected on the web automatically appear in the mobile app too, thanks to syncing watch lists.
Switching between the main Huobi.Pro exchange and the broker’s HADAX offering was also very smooth as both are listed side by side from the Markets tab.
Overall, Huobi has created a nice mobile app that closely resembles the web platform.
Huobi offers a lending service that allows users to obtain margin on the BTC/USDT pair, which creates a form of leverage, and when the risk rate reaches 110%, all positions in the margin account are closed automatically.
The broker also offers an over-the-counter (OTC) solution for institutional size orders. In mid-2018, Huobi launched the Huobi 10 index, which tracks the performance of ten major crypto assets.
The broker’s HADAX listing process includes voting from Huobi Token holders and super nodes, which are professional entities such as venture capital funds that curate certain information and hold larger amounts of Huobi Tokens. Projects that aim to be listed incur a fee of 500,000 HT. It is worth noting that while projects listed on HADAX may lack the level of details of projects on the main Huobi Pro exchange, users can check each super voting node and see what projects each node has voted for.
Huobi has made major progress since it started in 2013. By acquiring regulatory status in the US in 2018 it became one of the first Asian-headquartered exchanges to expand into North America to cater to Western markets. While its native Huobi Token may be expensive for those seeking VIP discounts but don’t trade large enough volumes, the broker still offers competitive fees at 0.2% for most major crypto pairs. The firm’s Huobi Token may prove its utility on HADAX, although that exchange could be considered more speculative than its main listing on Huobi.Pro, where more established token projects are traded. Offering both markets from one platform is a net positive.
Huobi’s mobile and web-based platforms provide a generally smooth experience, while the desktop version cannot currently be used as it defaults to Chinese. On that note, many of the broker’s services are being translated, which can be seen in its text, as English is not the native language of some of its content or support staff. However, we expect this to improve as the firm’s US operations grow.
Bottom line, Huobi offers a very wide array of crypto assets on its Pro offering, while more obscure and nascent tokens are available on its HADAX platform, giving traders a wide selection of options for cryptocurrency trading and investing in crypto assets.
For our 2018 Forex Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 43 international forex brokers. Each FX broker was graded on 148 variables. Learn more.
Crypto Risk Disclaimer
"There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses." Learn more.
About the author: Steven Hatzakis Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.