Voyager Launches a New No-Fee Cryptocurrency Exchange

Sep 08, 2018   |   by Vern Napolitano   |   Current Events

On Wednesday, July 25, the startup Voyager announced its plans to launch a new cryptocurrency exchange with no trading commissions. Voyager aims to offer customers access to 15 cryptocurrencies. It plans to first launch the exchange in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Montana, before expanding to the rest of the United States.

The young company is backed by capital from friends and family, according to CEO Stephen Ehrlich. Ehrlich previously served as CEO and founder of Lightspeed Financial, a retail brokerage that later acquired online brokerage E*Trade. Voyager’s other cofounders are tech advisor Oscar Salazar, Uber’s chief technology officer, and chief product officer Gaspard de Dreuzy and board chairman Philip Eytan, both early Uber investors. Though Ehrlich gained interest in cryptocurrency a year ago, he believes a new exchange can offer investors a better experience.

Voyager’s business model focuses on differentiation. To raise revenue and maintain no-fee trading, the exchange will engage in a kind of order flow arbitrage. Ehrlich explains that Voyager will try to beat the average prices of coins at order execution. It aims to connect to ten exchanges and three market makers, so that customers receive better prices than they would on a single exchange.

Voyager aims to compete with existing low-cost exchanges like Robinhood, Binance, and Coinbase Pro. Coinbase Pro allows maker orders to fill without fees. Binance currently assesses a fee of 0.1 percent on trades, with discount levels for larger volume and Binance token (BNB) holdings. The most premier level pays just a 0.015 percent fee on maker orders. Though Robinhood offers customers in some states commission-free trading, customers cannot access their private keys or transfer coins off the exchange. However, Robinhood is backed by venture capital at a $5.6 billion valuation and earns revenue from interest on cash deposits and Gold margin memberships, so it is unclear how Voyager will compete.

Voyager begins beta testing this week and wants to release its app to the public in October. It also has plans to add news and analysis tools in its app, as well as more features for institutional investors. The list of coins available to trade is being finalized from the top 25, and it already includes Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ethereum Classic (ETC).

Ehrlich believes that Voyager has growth potential: “We think the opportunity for both retail and institutional is vast, and we want to be part of that, and help the industry grow, and be good citizens to the industry, and help people get more knowledgeable in crypto assets.” He wants to help retail investors become more comfortable with trading and investing in cryptocurrency. So far, Voyager’s business model offers legitimate value to the world of crypto exchanges. Whether or not Voyager succeeds, one thing is certain: the innovators are encouraging competition, striving to offer lower fees and a better user experience.

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Vern Napolitano