Crypto 'Exchange of Exchanges' ShortHop Expands to 7 US States

ShortHop offers traders access to its own order book as well as orders from other exchanges.

AccessTimeIconAug 26, 2019 at 1:26 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:22 a.m. UTC
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ShortHop, an “exchange of exchanges” for cryptocurrency trading, has launched in seven additional U.S. states.

Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, the exchange and brokerage has opened for business in Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Arizona and Montana. The Wilmington, Del.-based ShortHop was already live in California, Washington and Illinois.

While the exchange’s parent company, technology provider Velocity Markets, is registered as a money services business (MSB) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), ShortHop had to apply for money transmitter licenses in each state where it does business. The company also expects to be licensed in Utah and Pennsylvania next week.

As a "spot fill market," ShortHop allows customers to transact digital asset listings from multiple order books on one screen in addition to its own orders to provide customers with the lowest price, said Velocity Markets CEO Jonathan Kelfer.

“You might find that when you go on Binance, the spot price for bitcoin is the quoted price. When you go on Gemini it’s the quoted price there as well,” Kelfer said, by way of example. “We’ll use that in aggregate to get the best price across the ecosystem.”

In this way, the company's model resembles those of Voyager and Fidelity Digital Asset Services, both of which act as brokers, helping customers find the best deals in a highly fragmented market. The difference is that ShortHop also has its own exchange.

“ShortHop is a spot market first, but we’re aggregating liquidity across the ecosystem,” Kelfer said, adding that the service is currently plugged into a total of eight exchanges and OTC desks.

ShortHop's organic orders get treated like any other order on the marketplace, but "the more orders, the better the price," Kelfer said.

Skipping between assets

Kelfer founded the company in the early part of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, seeing a need for reliable American exchanges.

“It was my perspective that there wasn’t a U.S.-based presence where people could reliably base these assets,” Kelfer said. “You really had to get on some Chinese exchange, because U.S. exchanges weren’t listing most of these tokens."

Currently, ShortHop just lists a few major cryptocurrencies. Users can acquire and trade bitcoin, ether, litecoin, bitcoin cash, XRP and Stellar lumens (XLM). ShortHop also allows customers to “hop” between these assets without having to go through multiple conversions on different exchanges. Its technology accomplishes this by cross ordering books to create synthetic pairs.

Velocity Markets is also building a digital securities exchange. It owns a broker-dealer under the legal name Distributed Technology Markets that has an alternative trading system form on file at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company will be using the broker-dealer license to enable the digital securities exchange, but the company would not disclose when it plans to launch.

Right now, new users on ShortHop’s platform receive $25 worth of bitcoin for signing up. The platform at the moment is feeless, and Kelfer plans to subsidize retail users by offering a plug-in service to institutions who want to connect to the exchange's capabilities.

“We'd rather do this than nickel-and-dime retail users who should have access to the same quality of infrastructure that large players do,” Kelfer said. “That’s not to say we won’t layer on fees in the future.”

Jonathan Kelfer image via Velocity Markets

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