Exchange Run by Ex-Morgan Stanley Team Drops Trading Fees for Subscription Model

The subscription model offers smaller frequent traders a flat fee monthly, something normally only major clients get.

AccessTimeIconMay 13, 2020 at 2:09 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:41 a.m. UTC
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Crypto derivatives exchange Phemex is swapping out its existing trading fee structure for a new subscription model it says will make frequent trading more accessible.

The Singapore-based exchange, which only launched in November, said its new Premium subscription model would encourage clients to trade as much as they like on the platform without towering fees. Open only to manual traders, subscriptions start at about $10 a month – paid in the tether (USDT) stablecoin – and will be available as of Friday. Clients using algorithms for trading will still be charged maker, taker fees.

In itself, the subscription-based model isn't revolutionary: many large exchanges already offer a flat fee to larger clients. But Phemex is offering subscriptions for traders who may not otherwise meet the minimum deposits and volume thresholds required on other platforms. Clients that deposit more than 0.02 bitcoin (around $180 at press time) or make more than $1,000 worth of trades a month will be eligible for a 30-day membership.

Phemex announced a $3.5 million Series A funding round, led by NGV Ventures, earlier this year. It already offers perpetual contracts – futures without expiry dates – on coins including bitcoin and ether, at 100x leverage. Currently unregulated, the exchange has applied for a license with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

With eight team members coming straight from Morgan Stanley, the exchange said one of its aims is to add traditional products such as stock indices, commodities and products based on interest rates to the platform somewhere down the line.

In a statement, Phemex CEO Jack Tao – a former senior leader at Morgan Stanley's electronic trading desk – said the new subscription model was "in line with the blockchain's mission to facilitate financial transactions." By putting customer needs first, he claimed Phemex would "empower individuals with all the advantages of our service in a cost-saving manner."

CoinDesk asked Phemex whether there was a chance the new subscription model might potentially put the firm out of pocket. "Our derivatives market will continue working under industry standards, so we don't expect to lose any revenue," a spokesperson said.

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