Top 5 platforms for institutional cryptocurrency trading in 2024

As cryptocurrencies grow in adoption, institutions are increasingly looking to gain exposure to this new asset class. Beyond retail traders, entities such as hedge funds, family offices, pension funds, and asset managers are also now actively trading crypto and building digital assets into a diversified portfolio. To do so, institutions can make use of trading platforms that cater towards their specific requirements.

In this article, we’ll explore more about what an institutional crypto trading platform is and look at some of the leading institutional crypto trading platforms to explore.

What is an institutional crypto trading platform?

Most crypto exchanges cater to retail traders as their core user base. With maturing market infrastructure, clearer regulatory frameworks, and the recent development of institutional-grade products (spot ETFs), institutions have begun to recognize the long-term growth potential of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. With different needs to retail users, institutions often prefer exchanges that are designed to handle their large-scale trading operations.

More specifically, institutional crypto trading platforms focus on providing access to deep liquidity, advanced trading tools, and fast application programming interfaces (API). Another important feature institutions look for are over-the-counter (OTC) desks that allow them to place large trades at favorable prices, without high slippage.

How is an institutional platform different from a regular exchange?

First, institutional platforms are built to handle large trading volumes. Institutional traders often place orders totaling millions of dollars, which some retail-focused platforms can struggle to handle. So, an institutional platform has high liquidity with tight spreads, enabling users to execute trades without slippage.

Next, many institutional platforms offer different and favorable fees to their clients, compared to typical retail fees. Since institutional traders bring in large volumes to the exchange, the exchange incentivizes them to trade more. Some exchanges even give rebates for providing liquidity.

Institutions are also offered faster execution speeds, API support, low-interest loans, and other products that are built for them. Finally, exchanges may also provide different security features and custody services that comply with regulatory requirements in each jurisdiction.

Top institutional crypto trading platforms

OKX Institutions

One of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges, OKX Institutions is the preferred option for many institutional users. OKX offers a market maker program, where users can get favorable fees for creating liquidity in the market through the order book. With fast performance, robust security, and high reliability, OKX is among the best choices for institutions.

Key features

  • With $106 billion in peak daily trading volume, OKX is one of the largest crypto trading platforms with deep liquidity. Traders can also access our on-demand liquidity network with multiple brokers. Traders can instantly trade spot OTC, futures spreads, and options strategies without impacting the order book.

  • Known for its reliability, with an industry-leading 99.99% uptime.

  • Maker fees as low as 0%. We offer a tiered fee structure where the fee is lower ‌for traders with large trading volumes. You can learn more about it by reading our trading fees explainer under the 'VIP Loan' tab.

  • High performance, offering customers API connectivity in 5 milliseconds and 400,000 requests per second when order matching. The median latency stands at just 3 milliseconds.

  • 1:1 proof of reserves and a zero security breach record.

  • Extensive access to crypto markets. OKX offers more than 350 tokens, 730 spot pairs, 280 derivatives, and 1,000 options instruments.

  • Access to advanced algorithms and order types on the platform.

  • Dedicated low-interest loans for institutional traders.

  • Partnerships with regulated custodians to provide secure custody solutions, with tailored arrangements to guarantee efficient and streamlined operations.

Coinbase Institutional

Coinbase Institutional is a platform used by some of the industry’s largest asset managers. Coinbase has a reputation for being a trusted and secure platform in the cryptocurrency space, with a strong presence in the market. It offers crypto trading, custody services, and research insights for institutions. However, Coinbase provides access to fewer assets and trading pairs compared to other platforms.

Key features

  • Access to 240+ assets and 500+ trading pairs.

  • Smart order router that executes the trade on multiple exchanges, maximizing capital efficiency.

  • Institutional traders can get access to lending and margin trading.

  • Coinbase custody offers vault storage that fits the legal, regulatory, and compliance needs of clients.

  • Non-custodial staking platform for 25+ networks.

Binance Institution

As another popular cryptocurrency exchange, Binance also has a feature-rich institutional platform. Binance markets it as a VIP program for large-volume traders, focusing more on features unavailable to regular users.

Key features

  • Users get access to Binance's OTC desk with competitive spreads and algorithmic trading strategies.

  • Sub-accounts are available to compartmentalize trades. Users can also choose to combine margin across ‌accounts.

  • Up to 0.01% fee rebate for institutions that provide liquidity to the exchange.

  • Borrowing services are offered with bespoke loan agreements.

Bybit Institution

Bybit offers ‌bespoke trading options for its institutional traders. The exchange prioritizes low fees and high liquidity, and has gained a reputation for strong reliability and security.

Key features

  • Offers deep liquidity.

  • Up to -0.005% fee for market makers that provide liquidity and no fee on stablecoin trading pairs.

  • Priority API access to institutional traders.

  • Block trading in partnership with Paradigm.

  • Institutional loans with up to 5x leverage.

  • Dashboard to conveniently control and manage all trades across sub-accounts.

Gemini Institutional

Launched in 2014, Gemini is one of the longest-running cryptocurrency exchanges and has an institutional offering. However, the exchange isn't as feature-rich as some other competing platforms. Gemini Institutional has basic features such as spot and derivatives markets, custody and staking, and API services. Gemini places much focus on certification and licenses. The platform is a qualified custodian under the New York Banking Law, and licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

Key features

  • Deep liquidity and tight spreads for large trades.

  • Asset managers can control separately managed accounts (SMA).

  • Has wide certifications to offer crypto trading services in the U.S. and Europe.

  • 24/7 customer support is provided specifically for institutional traders.

How to choose an institutional crypto trading platform

Just as is true for retail traders, institutional users should complete thorough due diligence before choosing a platform to trade with. Although there’s much to consider, read on for the essential features to explore and understand as you choose an institutional crypto trading platform.


Liquidity is an important aspect to consider when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange. Without much liquidity, you might suffer from high slippage and low efficiency of orders. High liquidity is essential to execute the large orders institutions typically want.

For simple metrics like trading volume, you can check the daily trading volume for most exchanges on analytics sites such as CoinMarketCap. To access more advanced analytics, consider reaching out to the respective exchanges to access historical liquidity and trading metrics. These metrics encompass market depth, slippage, and latency, providing a comprehensive understanding of trading dynamics.

Trading pairs

When choosing a cryptocurrency exchange, it's important to consider their listing policy. Different exchanges have varying approaches. Some offer a wide range of trading pairs, while others prioritize thorough vetting of cryptocurrencies. Take into account both the cryptocurrencies you want to trade and the exchange's listing policy. It's beneficial to select an exchange that adopts a prudent and transparent approach to listings. These exchanges play an important role in creating a healthy, sustainable, and trustworthy cryptocurrency ecosystem. By following a clear and comprehensive criteria, exchanges make sure that only high-quality projects make it to their platform.

OTC Desk

An OTC desk isn't a necessity, but is convenient to have access to. Large institutions can't place ‌orders without impacting the order book. That’s why often, they go to OTC desks, which can fulfill the trade at an agreed fixed price, preventing volatility for the asset’s price and lowering the execution risk. Additionally, OTC services allow trades to be made privately, shielding an institution’s trading strategy from the public eye. Some institutional crypto exchanges provide OTC services directly on their platform for added simplicity with automated settlement and clearing.

Reliable performance

Cryptocurrencies are traded 24x7, and traders expect the same from their exchanges. Downtime for a crypto exchange can mean lost opportunities for its users — especially institutional clients that often trade with large positions. Reliability, therefore, is a key competitive strength for any leading platform. Explore an exchange’s history of downtime and be sure to understand any measures it has in place to prevent disruption.

Competitive fees

Cryptocurrency exchanges operate on maker and taker fees. Since institutional trading often involves larger volumes, it's recommended you look for an exchange that offers ‌reasonable fees. Reverse engineering your expected future trades to understand the fees you may encounter can be helpful in choosing an exchange that’ll collect the lowest fees — locking in larger gains should your positions grow.

At the same time, a low trading fee isn't the only factor you should consider. It’s also wise to understand all the other trading costs, such as slippage, funding, deposit and withdrawal fees, and interest rates for leverage. Wide spreads could quickly result in wastage, making the money saved in fees insignificant.

Robust security

Given what’s at stake, security is often the number one factor institutional users scrutinize when choosing a crypto platform. Often, exchanges store all their funds in a cold wallet. Although this can slow down order processing time, some institutions prefer this option because of the added security it provides. It's important to audit the exchange's risk management approach, record of previous breaches, and its response to the incident. Other security aspects that institutions look for include multiple-user authentication methods, proof of reserves, and KYC/AML measures.

Regulatory compliance

Institutions such as family offices and hedge funds are regulated differently in each jurisdiction. If required, you must consider if the crypto platform you’re interested in complies with the laws set by your local bodies. Getting the opinion of your legal team is recommended here to make sure you’re not breaking any laws.

Portfolio management tools

Many institutional traders look for an exchange that offers convenient portfolio management and rebalancing tools. For example, you can see a quick overview of your positions and margin levels, which can help you to manage your risks more effectively. Some platforms also offer custom dashboards and convenient tax reporting.

Other advanced features

Most exchanges aim to differentiate themselves with unique features. These could include high margins that enable you to take on large positions. Another popular feature is advanced order types such as conditional orders and iceberg orders. Meanwhile, certain exchanges offer native bot support. This allows institutions to automate trades much faster because they're processed right at the platform, without using an API.

Customer support

Finally, it’s wise to also consider the quality of customer support provided by a platform. Since the crypto market operates round-the-clock, 24/7 customer support is necessary to promptly address issues. Some exchanges offer a dedicated account manager for their institutional clients. They can understand your unique needs and provide personalized guidance in navigating the crypto space.

The final word

With cryptocurrency adoption growing globally, institutional traders are increasingly looking to digital assets as a means of expanding their portfolios. Choosing the most suitable platform to trade with is one of the earliest decisions you’ll need to make.

Many of today’s leading crypto platforms for retail trading have evolved to also offer specific institutional services, giving your organization the features and support you need. With institutional users typically trading with larger positions, gaining access to bespoke service is an attractive prospect.

High liquidity, OTC services, and institutional-specific fees are just some of the factors to consider before committing funds to your institutional crypto platform of choice. And as always, doing your own research is imperative before you get started.

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