BitMEX Affiliate Program

BitMEX Affiliate Program – A Customer Abuse Story

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We can all agree that the cryptocurrency industry has not yet reached its full maturity. It is not regulated, a very small part of the total market capitalization is institutional money and there are many areas in society where you are still stranded if you only hold “fiat currency”. The immaturity of the crypto industry also enables the largest players in the industry to treat you however the f*ck they want. Nobody can come after them after being mistreated.

The only way that the community can do anything about abuse from large players in the industry is to boycott them. And not one community members here and there, but in numbers.

We have no real belief that this article will achieve that. A crypto community boycott. We don’t want people out there to pity us either. We just feel that we wouldn’t act in line with our ambition to make the cryptocurrency industry transparent, if we didn’t account for what we have experienced. So, we hope that this story can shed some light on how some of the exchanges suffering from severe Goliath-complex treats their customers.

Background

We run the site cryptowisser.com. The ambition with our site is to open the doors to the cryptocurrency world to everyone. Our way of doing that is by presenting the various cryptocurrency exchanges’ different fees, available deposit methods, crypto community user scores, supported cryptocurrencies etc. to the members of the crypto community. We have the most listed cryptocurrency exchanges in the world (360+) in our Cryptocurrency Exchange List.

In our Cryptocurrency Exchange List, we also list BitMEX.

Our site was running along smoothly and we managed to rack up a fair number of users to the BitMEX-exchange through the BitMEX Affiliate Program. Everything was in perfect order. We had also emailed BitMEX a number of times during 2018 asking them to review the information about them so that nothing was incorrect. Unfortunately, we hadn’t heard back from them. I guess they thought we weren’t big enough to bother with.

What happened?

Then, one day in late January 2019, we received an email from someone we will here call Estebán* at BitMEX. He informed us that we could not use their logo in our review of BitMEX. We had indeed used their logo in our review of BitMEX (as we have used the relevant exchange’s respective logo in our 360+ other reviews). He also informed us that BitMEX did not serve US-persons. In our review, we had included the following wording:

“To our understanding, BitMEX does not explicitly prohibit US-investors from trading on its exchange. In any event, all US-investors should do their own independent analysis of any availability problems arising from their residency or citizenship.”

He also informed us that – due to the above (logo + incorrect speculation on US-permissibility), withdrawals and trading had been disabled on our account in the BitMEX Affiliate Program.

Then what happened?

So, following the email from Estebán, we changed the wording on US-investors to clearly stipulate that they were not permitted to trade at BitMEX. We also removed the BitMEX logo.

A day later, we received a new email from Estebán. He then asked us to amend the information on supported cryptocurrencies in the review. As BitMEX offers derivatives trading in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, EOS Token, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple and Tron, we had listed all of those cryptocurrencies as “supported” in our review. Our reasoning was that someone reading the review and interested in trading derivatives at BitMEX (as BitMEX is largely a derivatives exchange), would presumably like to know which cryptocurrencies you can do derivatives trading in at BitMEX. Estebán, however, asked us if we had even visited BitMEX yet. He then clearly stated that the only supported cryptocurrency is Bitcoin (that’s the only crypto you can trade with 1x leverage).

Alright, we thought, if that’s their preference than who are we to argue?

We changed the review in line with Estebán’s preferences.

Now what?

Just a few hours pass and we now receive an email from someone we will call Frank. Frank tells us that he has enabled our account functionality in the BitMEX Affiliate Program again. But that the “affiliate payout must stay at zero because of this violation”.

However, he also tells us “My colleague was mistaken about your usage of our logo in your review, this is not against the affiliate terms and you may reinstate the usage of our logo on your page”.

OK, so now we’re down to the US-investor information (remember the disclaimer “To our understanding”), and that we thought it was proper to list the cryptocurrencies they offer derivatives trading in as “supported cryptocurrencies”.

We respond and ask which violation that is the reason for the affiliate payout staying at zero. Another customer service guy we will refer to as Brad jumps in to the email-thread with a short link to the affiliate terms and conditions, which didn’t provide any further guidance at all.

We ask again – what is the violation?

Now a fourth guy, hereinafter referred to as “Patrick”, says it is the wording on US-investors that was the violation. As we feel that the wording:

“To our understanding, BitMEX does not explicitly prohibit US-investors from trading on its exchange. In any event, all US-investors should do their own independent analysis of any availability problems arising from their residency or citizenship.”

…is not a violation, we email again, and ask Patrick to elevate this to this manager. Oh and we know, none of us wants to be the “wanna speak to your manager”-guy but you can probably sense that we started to become frustrated.

The manager steps in

Finally, the manager steps in! He’s the head of Customer Service. We’ll call him Rob. So what does Rob say? Rob says that we may not use the logo (!), and that it was incorrect that BitMEX supports US-investors. He does, however, give us 7 days to withdraw our affiliate compensation aggregated in the BitMEX Affiliate Program thus far. After that, our account will be closed (which is in contrast to what Frank had stated in an earlier email).

And that’s it. No more BitMEX-referrals or revenue from previously referred customers for us.

Analysis

So what conclusions can you draw from the above? We feel that it’s three primary conclusions:

BitMEX should streamline their customer support ticket processes.

During the course of a week or so we were in contact with five different persons from BitMEX. And person number 2 had a different view towards the logo than person number 1 and person number 5. Wonder if they get along in the office…?

BitMEX has poor customer support and they are too big to care.

Why should they care? Why should they listen? It’s not like they have a shortage of fee-paying customers. But we do think that laziness with respect to customer support will be to their detriment in the long run.

The relationship between exchanges and their affiliates will never be fair.

The ultimate effect of the above process was that we had referred a large number of customers to BitMEX, and then they simply decided that we will receive no pay-outs for the future revenues from such customers. And what can we do now? Nothing. There is no way for an affiliate to protect the future revenue coming from referred customers.

You might remember that the industry-leading trading consultant Tone Vays had over 900 referred customers when BitMEX suspended his account for him being a US-citizen (without any proof nor even asking him for a copy of his non-US Passport). We’re sure they were quite happy with how everything proceeded when he provided them with hundreds of customers a month. Then one day, someone at BitMEX likely just said, “fuck Tone Vays”, and terminated his account. And now they’re collecting massive fees from his 900+ referred customers.

How does this story on the BitMEX Affiliate Program affect you?

If you are an individual trader referring a friend or two to BitMEX through the BitMEX Affiliate Program, then you shouldn’t worry about the above treatment in respect of your affiliate relationship. But then again, if they treat us like this, why would they treat their customers differently?

Moreover, if you are a crypto news distributor, a publisher of reviews, a crypto blogger or anything similar, we strongly urge you to just steer clear of BitMEX and the BitMEX Affiliate Program. Otherwise, they’ll happily accept your referred customers but do whatever they please with you.

Also, if you’re running an exchange with an affiliate program, then learn from the above mistakes and be better.

 

*None of the names in this article relating to BitMEX-employees are the actual names of such employees. We are not in the business of trash talking individuals.

10 responses to “BitMEX Affiliate Program – A Customer Abuse Story

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