Do any of the brokers provide financial information or an independent audit that can be used to assess the stability of the operation? I am a little nervous about putting a lot of money into a brokerage that has not been subjected to significant due diligence. Any thoughts concerning which brokers might be strongest and willing to prove it?
Can you give few names that concerns you?
I don't have specific concerns. it just seems like I see news about brokerages closing on a regular basis. I am interested in finding out which brokers are strong, well capitalized and have strong management teams with good reputations. Have any of the brokerages ever been evaluated by a third party?
Not that I know of. I don't think it is public information and plus there isn't a regulation in place that we can check with SEC.
The implosion of mtgox was a catalyst to the creation of an oligarchy of highly competent, high volume, and high security exchanges:
BTCe, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Okcoin, Coinbase, and Huobi are all rock solid and long standing. They've each released limited financial statements however, there is no industry standard and you'll have to dig through the internet to find them. I suspect most of them are in for the long haul barring unforeseen hacks, etc. I also suspect 2015/2016 will bring some financial regularity to the auditing of major exchanges.
Itbit, Bitso, and Coinsetter are relatively new Barry Silbert backed exchanges; Silbert also backs tradewave.
I have no experience/opinion on Kraken.
I personally bank at BTCe and Bitfinex as they are well capitalized, high volume, older exchanges with very low threshold KYC policies. This is very important to me personally as I take a very activist approach towards what crypto is.
I am very opposed to nation/states thinking they have the authority to issue licenses for any reason; especially with regard to offshore exchanges of "magic internet money"; I'm very libertarian in that regard. BTCe and Bitfinex have respectively ignored and refused NY Bitlicense; I commend both approaches. Itbit recently hired an architect of bitlicense as their "chief compliance officer". I despise that move personally, its kafkaesque and regulatory capture; everything crypto is not supposed to be.
You go to the city to see the law. Upon arrival outside the building, there is a guard who says "You may not pass without permission", you notice that the door is open, but it closed enough for you to not see anything.
BTCe customer support notoriously sucks (unless you speak russian... then its great); but exchange uptime and security is very solid. Bitfinex is every approachable and even does live chats / teamspeak.
The rule of thumb in the world of crypto.... if an exchange hasn't been around for a year and a half there's a 50% chance it fails and takes a chunk of your money with it.
I've been following crypto charts and news since the end of 2011; I've been actively trading since March/April of 2013. I moved out of mtgox just before it imploded. I got stuck in mintpal and lost $10k plus when it imploded.
The things that matter most to me in an exchange at the moment:
1) Security (I like 400 days old and good reputation)
3) KYC Policy (my coins are only associated with email addresses)
4) Bitlicense Policy (I don't bank with exchanges that comply)