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Bisq Exchange: User Review Guide


bisq exchange review

How to Use, Trade and Sign Up to Bisq DEX

Bisq is an open-source, peer-to-peer desktop application where you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies for national currencies with no registration required. Find out how Bisq works today in our guide and review.

What is Bisq?

Bisq, found online at, is a currency exchange application available for desktop platforms. The open-source platform connects currency traders in a peer-to-peer environment. Using Bisq, anyone can trade cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies with no registration required.

bisq decentralized exchange review

Bisq is available as a free download for Windows, Mac, Debian/Ubuntu, Red Hat/Fedora, and Arch Linux.

Bisq also offers mobile apps for iOS and Android, although the mobile apps do not support full Bisq trading; instead, the mobile apps simply let you stay up-to-date on your Bisq trades and receive notifications on your mobile phone.

Bisq lets you trade virtually any national currency in the world along with dozens of cryptocurrencies. The only constraint is that one side of each Bisq trade must always be in bitcoin. Aside from this restriction, you’re free to trade virtually anything through Bisq.

bisq decentralized crypto exchange

Bisq is similar to LocalBitcoins in that you’re not trading with a centralized server or making a swap; you’re choosing your national currency, then browsing a list of buy or sell offers for that national currency. If you’re buying or selling USD for bitcoin, for example, then you can transfer money using Zelle or other payment methods. All payments are facilitated through Bisq’s platform, and Bisq has a dispute resolution, arbitration, and escrow system in place for any conflicts.

how bisq works

Bisq was formerly known as Bitsquare. The company was founded in 2014 in Barcelona.

Bisq Features

Available for Multiple Desktop OSes: Bisq is available as a free download for Windows, Mac, Debian/Ubuntu, Red Hat/Fedora, and Arch Linux.

Open Source: Bisq’s source code is fully available for anyone to check online.

P2P Exchange: The Bisq peer-to-peer network includes everyone running Bisq software. You connect to this P2P network when making a trade through Bisq.

Tor Support: Bisq automatically connects to the Tor network every time it starts up for maximum privacy. All communications are encrypted end-to-end and routed over Tor.

Private: Nobody except trading partners exchange personally identifying data. All personal data is stored locally on your computer.

Decentralized: Bisq’s P2P network is decentralized with no single point of failure. Unlike centralized exchange platforms that can be shut down, Bisq is a peer-to-peer network distributed and decentralized around the world.

Non-Custodial: Bisq never holds your funds. It’s a non-custodial exchange platform. You’re simply swapping cryptocurrencies with other users.

Decentralized Arbitration System and Security Deposits: Bisq has a decentralized arbitration system to resolve any disputes on the platform. Bisq also uses security deposits to protect traders.

Browse Marketplace Offers: Similar to LocalBitcoins and other P2P marketplaces, Bisq displays a list of offers targeted for your national currency. If you have USD and want BTC, for example, then you can browse the Bisq offer book for people willing to sell BTC in exchange for US Dollars.

No Automatic Order Matching: Bisq has no automatic order matching. Traders need to manually search for and select specific offers they wish to take. Users have full control over which counterparties they trade with.

Mobile Apps: Bisq offers mobile apps for iOS or Android. The mobile apps let you receive notifications and view trade information on a mobile device, although you’re not actually running the Bisq software or able to make trades from your mobile device.

Out Of Band Fiat Payments: Bisq does not directly integrate with banks or other national currency payment systems in any way. Instead, Bisq’s trading protocol allows buyers and sellers to settle fiat payments outside of the Bisq application (say, by completing a bank transfer).

Buy Crypto With Bank Transfers: Because Bisq arranges out of band fiat payments, you can use Bisq to buy crypto with bank transfers. Depending on your national currency, you should be able to find offers from people willing to accept national bank transfers in exchange for bitcoin. Australians can find sellers willing to use BPay, for example, while Canadians can use local bank transfer methods like Interac.

No Registration or Identity Verification Required: Bisq lets you trade cryptocurrency with no registration or centralized identity verification required. Unlike an exchange, you don’t have to verify your identity with some centralized server.

Not a Company or Centralized Corporation: Bisq repeatedly emphasizes the fact that it isn’t a company. It’s just code. Bisq is not incorporated, and it’s not centralized in any location. It’s a decentralized entity that cannot be shut down. As long as at least two peers are running the Bisq software, two people can make trades over Bisq.

Escrow System with 2-of-3 Multi-Sig: Bisq uses an escrow system that locks funds in a 2-of-3 multi-signature address. This ensures that the buyer and seller (or one party and Bisq) need to approve the transaction for funds to be released.

Transaction Fees Go to Arbitrators: Bisq’s transaction fees go partly to developers and partly to arbitrators.

Cheap Fees: Bisq claims fees are necessary “for protection against offer book spam, market manipulation and identity harvesting”. Fees also go towards arbitrators for their services. It costs 0.001 BTC to create an offer or take an offer from the Bisq offer book, and a mining fee of 0.0009 BTC is also added. These are the only fees you pay.

Available Anywhere in the World: Bisq is anonymous trading software that uses the Tor protocol. It can be used anywhere in the world. However, Bisq’s developers recommend using caution if trading bitcoin in parts of the world where bitcoin is illegal. Bisq claims “undercover agents can act as peer traders” on Bisq, and traders could face severe penalties.

Limit of 1 BTC: Bisq applies a limit of 1 BTC per trade to reduce the risk of criminal activity on the platform. However, this limit could be raised in the future. Certain sellers or payment methods may also have lower limits. Generally, payment limits on Bisq are quite low to discourage use of the platform for criminal activity.

How Does Bisq Work?

how bisq dex works

Unlike most crypto trading platforms, Bisq is run through downloaded software. That’s because Bisq doesn’t run a centralized server for making and taking offers, so trading on the Bisq website isn’t possible.

Instead, Bisq’s software manages trading offers through a peer-to-peer network. That P2P network consists of a global community of people who are also running Bisq on their own computers.

Bisq sees its desktop software as an advantage over traditional online exchange platforms:

“This is good news for users, because centralized services are easy to monitor, block and shut down, while peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent, Bitcoin and Bisq are difficult to surveil, censor and hack.”

With that in mind, Bisq is a decentralized exchange built upon three major components:

Desktop Application: Bisq is a desktop application available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Using the desktop application, anyone can buy and sell bitcoin in exchange for national currencies or fiat currencies.

Trading Protocol: Bisq is also a trading protocol that allows individuals to exchange directly with one another over the internet, eliminating the need for trusted third party exchange services.

Peer to Peer Network: Bisq is a peer-to-peer (P2P) network created by Bisq applications discovering, connecting to, and working with one another to implement the Bisq trading protocol. The Bisq network is completely peer-to-peer in that it requires no centrally-controlled servers and has no single points of failure.

After installing the software, here are the basic steps you’ll use to make a trade with Bisq:

Step 1) Download and run the Bisq application on your computer

Step 2) Configure Bisq with your payment method details (Bisq works with US Dollars and any other national currency or fiat currency worldwide)

Step 3) You browse Bisq’s offer book for existing offers to sell your national currency for BTC; if you want to exchange Canadian Dollars (CAD) for bitcoin (BTC), for example, then you would browse the offer book looking for someone willing to buy CAD in exchange for BTC

Step 4) You send your national currency from your bank to the seller’s bank, then indicate that you have completed the transaction in Bisq

Step 5) You and the seller wait for your national currency payment to arrive in the seller’s bank

Step 6) The seller receives your national currency payment, then indicates that they have received your payment in Bisq

Step 7) You receive the seller’s bitcoin and the trade is complete

From a technology standpoint, the Bisq application is built in Java 8 with JavaFX for the GUI. To interact with the bitcoin network, Bisq uses the bitcoinj library. For decentralized messaging and data storage, Bisq uses a custom flooding (gossiping) network over Tor.

Bisq Pricing and Fees

Bisq Pricing and Fees

Bisq’s fees go towards its developers and its human arbitrators.

Maker Fee: 0.001 BTC (paid to the arbitrators, with mining fee included)

Taker Fee: 0.001 BTC (also paid to the arbitrators)

Bitcoin Mining Fee: 0.0003 BTC for each transaction (there three transactions in each trade, including deposit from an external wallet, trade, and withdrawal to an external wallet), 0.0009 BTC per trade.

Security Deposit: 0.1 BTC (returned in whole to the trader after the transaction if no malicious activity is reported)

Arbitrator Security Deposit: 2 BTC (a portion of each collected arbitration fee from dishonest traders is locked in the security deposit, and this accumulated amount is returned in whole to the arbitrator when the arbitrator steps down from arbitration duties).

Different sellers will also have different exchange rates – similar to what you see on LocalBitcoins and other platforms. All exchange rates are disclosed upfront before you make the trade. Some sellers have a 0% spread on the exchange rate, which means they charge the current market rate. Other sellers charge a premium.

How to Use Bisq

Bisq is straightforward to set up and use – even if you’re a first-time crypto trader. You don’t need any crypto to get started. If you have any national currency (like US Dollars) and a bank account, you should be able to find a trading partner through Bisq’s P2P network.

Here’s how to use Bisq:

Step 1) Download and Install Bisq

Visit and go to ‘Downloads’. By default, Bisq will highlight your operating system version. Windows, Mac, and Linux versions are all available.

Download and Install Bisq

When you run the .exe to install Bisq, you may get a warning from Windows about blocking a malicious file. Ignore that warning and proceed with the installation.

using bisq network

Step 2) Launch Bisq

Launch Bisq after the installation is complete. Check to confirm you agree with the user agreement.

bisq user agreement

Again, you may receive an alert from Windows Defender about blocking Bisq’s features. Check the boxes to allow Bisq to communicate on private and public networks.

bisq dex guide

Finally, Bisq will complete the setup process and launch the Tor protocol.

Step 3) Create a New Account

You’re now using Bisq and synchronized with the bitcoin mainnet (using Tor).

bisq user account

Before you make a trade on Bisq, you’ll need to create a new account. Open the Bisq application and go to ‘Account’ in the top right corner of the screen.

join bisq account

Click ‘Add New Account’, then select your desired payment method.

bisq payments

Depending on your chosen payment method, you’ll need to complete different setup options. Bisq will also display any limitations specific to your payment method.

bisq payment methods

As you can see here, for example, Interac e-Transfers have a maximum trade duration of 1 day, a maximum buy of 0.01 BTC, and a maximum sell amount of 0.0625 BTC.

new bisq dex account

Once you have verified this information, click ‘Save New Account’. Then, you can start making trades with Bisq.

Step 4) Choose Your National Currency

After setting up your payment account, you can browse through Bisq’s offer book to see offers in your desired currency.

bisq trading

If you want to buy bitcoin using Canadian Dollars in your Canadian bank account, for example, then you can find offers in Bisq.

Bisq Exchange: User Review Guide 1

Technically, Bisq supports any national currency in the world. However, larger and better-known currencies will have more offers in the offer book available.

bisq crypto exchange

Step 5) Complete a Trade

If you’re buying bitcoin using your national currency, then click ‘Buy BTC’. If you’re selling, click ‘Sell BTC’.

bisq bitcoin trading exchange

Then, browse through available offers in your region. Each offer includes detailed information about the exchange rate, minimum or maximum amount, and payment method. Zelle is a popular payment method for USD traders, for example, while Interac is popular for CAD traders. You should be able to buy or sell bitcoin using whatever bank transfer method is common in your country.

Once you are ready to take an offer, click ‘Take Offer to Sell BTC’ or ‘Take Offer to Buy BTC’.

Alternatively, if you want to post an offer to the Bisq order book, you can click ‘Create New Offer to Buy BTC’ or ‘Create New Offer to Sell BTC’.

Each seller has a different procedure for sending and receiving money through Bisq. Generally, you’ll send funds to Bisq’s escrow, then those funds are released once the seller and buyer both confirm the payment.

Step 6) Customize Settings

There’s no need to withdraw your money from Bisq after completing a trade. Bisq is a non-custodial trading system, which means the funds are already in your bank account (if you sold BTC) or your bitcoin wallet (if you sold fiat currency).

bisq exchange overview

However, you can customize your settings for future trades. From the Bisq settings menu, you can customize your language, country, and preferred currencies. You can remove certain national currencies or cryptocurrencies from your offer book, for example.

About Bisq

Bisq is careful to explain that it is not a company. Instead, Bisq is free software released under version 3 of the GNU Affero General Public License.

Bisq is developed by a distributed team of individuals around the world. These individuals have come together with the goal of creating a secure, private, and censorship-resistant way of exchange cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies over the internet.

Bisq was formerly known as Bitsquare. The project was first launched in Barcelona, Spain in 2014.

Final Word

Ultimately, Bisq is an ideal exchange application for anyone who does not want to forfeit control or privacy to a central authority to trade with other individuals. It’s a privacy-focused desktop application that makes it easy to trade dozens of cryptocurrencies and any national currency for bitcoin.

Visit today to download Bisq for Mac, Windows, or Linux. You can immediately start browsing P2P crypto exchange offers in your area.

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