Core Functions

How is Bisq different from other decentralized exchanges?

Bisq is a peer-to-peer trading network, not a centralized service. It's software you run on your own hardware, not a website run by someone else. It's open-source and community-driven.

And you can trade bitcoin for fiat currencies with it!

The difference between Bisq and other so-called decentralized exchanges is as stark as the difference between owning your own home and renting someone else's—in the former case you have full control over the property, and in the latter you're always subject to the landlord's whims and demands (no matter how nice the landlord may seem to be).

With Bisq you're always the owner—not just owner of your bitcoin, but also owner of your data.

  • Bisq does not hold any bitcoin. All bitcoin used for trading is held in 2-of-2 multisignature addresses controlled solely by the trading peers themselves.
  • Bisq does not hold any national currency. National currency is transferred directly from one trader to the other using traditional banking and payment services.
  • All Bisq data is transferred over its own secure peer-to-peer network, which is built on top of the Tor network—no central servers. This means there are no data honeypots, rendering large-scale hacks of customer information databases impossible.
  • Bisq does not know anything about traders who use its network, and no data is stored on who trades with whom.
  • Bisq does not require registration. This means user privacy is protected, and it also means there is no waiting period to have your account approved for trading.
  • Bisq is code, not a company. It is an open-source project organized as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) built on top of Bitcoin.

See a more comprehensive introduction on the wiki.

Is Bisq safe and open-source?

Yes, Bisq's software is open-source and licensed under Version 3 of the GNU Affero General Public License. Here's the source code and license.

Bisq employs three primary mechanisms to achieve security:

  1. All bitcoin traded with Bisq is secured in a 2-of-2 multisignature address.
  2. Both traders are required to pay security deposits. These are refunded after trades are completed.
  3. Trade disputes are handled through a 3-tier mechanism that includes trader chat, mediation, and arbitration.

When trading fiat currency for bitcoin, there is always some chargeback risk, as fiat transactions can often be reversed.

To mitigate this risk, Bisq:

  • only supports payment methods which are known to make chargebacks difficult—this is why Bisq does not support PayPal and credit cards, for example. See more on chargeback risks.
  • employs an account signing mechanism that forces a 0.01 BTC buy limit until a buyer's integrity (not identity!) is verified.
Which payment methods are supported?

Payment methods vary by country, but here's a brief listing.

Please see the payment methods wiki article for more details.

  • Advanced Cash
  • AliPay
  • Cash Deposit
  • Chase QuickPay
  • Face to face (in-person)
  • Faster Payments
  • HalCash
  • Interac e-Transfer
  • Japan Zengin Furikomi
  • MoneyBeam (N26)
  • MoneyGram
  • National bank transfer
  • Perfect Money
  • Popmoney
  • PromptPay
  • Revolut
  • SEPA
  • SEPA Instant
  • Swish
  • Transfer with same bank
  • Transfer with specific banks
  • Uphold
  • US Postal Money Order
  • WeChat Pay
  • Western Union
  • Zelle

Trading Details

What are the trade limits?

Fiat trades

To discourage fraud in fiat transactions, Bisq imposes limits on trade sizes. These limits are derived from a payment method's chargeback risk, its signing status, and its age (i.e., the time since you created the payment account in Bisq).

There are no limits on the number of trades you can do—just the amount per trade.

For most bank-based payment methods like SEPA or Zelle, the maximum trade size is 0.25 BTC. For services like PerfectMoney and AliPay, it is 1 BTC. See the full list of payment methods and limits here.

Trade size limits are based on risk factor of the payment method:

  • Lower-risk payment methods have higher initial limits which increase over time through a mechanism called account aging (in short, account aging allows 25% of the full trade size to be traded as soon as the account is created in Bisq, 50% of the full trade size to be traded after 30 days have passed since account creation, and 100% of the full trade size 60 days after account creation). Basically, the older an account is, the bigger trades it can do.
  • Higher-risk payment accounts must be signed by a trusted peer in order for account aging to begin. Until this signing, they are limited to buying 0.01 BTC per trade, regardless of how old the account is.

See the account limits wiki article or this video for more details on both.

Altcoin trades

Altcoin trades up to 2 BTC are allowed from day one—altcoins do not have chargeback risk, so account aging is not needed.

Why does Bisq require a security deposit?

Security deposits create strong incentives for buyers and sellers to follow the rules of Bisq's trading protocol. Deposits are locked into multisig escrow along with the bitcoin being traded, and are returned to each user when the trade is complete.

If a trade is disputed through a mediator or arbitrator, some or all of the offending party's security deposit may be awarded to the counterparty. Examples of protocol violations include a buyer failing to pay a seller, paying with a different account or with a different name, or a seller failing to acknowledge receipt of a buyer's payment.

Most Bisq trades complete without any problem thanks in part to the incentives that security deposits create.

See this wiki article for full trading rules.

How does Bisq protect my privacy?

Bisq is standalone, open-source software that you can inspect before running on your machine, and as a result, you don't have to trust that any server is logging your personal details (as you would in the case of a website).

As for the trading process, your payment information is stored locally on your machine, and only your trading partner (and your mediator or arbitrator, in case of a dispute) can ever see it. All data exchanged between users is encrypted and signed.

To transmit data from one user to another, Bisq uses a P2P network built on top of Tor, which provides a high degree of anonymity. The user doesn't need to do any additional work for all of this to work—it is all integrated in the application.

How long does a trade take?

Trade duration is determined by payment method. Some payment methods are instant (e.g., Faster Payment) while others can take a few days (e.g., SEPA).

As far as Bisq is concerned, the deposit transaction needs to be confirmed once before the buyer can send payment. Bitcoin transactions take about 10 minutes to confirm, so with quick traders and quick payment method, a Bisq trade can be completed in a matter of minutes.

Altcoin trade periods are always 1 day (or 1 hour for Altcoins Instant trades).

Please see the list of payment methods for complete details.

How much does it cost to trade on Bisq?

To trade on Bisq, users pay (1) trading fees to Bisq and (2) mining fees to miners.

Trading fees

Trading fees are payable in BTC or BSQ. BSQ is colored bitcoin that Bisq uses to fund and govern itself. It's optional to use, but there are significant benefits.

BTC trading fees, per 1 BTC traded:

BTC fees Fee as % of 1 BTC trade size
Maker fee 0.001 BTC 0.10%
Taker fee 0.007 BTC 0.70%

BSQ trading fees, per 1 BTC traded:

BSQ fees Fee as % of 1 BTC trade size
Maker fee 8.74 BSQ 0.05%
Taker fee 61.21 BSQ 0.35%

BSQ fee percentages above assume a 0.0001 BSQ/BTC rate.

Nominal BTC and BSQ fees are adjusted periodically by DAO voting to accommodate for market fluctuations.

The minimum trading fees are set at 0.00005 BTC and 0.03 BSQ to avoid dust limits.

Mining fees

An offer maker only pays mining fees for the trade fee transaction. An offer taker pays mining fees for the trade fee transaction, deposit transaction, and payout transaction. This is because mining fees fluctuate and it's impossible for the offer maker to know what mining fees will be at the time their offer is taken.

Bisq uses mempool.space to estimate fees. Users can see actual mining fees after they've created or taken an offer.

Why do I need to keep my application online when I have an open offer?

There are no central servers on the Bisq network—so all peers are responsible for keeping their offers online.

If you have published an offer, your Bisq application needs to stay online so it can react when another trader wants to take your offer (the multisig deposit transaction is created in the take-offer process). Be sure you have deactivated your computer's standby mode so your Bisq application can stay online (monitor standby is not a problem).

If your Bisq application does go offline, your offer will get removed from the distributed offerbook. It will be re-published the next time you start your Bisq application.

After an offer has been taken and the trade process has started, neither trader needs to be online continuously, but each trader will need to be online periodically to check if any action is needed on their side (e.g. sending fiat/altcoin, confirming payment receipt, etc).

Will my bank know I'm buying bitcoins?

There have been reports of banks closing accounts upon suspecting bitcoin activity.

As a result, Bisq requires that the "reason for payment" field always be left BLANK when making a payment (if the payment method offers such a field).

If a reason is required, it should be something trivial like a "-" or "payment". If you want to use something else, please agree on an alternative with your peer using trader chat.

See full trading rules on the wiki.

Dispute Resolution

How does dispute resolution work?

Bisq provides a 3-layer mechanism for resolving disputes: trader chat, mediation, and arbitration.

Trader chat enables traders to resolve small issues themselves privately over end-to-end encrypted chat right in Bisq. If this doesn't work, traders can engage a mediator to examine the situation and suggest a payout. In rare circumstances that mediation fails, a trader can choose to engage an arbitrator to re-examine the situation and make a payout.

Veteran users: please note that the arbitrator role changed significantly with the launch of the new trade protocol on v1.2.

See documentation for more details on how this process works.

How is collusion between mediators, arbitrators, and traders prevented?

With the launch of the new trading protocol in v1.2, multisig escrows went from 2-of-3 to 2-of-2 arrangements, so that only the two trading peers have control of trading funds (instead of the 2 trading peers and an arbitrator). With no keys in the multisig escrow, it is no longer possible for a mediator or abitrator to collude with another trader to release funds maliciously.

Mediators and arbitrators are still bonded roles, however, because even though they cannot sign a payout transaction to resolve a dispute, they can advise how to resolve a dispute, and it's important that they be responsive, responsible, and fair when doing so.

What happens if the person buying bitcoin does a chargeback after the bitcoin has been released from the multisig address?

Bisq only supports payment methods for which chargebacks are not easy (e.g., this is why PayPal and credit cards are not supported). But there is still a little chargeback risk with banks. If a bank executes a chargeback after the BTC has been released, there is nothing a mediator or arbitrator can do.

Bisq's goal is to make this scenario as unattractive as possible, using three primary mechanisms:

  1. Account aging requires newly-created fiat payment accounts on Bisq to have lower trade limits, and those limits are increased over time.
  2. Account signing requires higher-risk payment methods to be signed upon verifying the integrity of a trader before account aging kicks in. Until such accounts are signed, buy limits are set to 0.01 BTC.
  3. National currency payment methods which are found to be used for chargebacks are quickly removed.
Wouldn't a pure reputation system among traders make mediators and arbitrators unnecessary?

Pure reputation without additional dispute resolution measures is a weak protection system, as you can never avoid sybil or long con attacks.

Such mechanisms are also problematic for protecting privacy and for keeping the service decentralized.

Can I become a mediator or arbitrator?

Mediators and arbitrators are bonded roles in the Bisq DAO.

Anyone can propose to become either, but approval will depend on the network's needs at the time a proposal is made.

Can I contact my trading peer?

Yes, as of v1.1.6, Bisq includes a built-in chat feature for direct, private, and secure resolution of small issues without involving a mediator or arbitrator.

The Bisq DAO

What is the Bisq DAO?

The Bisq DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) is a decentralized governance mechanism for the Bisq software, built on Bitcoin. It takes the place of a company. How good can decentralized software possibly be if it's still controlled by a single entity, like a company?

Decentralized software is no good without decentralized governance.

That's why Bisq is not a company or legal entity of any kind—instead, it's organized as a DAO. The DAO handles the software's funding and strategy-making to enable the Bisq network to thrive, and at the same time, harden it against attacks on the infrastructure that powers its leadership and operation.

In a nutshell, the Bisq DAO enables Bisq to become even more censorship-resistant, a core principle of the project from the very beginning.

Read more about the Bisq DAO in this introductory doc.

How does the Bisq DAO work?

The primary purposes of the Bisq DAO are financing the project and determining strategy.

  • Trading fees are distributed directly from traders to contributors with a token (colored bitcoin) called BSQ.
  • Strategy is determined collectively through voting done in the Bisq software and recorded on the Bitcoin network.

Learn more about how this actually works in this series of short 3-5 minute videos.

What do I need to know about the DAO, as a trader?

Since the Bisq DAO is a governance mechanism, it doesn't affect the day-to-day usage of the software very much.

One thing you should be aware of is what the BSQ token actually does. Practically speaking, you'll pay lower trading fees by using BSQ instead of BTC.

But why have the BSQ token at all? Because it enables Bisq contributors to be paid for their work without any central wallets or points of control. When you buy BSQ, you're directly paying a Bisq contributor for their work, and in the process, helping to sustain the whole project. The dynamic this token enables is not possible with plain bitcoin.

When you use BSQ to pay trading fees, it's destroyed and 'burned' out of existence.

See more about how this process works in this doc or in this video series.

Can I use Bisq without BSQ and without this DAO?

You could. All you'd have to do is pay your trading fees with BTC instead of BSQ. But we hope you don't, because doing so would render the project unsustainable.

Before the Bisq DAO, trading fees went to just a couple of wallets owned by specific Bisq contributors (arbitrators). All other contributors were not paid. Bisq needs its contributors to be paid in regular, predictable ways to ensure continual (and reliable) development, service, and growth; the Bisq DAO enables this to happen by distributing trading fees to all contributors in a totally decentralized way.

The Bisq DAO and BSQ token enable a funding and governance mechanism that is not possible with plain bitcoin. We highly recommend you check our documentation and video series to learn more.

Is Bisq using a token because it needs money? What's the issuance schedule for the token?

Bisq already earns revenue from trading fees. It's not launching this DAO and BSQ token for earning revenue—it's doing it to distribute the revenue it already earns to more people without any central points of control.

BSQ tokens are issued every time a contributor's compensation request is approved through voting, and the tokens are destroyed every time a trader uses BSQ to pay trading fees.

BSQ issuance is not a 1-time event, and its purpose is not to raise capital. You can see a walk-through of the BSQ issuance process in this video series.


If I don’t have any bitcoin, how can I obtain some to pay the security deposit and mining fees for my first trade?

Bitcoin security deposits are necessary to protect Bisq traders from fraud and abuse.

Security deposits are set to be a percentage of the trade amount—actual percent varies by BTC price volatility, but minimum is 0.006 BTC—but the percent can be adjusted by the offer maker to be as low as 15% or as high as 50%.

The security deposit percentage set by the offer maker applies to both the buyer and the seller.

We realize this requirement may be a barrier for bitcoin beginners, and have listed some ideas on how to get your first bitcoin on the wiki.

Can Bisq support XYZ payment method?

Bisq already supports a wide range of payment methods for national currencies, but the two major requirements for new ones are:

  • chargebacks are unlikely
  • mediators and arbitrators can view evidence of the transaction

National bank transfers are supported in every country.

You can suggest a new payment method in the growth repository on GitHub.

What happens in case of software bugs?

If you encounter a bug during a trade, try opening a dispute with a mediator. If that isn't possible, you can reach out in the #support channel on Keybase.

What is a multisignature address?

"Multisig", as it's called, is built into Bitcoin as a simple version of a smart contract. A multisig address is generated with multiple public keys and a specification of how many of those keys must sign to release funds.

Bisq uses 2-of-2 multisig addresses. This means two public keys are used to create the payment address (those of both traders), and any transactions from the address must be signed by both parties (e.g, for trading funds to be released).

In case of a dispute, mediators and/or arbitrators examine the situation and suggest payouts both traders can approve. See this wiki article for more on how Bisq handles disputes.

I have a question that isn’t covered here…?

Feel free to reach out on Keybase or any other channel.