In my last series of cryptocurrency related products/services reviews I gave a positive review to the ApeSwap Exchange on the Binance Smart Chain which has continued to be a great exchange and live up to that review.
Today we will be reviewing the ViaBTC mining pool (for multiple cryptocurrencies and not just Bitcoin, lots of harder-to-find alts and that is why I’m using it) and they will not be so fortunate. Let’s jump right into it!
Official Pool URL: https://www.viabtc.com/
Alternative Official Site URL (useful when there’s DNS issues): https://www.viabtc.net/
ViaBTC is a fairly large mining pool that has a fairly comprehensive selection of cryptocurrencies you can mine all in one place. It also includes some hard-to-find alts that only have a handful of pools available if you happen to have an ASIC for one of those coins.
They have mining pools available for the following currencies: BTC, BCH, XEC, BSV, DCR, FCH, LTC, ETH, ETC, ZEC, ZEN, DASH, XMR, CKB, LBC, HNS, RVN, STC.
I am using it as the pool for my Goldshell HS1 Pro and my Goldshell LB1 miners:
Most of these currencies are altcoins that not very many people want to hold (myself included) and are available on very few exchanges making them also difficult to trade/convert. This leads us into the most useful feature of ViaBTC which is converting those altcoins to BTC (or others are also available) for you (manually or automatically) right at the pool level.
Mining Pool Performance
As a pool ViaBTC has functioned very well for both LBRY (LBC) and Handshake (HNS). The reason I switched to it in the first place is some of the other pools were dropping my connection causing the Goldshell miner to get stuck until I rebooted it.
After switching to ViaBTC this problem went away and I haven’t had any performance or connection related issues. The pool has paid out consistently and reliably. This part of ViaBTC seems to be the part they know how to do!
Conversion / Autoconversion
Here is ViaBTC’s “Auto Conversion” section. Despite the name, it has never auto-converted anything for me once. Ever. This is despite it being set to convert “hourly” and the option also being enabled (second to last column on the right).
The minimums for using the “convert” button or “manual” conversion are pretty steep. It is a minimum of 100 HNS and 100 LBC to be able to convert them.
As you can see above I have well above the minimum 100 LBC to manually convert. Despite this and the hourly convert to BTC option enabled it will not convert until I hit the convert button and put in my two factor authentication (2FA) code from Google Authenticator.
The good news is that the auto-withdrawal part of this process does seem to work. I log in and periodically convert my amounts and then I will leave the converted BTC in there and let the automatic nightly withdrawal send it to me (saves on fees, more on that in a moment).
Withdrawals / Autowithdrawals
The fees for manually withdrawing on ViaBTC are outrageous (at least for BTC) but if you let the automatic nightly “batch” withdrawal where a bunch of transactions are all pooled together you seem to pay substantially less in fees and the fees are more reasonable if you let it go to this “nightly” withdrawal.
If you request a manual payout the fees are quite steep. How steep?
Exactly 0.000404 or $17.88 each at time of writing. Ouch.
You may have noticed the warnings plastered everywhere to transfer to CoinEx. I don’t have a CoinEx and if you don’t either then prepare to take it in the shorts on fees (although leaving withdrawals for the nightly withdrawal batch cycle helps but the minimums are steep and take weeks with my tiny little ASIC miners to reach 0.001 BTC).
Do not deposit funds to ViaBTC. Period.
Why? Because if something goes wrong you are going to have to deal with their customer service which is the worst I’ve ever personally encountered in cryptocurrency. I only made two deposits and one of them was lost so that is a 50% loss rate out of 2.
I sent a HNS deposit from Bob to my ViaBTC HNS deposit address. I took these today and my live ViaBTC deposit address is still unchanged from this original transaction:
and my final result:
Only my LBRY (LBC) deposit made it and the HNS one still has not to this day. Don’t do it!
So what is the customer service experience like? Frustrating. It’s all via email. There is no “web portal” for this ticket system outside of a web submit form that also just sends them an email.
Let’s take a look:
This looks like a promising start. I got a prompt reply stating that the transfer was delayed due to a “node upgrade” and that they would keep me informed once it’s been added to my account.
That’s a great response! It’s also literally the last response I would ever get from them.
My follow up question at the end went ignored and is unanswered to this day.
I submitted another ticket referencing the first one and explaining what had happened again and this was the only response I received:
Hmmm, now that’s puzzling. I seem to be getting Chinese characters in the response this time. To the Google Translator!
Ah hah! I doubt most ordinary/sane users would go through the effort of trying to translate a message like this or even realize there actually was a message in there.
Basically they closed my other ticket with no response and merged it into my existing ticket. The same ticket which has had no response for several months now. That’s a lot of HNS node upgrade downtime! It may be time to hire some new crypto engineers if it is taking months to upgrade a HNS node. There’s probably been a dozen more versions since this supposed upgrade.
I opened this ticket today before publishing to see what happens with and will update the article later based on it. I did not wait for their response this time because frankly they already have passed several red lines for me to reach my overall conclusion and recommendation for the service.
Here’s the ticket:
MIME-Version: 1.0 Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2021 17:13:17 -0600 Message-ID: <CAJYQYG1r-0r=V1kbz=M3FGBXL0KHvr9sXY8O8jWak7-uFGsdPg@mail.gmail.com> Subject: HNS Deposit failed From: James Chambers <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="000000000000f02ee305c82303a4" --000000000000f02ee305c82303a4 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8" This is regarding tickets 315125 and 328710. My second ticket was closed without any explanation. HNS hasn't shown up for
hoursmonths. It was sent to hs1qajm8zpz52rtz575yz2nma54920vwdzsxq8ttql in transaction df9ba5f47d45b9ad1f7f5016c0ae91a7d55448ef6c2d155d58317f6bb5e71e3e. The money was swept immediately and was never deposited into the account. Can someone help with this further please? Thanks, James Chambers
Honestly what is the point of having a ticketing system like this? ViaBTC is wasting their money on that ZenDesk ticketing system (if it’s even a legal copy, it appears to have been gutted, user-accessible pages 404 if you try to tweak the URL and get to a frontend or sometimes take you to a broken CoinEx helpdesk link which I assume is what is really powering this not-very-fancy web submit form behind the scenes) and it has literally zero value to end users.
It also doesn’t appear to be valuable to their team either and is not helping get these issues resolved. If anything it’s giving them a false sense of security that things aren’t “slipping through the cracks” when I can personally assure them they very much are in ways that are stunningly incompetent to the point of it being called into question why they have a ticketing system at all. This is nothing more than an “email only” system where they ignore your emails just like any other place with terrible support. Don’t be fooled by them having a “ticketing system”. They essentially don’t, or they may just as well not have one in practice if you want to be charitable because it doesn’t lead to better/acceptable outcomes.
If you are going to use this service it is best to use it as a service you don’t trust. Here’s some safety tips:
- Never send the service money, only receive from it
- Immediately convert/withdraw your mining earnings when they hit the automatic amount (using the nightly batch automatic withdrawal to not get killed on fees but minimums are high so depending on your miners you may have to wait weeks to hit the minimums)
- Use a different service unless you really need the hard-to-find coins on here, and even then probably use a different service
The service seems to work fine unless something goes wrong. The customer service is absolutely embarrassing here. The frontend portal for the ticketing system isn’t user accessible and only takes you to a submit ticket form.
They don’t seem to be scammers, just deeply incompetent. I’m guessing they will return my deposit eventually but after 2 months of a lost deposit the CEO should have personally reimbursed my account to clean this up at this point. That has not happened yet though (I’ll update if/when it does) so maybe I’m still being too charitable here. It is deeply embarrassing that they couldn’t have manually fixed it by hand in all this time. It also appears that it won’t be addressed any time soon (maybe ever) unless this post attracts their attention.
I made my documented best efforts here to contact them to correct this before this went up because you only get about 5% partial credit for fixing it once you get called out and you can’t “fix” the experience at this point no matter what the response is. I also get the sense that only people complaining on social media get help and that is a reprehensible support model. You shouldn’t need a loud voice to get help.
It boils down to this: are you cool with them losing your money for 2+ months? This was a small HNS deposit luckily but I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to send any serious amount of money to this clown show and have this experience.
If any of you have had similar experiences let me know in the comments!
Pairing with CoinEx makes ViaBTC a lot better. Make sure you check out my Best Altcoin Mining Pools / Exchanges where I explain this. CoinEx pairing solves most of the issues I had here outside of my deposit issue.
Wondering if you still use viaBTC or have any alternatives, as yourself I have some lbc and hns miners, I don’t really want to hold a large quantity of those coins so I would rather swap for btc and take the money to my btc wallet. I did this and just saw their huge withdrawal fees (it’s more than the btc I have! lol). Have you found a similar exchange+pool that let’s you withdraw on btc? You mentioned CoinEx, that helps in getting the money to CoinEx for free I assume, but what if you want to take the money to another exchange or another wallet, does that have a big fee on CoinEx? Thanks!
I’m actually working on an upcoming article about this very topic! So to answer your question in a straightforward way yes I do still use it. I actually have the same goals as you. I convert all my altcoin minings to BTC every single day.
So for the ViaBTC part if you sign up for CoinEx it gives you free automatic withdrawals every 24 hours but *only* to CoinEx. This solved one of the main negative problems which was the high fees and high minimums to withdraw. It’s better than even the 24 hour withdrawal for normal addresses because although those have lower fees they aren’t essentially free like the CoinEx transfer.
You can also do free transfers at any point without waiting for the 24 hour withdrawals if you are willing to enter your 2FA codes (they’ll even let you do this with dust, it’s free with basically no minimums). Basically ViaBTC’s user experience can be improved a ton by using CoinEx.
CoinEx is KYC compliant for the US and other countries with similar laws so this was a big selling point for me. I owed federal and state taxes for 2021 this year due to crypto earnings but it’s really a lot of peace of mind to use a compliant exchange for these types of activities so I know I won’t end up in trouble.
Now let’s talk about the fees for CoinEx. All things considered they’re pretty reasonable. The withdrawal fee is 0.0001 BTC for Bitcoin. That’s about $4.30 at time of writing so the fees really don’t slow me down from moving even straight BTC between exchanges. I often send mine to CashApp because they let me instantly sell it and they will wire the money to my bank account (it will hit my bank account literally 2 minutes after selling if you pay the usually between $5-9 wire transfer fee or you can wait for a normal transfer and it’s free). I move it every few days because that is a minimal fee for my modest farm at least. Binance as a comparison charges a 0.0005 BTC fee so that is literally 5 times as expensive just to put things in context a little bit.
I wanted to mention one more place as well. That is dxpool. This is where I mine Kadena (KDA), Starcoin (STC) and Siacoin (SC) as well as a few other alts that ViaBTC either doesn’t have or will only let you mine with PPLNS. On ViaBTC I’m doing BTC, LTC/DOGE, LBC, ETH (yes I even mine my Eth on it these days because ETH fees are horrible so the free CoinEx fee thing has saved me a fortune especially on ETH), CKB, HNS and ZEC.
dxpool also does the daily 24 hour withdrawals and no CoinEx is required for this one. It does have a few minimums to trigger the 24 hour withdrawal but this has been a 100% reliable pool for me as well. I actually have dxpool send them all to my CoinEx as well but just using the traditional autowithdrawal addresses. At the end of the day at around 8:30pm my time when all of these settle I log into CoinEx and will trade everything at market to BTC basically.
And that is pretty much my entire setup to cover a very wide range of altcoin ASIC mining. It all goes into CoinEx now through ViaBTC and dxpool’s daily withdrawals and I exchange it all in one place for pretty much the cheapest I’ve seen at a legal western-friendly exchange.
Hopefully that answers your question but if you want to pick my brain anymore on what I’ve experienced I can definitely tell you anything else I’ve ran into as well!
Switched to viaBTC so I could use the “watcher” URL feature to monitor client machines. By referring my clients I get a small chunk of their mining (20% of the fees) and the ability to troubleshoot and monitor without the client acting as intermediary. This is very useful. The second thing is their lower Automated withdrawal limits (about a tenth of slush pool). But, we did have an issue where suddenly PPLNS payouts just halted. I’m guessing some backend system that calculated rewards went down. I sent in a ticket and contacted them on Telegram and it was fixed in a day. However, the ticket system is terrible, about that you are correct. The telegram channel is also very poorly managed, full of scammers. Their PPLNS payout for BTC is low fee (2%) and their referral program is decent. They also have lower variance because of the size of the pool. But yes, generally, they have a LONG way to go to reach the solidity of slush pool.
Thanks for chiming in with this! I’ve been meaning to write a follow up article to this and it is on my to-do list. I was able to make it a significantly better experience by actually signing up for CoinEx (which is even legal and KYC for the United States).
The ticket system is *unbelievable*. I actually got an update on my ticket back in July of 2021:
Support Team (ViaBTC)
Jul 29, 2021, 15:42 GMT+8
Unapprove | ￼Reply | ￼Quick Edit | E
Thank you for contacting ViaBTC Support.
We are sorry for the inconvenience.
This unsuccessful HNS deposit issue is still being carefully investigated and we will keep you updated as quickly as possible.
Via Bitcoin, Making the World A Better Place
Wow, that has been a really, really long time now. That was something like a month and a half or two months after I originally submitted the ticket. I’ve never heard from them since.
I honestly have no doubt that my ticket is still open and they’re still investigating it. I was almost impressed by their follow up contact months after the fact that the ticket wasn’t just deleted or something. They’ll probably even fix it eventually.
I just can’t imagine if you tried to send a significant amount of BTC or some other coin, like thousands and thousands of dollars and had this happen. They’re going to do a 8 month to a year long investigation for that? How hard can it be? What if someone needs that money?
I didn’t try the referral program for this post. I will do it (and should have done it from your report) in the updated post using it with CoinEx. The thing that is great about pairing CoinEx with it is that at any time you can do a completely free (zero fees) transfer to your CoinEx account from ViaBTC with no minimums (you can do it with practically any amount). You don’t even have to wait for the daily payout if you want the money now. The lack of fees have *really* improved how I feel about using it. My autoconvert has been working on a few currencies as well (it has been working on my Eth and sometimes my CKB although it’s hard to mine enough $$ worth of that these days to trigger it) but not a lot of the altcoins that ViaBTC has that others don’t have.
CoinEx supports every coin I do as well which is almost impossible to find for the US (even Binance US kind of sucks on their coin selection and has a fraction of the ones Binance.com has). I even send my Helium / Kadena deposits there to exchange (KDA is one of the few ViaBTC doesn’t seem to have, I mine that with dxpool).
Basically I have never sent a deposit to ViaBTC since my incident and once I finally did try CoinEx and get rid of any fees / minimum withdrawal annoyances it has been working pretty well for me. That’s why I wanted to write a follow-up since I looked at this article and thought “that doesn’t really reflect where I am at with it having CoinEx paired with it”. Definitely I would still not recommend sending a deposit there. Treat ViaBTC as something to pull things out from and not send things in! From your experience if you avoid stuck deposits it sounds like tickets may get resolved in a reasonable timeframe.
Thanks for letting me know your experience! Mine is probably unusual because someone is going to have to sort through all the deposits, figure out what went wrong, who knows. It might even be scheduled for a developer or high level technical expert that is way too overloaded / has way too many tickets to investigate. I think the new article (or maybe I’ll update this one) would be (ViaBTC w/ CoinEx Review: Mixed) instead of outright negative.
It’s hard for me to rate them above that knowing that if someone reads it and then sends a significant deposit and it gets stuck they are screwed. I originally tried depositing because I had a bunch of coins that were really hard to exchange at the time and was going to let ViaBTC convert them for me as that was the easiest option. It worked for the most part (I converted my LBC successfully and only HNS got stuck). I could see others doing this as well. I am still using the pool and with CoinEx been having pretty good results. I think it’s worth using with that caveat.
Take care and best of luck!