Should you belong to multiple barter exchanges? The advice I get has varied greatly depending on who I ask.
If I talk to a broker I have always been told that you should only belong to one exchange. I’ve even been told that some exchanges will kick you out if they find out that you belong to more than one. I have been given two reasons for this: 1) It takes resources (membership fees and time) for you to make good use of an exchange so it is more efficient to belong to just one exchange. 2) Brokers feel like it’s less likely that they will get their agreed commission if you belong to multiple exchanges. The concern is that they will do the work of setting up a deal then you will not necessarily fund the deal through their exchange. Although I like and trust my brokers, I have to admit that these arguements smack of self interest to me.
In speaking to experienced successful traders it appears to me that the majority of them belong to multiple barter exchanges in addition to trading directly. When I’ve asked specifics for which exchanges they recommend to join I have been told the following: 1) Join whatever exchange is most popular in your area (of interest or geography). 2) With regard to national exchanges, join the “big three.” The big three include IMS, ITEX and Dobarter (which is really a collection of independent exchanges). The reasons that these 3 in particular were recommended to me are that IMS has one of the strongest currencies, ITEX is one of the most established exchanges and the Dobarter system has one of the largest member networks.
Personally I think there is great value in having as large a personal barter network as possible because it means that I have greater trading options. I do belong to multiple exchanges as well as do a lot of direct trading. Certainly there is a point of diminishing returns with this and (for example) I have not seen fit at this time for me to personally join all three of the networks I mentioned above. That doesn’t mean I won’t at some time though. I’ve also looked at a regional exchange in my area that is pretty tempting to join. There are additional cash costs so it makes common sense to keep that in mind before you join 50 different exchanges. I should also point out that I am indeed a barter fanatic and put more time into these things that most folks. With that in mind I could see that many traders could get overwhelmed by multiple exchanges.
So…I’m hoping I may have opened up some what of a can of worms here. Please feel free to post back your thoughts in the comments area.