Two-Thirds of Daily Crypto Trade Volume May Be Fake

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crypto tradingTwo-thirds of daily trade volume in cryptocurrency is faked, according to research published this month by the Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI). This translates to $6 billion a day, according to the report. What this likely means is that the exchanges themselves are quickly buying and selling cryptocurrency to give the illusion of high activity on the exchange when, in fact, there may be relatively little.

The advantage of creating this illusion is to make it more attractive for actual cryptocurrency investors to buy on a given exchange, which is how the exchange makes money – from taking a percentage of each transaction. This practice of buying and selling to oneself (or to colluding parties) in an effort to mislead others, is called “wash trading,” and is illegal.

The report states that “over 70% of the CMC top 100 is likely engaging in wash trading by at least 3x their stated volume.” Given that most cryptocurrency exchanges are not regulated, this alleged wash trading may not come as a surprise to many. But if this is accurate, the magnitude of this fake trading is significant. Coinbase and Binance were not suspected to be wash trading, according to the report.    

The exchanges that are considered to be accurate by the report typically have a volume/user to unique visitor ratio of around between 2% and 5%, whereas suspect exchanges ratio ranged from 10% to over 655,000%.

Sylvain Ribes, a Cryptocurrency investor and writer who is cited in the report, wrote in a March 2018 Medium blog post of his surprise between the differences in trading volume among exchanges.

“Where I had expected mild differences between currencies, I found ridiculously massive discrepancies between exchanges,” Ribes wrote. “Not the kind that can be easily hand-waved away (‘oh well, their users must behave differently’), but the kind that can only be explained by some figures being overstated as much as 95%.”  

Last modified: August 27, 2018
Todd Stone

Category: cryptocurrency

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