Global crypto exchange king Binance and the controversial Bitfinex are the only two exchanges in the top 25 not wash trading their Bitcoin trading volumes. This is according to a report by the Blockchain Transparency Institute. The report unearthed massive volume manipulation and misrepresentation on major exchanges including OKEx, CoinBene, HitBTC, Huobi and Bithumb. On OKEx, which ranks 1st currently on CoinMarketCap, only 11 percent of the volume is genuine, the report alleged. Digifinex, Coinbit, CoinBene and Coinsbank had an astonishing 99 percent of the trading volume alleged to be fake.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin has fought back to start the week on shades of green. The currency gained 6.1 percent in the past 24 hours to trade at $3,550. It’s up by $300 from yesterday and has hit $3,550 again for the first time since Thursday last week. The rest of the market also swam in green, with EOS being the biggest gainer in the top 25. EOS gained 23 percent to trade at $2.38 and continue its recovery from its yearly low of $1.72.
Over 80 Percent of BTC Trade Volume Is Wash Traded
In its monthly ‘Exchanges Volume Report‘ for December, the institute delved into the challenge of wash trading for the first time. The results were quite shocking, with half of the top 25 exchanges being found to allegedly wash trade 99 percent of their volume.
For those unfamiliar with the term, wash trading is where traders place a sell order and then proceed to buy the posted order themselves. This creates the illusion that the market is very active and that the crypto in question is in high demand. Wash trading is not limited to cryptos, but in the stock market, it’s severely punished.
Binance and Bitfinex are the 2nd and 9th largest crypto exchanges according to CMC. However, the report alleged that they should be the two largest exchanges as their volume is 100 percent genuine. Binance’s average daily Bitcoin volume was $181 million, with Bitfinex’ being $149 million.
CoinBene reported $222 million to lead the charts, but its actual volume stood at $2 million. OKEx allegedly wash traded 89 percent, with its actual daily Bitcoin trade volume being $19 million. Interestingly, this is less than a third of Coinbase Pro’s volume which stood at $55 million.
Playing into the Skeptics’ Hands
But why inflate the volume by 99 percent, you ask. Well, it turns out that one of the reasons is to rake in fortunes through listing fees. The report alleged that projects paid an average of $50,000 to get listed on exchanges. This is at par with Nasdaq which charges between $50k-$75k to list companies.
And while the exchanges can inflate the volumes as there are no universal crypto laws, this plays right into the skeptics’ hands. The industry has been accused of manipulation for the longest time. This was cited by the SEC as one of the reasons it declined to approve a Bitcoin ETF. Looking at the report, the industry could be even further from getting the ETF approved than we previously thought.