As if the situation regarding online scams, fake ICOs and continuous threats of harsh regulation are not enough, the cryptocurrency market woke up to another story recently—that of fabricating trades.
In a hugely interesting study that will definitely rock the industry even further, Sylvain Ribes has alleged that no less than 93% of trade volumes on cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin (now known as Okex) are false and fabricated.
The amount that is being traded on these exchanges and which is alleged to be false is a staggering $3 billion—a no mean feat when the daily average trading volume of legacy Bitcoin (BTC) is at the moment around $5 billion. If this were to be true then the whole cryptocurrency market would definitely be in considerable turmoil all around. There appear to be massive discrepancies between trading volumes in cryptocurrencies and this data has been gleaned by Ribes from the order books of exchanges such as Okex and Huobi, which offers a clear indication that these may be falsifying their trading volumes.
Sylvain Ribes has indicated that these studies are a clear indication of a “measure how badly market selling $50k USD worth of each cryptocurrency would crash the price.”
However, the discrepancy in the order books is not limited to two exchanges only, according to Ribes. In fact, he observes what he calls “slippage”—or “the percentage change between the observed mid-spread price and the lowest price I had to consent to sell the asset”—on exchanges that are also much more established such as GDAX, Bitfinex, and Kraken as well as Binance. The latter has denied several times that it has been hacked or that there is an operational glitch, leading to the suspicion that there is some kind of manipulation going on. Such spreads are often very high and may give rise to manipulation.
“I found ridiculously massive discrepancies between exchanges. 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%,” Ribes wrote in the Medium post.
Ribes is particularly concerned about Okex, which has a large volume of daily trades—a huge proportion of which are fakes, he said.
“Although those numbers alone prove to me without the shadow of a doubt that a suffocating majority of Okex volume is fake, I had not witnessed first-hand how they implemented it—I thus logged into their platform and had a look at some pairs trading history. And indeed, they fake their volume in a laughingly obvious and artificial way,” Ribes concluded.