How Coinmarketcap Incentivizes Exchanges to Report Fake Volume
Bitforex, a cryptocurrency exchange that scarcely scraped the top 100 by trading volume until recently, has been accused of generating false trades on a mammoth scale. Crypto Exchange Ranks, which pulls in open source data from exchange APIs, has published a report in which it accuses Bitforex of creating fake volume and Coinmarketcap (CMC) of being complicit in the scam.
Bitforex, Coinmarketcap and the Case of the Fake Volume
Fake trading volume, defined as buy and sell orders designed to artificially create the impression of demand, are a running motif in the cryptocurrency world. For as long as anyone can remember, various exchanges have been accused of wash trading and inflating their volume. It’s the equivalent of a half-empty airliner placing its passengers in window seats to give the impression that the plane is full. Creating fake volume may sound like a relatively minor transgression, but it can have major ramifications for traders.
“Cooking the books” by falsifying activity lures traders into signing up for an exchange that may be untrustworthy, insecure, and far less liquid than it looks. Any exchange that is willing to create false volume may have few qualms about committing more egregious crimes against its users. Until recently, Bitforex was a little-known exchange, languishing around 70th in the world by trade volume. It now stands at 12th according to data provided by Coinmarketcap, with 24-hour volume of $227 million.
Crypto Exchange Ranks calls out Bitforex
In a detailed and compelling blog post, Crypto Exchange Ranks outlines its case for Bitforex having generated fake volume. Aside from the fact that Bitforex’ trade volume has multiplied by almost 100x in recent weeks, and now stands at more than 10x that of established exchanges like Kraken and Kucoin, there’s its modest social media presence that includes less than 2,000 Twitter followers. The Singapore-based exchange does have 65,000 Telegram followers, but much of this can be attributed to the usual spate of bots coupled with airdrop token chasers.
Bitforex claims in its Twitter bio to be licensed in the EU, but there is no evidence to support this; in fact its website states that the platform is licensed in the Seychelles and Philippines. The site also includes such bold claims as having 1.8 million users, to be attracting 15,000 new users a day, and to have amassed $1.5 billion of trade volume, taking it as high as number five on Coinmarketcap’s exchange rankings.
Crypto Exchange Ranks isn’t buying Bitforex’ claims, writing “We see that the number of UU [unique users] of BitForex is 29K. In turn, Kucoin has 889K unique users. Kraken has 666K unique users. KuCoin’s number of UU is 30 times higher than that of BitForex, Kraken’s number of UU is higher by 23 times.” It concludes:
As we have already discovered through SimilarWeb, the exchange receives the bulk of the new traffic through the referral source — CoinMarketCap; thus, the platform immediately attracts attention. Here’s the explanation: creating and implementing marketing and communication strategies and building a community in an organic way is more expensive than forging trade volumes.
While CMC is unlikely to be abetting Bitforex, in publishing the exchange’s figures without question, it is unwittingly complicit in the deception. Other crypto comparison sites have been less eager to report the sort of inflated figures produced by the likes of Bitforex, regardless of what the data pulled by API might say. With its shoddy web design, poor English, and almost certain fake volume, Bitforex does not inspire confidence. But until Coinmarketcap makes a stand against blatantly falsified volume, exchanges will be incentivized to cheat the system and lure in gullible traders eager to try out the next big platform.
Do you think Bitforex’ trading volume is real? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coinmarketcap, and Bitforex.
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