Report: Most of the Top Exchanges Are Faking Their Volume
Being one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges means having the power to decide which tokens receive liquidity, and which ones don’t. Every ICO is forced to either hold onto illiquid tokens, or work with an exchange that will list the token as a trading pair.
Of course, this means that exchanges can charge enormous sums of money for ICO listings, as any exchange-listed ICO immediately becomes more valuable to investors due to instant liquidity.
According to research done by the Blockchain Transparency Institute, the average price to list a token on an exchange is over $50,000.
This wouldn’t typically be a problem, as it’s a consensual agreement between exchanges and ICOs. But what does it mean when exchanges fake their volume in order to command five and six-figure listing fees?
The Blockchain Transparency Institute report notes that among the top 25 exchanges listed on CoinMarketCap, only two are not actively engaged in wash trading (creating fake volume for the purposes of appearing more dominant). The other 23 are all wash-trading over 70% of their “trading volume."
In fact, 12 of the top 25 exchanges on CoinMarketCap are estimated to be wash-trading 99% of their volume, according to the same report, which includes the image above.
The total claimed trading volume among top 25 CoinMarketCap exchanges is $2.5 billion per day -- while actual trading volume is only $324 million per day, 87% less than the figure claimed by exchanges. One final note is that Coinbase, arguably one of the most powerful exchanges in the world, didn’t even make CoinMarketCap’s top 25 list due to the rampant wash-trading of other exchanges. Coinbase does not engage in wash trading and is currently ranked 33rd in exchange volume.
Update: Since the publication of this article, the Blockchain Transparency Institute has updated their data. The figure for Liquid is now 100%, as opposed to the 11% in the above screenshot, which was accurate at the time of writing.