Monitoring the liquidity and quality of cryptocurrency exchanges

Independent initiatives that analyze crypto exchanges liquidity and quality

Volume is flawed metric of crypto exchanges liquidity. Because of wash trading practices of many crypto exchanges as well as token issuers, using trading volume as a basis of comparison is misleading. Many exchanges have problems attracting professional market makers and are trying to make shortcuts on the way to attract retail investors. Moreover attracting professional investors requires investments in crypto exchanges system development with stable and performant APIs so they could connect their algorithmic trading systems.]

There are more and more independent initiatives that are taking a closer look at what constitutes a high quality crypto exchange. Three major ones are Blockchain Transparency Institute, CryptoCompare Benchmark and Cointelligence Report. I also take a quick look at the Bitwise report for SEC from March 2019.

 

Read more about our tool for measuring crypto exchange quality – Liquidity Analytics Dashboard

 

Blockchain Transparency Institute

BTI concentrates on analyzing crypto exchanges data feeds to spot wash trading mechanisms and provide the real volume metric which is cleaned out of suspicious activities.

BTI identified 17 of the CoinMarketCap Top 25 crypto exchanges to be over 99% wash traded. This one number alone shows the magnitude of the problem, as well as how volume is a false measure.

According to BTI Report crypto exchanges which are faking their volumes use a variety of different tactics to try and swindle investors. These tactics include buying twitter followers and likes, filling up fake order books, mirror wash trading the largest exchanges with real volume, and trying to disguise their wash trading using various bot settings to not affect price. On many of these exchanges trading high volumes closing the spread would make the volume plummet as the trading bots had no room to wash trade with themselves. Welcome to the wild wild west of no regulation and surveillance.

BTI finds that “all crypto exchanges combined are currently reporting around $50 Billion in daily volume on CMC. After removing all the wash traded volume via our algorithms the accurate number is around $4-5 Billion. About 88-92% of daily trading volume is fabricated depending on the day. Bitcoin’s daily trading volume is about 92% fabricated, which is in line with the space as a whole when comparing our findings to top data sites reporting wash traded volumes.” 

And further “On our list of the top 40 largest exchanges with actual volume, Bitcoin’s volume is about 65% fabricated. Almost all of this fabricated volume comes from OKEx, Bibox, HitBTC, and Huobi. Of the top 25 tokens by market cap, Tron and Ethereum Classic are the highest wash traded tokens on our list at 85% fake volume each and coming in at #24 and #25 of the most wash traded tokens.”

Top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges according to real (not wash traded) volume by BTI

  1. Binance 
  2. Kucoin
  3. Liquid
  4. Huobi
  5. Coinbase
  6. OKEx
  7. Bitfinex
  8. Upbit
  9. Kraken
  10. Bitstamp

CryptoCompare

CryptoCompare’s Exchange Ranking methodology utilises a combination of 34 qualitative and quantitative metrics to assign a grade to over 100 active crypto exchanges. Metrics were categorised into several buckets ensuring that no one metric overly influences the overall exchange ranking. Each crypto exchange grade is derived from a broad due diligence check using qualitative data, followed by a market quality analysis that uses a combination of order book and transactional data.

Due diligence check comprises of 6 main categories that attempt to qualitatively rate each exchange on the basis of:

  • Geography
  • Legal and regulatory metrics
  • Calibre of investment
  • Team and company quality
  • Quality of data provision
  • Trade surveillance

Although at Empirica we believe in numbers, I like the qualitative approach, as it’s also possible to prove a correlation of metric like number of employees and business size of the exchange, therefore proving this way it’s quality. 

Another important factor is Market Quality. Crypto compare measures the market quality of each exchange using a combination of 5 metrics (derived from trade and order book data) that aim to measure the:

  • Cost to trade, 
  • Liquidity, 
  • Market stability, 
  • Behaviour towards sentiment
  • “Natural” trading behaviour

Exchanges were rated based on a combination of 9 of the most liquid BTC and ETH markets.

It’s worth taking a closer look how CryptoCompare report approaches Spread and Liquidity metrics:

“Generally, those exchanges which offer incentives to provide liquidity through either low or negative maker fees will achieve the tightest spreads. Due to the spread being calculated using the best bid and offer, it is misleading to use it as a sole gauge of liquidity and therefore as the market cost to trade; it must be used in conjunction with a depth

measurement to find the likely transaction price for any given size of transaction.”

 

Good point. And liquidity:

“Market depth is the total volume of orders in the order book. It provides an idea of how much it is possible to trade on crypto exchange, and how much the price is likely to move if large amounts are traded. An exchange with greater average depth is likely to be more stable (i.e flash crashes are much less likely) and allows trading of greater amounts at better prices.

We consider the depth up to 1% either side of the mid price. 

Depth = E(depthUp+depthDown)/2

Where depthUp is the total volume that would be required to move the price by 1% upwards from the mid price, and

depthDown is the total volume that would be required to move the price by 1% downwards from the mid price.”

 

Top 10 crypto exchanges according CryptoCompare quality benchmark:

  1. Coinbase 
  2. Poloniex 
  3. Bitstamp 
  4. bitFlyer 
  5. Liquid
  6.  itBit 
  7. Kraken 
  8. Binance 
  9. Gemini 
  10. Bithumb 

 

Cointelligence Rating System

Cointelligence is the most qualitative rating of crypto exchanges from the above. The methodology of the team was to manaully open accounts on all analyzed crypto exchanges and check from the user perspective the core aspects of beeing an exchange customer. The aspects cover:

Usability – covers KYC process, the quality of exchange website, extent of features and how easy it is to get a human answer from support staff. 

Performance – functionalities and historical robustness of exchange matching engine, fees height, trading instruments like futures contracts and margin trading.

Team – analysis of the available information about management team behind the crypto exchange, especially business and technical experience of C-level staff, including person responsible for exchange’s security

Risk – information on past hacks, insurance status, account security layers but also regulatory status of cryptocurrency exchange. Based on the geographical location of the exchange headquarters and registration any potential run-ins with the local law or any sign of authorities involvement.

 

This way Contelligence analyzed 85 crypto exchanges, but only 15 is rated with good quality mark, lead by Liquid and Gemini. 

Top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges by Cointelligence by qualitative criteria 

  1. Liquid (Quoine)
  2. Gemini
  3. Binance
  4. Bitstamp
  5. Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange
  6. OKEx
  7. Bittrex
  8. itBit
  9. Kraken
  10. ABCC

Bitwise report for SEC

Bitwise analysis is based on detecting wash trading patterns in public marked data published by crypto exchanges. Out of 81 exchanges they have analyzed in March 2019 only 10 were identified as be free of wash trading practices. These exchanges are:

  1. Binance
  2. Bitfinex
  3. Kraken
  4. Bitstamp
  5. Coinbase
  6. bitFlyer
  7. Gemini
  8. itBit
  9. Bitrex
  10. Poloniex

Bitwise identified that only 4,5% (about $275M daily) of officially reported volume (eg by the public sources like coinmarketcap) is the actual volume. The rest is wash traded.

The Bitcoin market is more orderly and efficient than is commonly understood. The 10 exchanges trade as a uniform, highly connected market. They form a singular price. Average deviations from the aggregate price for the ten exchanges is well within the expected arbitrage band when you account for exchange-level fees (~30 basis points), volatility and hedging costs. Arbitrage is operating well. Sustained deviations (defined as deviations >1% that last more than 100 seconds) appear as single white lines on the graph below. The graph demonstrates that the ten exchanges trade at a single unified price.

So although the message about the amount of wash traded volume is alarming, the report shows that the real crypto market is quite concentrated, ordered, efficient and well performing. The rest is just noise.

 

 

Read more about our tool for measuring crypto exchange quality – Liquidity Analytics Dashboard

 

 

3Commas – A technical review

As we know, over the past several years, we have witnessed a real computer revolution. We have practically all available solutions replacing us with computers. These are already such advanced technologies that are already able to make a decision for us, and what’s more, they do it faster and more efficiently than man. It is particularly visible in trading, where several years ago all decisions were made by man. Now Traders are equipped in computer programs who are able to do all the work. However, the market is flooding with information on how many new programmes have been hiring by financial institutions recently. But what about us with retail traders? How should we deal with this situation? It remains for us either programming learning or uses trading bots (free/paid) from the Internet. There are really many of them when you looking for information on the web. That’s why I decided to check 3Commas in this short article. One of many users and additionally paid TradingBots. Let’s have a look at one of them – 3Commas. They were started in 2014, there are over 120,000 users currently being served with transaction volume in the tune of $60 million being handled every day, supported 23 exchanges- data from 3Commas website. You can trade on all exchanges from one single interface from 3commas’ window. Up to date, they support Bittrex, Bitfinex, Binance, KuCoin and Poloniex, Bitstamp, HitBTC, Cex, GDAX, OKEX, Huobi, YOBIT.

 

How well do 3commas trading bots work?

 

On the website, we can read that: “3commas is a cryptocurrency trading bot that provides a wide range of tools and services for users to choose from. It performs real-time market analysis using powerful algorithms for getting you the best trades possible”. Sounds interesting? Is this the right place to find a solution for retail traders? 3Commas offer a few types of trading bots: Simple, Composite, Short, Composite short. You can choose which one you want it depends on your individual approach to the market. At the moment available is almost 90 trading bots. Does quantity mean quality?       

Browsing information about bots, I wonder why the best strategies work only 30 days. How to trust this kind of bots with short history (just 30 days history)? How do I find out how it behaves with high market volatility? I don’t know. I couldn’t find this kind of information on the 3Commas website. For institutional investors or professional retail investors, this kind of question is fundamental. If you invest money you should know how much you can earn at what possibility of loss. That’s why it’s better for your wallet, to wait for a strategy with a long history to know what to expect.

Can I make a profit on real market with 3Commas?

 

Let’s see, how 3commas trading bots work. As a retail trader, I would like to try one of these 90 strategies. I choose for my example one “Simple Long Strategy” and I opened Paper Account. Pairs: USD_BTC, USDT_LINK, USD_LTC. Target profit 5%. On 3Commas website we can read the short description: “Simple Long Strategy gives you the possibility to make price increases”- information from 3Commas website. It looks simple to buy a lower price and sell higher price. The bot opens new deal according to one of the conditions that are available for selection during the creation. After that, it immediately puts a coin for sale. If the price rises and the order gets filled, the profit goal is achieved. In case of a price fall, the bot places safety orders below the purchase price every X%. Every filled safety order is averaging the buy price, and it makes possible to move the TakeProfit target lower and close the deal without losing profits in the first price bounce. 

My strategy has been worked for 14 days. Completed 15 orders and give me $0.16 profit ($10.000 balance). Strategy performance results and statistics below.  

3comma trading list

3comma statistics technical review

 

3 comma trading view technical review

 

Whether the profit is big or small I leave the answer to you. The rate of return is positive (+0,16$), therefore we should be satisfied (really  ?). My “New Bot” did not lose money. Of course, everything was happening on the real market but money was virtual. You should also know that is possible to change strategies parameters at any time and can adapt it to your current needs but I did not do that because left my 100% decisions to the bot. 

The main purpose of trading bots is to automate things which are either too complex, time-consuming, or difficult for users to carry out manually. Good trading bots can save a trader time and money by collecting data faster, placing orders faster and calculating next moves faster. In my case, I just set the parameters and Trading Bot did the rest but is it enough to tell that the strategy is good? Please rate it yourself.  Meanwhile on the market situation looks very interesting for my example (charts below). The market moved up, how I expected. As you can see from the charts below I could earn more money in this period of time. 

3comma trading review

3comma tradingview

You also need to know that 3Commas is not for free. They have four subscription plans: Junior from €0 (your total balance across all accounts is $750 and no bots), Starter €24 (without limits for trading, no bots), Advanced €41 (Simple bots), Pro €84 (Simple, Composite Bots). The interesting thing is that you don’t know how much you can earn but you immediately know how much you have to pay!! Profits are potential but costs are fixed.

How safe is 3Commas?

3Commas don’t go into too many details regarding the security protocols that they choose to employ, however, it’s worth remembering that you don’t actually hold any funds on the platform and your trading bots are not able to make withdrawals from your linked accounts.

Similar to other trading bot platforms, your trading bots connect with your exchange accounts via API and then proceed to carry out automated trades on your linked exchanges. While this process takes place, users aren’t required to make any cash/crypto transfers to external accounts and simply need to provide their API keys which are generated by their exchanges.

These keys provide the trading bots with restricted access to user accounts strictly to conduct trades and do not grant the bots with any withdrawal rights. This also means that if your account becomes compromised, and some hackers were able to gain control of your trading activity, they still wouldn’t be able to directly access your exchange accounts in order to make withdrawals. However, the standard personal security rules of crypto still apply, as they could still have a detrimental effect on the funds held in your exchange accounts. Hackers have been known to obtain API access to exchange accounts, and commander the bots to purchase high quantities of low-value coins that the hackers have already previously purchased. After artificially inflating both the demand and price of said coins, the hackers then sell off their personal holdings for a profit, leaving the compromised account owners holding funds in the low-value coins.

 

3Commas has made a positive impression. It is also worth mentioning about Key Features:

  1. Technology – Automated trading takes place via API integration with cryptocurrency exchanges and the bot works around the clock with any device and users can access their trading dashboard on desktop and laptop computers. The team have also developed mobile apps for both Android and iOS
  2. Tools – The platform provides a good range of trading tools and in addition to the automated bots and performance analytics, users are able to create, analyze and back-test crypto portfolios and monitor the best performing portfolios created by other users. In addition, users can engage in social trading and follow and copy the actions of other successful traders.
  3. Functionality- 3Commas utilises a web-based platform, and features an easy to use and intuitive user interface that includes a wide range of functions and detailed analytics. Users can make use of short, simple, composite, and composite short bots, and set stop loss and take profit targets, as well as customise their own trading strategies.

Strong points of 3 Commas Bot Platform

  1. Emotionless, fact-based trades make sure that decisions taken are taken entirely based on the ideal conditions with little room for doubt, instinct, and human error. This reduces the intensity of the decision-making process and helps to take logical and high-profit decisions.
  2. Good exchange connections.
  3. The Smart Trading option that makes use of ‘trailing take profit’ keeps the user away from a loss when trading. Since it is designed to stay in the loop and adapt itself to the market, it is an intelligent solution to make as much as possible with a trade.
  4. Easy to set up for beginners, making sure that newcomers can navigate the 3Commas bot and make trades without any hassles.
  5. A well-laid-out dashboard and visualization of data allow the users to keep track of everything that is happening while boosting their appeal and ease of use.
  6. The free access offers a great trial so that users can make full use of the platform.
  7. A large number of exchange offers a wide array of information centres, making sure that your decision is well thought out with multiple inputs.
  8. The fact that users can refer and copy portfolios of successful traders.

Weak points of 3 Commas Bot Platform

  1. Security protocols are not explained with great clarity, raising concerns about whether the trades are truly secure. Users can, of course, enable the 2-factor verification for additional security, but the fact that not much is said about it leaves room for concern.
  2. The plans change regularly and might prove to be a bit confusing to say the least with 3Comms’ paid plans, commission plans, and a mix of both.
  3. The balance has to be filled up for commission, which may be a hindrance for many users.

Using trading bots for trading makes life easier. It can save traders a lot of time but will give it earn real money? Popular trading bots available to individual investors (regardless of whether paid or free) have one basic problem, namely the speed of response to changing market conditions, as well as the speed of placing and sending orders. This is not their strength. You will not find any information about latency, what is the maximum number of orders that can be sent  per second. Using low latancy software will give you advantage on the market over retail bot users. Therefore, institutional investors have an edge on the market.

But retail bots are good place to start education on how automation on the markets can work. 

Introduction to Liquidity Metrics

This paper offers a summary of indicators which may be used to demonstrate and examine liquidity developments in financial markets. These measures are employed in foreign markets, currency, and capital markets to exemplify their usefulness. Lots of measures have to be considered since there isn’t any single theoretically appropriate and approved measure to ascertain a market’s level of liquidity and since market-specific variables and peculiarities have to be considered.

 

Read more about our tool for monitoring crypto exchange liquidity with Liquidity Analytics Dashboard

 

Liquid markets are perceived as desired due to the advantages they supply, such as allocation and data efficiency. The advantage might not be accurate for investors jointly. As Keynes noted (1936, p. 160):”For the simple fact that every individual investor selects himself that his devotion is”liquid” (although this cannot be accurate for many investors jointly ) calms his nerves and leaves him much more prepared to conduct a threat.” Consequently, recent crises in financial markets, particularly, have sparked research about the way to gauge the condition of market liquidity and to better forecast and protect against liquidity crises.

 

This paper has two functions. It offers a summary of numerous distinct theories associated with liquid financial markets.

 

Analysts motivated this job. Like Borio (2000), who reports that at the run-up to financial disasters, markets frequently seem unnaturally liquid, but through times of anxiety, liquidity will vanish.

 

Market participants comprehend a financial advantage liquid, should they can sell considerable quantities of the advantage without impacting its price. Liquid financial assets are characterized by having trade costs; simple timely and trading payoff; and trades with limited effect on the market price. The significance of a few of the qualities of liquid markets can alter over time. During times of equilibrium, for example, the perception of the asset’s liquidity could reflect trade costs. During times of anxiety and principles that are changing, instantaneous price detection and adjustment to a new balance becomes more significant.

 

Liquid markets often display five attributes:

  • tightness
  • immediacy
  • depth
  • breadth
  • resiliency

 

Tightness refers to trade costs, like the gap between buy and sell prices, such as the bid-ask spreads in markets, as well as costs. Immediacy signifies the rate with which orders could be implemented and, within this context too, settled, and consequently reflects, among other items, the efficacy of their trading, clearing, and settlement systems. Breadth implies that orders are big and numerous in bulk with minimal effect on prices. Resiliency is a feature of markets in which orders flow to fix order imbalances, which are inclined to move prices away from what fundamentals warrant. Depth refers to the existence of abundant orders, either actual or easily uncovered of potential buyers and sellers, both above and below the price at which a security now trades. 

 

These conditions reflect various measurements of the degree to which an asset immediately and with no costs can be changed into legal tender.

 

In these conditions are to some degree overlapping. The majority of the available data do not correspond with those measurements, which disrupts their measurement. A variety of aspects have to be considered, because they influence the measurements of liquidity. They vary in the microstructure of this market, the bank’s implementation of its policy.

 

Knowing the microstructure of this market is crucial, when proxies, such as bid-ask spreads and turnover ratios, are utilized as liquidity signs. A market may be a platform which enables sellers and buyers to interact, a physical place. Professors have a world in your mind using a Walrasian auctioneer performing a price tätonnement procedure ensuring trading in market clearing prices. In summary, prices are a statistic. In the professional’s world, however, trading can occur in a variety of platforms (as an example, trader or auction markets) in non market clearing prices due to factors like market illiquidity.

 

It is contended that traders offer liquidity, because they offer a market. But because traders usually attempt to square their positions maintain a predetermined structural position prior to the close of the day they just “supply” liquidity by taking stock positions provided that they presume sellers and buyers will continue to emerge. In an auction market, sellers and prospective buyers distribute orders, and a digital system or agents will suit them. Auction markets are order or price could be continuous if there are trades and driven. Market intermediaries in auction systems can additionally take stock rankings in order to ease liquidity (e.g., so-called experts in broadly traded securities). Trading systems make it possible for participants to submit limit-orders, which enhance the liquidity. The intermediaries having access to the trading strategies can cover their costs by charging a commission or else they quote ask and bid prices to be paid by the sellers and buyers.

 

A distinction is made between the market, in which problems are offered, and also the market, where individuals who’ve Purchased the problems at the market can resell them. The market consequently provides liquidity.

 

It’s very important to comprehend the reporting demands of trades in markets prior to trading volumes may be utilized as a liquidity index.

 

An advantage is liquid if it can be converted to legal tender, which each definition is liquid. Some financial statements, such as require deposits, are almost perfectly liquid–provided that the credit institution is liquid as they may be converted without cost or delay to cash during regular conditions, while the conversion of different claims to legal tender can involve agents’ commissions, settlement delays, etc.. The emphasis is on trade costs and immediacy. It’s regarding the ease by which, in the lack of info changing an asset’s fundamental price quantities of this asset could be disposed of quickly at a sensible price.

 

A financial market’s liquidity is dependent upon the substitutability among the assets traded in a market, and the way liquid every one of those assets are. Whether there are issuers in the bond markets and equities markets, credit risk could protect against substitutability and result in segmentation of this market. Regardless of having the exact same issuer, human assets might nevertheless have distinct attributes, for example different maturities on the market for government securities, distinct voting rights for preference stocks, etc.. This aggregation problem leaves difficult an effort to employ measures with the goal of measuring a market’s liquidity.

 

This paper explains measures to judge an asset’s market liquidity with a view to evaluate whether a financial market, or in minimum a few of its sections, can be distinguished as liquid.

 

Our next article will classify liquidity measures in line with this size they greatest measure. Additionally, it discusses factors that might impact capability and their interpretation to catch a specified facet of liquidity. Issues related to assemble the measures will be also discussed. Section Ill uses the liquidity measures to the market, currency, and capital markets of a group of nations. Section IV lists a few of the qualitative aspects that are important to look at when assessing the liquidity measures across markets and states. Section V notes liquidity measures during times of stress may vary.

About empirica

We are trading software company focused on developing the potential that cryptocurrencies bring to financial markets. Empirica is offering algorithmic trading tools used by professional investors and solutions for cryptocurrency liquidityRobo Advisory softwarecrypto trading bots and trading software development services for companies from capital and cryptocurrency markets.