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Research: Top 25 bitcoin pairs on CoinMarketCap are water washed

Blockchain Transparency Institute, a team of blockchain data researchers, released a report analyzing cryptocurrency exchange data collected from CoinMarketCap’s top 25 bitcoin trading pairs.

Included in this report the website calculated the true volume of the CMC top 25 BTC trading pairs. Most of these pairs actual volume is under 1% of their reported volume on CMC. The report noted only 2 out of the top 25 pairs not to be grossly wash trading their volume, Binance and Bitfinex.

Let’s talk about wash trading

Not a lot of people are aware of what wash trading is. Wash trading is a process whereby a trader buys and sells a security for the express purpose of feeding misleading information to the market.

In some situations, wash trades are executed by a trader and a broker who are colluding with each other, and other times wash trades are executed by investors acting as both the buyer and the seller of the security.

This is considered to be an illegal act in the USA.

More about the data

From the report, it’s not just CoinMarketCap that’s wash trading. Let’s take a look at a few more key stats about other exchanges:

  • Okex found just about all of their top 30 traded tokens to be engaging in wash trading.
  • Huobi was also found to be wash trading many of their top 25 pairs volume numbers, but to a lesser degree than OKEx.
  • HitBTC’s top 25 has shown clear evidence of wash trading as well.
  • Bithumb after numerous reports found a large amount of wash trading primarily with Monero, Dash, Bitcoin Gold, and ZCash.

Based on this data over 80% of the CMC top 25 BTC pairs volume is wash traded. These exchanges continue to use these strategies as a business model to steal money from aspiring token projects.

Other things to note about this data:

  • The average project spent over $50,000 this year in listing fees from exchanges.
  • Only 2 out of the top 25 pairs do not appear to be “grossly wash” trading their volume. They are Binance and Bitfinex
  • There are at least four different bot strategies used to inflate exchange volume numbers.
  • Many of these exchanges exist solely to collect these fees while their bots run their exchanges.


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Wilson is a 3x Startup Entrepreneur. He is passionate about the cryptocurrency space. You can catch him tweeting about cryptocurrency often @itswilson8 You can also email Wilson directly at

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