The recent report presented by crypto researcher Kaiko has shed light on a disconcerting fact in the world of cryptocurrency trading – the high concentration of trading liquidity. It reveals that almost 90% of the trading volume is handled by just eight major exchanges. Among these exchanges are the well-known platforms Binance, Coinbase, OKX, and Huobi. This revelation is hardly surprising, as Binance has maintained its position as the leading crypto exchange in terms of volume for several years now. In fact, it accounts for over 30% of the global market depth and more than 60% of worldwide trade volumes this year alone.
The concentration of liquidity in such a small number of exchanges has both positive and negative consequences, according to Kaiko’s researchers. On one hand, it can result in better liquidity for traders, enhancing their overall market experience. However, this concentration also brings forth potential risks. The collapse of FTX serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of highly concentrated markets, where small disruptions can lead to significant market failures.
Industry analysts have been closely monitoring this high concentration of liquidity, particularly due to its potential impact on price fluctuations. Thinner trading volumes, associated with a limited number of dominant exchanges, can lead to more substantial price swings. In fact, in August, crypto trading volumes hit a low point for the year, plunging by 11.5% to $2.09 trillion for combined spot and derivatives trading. It is quite perplexing to witness such a decline, especially considering the positive news in the crypto industry, such as the excitement surrounding the potential approval of a Bitcoin ETF.
The Return of Volatility?
However, there may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Bloomberg, reporting on the research findings, highlighted the opinions of K33 analysts Anders Helseth and Vetle Lunde. According to them, there are signs indicating the return of volatility in the market. They stated, “The jumpy market over the last few weeks signals a changing volatility environment in BTC… climbing daily volatility reincentivizes participation from vol-thirsty day traders.” It seems that the unusually low volatility experienced during the summer may be changing, and this could attract more active traders seeking volatile market conditions.
While the concentration of liquidity in a few major exchanges may offer improved market liquidity for traders, it does come with its fair share of risks. The collapse of FTX serves as an alarming reminder of the potential disruptions and failures that can occur in such concentrated markets. Additionally, the impact on price fluctuations cannot be overlooked, as thinner volumes can result in more significant swings. As the market evolves, it is essential to strike a balance between concentrated liquidity and a more diversified ecosystem to mitigate potential risks and foster a healthy and stable crypto trading environment.