Bitcoin Volume On the Move as Traders Embrace No-Fee Exchanges

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Markets Weekly is a weekly column analyzing price movements in the global blockchain token markets. This edition looks at the week from 21st through 28th January.

Bitcoin trading volume is shifting to new exchanges, data shows.

Following the decision by major China-based exchanges to end the practice of no-fee trading (at the request of the country’s central bank), their lesser-known competitors have begun to claim the top spots in terms of transaction activity.

In the aftermath of the big exchanges adding trading fees – BTC100 and CHBTC – two China-based marketplaces, have climbed the number one and number two spots in trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap figures and the companies’ websites.

BTC100, which came out on top, enjoyed more than 36,000 BTC in volume over the last 24 hours, and CHBTC, the runner up, saw roughly 29,000 BTC of transaction activity in this time.

This screenshot shows the volume that these two exchanges commanded at the time:

btc100-and-chbtc-top-bourses

In contrast, Poloniex, Bitfinex and BTCC, the three largest fee-charging exchanges when ranked by no-fee trading volume, saw more than 20,000 BTC, 9,000 BTC and 8,000 BTC, respectively, during that period.

‘Big five’

While it might be too early to draw conclusions, it does seem that traders are beginning to consider alternatives to BTCC, Huobi and OKCoin, exchanges formerly known as China’s ‘Big Three’ for their commanding volumes.

So far, we know the transaction volume on all three exchanges has continued to track lower over the last few sessions amid reports that traders are moving elsewhere.

Zhou Shouji, the operator of bitcoin hedge fund and incubator, FinTech Blockchain Group, said he has already seen traders adopt CHBTC and rival firm BTCTrade to sidestep fees.

BTCTrade saw volumes of 12,333 BTC in the past 24 hours, less than reported by CHBTC and BTC100, but higher than major international firms.

Asked if traders were on the move, Shouji responded:

“They already are. It’s the ‘Big five’ without fees right now.”

Still, it remains uncertain just how many traders are switching, and unlikely that most of this volume represents ‘real-world trading’ given how the ‘Big Three’ responded to the news.

Short-term trend

Seeing as how both BTC100 and CHBTC have refrained from charging fees (even after BTCC, Huobi and OKCoin opted to implement such a policy), any market observer would question how much longer this disparity will continue.

Analysts predicted that the exchanges will probably draw the interest of the PBoC, which would likely prompt these marketplaces to begin imposing trading fees of their own.

Tim Enneking, chairman of Crypto Asset Management, described such a chain of events as inevitable. “It’s the price of success,” he said.

A similar view was articulated by Adamant Research director Tuur Demeester. As long as Chinese government authorities can locate the exchanges, they’ll soon get a visit from regulators, he predicted.

Arthur Hayes, co-founder and CEO of leveraged bitcoin trading platform BitMEX, also forecast that Chinese exchanges which have been generating robust trading volume will likely adopt such fees.

“All Chinese exchanges that want a viable business medium long-term will follow the lead of the ‘Big Three’,” he said, adding:

“If they don’t, then they are too small to matter, or are behaving recklessly and risk the wrath of the regulators.”

Pete Rizzo contributed reporting.

Migrating birds image via Shutterstock

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