This study explores the performance of 3 major crypto exchanges during extreme market fluctuation on March 13 2020.
RAND RESEARCH SERIES
The global economy is facing turmoil and huge pressure due to Covid-19 and fuel price war. Stock markets are crashing at a fast pace without considering any support levels. Same is the case in the cryptocurrency market where, in a single day, Bitcoin price tumbled by more than 50% and the $50 billion market cap wiped off in 24 hours only. It resulted in a huge pressure on the crypto exchanges performance trading activity as lots of panicked traders and investors were looking to sell their crypto assets.
Higher market fluctuations and higher trading activity time is the best time to measure the performance of crypto exchanges but on March 13th 2020 during a sudden dump in Bitcoin price, several exchanges went down after not being able to bear the increase in trading activity. Some exchanges even took several hours to settle down their normal trading activities. Binance exchange reported an increase in trading activity by 500% and remained froze for several minutes. On the other hand, Bitmex exchange also remained down and lagged for several hours before operations turned back to normal. OKEx exchange which is best known for its high performance also went down for some time.
Major exchanges performance during dump
We would like to evaluate a few of the top exchanges that experienced the highest 24h BTC Futures volume on that day. Bitmex remained a king in the BTC futures market for a few years but OKEx is now giving it a hard time. Binance, on the other hand, has made huge progress in a short time.
OKEx Exchange Performance
OKEx cryptocurrency exchange achieved the highest Bitcoin futures volume of $16 on 13 march, 2020 which was not only a 24h record-breaking volume for OKEx exchange itself but also among all exchanges. OKEx is known for their best performance during peak times and reportedly they handled 300,000 orders per second during that fast BTC dump. But their website went on maintenance for 20 minutes during high volatility time and their APP also lagged for a short period of time which caused errors for many traders to set and execute their orders resulting in losses.
Other important data that can measure the performance of an exchange during high fluctuation time is the decrease in insurance funds by liquidations and auto-deleveraging liquidations which closes the trades in profit to cover the trades in loss. OKEx reported 0% ADL in profit trades and 0% clawback in all markets while their Bitcoin Futures insurance funds faced a loss of around 475 Bitcoin which automatically got covered by their engine with an increase of 1009 Bitcoin earlier that day.
Bitmex Exchange Performance
Bitmex exchange which remained the king for BTC futures trading for a period of 3 years or so had a trading volume of $12.73 billion on that day and their platform completely got froze during high volatility time for about 25 minutes causing several people thousands of dollars loss. A record amount of more than $1.6 billion contracts got liquidated during those 24h time period.
Later they came up with an explanation by saying that they had a hardware issue and their website had a DDoS attack. They also refunded money to some of their traders who had to bear losses due to system outage but the reputation damage can not be reversed. Bitmex has a history of outage during high volatility time and this downtime is not a surprise for anyone. There are several conspiracies in the market regarding that downtime as some are saying Bitmex purposefully stopped their engine as price may go down more through Bitmex’s automatic liquidation system and would decrease the insurance funds as well.
An important fact to consider here is that they lost only 1,627 BTC from their insurance funds which are only 4.6% of their fund and on the same date they earned further 2,620 Bitcoin to their insurance fund and increased its tally to 36,500 Bitcoin.
Overall it was a bad experience on users end and several users were posting frustrated comments about the exchange. Even few blamed that Bitmex is responsible for that sudden decrease in Bitcoin price because as soon as Bitmex got frozen, the price pumped back to $6000 after reaching the $3700 mark.
Binance Exchange Performance
Binance who launched their Bitcoin Futures product a few months back have progressed at a fast pace and they are ranked most of the time in top 4 exchanges in terms of BTC futures 24h volume. Binance also had to face the downtime for around 15 minutes during the furious dump of Bitcoin and it took more than 2 hours for them to come back to normal operations mode.
Binance owner termed that day as a bloodbath day and reported that there was a 500% increase in the trading activity and their system handled 146,500 messages per second. He himself accepted that they experienced some glitches on peripheral systems and futures UI faced errors for a few minutes.
The major setback was a decrease in their insurance fund by more than 50% from $12.9 million to $6.2 million and execution of auto-deleveraging liquidations that forcefully closed the trades in profits to cover the trades in loss.
The insurance fund is very important for BTC futures product as it covers the trades in loss and avoids the liquidation of trades in profit. A highly liquid exchange will act more efficiently during the volatility time as higher liquidity leads to less loss of insurance funds. But on the other hand, high usage of insurance funds during liquidations indicates there is not enough depth available in the market.
|Exchange||Bankruptcy Loss (BTC)||Bankruptcy Loss (USDT)||Proportion|
OKEx insurance funds used up to 14.15% which is quite nominal but on the other hand, only 4.58% Bitmex insurance funds got used. Although Binance added $4 million to the insurance funds, their engine is still vulnerable to clawback and auto-deleveraging liquidations.
|Exchange||Freeze Time / Down Time||Normalized Time||Insurance Fund||ADL|
|OKEx||20 minutes||30 minutes||-14.15%||No|
|Bitmex||25 minutes||3 hours||-4.58%||Yes|
|Binance||15 minutes||2 hours||-51.59%||Yes|
Based on the data OKEx exchange performance was better than the other two but in terms of usage of insurance funds, Bitmex proved better than others which indicate that the exchange has high liquidity compared with others but their downtime and normalized time were way higher than other exchanges. Binance, on the other hand, got frozen for 15 minutes but their usage of insurance fund was way higher along with auto-deleveraging liquidations.
All exchanges need to review their trading engine and measures should be taken to avoid such downtime in future as it not only damages the exchange reputation but also damages the integrity of the crypto trading industry.
- “OKEx Exchange performance”, twitter.com. March 13, 2020.
- “Bitmex outage”, twitter.com. March 13, 2020.
- “Derivatives market liquidations push BitMEX’s insurance fund to all-time high, cut Deribit’s by almost half”, yahoo.com. March 14, 2020.
- “Binance exchange performance”, twitter.com. March 13, 2020.