A research team has found there’s probably only one or two people behind Bitcoin’s incredible rise.
Economics experts Neil Gandal, Tyler Moore, JT Hamrick and Tali Oberman set out to discover what and who exactly is in control of the Bitcoin ecosystem determining its price.
Although it’s long been rumoured Bitcoin markets are manipulated by only one or two big players, their research paper entitled, Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem has confirmed this theory.
Published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Monetary Economics, the paper states it’s likely one person drove the US dollars to Bitcoin exchange rate from being $150 to $1000 in the space of only two months.
The paper also concluded how suspicious trading using Bitcoin is linked to rises in the exchange rate with the trading volume increasing greatly on days where there was cagey activity.
It also reaffirmed how markets dealing with cryptocurrency, which are unregulated, are very vulnerable to being manipulated.
Explaining their findings, the team wrote:
This paper identifies and analyses the impact of suspicious trading activity on the Mt. Gox Bitcoin currency exchange, in which approximately 600,000 bitcoins (BTC) valued at $188 million were fraudulently acquired.
During both periods, the USD-BTC exchange rate rose by an average of four per cent on days when suspicious trades took place, compared to a slight decline on days without suspicious activity.
Based on rigorous analysis with extensive robustness checks, the paper demonstrates that the suspicious trading activity likely caused the unprecedented spike in the USD-BTC exchange rate in late 2013, when the rate jumped from around $150 to more than $1,000 in two months.
They also concluded how manipulation often happened for early Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, because the market was too thin to operate.
The team added:
Despite the huge increase in market capitalisation, similar to the bitcoin market in 2013 (the period examined), markets for these other cryptocurrencies are very thin.
The number of cryptocurrencies has increased from approximately 80 during the period examined to 843 today!
Many of these markets are thin and subject to price manipulation.
Two bots, named Markus and Wily, were primarily responsible for the price manipulation performing valid trades despite not actually having the Bitcoin they were using.
Taking advantage of the system the bots could create these fake trades and made off with millions, while manipulating the price of the cryptocurrency.
If Bitcoin wants to seriously progress, it really needs to assure customers it’s both safe and legal with no vulnerabilities.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.