According to a new academic study of bitcoin’s 2017 boom the whole rise of the digital currency may be attributed to a single “large player” who, however, remains unidentified.
The finance professors Joghn Griffin and Amin Shams of University of Texas and the Ohio State University respectively have analyzed over 200 gigabytes of data on the transactions between bitcoin and tether, another digital currency whose trading value is connected to the dollar and acts as a “stablecoin”. Going through the analyzed data they found a pattern.
They both write, “We find that the identified patterns are not present on other flows, and almost the entire price impact can be attributed to this one large player. We map this data across both blockchains and find that the one player or entity (labeled as 1LSg throughout the paper) is behind the majority of the patterns we document.”
According to the study, the financial manipulator is only one account at the world-known crypto exchange Bitfinex. The account in question was able to influence greatly the demand for bitcoin via extreme flows of tethers. Through such a way bitcoin rose to an all-time high of almost $20 000 in late 2017.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is deeply worried to what extent crypto currencies may be subject to possible manipulation and this newest study has only fueled the fears of officials, according to Cowen analyst Jaret Seiberg.
According to Jaret Seiberg the Griffins and Shams report will further entice regulators and lawmakers to tighten their oversight of bitcoin and crypto trading at large. He further said, “We see this as further souring Washington on crypto and believe it is negative for efforts to launch crypto ETFs and for Facebook to launch Libra.”
However, even though Griffins and Shams imply that Bitfinex knew about the operation or even participated in the scheme, the general counsel of the firm Stuart Hoegney questioned the legitimacy of the study in front of the WSJ and stated that it was “the global rise of digital currency that has driven the market’s demand for tether.”
It should be noted that both Bitfinex and Tether Ltd are under investigation for alleged fraud by the Department of Justice and the New York Attorney General.