Over the past several days, investors have witnessed sudden gains in volume and extreme price volatility for litecoin. In the last week litecoin has gained over 79 percent against bitcoin, 88 percent against the U.S. dollar and 90 percent against the euro and the yuan.
Much of the rapid increase in volume around litecoin trading was coming from Chinese markets, which is cause for concern at Huobi, a major digital currency exchange based in Beijing.
According to Arthur Hayes, the Cofounder and CTO of BitMEX, a litecoin ponzi scheme may have caused both bitcoin price and volume increases on Chinese digital currencies exchanges in the last few days.
Huobi CEO Leon Li told Bitcoin Magazine that the exchange had taken steps in the wake of the so-called “pump and dump” litecoin scheme.
“We did experience a tough Friday in Beijing because of LTC price volatility. Those promoters are potentially very dangerous, so we post risk warning on Huobi and will start risk revealing mechanism to all our users. An English notice was posted on BitVC.”
Li acknowledged there were also other factors at play, saying “The recent price volatility of litecoin is indeed one of the causes of the price increase of bitcoin. Since the LTC, BTC price is bouncing back from the lowest 1:200 to the recent 1:30 aprox. Many users chose to sell litecoin and buy bitcoin, which is also one of the sources where bitcoin purchasing power comes from.”
Given this week’s turmoil in the stock market in China, it would be tempting to assume that the current increase in bitcoin price and trading volume on Chinese exchanges is a direct result of this alone.
Chinese exchanges confirm that bitcoin trading volume is growing
Jack Liu, Head of International at OKCoin told Bitcoin Magazine, “As the largest exchange in China, we’ve seen a near 50 increase in volume in the past month.”
All three exchanges said the stock market closure had little to do with the increase in volume as this trend started three weeks to a month ago.
Greg Wolfson, Director of Business Development for BTCChina, told Bitcoin Magazine “We’ve seen a sustained increase in trading volume over the last three weeks, roughly coinciding with the Greek referendum. In part, this is driven by speculators and investors seeking safe haven, because global macro events are an important force in the market right now…
“In fact, there is no monetary crisis in China. There is a sharp correction in the stock market, but bitcoin did not play any role in that. The current value of all the bitcoins in circulation globally is insignificant compared to the capitalization of Chinese stock markets. The correction in the stock markets is perceived as resulting from excessive margin lending and the entry of many novice investors. It’s a classic stock market bubble. There is no perception that bitcoin played any role and no evidence to support that.”
Huobi CEO Li put the current situation in perspective saying it still doesn’t compare with the bitcoin price spike of late 2013 and early 2014.
“The price of bitcoin has experienced a rise to some extent. And the exchange volume has also become more active. But this cannot be recognized as significant increases or changes. The volume of bitcoin users has increased about twice than in period of downturn, however there’s still a gap if we compare it to the peak time at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.”
There is some speculation that the upcoming “halving” of litecoin, due in late August, may be driving sales to some extent but not enough to explain the sudden increases in the last week.
With continuing uncertainty in Greece, anxiety over the recent spam attack on bitcoin, and an unfolding litecoin ponzi scheme, the price of bitcoin may be at the center of an almost “perfect storm”.
Jessie Willms is a planet earth based former government and political researcher and communications officer helping to document the FinTech revolution and its impact on traditional institutions and governments. You can follow Jessie on Twitter at @WILLMS_.