The CEO of Binance says the exchange had no choice but to delist FTX leveraged tokens because users didn’t understand how to trade them and failed to read the warning notices.
In a tweet thread Saturday, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said too many users had suffered significant devaluations and the exchange had decided to remove all FTX leveraged tokens in order to safeguard users, just over two months after first listing the tokens.
“The main reason for delisting is we find many users don’t understand them. Even with pop-ups warning users each time, people still don’t read it,” Zhao said. “Given they are some of the most actively traded token, it is bad for business to delist them. Not an easy choice. But … Protecting users comes first.”
FTX is a crypto derivatives exchange that operates out of Antigua and Barbuda. It first introduced its leveraged tokens soon after launching in May 2019.
Based on Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard, each token tracks an underlying position, either bullish or bearish, in a perpetual contract at 3x leverage. They are designed to be easily tradeable and can be purchased like a token on the spot market. They protect against liquidations by adjusting to price moves automatically.
Although useful during sustained price trends, they can quickly devalue in some types of high market volatility. “A common misconception is that leveraged tokens have exposure to volatility, or gamma,” reads FTX’s token description. “Leveraged tokens do well if markets move up a lot and then up a lot more, and poorly if markets move up a lot and then back down a lot, both of which are high volatility.”
Because positions didn’t liquidate, some Binance users continued to hold their leveraged tokens even as volatility shot up following the market sell-off earlier this month, which led to sustained devaluations.
“While these tokens rarely cause you to be liquidated, they will devalue over time as markets fluctuate up and down. They are not meant for long-term holding. If you have an unrealized loss, holding for a come back is unlikely to work,” Zhao said.
Binance first listed FTX’s bitcoin and ether leveraged tokens in January. It came just over a month after the exchange acquired a minority stake in FTX exchange; a strategic move to leverage FTX’s expertise in building out its product offering.
In response to the decision, FTX said in an update: “Leveraged Tokens are complicated products, and Binance doesn’t want to manage the user education and customer support for them.”
An FTX spokesperson told CoinDesk the company hadn’t had any user education issues with leveraged tokens. “We have plenty of documentation and are always willing to work with users to understand the products.” CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said on Telegram that FTX had added tether (USDT) trading pairs “so you can deposit/trade [leveraged tokens] on FTX same as on Binance.”
A Binance spokesperson said the exchange had no plans to re-list leveraged tokens anytime soon.