CoinMarketCap Excludes Some Tether Data After Clarification by Bitfinex

A CoinDesk report regarding a misleading data point on CoinMarketCap has led to a change in the way tether trading volume is calculated.

AccessTimeIconOct 24, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:31 a.m. UTC

CoinMarketCap, the most-visited aggregator of cryptocurrency market data, has changed the way it uses data from the Bitfinex exchange in response to a report by CoinDesk.

On Tuesday, CoinDesk pointed out that a trading pair shown on CoinMarketCap – seemingly, for trades between the tether stablecoin (USDT) and U.S. dollars – did not, in fact, represent a pair that's available for trading on Bitfinex. From looking at CoinMarketCap data, the ostensible pair appeared to be the second-highest by 24-hour volume on the exchange at the time the article was written.

In response to CoinDesk's report, Bitfinex clarified that the volume shown on CoinMarketCap represented the sum of withdrawals and deposits of USDT to and from Bitfinex.

After receiving that clarification, Carylyne Chan, CoinMarketCap's global head of marketing, told CoinDesk:

"The team has revised to exclude its volume. This will represent it accordingly and ensure it does not have any contributions to volume going forward. You can see this on the page with ** pointing to volume exclusion."

She included the following screenshot:

 Tether markets data screenshot via CoinMarketCap, emailed to CoinDesk at 10:51 UTC, Oct. 24, 2018
Tether markets data screenshot via CoinMarketCap, emailed to CoinDesk at 10:51 UTC, Oct. 24, 2018

However, while the Bitfinex USDT/USD pair's volume appears to be excluded from calculations on CoinMarketCap's tether markets page, it is unclear whether it's been excluded from volume totals on the site's Bitfinex page.

For one thing, the pair is not labeled with a double asterisk, denoting "volume excluded," on the Bitfinex exchange page. Further, the sum of all listed Bifinex pairs' 24-hour volumes yielded the total volume listed at the top of the page, suggesting that the $39.5 million in USDT/USD volume had not been excluded. Chan did not immediately respond to a follow-up question on this.

Kasper Rasmussen, Bitfinex's head of marketing, said of the change at CoinMarketCap, "It means nothing to us as the API tracks something which is used internally only. It is not a USD/USDT trading pair."

Push and pull

While Bitfinex has suggested that CoinMarketCap is responsible for how it presents data from the exchange's application programming interface (API), CoinMarketCap described a lack of communication on Bitfinex's part.

As noted in Tuesday's article, Chan of CoinMarketCap told CoinDesk that Bitfinex had "not responded to multiple direct requests from our team members" regarding the data point, which she said was drawn from Bitfinex's API.

Prior to the article's publication, Rasmussen had confirmed to CoinDesk that the USDT/USD pair was not available for trading on Bitfinex and said he would follow up "asap" regarding the data displayed on CoinMarketCap.

CoinDesk's subsequent emails – which included statements from CoinMarketCap – did not receive a reply, however, until after the story was posted.

Following the article's publication, Bitfinex objected to the headline's description of the exchange as "publishing data for a tether market that doesn't exist," on the grounds that CoinMarketCap is responsible for how it uses the API data. Bitfinex wrote on Twitter:

"We are not 'publishing' fake numbers; the API method is called 'movement_volume' and isn't part of our ticker API. Not pushed by us, pulled by CMC. Another not-so-brilliant example of anti Bitfinex/Tether FUD."

Bitfinex has close ties to Tether, the company that issues USDT, with the two firms sharing common managers and shareholders. The stablecoin lost its market parity with the U.S. dollar last week amid renewed speculation that tether tokens are not fully collateralized by dollar bank deposits.

At midday Wednesday, USDT was still below $1, trading at $0.98, according to CoinMarketCap.

CoinMarketCap image via Shutterstock


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