Bithumb is conducting season 1 of its ‘Super Airdrop Festival‘, where it refunds traders 120% of trading fees. It has set aside a limit of KRW 1 billion per day for the refunds, which comes out to KRW 167 million (USD 149,000) of rewards each day. Clever traders have seized this opportunity to make profits by conducting wash trading.

Wash trading is when a user sets up two accounts, placing a sell order on one, which is bought immediately by the other. This generates fake trading volume on crypto exchanges and is commonly used to inflate trading volume stats to push crypto exchanges up the CoinMarketCap rankings. Due to the Bithumb airdrop, users now have an incentive to wash trade, since they can make easy profits.

Doing the math, Bithumb charges 0.3% fees, yielding a rebate of 0.36%. Therefore KRW 278 billion (USD 247.6 million) of wash trading can produce the KRW 1 billion limit for trading refunds. And this is exactly what’s been happening – at the time the airdrop reward resets every day, there has been a KRW 252 billion spike in Bitcoin trading on average for a moment, representing one person or many people jumping on the opportunity to make easy money via wash trading.

Bithumb has experienced tremendous problems since it was hacked in June 2018, resulting in the loss of USD 31 million of crypto and the shutdown of the exchange. It has just become fully operational again and has opened registration for new users. Simultaneously, it launched the trading fee refund airdrop.

These events give Bithumb the appearance of having strong liquidity, which attracts traders. It has shot up to #5 in the world on CoinMarketCap with over USD 450 million of trading volume. That means Bithumb’s true trading volume is over USD 200 million per day, much higher than it was before the hack.

In fact, the USD 200 million of real volume generates USD 600,000 of profits per day from trading fees, which is more than enough to pay for the airdrop with a nice profit on top. Perhaps Bithumb will continue doing the airdrop long term, since it is attracting real volume to the exchange and is, therefore, a profitable strategy.

 

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