Bitcoin, after suddenly soaring early last week, had a difficult day last weekend.
The bitcoin price briefly topped $12,000 only to flash-crash early on Sunday morning, pushing bitcoin back to just over $10,000.
Meanwhile, bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Binance, the world’s largest by volume, was having problems of its own—with one trader briefly sending the price of some bitcoin futures to $100,000.
“Another day in crypto,” Binance chief executive Changpeng Zhao, often known as CZ, warned via Twitter, revealing the bitcoin futures price spike and explaining, “a user’s [algorithm] went ballistic and sent multiple orders to achieve this.”
Bitcoin futures trading has surged in popularity over the last year or so, pushed on by exchanges such as Binance, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) offering long-awaited cash-settled bitcoin futures.
According to a statement released by Binance after the “large price fluctuation,” the “extreme” price movement in the bitcoin quarterly futures contract “did not cause any liquidations in user positions.”
“We do have price band protection,” CZ added, meaning the rogue trade did not cause other traders to lose the capital they’d used to speculate on the future bitcoin price.
Despite assurances, the bitcoin futures price spike caused consternation among crypto traders.
“Crazy price spikes like this are a trader’s worst nightmare,” professional bitcoin and crypto trader and author of The Crypto Trader, Glen Goodman, said via email.
“Thankfully, Binance’s systems ensured nobody’s account was liquidated, but not all exchanges would be so responsible in a similar situation.”
Bitcoin and crypto exchanges including Malta-based OKEx, Singapore-based Huobi and Saychelles-based BitMex, along with Binance, currently of no fixed address, dominate bitcoin futures trading, with billions of dollars’ worth of contracts traded across the platforms every day.
“It’s a wake-up call to all traders that you need to make sure you use a respected exchange for your trading,” Goodman said, adding: “It’s also a timely reminder that when you trade obscure derivatives like quarterly bitcoin futures, all it takes is one giant whale to corner all the little fish and liquidate their accounts.”
Others, however, saw the bitcoin futures price spike as nothing more than an unfortunate blip for the burgeoning market.
“Bitcoin has come a long way in the past 11 years,” Cory Klippsten, tech investor and founder of bitcoin buying app Swan Bitcoin, said via Telegram. “An event like this on a single exchange is no longer a cause for concern.”
Klippsten pointed to bitcoin’s tumultuous history of spikes and crashes as evidence this latest roller coaster won’t negatively impact bitcoin or cryptocurrency in the long term.
“Anomalies on individual exchanges don’t seem to matter much for adoption,” Klippsten said.
“The history of the space has been filled with flash crashes or spikes and exchange hacks, but observant people understand that it’s a matter of improving on immature infrastructure, not a problem with cryptocurrency itself.”