Bitcoin

Market Manipulation and Liquidity Issues

2 Mins read


Since Dogecoin’s debut in 2013, the meme coin market has seen significant growth, reaching a total market cap of $60 billion by June 2024.

In March alone, the asset class attracted a whopping $13 billion in spot trading volumes on exchanges, surpassing major blue-chip cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Solana. However, this sector is grappling with risks.

Red Flags Identified in Meme Coin Investments

According to CoinShares’ latest report, the heavy concentration of assets among meme coin holders highlights a notable risk of market manipulation and liquidity challenges due to the significant asset concentration among a few holders.

Larger holders or whales can significantly impact the token’s price by making large trades, causing volatility. Furthermore, if a small number of addresses hold most of the tokens, liquidity issues can arise. This is particularly true if the same addresses also control the liquidity provision on decentralized exchanges.

The high Gini coefficient of around 0.8 for these meme coins indicates a significant centralization of token holdings.

For the uninitiated, this metric assesses the distribution of tokens among different addresses. Such centralization poses risks like potential market manipulation, liquidity challenges, and increased investor caution, all of which need careful consideration when evaluating these “joke” tokens.

“The high Gini coefficient of ~0.8 indicates a substantial centralization of token holdings, posing risks such as market manipulation and liquidity issues, in addition to a degree of volatility that is intolerable for most investors.”

Investors Flock to Meme Coin Futures

While examining the relative trading volumes, CoinShares found that the influence of older meme coins, such as the OG Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, is diminishing. Meanwhile, PEPE and a flurry of new Solana meme coins have gained traction, which now collectively account for over 50% of the trading volume.

This shift reflects a recent investor preference toward newer meme coins. There are several factors at play such as growing communities, blockchain ecosystems, as well as the potential for higher returns.

Despite this, the liquidity and longer track record of established meme coins remain significant.

Correspondingly, the high futures open interest reflects the massive market footprint of these coins and suggests increased speculative trading. For instance, Dogecoin’s open interest hit a record of $1.8 billion recently, while that of PEPE surged nearly 50% to $850 million in May.

The rise in open interest, which has now exceeded $3 billion, points to increased price volatility and indicates that investors are increasingly using futures positions to manage their exposure to meme coins.

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