The recently launched Crypto Industry marketplace, LooksRare made its debut on the 10th of January 2022. Since then, the marketplace has attracted lots of attention not just because its trading volume doubled that of OpenSea on the second day of trading. However, the marketplace has offered a new playground for investors and wash traders.
Wash trading involves a series of trade execution that involves the same trader simultaneously selling and buying the same financial instrument. Ultimately, this creates a manipulated market price and an artificially high trading volume for the asset in question.
However, in the United States, wash trading has been banned in the financial markets since 1936. Although the latest scandal linked with wash trading took place in 2012. Here, the traders manipulated the LIBOR market and artificially created high trading volume.
Even though wash trading has been highly monitored and regulated by regulators and exchanges, the trading technique seems to have found its way to the unregulated crypto realm. And this is true, most especially for NFT marketplaces such as LooksRare.
A community-owned marketplace is a double-edged sword
LooksRare kickoff with the pure intention of sharing profits within its community. The trading rewards and token incentives were basically what allowed its higher volume to surpass OpenSea in light of speed. However, these exact features have become a double-edged sword as wash traders now use them to flood the marketplace.
Looking at the situation, it seems LooksRare had predicted wash trading to be a problem due to its lucrative trading rewards. However, according to LooksRare Docs, it was speculated that trading costs from royalty fees and platform fees would be too expensive to generate any reward for wash trading. Surprisingly, reality proved otherwise.
With LooksRare recording high trading volume, the graph showed that daily transactions and daily users are just a small stage of OpenSea (3%). However, the volumes more than doubled that of OpenSea.
Making use of January 19 transactions as an example, the average trade volume per user on LooksRare was roughly $385,000. On the other hand, OpenSea recorded an average trade volume of $3,000 per user. Likewise, look at recorded trading volume of $415,000 per transaction while OpenSea recorded roughly $1,600.
An interpretation of this data shows that a small percentage of traders executed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of trade. With a 2% royalty fee, platform fee, as well as volatile gas fee, traders are still able to balance their profit and cost on the Ethereum network.
Most trading rewards on LooksRare go to the wash traders
Considering the last 24 hours of January 24, 2022, 29% of the rewards distributed by LooksRare were earned by the top 10 traders. Likewise, when evaluating the leak trading volume of January 19, 28% of the rewards were also earned by the top 10 traders.
This proves that a larger percentage of rewards are earned by just a few traders. This certainly does not align with LooksRare’s philosophy for the community. So far, the sharing principle seems to have failed as a larger percentage of the profit goes to a small percentage of traders.
Looking at the current model, Delphi’s assessment of the model being unsustainable in the long run turns out to be true. It’s now evident that trading volume will most likely decrease as soon as wash traders leave the platform once they consider it no longer profitable.
Based on several detailed analyses of the profit and loss incurred by wash traders, they are soon bound to abandon the ship. These analyses show that there will barely be any gains for wash traders to amass in the trading rewards of LooksRare’s Phase C and D. And as you may expect these wash traders would have abandoned the platform long before that. Well, unless there’s a new development along the way
No doubt the journey is still far from being complete for LooksRare especially as it looks to compete with OpenSea in terms of trade volumes and number of users. Certainly, it will be fascinating to witness how the dynamics will evolve when the reward is halved.