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Author Topic: MtGox makes more money the higher the price of bitcoin - conflict of interests?  (Read 1869 times)
monsterer
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May 10, 2013, 04:45:53 PM
 #1

Hi guys,

So, MtGox's fee schedule means they make more money per transaction the higher the price of bitcoin.

Doesn't this mean there is a glaring conflict of interests? The biggest and longest running bitcoin exchange *wants* the price to increase and have complete control over the market. Hmmm.

Thoughts?

Cheers, Paul.
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May 10, 2013, 04:49:03 PM
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They actually make more money the higher the volume in the market.

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May 10, 2013, 04:53:41 PM
 #3

Which is greater?
1% * 200,000 * $120
1% * 400,000 * $60
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May 10, 2013, 05:01:08 PM
 #4

Which is greater?
1% * 200,000 * $120
1% * 400,000 * $60


When I say they make more depending on the volume, I mean in terms of the same currency.

The more volume in BTC, the more BTC they make. The more volume in $, the more $ they make. Both linearly and ceteris paribus.

Right now volume and volatility are strongly correlated. Volume in BTC and $/BTC not so much.

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monsterer
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May 10, 2013, 05:01:43 PM
 #5

Fun fact:

Right now (at $118 / coin) you will have to wait for the price to move $1.428 to *break even* for a round-trip trade.

When the price of bitcoin reaches $1000 / coin, you would have to wait for price to move *$12* just to break-even.

Doesn't seem like that fee schedule can last because traders will just go elsewhere. If there is an elsewhere, of course!

Cheers, Paul.
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May 10, 2013, 05:04:08 PM
 #6

Which is greater?
1% * 200,000 * $120
1% * 400,000 * $60


When I say they make more depending on the volume, I mean in terms of the same currency.

The more volume in BTC, the more BTC they make. The more volume in $, the more $ they make. Both linearly and ceteris paribus.

Right now volume and volatility are strongly correlated. Volume in BTC and $/BTC not so much.

I was asking the OP.  I believe his argument is flawed.  I agree with you in that IF there is a conflict of interest it is that panic/volatility/chaos leads to higher volume = more trading fees.
monsterer
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May 10, 2013, 05:09:56 PM
 #7

I was asking the OP.  I believe his argument is flawed.  I agree with you in that IF there is a conflict of interest it is that panic/volatility/chaos leads to higher volume = more trading fees.

Ok, lets do some maths:

fees 0.6%:

1btc sold at $1000 = 0.006 * 1000 = $6 fee

1btc sold at $100 = 0.006 * 100 = $0.6 fee

Therefore, at higher dollar value of bitcoin, MtGox makes more per transaction and hence there is a conflict of interests?

Smiley

Cheers, Paul.
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May 10, 2013, 05:27:43 PM
 #8

They should adjust their fees now that they have grown larger, volume has increase, and the price has gone up so much.


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May 10, 2013, 05:50:45 PM
 #9

They should adjust their fees now that they have grown larger, volume has increase, and the price has gone up so much.

Exactly.  Given the same volume in USD, Gox will make more money at a higher bitcoin price simply because its much harder now to get a low commission rate.
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May 10, 2013, 05:54:34 PM
 #10

I was asking the OP.  I believe his argument is flawed.  I agree with you in that IF there is a conflict of interest it is that panic/volatility/chaos leads to higher volume = more trading fees.

Ok, lets do some maths:

fees 0.6%:

1btc sold at $1000 = 0.006 * 1000 = $6 fee

1btc sold at $100 = 0.006 * 100 = $0.6 fee

Therefore, at higher dollar value of bitcoin, MtGox makes more per transaction and hence there is a conflict of interests?

Smiley

Cheers, Paul.

First off, the more you trade, the lower your fees.

Secondly, 1 BTC = 1 BTC. I believe Mt. Gox has said at some point that they do not sell their BTC for USD. If I have time, I'll try to find the quote.

Thirdly, as others have mentioned, you are ignoring the volume (the size and number of transactions). It does Mt. Gox no good to make more per transaction if there are fewer of them and/or they are for smaller amounts.


Still around.
monsterer
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May 11, 2013, 09:53:04 AM
 #11

First off, the more you trade, the lower your fees.

Secondly, 1 BTC = 1 BTC. I believe Mt. Gox has said at some point that they do not sell their BTC for USD. If I have time, I'll try to find the quote.

Thirdly, as others have mentioned, you are ignoring the volume (the size and number of transactions). It does Mt. Gox no good to make more per transaction if there are fewer of them and/or they are for smaller amounts.

The lowest possible transaction fee at MtGox is 0.2% (after all volume traded discounts). It still has exactly the same behaviour as 0.6%, just lower offset. Still got the same issue:

fees 0.2%:

1btc sold at $1000 = 0.002 * 1000 = $2 fee

1btc sold at $100 = 0.002 * 100 = $0.2 fee


And I'm really not sure what you mean when you say MtGox do not sell BTCs; that is their primary function!

Cheers, Paul.
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May 11, 2013, 10:35:55 AM
 #12

Ok, lets do some maths:

fees 0.6%:

1btc sold at $1000 = 0.006 * 1000 = $6 fee

1btc sold at $100 = 0.006 * 100 = $0.6 fee

Therefore, at higher dollar value of bitcoin, MtGox makes more per transaction and hence there is a conflict of interests?

Smiley

Why are you comparing USD fees at different USD volumes? You should compare the same currency.

$1000 spent on 1 BTC at $1000: fee is 0.006 * $1000 = $6.00
$1000 spent on 10 BTC at $100: fee is 0.006 * $1000 = $6.00

Or the other way around:

1 BTC sold at $1000 for $1000: fee is 0.006 * $1000 = $6.00
10 BTC sold at $100 for $1000: fee is 0.006 * $1000 = $6.00

Your calculation would be good only if you assume that people want to buy the same amount of BTC regardless the price, which obviously isn't true. If you have $100 to invest in bitcoins, then at the price $100 you'll buy 1 BTC and pay $0.60 fee. But if the price is $1000, you simply buy 0.1 BTC for your $100 and pay... $0.60 fee. You won't buy 10 BTC for $1000 (as you had in your example), because you have only $100 (and if you had $1000, then you would buy 10 BTC at the price $100, not 1 BTC).

No matter the BTC price, MtGox earns the same amount of USD from your $100 traded.

monsterer
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May 11, 2013, 11:10:31 AM
 #13

Your calculation would be good only if you assume that people want to buy the same amount of BTC regardless the price, which obviously isn't true.

Isn't it?

Ok, well - lets look at MtGox volume restrictions. The smallest possible volume traded with MtGox is 0.01 btc. So the uninitiated trader might want to start learning how to trade btc profitably by starting out with the smallest possible volume to reduce losses incurred while learning the trade.

At $100/btc, this cautious trader has sells 0.01 btc and incurs a 0.01*100*0.006 = $0.006 fee.
At $1000/btc, a different but equally cautious trader sells the minimum volume and incurs a 0.01*1000*0.006 = $0.6 fee.

Hardly fair, is it?

The right way to approach per-trade fees, IMO is for MtGox to push the spread apart by a fixed price - this is how trading Forex works.

Cheers, Paul.
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May 11, 2013, 11:30:28 AM
 #14

You forget that someone has to be on the other side of the transaction as you assume that your trader will be able to sell any amount of BTC regardless the price.

If your trader sells 0.01 BTC at $1000, that is for $10, then there has to be someone willing to spend $10 on BTC. If your trader sells 0.01 BTC at $100, then there has to be someone willing to spend $1 on BTC.

If on the other side there only is a “cautious trader” willing to spend $1, and there isn't be anyone else, that 0.01 BTC couldn't be sold at $100 as it requires $10 from buyer, which simply isn't there.

So in your example: when $10 is traded, MtGox earns $0.06 fee; when $1 is traded, MtGox earns $0.006 fee. Their fee income is dependent solely on USD trading volume.

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May 11, 2013, 11:39:41 AM
 #15

Also, please make a simple thought exercise.

Average price in the last 24 hours was $118.52 and MtGox had 63,172.45 BTC = 7,487,305.55 USD trading volume during these 24 hours (http://www.bitcoincharts.com/markets/).

If the price was $1185.20. Do you think they would have trading volume 63,172.45 BTC = 74,873,055.50 USD? Do you think that 67.3 millions of USD would magically appear as an addition to yesterday's 7.49 million USD?

Let me help you with the answer. No, the $67M would not magically appear. MtGox would have trading volume 6,317.245 BTC = 7,487,305.55 USD, plus/minus 10%, and would earn more or less the same USD in fees.

Their fees are dependent solely on trading volume, and trading volume is dependent solely on currency supply. There's finite supply of USD as well as finite supply of BTC. 10x price jump won't cause magically 10x increase of USD volume.

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May 11, 2013, 11:52:39 AM
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You forget that someone has to be on the other side of the transaction as you assume that your trader will be able to sell any amount of BTC regardless the price.

If your trader sells 0.01 BTC at $1000, that is for $10, then there has to be someone willing to spend $10 on BTC. If your trader sells 0.01 BTC at $100, then there has to be someone willing to spend $1 on BTC.

If on the other side there only is a “cautious trader” willing to spend $1, and there isn't be anyone else, that 0.01 BTC couldn't be sold at $100 as it requires $10 from buyer, which simply isn't there.

So in your example: when $10 is traded, MtGox earns $0.06 fee; when $1 is traded, MtGox earns $0.006 fee. Their fee income is dependent solely on USD trading volume.

Ok, lets stop peering into our crystal balls because that seems to be confusing matters.

Let's look back into the past:

When btc traded at $10, minimum volume cost 0.01*10*0.006 = $0.0006 in fees
Then btc moved to $100, minimum volume cost 0.01*100*0.006 = $0.006 in fees

In both instances we know there were traders willing to pick up the other side of the trade because that already happened. And in fact, trading volume has *increased massively* from the time of $10/btc to $100/btc.

The simple fact that I'm trying to get across here is that a round-trip trade will cost more and more in fees the higher the price of btc.  This is not sustainable, as should be completely obvious.

And as for your thought exercise, ask yourself this: are MtGox making more money now at the current price or when the price was $10/btc?

Cheers, Paul.
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May 11, 2013, 12:29:51 PM
 #17

When btc traded at $10, minimum volume cost 0.01*10*0.006 = $0.0006 in fees
Then btc moved to $100, minimum volume cost 0.01*100*0.006 = $0.006 in fees

Their total income depends not on minimum volume but actual volume. Minimum volume for a single order is insignificant.

And as for your thought exercise, ask yourself this: are MtGox making more money now at the current price or when the price was $10/btc?

I'm sorry but you don't understand the market at all. Let me give you one last example. I am taking historical data.

1) 2012-08-17.
Average daily price 13.26 USD.
Daily volume 221,033.9 BTC = 2,930,580.33 USD.
Their fee income is 17,583.48 USD

2) 2013-05-09.
Average daily price 111.66 USD.
Daily volume 26,894.46 = 3,003,068.41 USD.
Their fee income is 18,018.41 USD

3) 2013-05-02
Average daily price 106.49 USD.
Daily volume 234,129.17 = 24,932,099.53 USD.
Their fee income is 149,592.59 USD

Despite day 2 price is 8.4x higher than in day 1, they earned almost exactly the same income, because trading volume was similar.

Despite day 3 price is only 5% different from day 2, they earned 8.3x more income, because trading volume was much higher.

It's not the price what matters for their income, it's solely the USD volume that is traded.

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May 11, 2013, 12:37:15 PM
 #18

I understand the rationale of many forum posters here contending that volume does not go up as price goes up. However, whatever experimental evidence we have does not seem to support this assertion.



Here is an image of volume in BTC. One would expect that as price increases, BTC volume decreases. However, BTC volume does not seem noticeably affected by the price. Therefore, USD volume would seem to increase as price increases.
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May 11, 2013, 12:45:29 PM
 #19

Rising volume with rising price is an indication of increasing adoption. That's a good thing. For earlier adopters, rising price is a good thing. So is rising volume with rising price.

If you are concerned that there is a conflict of interest, start a competing exchange and change the way the fee schedule works. Be a more important part of the market! Maybe you'll look at things differently.  Wink

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May 11, 2013, 12:52:49 PM
 #20

It's called profit motive you idiot.  If you don't trust them don't use them.  

You should try one of these fabulous exchanges:

bitcoinica.com
mybitcoin.com
bitmarket.eu
bitfloor.com
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tradehill.com
cryptoxchange.com
bitcoin-central.com
intersango.com
bitcoin-24.com
bitcoinopx.com
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btctree.com
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