BTC Breaks Through Resistance While Bitmex Smolders
Shortly before 9pm EST on 21st August, bitcoin broke out of the resistance range it has been trapped in for weeks, climbing to $6,800. Traders had despaired of BTC escaping the $6,100-$6,600 range it had been bouncing around in without the aid of a major exogenous event such as ETF news. In the end it was something that ought to have been a minor event that triggered the breakout.
Bitmex, which had been scheduled to go offline for maintenance at 9pm EST for 30 minutes, reopened on time in cancel-only mode. It immediately became clear that something wasn’t right, prompting the exchange to tweet “Some users are reporting difficulty in logging in”. Trading remained cancelled until 10pm, with Bitmex attributing the extended downtime to a DDoS attack. Some traders weren’t buying it though.
Beyond Godlike Kills Across the Board
While Bitmex struggled to get back online, traders trapped in shorts could only watch, helpless, as their positions were liquidated. Bitmex Rekt, an unofficial account that records margin calls on the platform, went into overdrive, tweeting out “beyond godlike” kills as position after position was wiped out.
In the aftermath of ‘the rekoning’, conspiracy theories were in plentiful supply, with some even accusing Bitmex of deliberately keeping its platform offline in order to profit. There is no evidence to support such an allegation, but that hasn’t stopped speculation from mounting that this was an inside job. To critics, it’s further evidence of bitcoin manipulation and another example of why margin trading is dangerous. If one platform gets to call the shots (or rather the shorts), and stands to profit from disrupting its own service, it has no incentive to act ethically, critics claim.
A less controversial explanation is that Bitmex was genuinely the target of a DDoS attack by an unknown third party seeking to manipulate the market. If that was the case, they were certainly successful, and are likely to have profited handsomely off the attack.
After the Breakout, What Next?
Regardless of how it happened, the $6,600 resistance level, which had been fiercely defended for weeks, has been breached. It is possible that this could now become the new support level for BTC. With news of the bitcoin ETF imminent, however, all attempts at TA could soon be rendered meaningless, as whatever the outcome of the ETF decision, the market is sure to move violently. Ironically, incidents such as that which occurred on Bitmex could be the catalyst for the SEC denying an ETF on the grounds that bitcoin is too prone to manipulation. With the number of BTC shorts nearing at a record high, there is also the possibility of a short squeeze occurring as traders are forced to buy more BTC to cover their positions. The last time this occurred, on April 12, bitcoin leapt by almost $1,000 in a day.
Whatever the outcome, the coming days promise to be extremely interesting for traders as they try to factor in a myriad of variables, while praying that Bitmex remains operational. The exchange traded $3.3 billion of BTC in the last 24 hours, most of it on leverage of up to 100x. Over-centralization is a recurring theme in cryptocurrency, and Bitmex, lead by the charismatic and unabashed Arthur Hayes, is merely the latest manifestation of the dangers that occur when a single entity has the power to call the shots.