Home / Investigations / The Best Practices of ZB.com Used by ZBG.com: Using Fake Volume Instead of Marketing

The Best Practices of ZB.com Used by ZBG.com: Using Fake Volume Instead of Marketing

During the last several months, there have been many extremely “successful” newcomers on the crypto exchange market. For example, BitForex, FCoin, and similar exchanges broke into the TOP 10 list on CMC at a fast clip. However, exchanges that reach success in such a fast manner always draw the attention of the crowd and regulating businesses, such as CER.

Recently, the CER team analyzed the performance of ZB.com, TOP 4 crypto exchange according to Coin Market Cap, and we found a variety of manipulations and inconsistencies.

…We noticed definite patterns of unnatural and obviously fake trading volume performance on 10 out of the top-20 most traded pairs on the exchange. Furthermore, 4 DASH pairs volume on this exchange totaled more than $288mln accounting for 24.58% of the exchange’s total 24h trade volume and for 80.56% of all DASH traded on all exchanges. Interestingly, the amount of traffic to the trading platform of the exchange reduced in a direct ratio to the increased trading volume during the analyzed period.
Eventually, ZB.com receives an immensely small amount of traffic compared to fair exchanges from the TOP 30 CMC list. All of this directly points to the fact that trade volume manipulations are taking place on ZB.com”.

You can read the full article here.

This time, another interesting “newcomer” drew our attention by ranking Top-10 on CMC (by total volume) seemingly out of nowhere. The newcomer,  ZBG.com, has extremely high volatility in liquidity directly incubated by ZB.com.

What is ZBG?

ZBG.com is a side project of ZB.com official team. It has its native token ZT and employs a trans-fee mining model.

Here is the official statement of the ZB team regarding the launch of the ZBG exchange:

“During five years of development, the ZB team has grown as a strong and energetic group and accumulated valuable experience. We work conscientiously to provide the best service, adhering to our value baseline. Now, it’s time for us to show our energy as a young team. ZBG aims at becoming a lightsome and rapid global crypto trading platform with ZB’s technical support, achieving numbers of innovations in business philosophy.” – https://www.zbg.com/zt

Let’s investigate what kind of “experience,” “best service”, and “value baseline” the ZB.com team has delivered by launching a new exchange.

ZBG.com appeared on our radars on October 2 when it climbed to the 6th place on CMC TOP exchanges by 24h reported volume. Currently (October 17) it sits on 9th place with $268mln.The exchange easily outdistanced Kraken, Upbit, HitBTC, and other well-established market players with the millions in their user bases. Undoubtedly, that’s an amazing result in such a short period of time. However, the main question is how did the platform manage to be listed in the TOP 10 of the Coin Market Cap exchange rating.

Trade Volume of ZBG.com

As for October 2, 99.96% of total trade volume on the exchange was conducted in a single pair – ZB/USDT.Fig 3 chart shows ZB/USDT hourly movements. Jagged price curve, along with “wild” volume performance ranging from 0 to 125mln ZB ($32.5mln) on an hourly basis.
This is how the crypto trading activity looked: The 1-minute chart shows extraordinary permanence of trade volume. The figures 5 and 6 feature order book and trade history. You can see the sequence of one transaction of 1.5mln ZB (~$390k) followed by 29 transactions of 0.01 ZB with 1 second time interval. The pattern was repeated every 3 minutes. We think it’s a suspicious activity, especially for TOP 10 exchange, isn’t it?
But something changed on October 13.ZB/USDT hourly trade volume decreased by over 1000 times(see fig 7) while it soared drastically in other 4 pairs: BTC/USDT, ETH/USDT, EOS/USDT, and LTC/USDT (see figs 8, 9, 10 and 11)It seems like someone switched volume pumping bots to other instruments in order to distribute their efforts. Keeping the total volume on the same level via pumping 5 pairs is not so suspicious as pumping only one, is it?. Apparently, the manipulator(s) have got a bit smarter since the transactions became less suspicious.

Let’s look closer at spreads and order sizes in order books along with transaction amounts in trade histories of ZBG’s 5 most active pairs. Try to sum up the orders’ amounts and you will see that BTC/USDT  literally has empty order books. Trades are printing somewhere in the middle of $75 spread with time intervals of 1-5 second, and their amounts are much larger than orders and seem to be simply random except repetitive 0.0001 BTC transactions.
For other pairs, the picture is quite similar.All these empty order books, broad spreads, and seemingly random transaction amounts (that are large enough to clear all limit orders if executed as market order) suggest that ZBG’s liquidity is completely artificial and unsustainable.

Marketing Analysis

To analyze the user activity and the type of traffic on ZBG.com, we used Similar Web. By utilizing the paid version of the platform, we managed to determine the amount of monthly traffic, unique visitors (UV), and unique users (UU) on the exchange website.

We considered unique visits and the percentage of refusals (Bounce Rate) and determined the number of unique users who have spent more than 3 seconds on the website this month.

The formula is UU = UV * (1 – Bounce Rate). According to the data from the advanced version of Similar Web, ZBG.com has 199K visitors and 46K Unique Visitors (UV) per month. As a result, the number of Unique Users (UU) of ZBG is 33.3K.  

For assessment of the ZBG traffic’s nature (9th exchange on CMC with $268mln volume), we decided to compare it with those  of HitBTC (11th exchange on CMC with 257mln volume), Upbit (22th exchange on CMC with $159mln volume), and Kraken (35th exchange on CMC with $77mln volume).We found the number of UU of Kraken is 606.2K, or 18.2 times higher than that of ZBG. The number of UU of Upbit is 266K, or 7.9 times higher than that one of ZBG. Finally, the number UU of HitBTC is 471K, or 14.2 times higher than that one of ZBG.

Number of Unique Users

From the numbers received, we see that the number of UU of ZBG is 33K. In turn, Kraken has 606.2K unique users. Upbit has 266K unique users. HitBTC has 471K. Thus, Kraken’s number of UU is 18.2 times higher than that of ZBG; Upbit’s number of UU is higher by 7.9 times, and HitBTC’s number of UU is larger by 14.2 times.  


Number of Unique Visitors vs Trading Volume

Despite the fact that HitBTC, Upbit, and Kraken have more visitors than ZBG, the trade volume per day on ZBG is commensurable with the former one and several times higher than that of HitBTC and Upbit. Specifically, ZBG’s (199K monthly visits) crypto trading volume is nearly the same as that of HitBTC (5.8M monthly visits); it’s 1.68 times higher than that of Upbit (2.1M monthly visits) and 3.48 times higher than that of Kraken (5.18M monthly visits).

THE RESEARCH’S INFERENCES

As we have proved above, ZBG has no Unique Visitors (in comparison with HitBTC, Upbit, and Kraken) that could ensure such a high crypto trading volume. Therefore, it stands to reason that driving up fake 24h trading volumes is a more effective marketing technique than the fair attracting visitors and then nurturing the users base through wide media presence and community management.

Is this a kind of experience, best service, and value baseline that the ZB.com team promised to deliver by launching a new exchange, ZBG.com?

The ultimate question is what the crypto community should do to eliminate such cases of unfair business on the exchange market.

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