$5 Billion: Crypto Exchange FCoin Draws Criticism Over “Disguised ICO” Revenue Model

Francisco Memoria
  • A new China-based exchange has reportedly been trading over $5 billion worth of cryptocurrency on a daily basis.
  • The volume is partly caused by its revenue model, which allegedly sees users use bots to trade as much as possible and get rewarded in tokens.

FCoin, a new China-based cryptocurrency exchange has seemingly topped titans like Huobi and Binance when it comes to trading volume, as data shows it often trades over $5 billion worth of cryptocurrency per day, partly thanks to its revenue model.

According to local news outlet 8BTC, the cryptocurrency exchange uses a model known as “trans-fee mining,” which essentially sees it turn cryptocurrency trading into mining, as the platform provides users with its own FT token.

Per the crypto exchange’s whitepaper, whenever its users pay trading fees on its platform, they’re reimbursed in FT tokens, essentially meaning the fees, in BTC or ETH, are used to pay for the FT tokens as if it were an initial coin offering (ICO). Notably, 51 percent of all FT tokens will be distributed to the public, while 49 percent will be held by the exchange and its investors.

Presumably to incentivize holding the token, FCoin also distributes 80 percent of the transaction fees it collects in Bitcoin or Ethereum on a daily basis to FT holders. The model saw various Chinese news outlets claim traders are using bots to spam transactions and collect tokens.

Zhang Jian, a former chief technology officer at Huobi and FCoin’s founder, claims every transaction is legitimate. If so, it’s the number one exchange by trading volume. While it isn’t listed on most third-party data aggregators like CryptoCompare, Chinese aggregator reveals FCoin often trades over $5 billion per day.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has criticized the platform, alleging that its “trans-fee mining” model works as a “disguised ICO,” and an expensive one for that matter. He argued:

If an exchange’s survival depends largely on the price rise of its own token rather than on transaction fee earnings, it has to drive its token’s price up. In this regard, less experienced traders and retail investors can hardly have the upper hand trading with crypto whales, especially whales who control the exchange.

Changpeng Zhao

On another post, Zhao added that it may look profitable for some users to hold tokens and earn dividends, but noted that in the long run no one would want to keep trading, which would kill the amount of dividends paid out.

Despite the controversy, FCoin is now trading Binance’s BNB token against Tether tokens (USDT). FCoin’s FT token has, since the platform launched a month ago, surged from about $0.01 to a $1.25 all-time high, before seeing its price fall to about $0.50 at press time.

Binance’s BNB token has been bucking the bearish trend, as CryptoGlobe covered. At press time it’s trading at $15.78, after falling from a recent high of over $17, according to CryptoCompare data.