In February 2023, the top six nonfungible token (NFT) marketplaces experienced a significant surge in NFT wash trading, with a total volume of $580 million, up 126% from the previous month. The six marketplaces included in the report were Magic Eden, OpenSea, Blur, X2Y2, CryptoPunks, and LooksRare. Of these, X2Y2, Blur, and LooksRare played the largest roles in February’s volume for NFT wash trading, with $280 million (49.7%), $150 million (27.7%), and $80 million (15.1%), respectively.
NFT wash trading is the manipulation of trade volume or price through repeated transactions. While this practice is illegal in traditional financial markets, the lack of clear regulations in the crypto space has allowed it to occur in both the broader crypto market and with NFTs.
The CoinGecko report revealed that NFT wash trading made up a combined 23.4% of “unadjusted trading volume” across the industry’s six largest marketplaces. The report also noted that some of these marketplaces have incentivized users to increase trading volume via transaction rewards.
It’s worth noting that NFTs have become increasingly popular in recent years as a new form of digital asset ownership. They can represent anything from artwork to music and even tweets. The unique characteristics of NFTs, such as their limited availability and authenticity, have contributed to their popularity.
However, NFT wash trading has become a major concern for the industry, with many experts warning of its potential impact on the market. Back in January 2023, crypto investor Mark Cuban said that wash trading would cause the next “implosion” in the crypto market. In response to this issue, new artificial intelligence-based technology has surfaced, which aims to troubleshoot issues in the NFT market, including wash trading.
In addition to the rise of NFT wash trading, a recent scam has also surfaced in the NFT market. On March 16, 2023, fake Blur token airdrop websites were discovered, from which $300k was successfully stolen. The incident highlights the need for better regulation and security measures in the NFT market.
In conclusion, while the rise in NFT wash trading volume may be a sign of the market’s recovery, it also highlights the need for increased regulation and security measures to protect investors and prevent fraudulent activities.
In the last two weeks, Azuki, Bored Ape Yacht Club, CloneX, and Mutant Ape Yacht Club have seen significant increases in floor prices and total sales volume. Over the last 7 days alone, all four projects have generated an estimated $365.9 million in value according to data from OpenSea.
While the crypto market is steadily recovering from its lengthy bloodbath, NFT marketplaces like LooksRare and OpenSea have consistently generated about $100 million in daily total volume.
It seems that crypto Twitter is expressing their speculation on the recent market pump to blue chip momentum while others are hopeful their holdings will make their appearance in the upcoming SuperBowl a bag pumping event for their portfolio.
While it could be a combination of the two, NFT projects have also been gaining traction with recent developments and steady leaks are driving up each collection’s daily average price. Data shows that the top 5 collections increased their daily average price by at least 5%, with Azuki seeing a startling 55% increase in the last seven days.
Collectors are opting to take the red bean with Azuki
The Azuki NFT collection entered the ecosystem by alluding to the Matrix with its version of the red pill, dubbing it the red bean, instead. The red bean eventually reveals itself to be an anime-inspired avatar granting users access to Azuki’s Garden. The anime collection seems to be long desired as it continues to capture collectors with its art and lore.
Azuki’s floor prices rose from substantial 4.29 Ether to currently, 11.29 Ether since its reveal on January 21, 2022, making it a 163% increase, according to Dune Analytics.
The number of unique wallets that own Azuki’s have also seen healthy growth with a significant driver being its reveal date. Azuki’s top 50 wallet holders reveal that there are a significant number of collectors and the top wallet holds over 150 of the NFT.
The project’s ability to capture collectors’ attention has lent much to Azuki’s success. However, detractors seem to provide a reality check by comparing the project to another anime inspired collection, 0N1 Force, whose bubble quickly burst after it followed a price trajectory that is similar to Azuki’s.
If I was an #Azuki holder with only 1, I’d be nervous right now. This meteoric rise reminds me of #0N1Force and it can’t be sustainable. There must be a pullback for it to maintain such a high price point longterm. Most blowoff tops end with precipitous falls. Be careful.
Community members, perhaps biased, disagree, stating the difference between the two teams is night and day. Time will tell whether Azuki will continue to surge and keep the top spot on the charts for volume or how quickly it can recover from imminent correction.
CloneX aims for the top spot in total sales volume
CloneX featuring Takashi Murakumi, created by RTFKT studios, has seen a meteoric 381% rise over the past week. Its floor price rests at 17 Ether ($47,158) yet buyers are still flocking to the collection.
Although RTFKT studios was acquired by NIKE, that has not stopped the team from banding the community together. For example, this week, RTFKT shared the news of two NFT airdrops this week, alluding to “chapter 2 airdrop szn.”
clarifying for RTFKT noobs :
1 Airdrop for Clone owners
1 Airdrop for Pods owners.
Different airdrops aka 2 Airdrops this week
— RTFKT Studios (@RTFKTstudios) February 1, 2022
In the light of these teaser tweets from RTFKT, CloneX holders are anxiously anticipating what could possibly be dropped and are preparing themselves for the snapshot on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. RTFKT studios will reward holders of either piece of the collection, including CloneX vials, avatar, and the spacepod.
Apes push above a 100 ETH floor
3LAU is an overall history maker across the NFT ecosystem and the artist made waves again when he purchased the last Bored Ape before the project hit 100 Ether.
Since the historic sale, singer Justin Bieber ‘aped’ in purchasing a floor BAYC for 500 Ether, leaving some holders riled, frustrated, and confused.
Did Justin Bieber get finessed? 500 Eth purchase pic.twitter.com/RRZn3y9irn
— threadguy.eth (@DiscoverXnft) January 29, 2022
Whether or not Bieber’s move was a marketing ploy, BAYC has increased its total volume by 113.16% in the last seven days. Yet, it has lost its top spot in total sales volume falling behind Azuki and CloneX, according to OpenSea.
OpenSea’s rival LooksRare is painting a different picture for the collection as it falls further in the charts perhaps because of persistent washtrading from other collections.
The BAYC collection on LooksRare has amassed over $42.1 million in total volume, while OpenSea has generated more than double that amount ($87.7 million) in just seven days.
According to DappRadar, the price point has not deterred buyers. In the last 7 days BAYC has increased the number of traders by nearly 74%. After Bieber made the play to assign what some might consider an obscene value to a floor ape, he displayed what purchasing power looks like when liquidity is accessible.
The Apes seem to resonate with celebrities so it may not be the first time we see another whale make a splash.
Mutant Apes exploded after the New Year
Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) has had a strong start to the new year with its daily average price increasing 40% in the last month. Currently, the floor on the MAYC is at 22.7 Ether, whereas on LooksRare the collection is slightly cheaper at 22.6 Ether, at the time of writing.
MAYC seemed to be the ticket to join the club at a fraction of BAYC’s price, back on Aug. 28,2021. However, after the sale of a Mega Mutant Serum worth $3.6 million, the collection’s floor price surged by about 500%.
At the time of writing, the collection’s floor price has risen nearly 40% in the last 30 days, with the highest floor price recorded being 26.4 Ether in the last seven days.
According to data, there is only 11.4% of the collection listed (2,074 MAYCs) suggesting users could be diamond-handling their bags. With nearly 12,000 unique holders, it seems those who scooped a mutant are patiently waiting for its value to follow that of its parent collection.
Greed always is the downfall of the over zealous investor and a possible outcome could be many of these holders and collectors sitting on losses. At the moment, it’s near impossible to determine what is driving the NFT bull market and for this reason, all investors should do their research and make sure they’re not looking for a chair when the music stops.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
Russia and the U.S. together sent over $184 million to illicit online marketplaces in 2020, blockchain research firm Chainalysis said in its latest report.
According to an excerpt from the firm’s upcoming “2021 Crypto Crime Report,” published Monday, online marketplaces providing illegal goods like drugs and fake IDs received a record-setting amount of cryptocurrency last year, equivalent to $1.7 billion. Russia, the U.S., Ukraine and China are leading the global money traffic to such platforms.
Darknet marketplaces receive most of their money through peer-to-peer crypto marketplaces and centralized exchanges, Chainalysis wrote. However, in 2020, the use of centralized exchanges increased, as did mixing services, which allow to obfuscate the participants in a cryptocurrency transaction.
The report lists 10 countries that are most actively interacting with dark markets: Russia, the U.S., Ukraine, China, the U.K., Venezuela, Vietnam, Turkey, India and Germany. Together, these nations sent $538 million to illicit markets during 2020, while they received $403 million, Chainalysis said.
Russia sent around $169 million to the various darknet marketplaces, and received $119 million from such sites. The U.S. comes second, with $115 million sent and $64 million received. In a perhaps unexpected third place ahead of China, Ukraine sent to $47 million and received $52 million.
“Generally speaking, drugs are grown or manufactured in Latin America and Asia and consumed in North America and Northern & Western Europe,” the report reads. “Darknet vendors and administrators typically launder funds through cryptocurrency services – often over-the-counter (OTC) brokers – in China or Eastern Europe. We can see some of this activity in the blockchain data associated with darknet market transactions.”
The biggest marketplace in the field by far is Hydra, a Russian-language drug marketplace that pocketed 75% of the entire global dark market revenue, Chainalysis said. Hydra was mostly responsible for the rapid growth in the global dark market revenue over the last year, while the income of other marketplaces didn’t change significantly between 2019 and 2020.
Hydra delivers drugs to buyers via “drops,” in which a delivery person hides the purchase close to a buyer and shares the geolocation of the package so it can be collected. In December 2019, Hydra announced it wanted to expand to other regions of the world and would hold a $146 million token sale. This was later put on hold due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
According to the data from Bitfury’s data firm Crystal Blockchain, currently, Hydra’s bitcoin addresses hold more than 521 BTC, worth over $18 million. Since 2011, Hydra has sent and received more than 439,000 BTC ($15.2 billion).
Chainalysis has been researching the various aspects of geography of cryptocurrency use for several years, although the firm admits locating such activity on the globe is a tricky task and such research has its limitations.
To see where in the world crypto markets are most active, Chainalysis looks into such data as web traffic on the particular services via SimilarWeb, time zones in which transactions take place, fiat currencies involved, languages and the location of the headquarters of the services, the firm’s head of research Kim Grauer told CoinDesk for a previous report on cryptocurrency adoption around the globe.