On 1 May at 18:30 UTC, as part of navigation improvement, we have updated the frontend location of the UPs/DOWNs to its own tab.
To better serve customer support requests, we have created a new support page to manage customer inquiries at https://bitmex.com/app/support/contact. We will continue to improve this page with future updates, such as multi-language forms.
Please note that while email@example.com will continue to function until further notice, we recommend customers use this new form to contact the Support team.
Thank you for being part of the BitMEX community!
HDR Global Trading, the owner of BitMEX, has partnered with Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), a global provider of high-performance professional trading software. Through the partnership, traders eligible to trade at BitMEX now have access to market-leading trading tools via TT on all BitMEX products, including the flagship XBTUSD Perpetual Swap.
Arthur Hayes, CEO of BitMEX, said: “Like Trading Technologies, BitMEX is committed to providing innovative financial products and a seamless experience for sophisticated traders. By combining our robust technologies, this partnership will not only extend BitMEX’s unique services to Trading Technologies’ discerning clients, but advance our mutual vision to unlock access to cutting-edge cryptocurrency products.”
“This collaboration with BitMEX brings our award-winning trading software to a much broader cryptocurrency market. We expect this partnership will grow trading volume on BitMEX, not only through our existing clients, who want access to cryptocurrencies, but also through new users keen to leverage professional trading software and enjoy better trading experiences,” said Rick Lane, CEO of Trading Technologies.
The TT platform provides professional traders with direct global market access and trade execution through TT’s privately managed infrastructure spanning five continents. Designed specifically for professional traders, brokers, and market-access providers, TT incorporates a broad array of customizable tools to accommodate trading styles that range from manual point-and-click trading to automated order entry.
About Trading Technologies
Trading Technologies (www.tradingtechnologies.com, @Trading_Tech) creates professional trading software, infrastructure and data solutions for a wide variety of users, including proprietary traders, brokers, money managers, CTAs, hedge funds, commercial hedgers and risk managers. In addition to providing access to the world’s major international exchanges and liquidity venues, TT offers domain-specific technology for cryptocurrency trading and machine-learning tools for real-time trade surveillance.
On 2 April 2019 between 04:44:34 UTC and 05:22:08 UTC, less than 200 positions were auto-deleveraged due to the sharp price movements of the underlying mark price on XBTU19 and ETHM19.
At the time of these auto-deleveraging events, the Insurance Fund allocated to these contracts was minimal. The Insurance Fund is allocated individually to each contract according to how many liquidations contribute to that specific contract (System Gains and Losses). In the case of expired contracts, BitMEX has a process in place to roll over the Insurance Fund allocated to these contracts into the next front month contract. With the recent expiry on the 29th March 2019, this process failed and front month contracts did not receive their reallocation, and the funds remained unallocated. As a result, a handful of users were auto-deleveraged upon large liquidations within these affected contracts.
BitMEX receives auto-deleveraging reports and was made aware of the unusually high rate of auto-deleveraging events, at which point we investigated the matter. We identified the root cause, corrected the allocation and put further controls in place to ensure that reallocation failures are automatically flagged internally.
For users that were affected, BitMEX will be reaching out to you personally to explain the situation and document your compensation. We compensated users based on the maximum potential profit that they would have made over the timeframe of these auto-deleveraging events. We exited these users at the best price of each contract: longs at 5,079.5 on XBTU19 and shorts at 0.03103 on ETHM19. BitMEX did not profit from these auto-deleveraged positions.
We apologise for any inconvenience this caused. Should you have any questions, please contact customer support.
On 29 March at 12:00 UTC, BitMEX experienced a minor outage for approximately 15 seconds whereby all requests would have been load shed as the engine was blocked during settlement operations. The platform was back to normal after the 15 second outage.
At 20:13 UTC, the BitMEX website experienced a limited interruption in service to a small group of users. The issue was immediately identified and fixed. The API was not affected.
We apologise for the inconvenience. Should you have any questions, please contact customer support.
Did you take your losses like a champ, or bottom tick the market with your market close order? The first quarter of 2019 witnessed depressed volumes, volatility, and price. The local lows of late 2018 have not been retested; however the market chop makes me feel like I’m at the Saudi embassy.
The repair of crypto investors balance sheets is not done yet. Losses must be digested, and the unlucky masses must wage cuck a bit longer to get back in the game.
All is not lost; nothing goes up or down in a straight line. 2019 will be boring, but green shoots will appear towards year end. The mighty central bank printing presses paused for a while, but economic sophists could not resist the siren call of free money. They are busy inventing the academic crutches (here’s looking at your MMT), to justify the next global money printing orgy.
Do not despair. CRipple is still worth more than zero. And Justin Sun’s new age religion TRON, paired with the Pope CZ, tells us there are those still willing to eat shitcoins with a smile.
Electric Cars and Sand Schmucks
While Bitcoin is an innovative technology, the technical merits of the protocol do not exist in a vacuum. The world’s monetary situation is very important. It determines how willing investors are able to suspend disbelief and believe crypto fan boys and girls.
Throughout 2018 the omnipotent Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet and raising short term interest rates. The world still beats to the tune of the USD. Financial institutions and governments require cheap dollars, and the Fed happily obliged since the 2008 GFC.
Tech VC funds won’t admit it, but cheap dollars are key to their business. How else can you convince LPs to continually fund negative gross margin businesses, until they “scale” and achieve profitability? Everyone wants to become the next Facebook.
When investing in government bonds yields zero or negative, desperate investors will do whatever it takes to obtain yield. Tesla is a perfect example. Lord Elon is a master at creating open-faced pits, and torching his investors’ money in them. Tesla does not belong on the Nasdaq, but rather as a speciality flavour at the New York Bagel Co.
The market disagrees with my Tesla melancholy, investors continue to line up to eat Elon’s sexy Tesla hot shit cakes. Can you blame them, after you are fully invested in the S&P500 where else will you be able to show alpha to your investors?
Another example of this free money folly is the Vision Fund.
- Top tick the “Value” your investments while still on the Softbank’s books.
- Find a group of schmucks from the sand (That’s where the former Deutsche credit boys come in, “Be Bold”)
- Sell your mark-to-fantasy private Unicorns into the vehicle populated by your sand schmucks
- Take your cash and payout to your Japanese investors as dividends.
These entities thrived while the Fed held rates at 0% and reinvested their treasury and MBS roll off. TSLA hit its all-time high in mid-2017. Since then Elon has struggled to generate enough buzz to keep his stock elevated. I’m sure he isn’t thrilled that bondholders are due close to $1 billion in cash because the stock price failed to scale $360.
The Vision Fund’s sand schmucks also got cold feet. They baulked when the fund proposed to invest an additional $20 billion into the We-Broke company. The check size got sliced down to $2 billion.
When dollars get scarce suddenly investors discover value investing all over again.
The height of crypto silliness in December 2017 occurred just before the Fed embarked on its quantitative tightening. The 2018 pain train spared no crypto asset or shitcoin.
But things are a changin’. The Fed couldn’t stomach a 20% correction in the SPX. In the recent Fed minutes, the dot plot now shows no rate increases for the rest of 2019. The Fed will start reinvesting its runoff in the third quarter. We are only a hop, skip, and a jump away from an expanding Fed balance sheet.
Beijing knows China must rebalance its economy away from credit-fueled fixed asset investment. However, Xi must not have the political cojones to push this sort of painful change through. Therefore, the PBOC said “fuck it” to any attempt to reign in credit growth. The two most important central banks are creepin’ back into a super easy credit regime.
Easy money will manifest itself in other higher profile and more liquid dogshit before crypto. 2019 will feature an IPO beauty pageant of some of the best cash destroying businesses. Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and possibly the We company all are rumoured to IPO this year.
Lyft is apparently oversubscribed for its upcoming IPO. Oh baby, this is going to be a fun year.
If these beauties can price at the top of the range, and trade above the IPO price, we know that party time is back. Crypto will be the last asset class to feel the love. Too many people lost too much money, in too short a time period, to immediately Fomo back into the markets.
Green shoots will begin to appear in early Q4. Free money and collective amnesia are powerful drugs. Also after two years of wage cucking, punters should have a few sheckles to rub together.
The 2019 chop will be intense, but the markets will claw back to $10,000. That is a very significant psychological barrier. It’s a nice round sexy number. $20,000 is the ultimate recovery. However, it took 11 months from $1,000 to $10,000, but less than one month from $10,000 to $20,000 back to $10,000.
Melissa Lee peep this. $10,000 is my number, and I’m stickin’ to it.
On 19 February at 05:31 UTC, BitMEX experienced a minor outage for approximately 1 minute whereby all trading engine operations were suspended.
This issue occurred due to a sustained period of data transfers between the internal market data distribution components. This was part of a regularly scheduled update to improve the overall resiliency of the platform. The root cause has been identified and a fix via internal processes has been put in place to prevent a recurrence. Additionally, we are continuing to re-work our market data distribution architecture to eliminate any potential impact to the trading engine in such a scenario.
We apologise for the inconvenience. Should you have any questions, please contact customer support.
Abstract: In this piece, we explore why the BitMEX insurance fund is needed and how it operates. We compare the BitMEX insurance fund model, to the systems utilized by other more traditional leveraged market places (e.g. CME). We conclude that crypto-currency trading platforms which offer leverage and a capped downside face some unique challenges, when compared to traditional institutional trading platforms. However, the growth of BitMEX’s insurance fund provides a reasonable level of assurance to winning traders that they will be able to attain their expected profits.
(BitMEX Co-founder & CEO Arthur Hayes (left) and CME Chairman & CEO Terrence Duffy (right))
Leveraged Trading Platforms
When one trades on a derivatives trading platform such as BitMEX, one does not trade against the platform. BitMEX is merely a facilitator for the exchange of derivatives contracts between third parties. A key feature of the BitMEX platform is its leverage, where traders can deposit Bitcoin, then leverage it up, (in theory up to 100x) and purchase contracts with a notional position size far higher than the value of the Bitcoin they deposited.
The combination of offering both leverage and the ability for traders to trade against each other implies winners are not always guaranteed to get back all the profits they expect. Due to the leverage involved, the losers may not have enough margin in their positions to pay the winners.
Consider the following simplified example, where the platform consists of two customers trading against each other:
|Trader A||Trader B|
|Direction of trade||Long||Short|
|Margin||1 BTC||1 BTC|
|Trade execution price||$3,500|
|Notional position size||10 BTC||10 BTC|
|Current BTC price||$4,000|
In the above example, the winning trader A expects to make a profit of $5,000, which is greater than the amount of capital the loser, trader B, put up as collateral for the trade (one Bitcoin is worth $4,000). As such, trader A can only make 1 BTC ($4,000) in profits, perhaps making him/her feel slightly disappointed.
Traditional exchanges like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) do not share this problem to the same extent as crypto-platforms such as BitMEX. In traditional leveraged trading venues, there are often up to five layers of protection, which ensure winners get to keep their expected profits:
- In the event an individual trader makes a loss greater than the collateral they have in their account, such that their account balance is negative, they are required to finance this position by injecting more funds into their account. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, their broker may initiate legal proceedings against the trader, forcing the trader to provide the funds or file for bankruptcy. Each trader must use a broker, who may evaluate the balance sheet and capital of each of their clients, providing each client a custom amount of leverage depending on the assessment of their particular risk.
- In traditional derivative markets, traders are not typically given direct access to trading platforms. Instead, clients access the market through their brokers (clearing members), for instance investment banks such as JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs. In the event a trader endures losses and the debt cannot be recovered, the broker is required to pay the exchange and make the counterparties whole. From the perspective of the exchange, these brokers are sometimes referred to as clearing members.
- In the event of a clearing member default, the centralised clearing entity itself is often required to make the counterparties whole. In many circumstances clearing and settlement is conducted by a separate entity to the one operating the exchange. The clearing house often has various insurance funds or insurance products in order to finance clearing member defaults.
- In the event of a clearing member failing and the centralized clearing entity also having insufficient funds, in some circumstances the other solvent clearing members are expected to provide capital.
- Many of the larger clearing houses (and perhaps even the larger brokers) are often considered systemically important for the global financial system by financial regulators. Therefore in a doomsday scenario where it looks likely that a major clearing house could fail, it is possible the government may step in and bail out traders, to protect the integrity of the financial system. Traders and institutions often have massive notional positions (multi-trillions of USD) hedged against other positions or instruments, typically in the interest rate swap market. Therefore it is crucial that the main clearing houses remain solvent or the entire financial system could collapse.
CME is the world’s largest derivatives exchange, with an annual notional trading volume of over one quadrillion USD; it is over 1,000x as large as BitMEX. CME has several buckets of safeguards and insurance to provide protection in the event that a clearing member defaults. The funds are financed in various ways:
- Contributions from CME
- Contributions from clearing members
- Bonds placed by clearing members, redeemable by the clearing funds in the event of member default
CME Clearing’s Various Safeguards and Insurance Funds (2018)
|Base Financial Safeguards Package|
|Guaranty Fund Contributions||$4.6 billion|
|Designated Corporate Contributions||$100 million|
|Assessment Powers||$12.7 billion|
|IRS Financial Safeguards Package|
|Guaranty Fund Contributions||$2.9 billion|
|Designated Corporate Contributions||$150 million|
|Assessment Powers||$1.3 billion|
In exceptional circumstances, CME also has the power to apply “assessment powers” against non-defaulting clearing members to help finance the cost of defaulting members when all the other insurance funds have been drained. The value of the assessment powers is capped at 2.75x for each clearing member guarantee fund per member default.
Based on the size of the insurance funds in the above table, CME has around US$22 billion in various insurance funds. This represents around 0.002% of CME’s annual notional value of trading.
BitMEX and other crypto-currency trading platforms that offer leverage cannot currently offer the same protections to winning traders as traditional exchanges like CME. Crypto-currency is a retail-driven market and customers expect direct access to the platform. At the same time, crypto-trading platforms offer the ability to cap the downside exposure which is attractive for retail clients, therefore crypto-exchanges do not hunt down clients and demand payments from those with negative account balances. Leveraged crypto-currency platforms like BitMEX offer an attractive proposition to clients: a capped downside and unlimited upside on a highly volatile underlying asset. But traders pay a price for this, as in some circumstances there may not be enough funds in the system to pay winners what they expect.
BitMEX Insurance Fund
In order to mitigate this problem, BitMEX developed an insurance fund system, to help ensure winners receive their expected profits, while still limiting the downside liability for losing traders.
When a trader has an open leveraged position, if their maintenance margin is too low, their position is closed forcefully (i.e. liquidated). Unlike in traditional markets, the trader’s profit and loss does not reflect the actual price their position was closed on the market. On BitMEX if a trader is liquidated, their equity associated with the position always goes down to zero.
|Example trading position|
|Direction of trade||Long|
|Bitcoin price (at opening)||$4,000|
|Notional position size||100 BTC = $400,000|
|Maintenance margin as percentage of notional position||0.5%|
In the above example, the trader has a 100x long position. If the mark price of Bitcoin falls 0.5% (to $3,980) the position is liquidated and the 100 Bitcoin position needs to be sold on the market. From the perspective of the liquidated trader, it does not matter what price this trade executes at, whether its $3,995 or $3,000, either way they lose all the equity they had in their position, they lose the entire one Bitcoin.
Now, assuming there is a liquid market, the bid/ask spread should be tighter than the maintenance margin. In this scenario, the liquidations result in contributions to the insurance fund (e.g. if the maintenance margin is 50bps, but the market is 1bp wide), then the insurance fund will rise by almost as much as the maintenance margin when a position is liquidated. Therefore, as long as healthy liquid markets persist, the insurance fund should continue to grow at a steady pace.
The two graphics below attempt to illustrate the above example. In the first chart, at the time of liquidation, market conditions are healthy and the bid/ask spread is narrow, at just $2. As such, the closing trade occurs at a price higher than the bankruptcy price (the price where the margin balance is zero) and the insurance fund benefits. In the second chart, at the time of liquidation the bid/ask spread is wide. The closing trade occurs at a price lower than the bankruptcy price, therefore the insurance fund is used to ensure the winning traders receive their expected profits. This may seem like it would be a rare occurrence, but there is no guarantee such healthy market conditions will continue, especially in times of heightened price volatility. In these times, the insurance fund can drain much faster than it builds up.
Illustrative example of an insurance contribution – Long 100x with 1 BTC collateral
(Note: The above illustration is based on opening a 100x long position at $4,000 per BTC and 1 Bitcoin of collateral. The illustration is an oversimplification and ignores factors such as fees and other adjustments. The bid and offer prices represent the state of the order book at the time of liquidation. The closing trade price is $3,978, representing $1 of slippage compared to the $3,979 bid price at the time of liquidation.)
Illustrative example of an insurance depletion – Long 100x with 1 BTC collateral
(Notes: The above illustration is based on opening a 100x long position at $4,000 per BTC and 1 Bitcoin of collateral. The illustration is an oversimplification and ignores factors such as fees and other adjustments. The bid and offer prices represent the state of the order book at the time of liquidation. The closing trade price is $3,800, representing $20 of slippage compared to the $3,820 bid price at the time of liquidation.)
The BitMEX insurance fund currently sits at around 21,000 Bitcoin or around US$70 million based on current Bitcoin spot prices. This represents only 0.007% of BitMEX’s notional annual trading volume, of around one trillion USD. Although this is slightly higher than CME’s insurance funds as a proportion of trading volume, winning traders on BitMEX are exposed to much larger risks than CME traders through the following:
- BitMEX does not have clearing members with large balance sheets and traders are directly exposed to each other.
- BitMEX does not demand payments from traders with negative account balances.
- The underlying instruments on BitMEX are more volatile than the more traditional instruments available on CME.
In the event that the insurance fund becomes depleted, winners cannot be confident of taking home as much profit as they are entitled to. Instead, as we described above, winners need to make a contribution to cover the losses of the losers. This process on BitMEX is called auto-deleveraging.
Auto-deleveraging has not occurred on the BitMEX Bitcoin perpetual swap contract since March 2017. In early March 2017, the SEC disapproved the Winklevoss’ application for the COIN Bitcoin ETF. On that day, the market dropped 30% in five minutes. The sharp price drop depleted the insurance fund entirely. Many XBTUSD shorts were ADL’d (Automatic Deleveraging) and their profits were capped.
Although the BitMEX insurance fund has grown considerably since then, crypto-currency trading is a volatile and uncertain industry. Despite the current healthy periods of reasonably high liquidity, sharp movements in the Bitcoin price going forwards is a possibility, in our view. One cannot be certain that ADL’s won’t occur again, even on the BitMEX Bitcoin perpetual swap contract.
Insurance Fund Data
Although the absolute value of the insurance fund has grown, as the charts below show as a proportion of other metrics from the BitMEX trading platform, such as open interest, the growth is less pronounced.
BitMEX Insurance Fund – Daily data since January 2018
BitMEX Insurance Fund as a proportion of the BitMEX Bitcoin perpetual swap open interest – Daily data since January 2018
Assuming the insurance fund remains capitalized, the system operates under a principle where those who get liquidated pay for liquidations, a losers pay for losers model. While this approach may be considered somewhat novel, in a way there is a degree of fairness to it, that isn’t present in some alternative models mentioned above. It begs the question, why should traders who do not engage in risky leveraged bets have to pay for those that do?
Although 21,000 Bitcoin inside an insurance fund, worth around 0.1% of the total Bitcoin supply may seem large, BitMEX cannot offer the same robust guarantees to winning traders, compared to those provided by traditional leveraged trading platforms. While the insurance fund has achieved a healthy size, it may not be large enough to give winning traders the confidence they need in the volatile and unpredictable bumpy road ahead in the crypto-currency space. Given such volatility, it’s not impossible that the fund is drained down to zero again.
Between 05:40 and 07:11 UTC today, a subset of the requests to the BitMEX REST API experienced slow API responses and eventual API timeouts due to resource contention at the API layer. Upon detection via our internal alerting mechanisms we identified the cause and mitigated the immediate impact within a few minutes. There is currently no ongoing issue and there was no impact to the trading engine or user data during this time.
Fixes for the underlying root cause of the issue have been identified and are being worked on as a priority. We will follow up with another announcement once these are live. We have also increased the sensitivity of our system monitoring to detect and resolve potential similar issues much sooner. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Earlier today, the testnet.bitmex.com website and the API were not available for approximately 16 minutes from 19:42 to 19:57 UTC. We identified the cause, made adjustments and service has resumed immediately. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
In response to last week’s post, yesterday we successfully released an enhancement to our internal market data distribution component’s re-subscription logic. This addresses the root cause of the previous week’s issue and along with the additional safety mechanism to prevent impact to the trading engine deployed at the time, we don’t anticipate a reoccurrence of last week’s issue.
On 9 January BitMEX experienced two unrelated minor outages.
At 02:44:10 UTC the WebSocket API saw a degradation in performance for a minute where 7% of commands sent by clients failed. Connections continued undergoing a 1% failure rate of commands until servers recovered at 02:47:00 UTC.
Clients may have also seen an increase in response times for some market data REST endpoints up during this period. This was due to a rolling restart of the API servers that occurred in too tight of a timeframe.
In addition, at 05:48:10 UTC and 06:10:10 UTC, BitMEX experienced minor outages for approximately 30 seconds whereby requests to the trading engine were load-shed as the engine was busy. During these times, clients would have observed a lack of updates over the WebSocket API for the same reason. The outages were due to data replay complications during a regularly scheduled market data distribution component restart.
There was no data loss during these events and an additional safety mechanism to prevent a similar situation from impacting the trading engine has already been deployed. The root causes have also been identified and we are currently working on permanent fixes to prevent a recurrence. Updates will follow in the future.
We apologise for the inconvenience. If you have any questions, please contact customer support.