Cryptocurrencies

Competition amongst cryptocurrencies and exchanges

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In one of the first of its kind, Neil Gandal and Hanna Halaburda have released a new Bank of Canada working paper exploring the relationships between exchange rates between the USD and various cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin). Here is the abstract with their findings:

We analyze how network effects affect competition in the nascent cryptocurrency market. We do so by examining the changes over time in exchange rate data among cryptocurrencies. Specifically, we look at two aspects: (1) competition among different currencies, and (2) competition among exchanges where those currencies are traded. Our data suggest that the winner-take-all effect is dominant early in the market. During this period, when Bitcoin becomes more valuable against the U.S. dollar, it also becomes more valuable against other cryptocurrencies. This trend is reversed in the later period. The data in the later period are consistent with the use of cryptocurrencies as financial assets (popularized by Bitcoin), and not consistent with “winner-take-all” dynamics. For exchanges, we find little if any evidence of arbitrage opportunities. With no arbitrage opportunities, it is possible for multiple exchanges to coexist in equilibrium despite two-sided network effects.

The paper is here. None of this is surprising and it reflects the ‘early days’ of these new instruments. It is nice to see the wealth of data being created being placed under the microscope.

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