The Wild Ride of Tellor (TRB): A Crypto Drama Unfolds
The trading activity of Tellor (TRB) on Dec. 31 led to the elimination of leveraged positions worth over $68 million. A transfer of $2.4 million from the Tellor team to Coinbase further intensified the situation. This blog post aims to dissect the dramatic price fluctuations of TRB, the suspicions of market manipulation, the influence of ‘whale’ wallets, and the repercussions on decentralized derivatives protocols.
The Unexpected Price Shift
Tellor (TRB), an altcoin that has largely flown under the radar, recently found itself in the spotlight due to a significant price shift. On the final day of the year, TRB’s price experienced a meteoric rise, soaring by nearly 150% to a record-breaking $619. This surge was as swift as it was surprising, painting a rosy picture for TRB holders. However, the celebration was short-lived as the price plummeted to $136 within a mere 13 hours, leaving the market in a state of shock.
This drastic price shift didn’t just raise eyebrows but also triggered allegations of possible market manipulation. Critics pointed to data from Etherscan, a well-known blockchain explorer, which showed a transfer of 4,211 TRB (equivalent to around $2.4 million) from the Tellor team to a Coinbase wallet. Intriguingly, this transfer seemed to align perfectly with the timing of the price surge, further fueling the speculations.
The Aftereffect of Price Decline
The abrupt price decline resulted in liquidations surpassing $68 million. Blockchain analytics services Lookonchain, referencing data from CoinGlass, underscored this in a Jan. 1 post on X (formerly Twitter), noting that within 24 hours, TRB’s price had rocketed to $600 and then plummeted to $137, making it the token with the highest liquidation.
Blockchain analytics platform Spot on Chain proposed that the extreme price swings could be linked to the fact that 26% of TRB’s circulating supply is held by just 20 “whale” wallets. These whales reportedly started accumulating TRB at prices close to $15 and have been progressively transferring their holdings to centralized exchanges amidst seemingly artificial price movements, presumably to secure higher profits.
The Muted Response from Tellor
In the midst of the controversy, Tellor has maintained silence. For those unfamiliar, TRB is the utility token for Tellor, a decentralized oracle network similar to Chainlink (LINK), which supplies price data to smart contracts on blockchain networks.
Interestingly, several decentralized perpetual trading protocols such as Synthetix (SNX) and Hyperliquid were inadvertently affected, with SNX stakers enduring losses in the low seven figures following TRB’s sudden price movement. This was reportedly due to a malfunction in the automated risk parameters on the decentralized protocol, which failed to recognize that TRB’s price was allegedly being actively manipulated to generate abnormal price points.
Further to this, Kain Warwick, the founder of Synthetix, disclosed in a post on Jan. 1 that stakers of Synthetix had incurred losses amounting to approximately $2 million. He traced this back to TRB’s open interest cap of $250,000, which inflated to $12.5 million as the price climbed over the past few months. Notably, this cap was applied to TRB, not a fixed notional USD amount, enabling traders to persist in placing disproportionately large bets on decentralized derivatives contracts. Warwick asserted that risk management in a decentralized perpetual exchange like Synthetix needs to be inherently integrated and cannot be addressed through conventional dispute resolution mechanisms such as courts.
The recent rollercoaster ride of Tellor (TRB) serves as a potent reminder of the inherent volatility and unpredictability of the cryptocurrency market. The dramatic price fluctuations, allegations of market manipulation, and the ripple effects on decentralized derivatives protocols underscore the complexities and challenges in this rapidly evolving digital landscape. The crypto community now eagerly awaits further developments and potential regulatory responses to these dramatic price swings. This incident underscores the importance of robust risk management strategies in decentralized exchanges and the need for transparency in market activities.