It’s that time of the bull market season—the time to borrow money at a dangerously high rate and possibly ruin your life.
Binance has now made margin trading available for all users on its platform, and, according to a press release, has built a revamped interface to mark the occasion.
Though the vast crypto exchange has steadily drip fed news of the imminent trading platform for several weeks, traders, starting today, will now be able to access a separate “Binance Margin Trading” account, into which they will be able to deposit funds for margin lending, borrowing and trading.
Margin trading is a dangerous affair. It allows traders to borrow funds to trade with, amplifying their gains if the price of a traded asset goes up but equally amplifying their losses if the price goes down. The funds are borrowed against an initial deposit—collateral—and if the losses are severe enough the exchange will “liquidate” this deposit—that is, appropriate it and sell it off the make up for the shortfall.
Compared with widely trafficked margin trading platform BitMEX’s notorious “100X” leverage—which permits traders to borrow at a rate of 100 times their collateral—Binance’s margin platform, which lets traders borrow up to three times the amount deposited, is relatively tame. Still, fully regulated platforms like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange only offer margins of up to 0.5 times the initial amount.
The astonishingly high margin afforded to traders in the crypto markets has made getting “REKT”—that is, when your assets are liquidated—a morbid cultural touchstone. Just look at this twitter feed from this morning, which describes ruinous losses from traders in the argot of a WWE hypeman: “M-M-M-M-MONSTER KILL!” “RAMPAGE!”
Much is already the same with Binance Margin Trading. Though the platform officially launches today, it has been available for select users for some weeks. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao was quick to congratulate the first trader to be liquidated. “Don't bet against bitcoin,” he cautioned.
The woes of liquidated margin traders compounded some months ago when Poloniex, another exchange that offers margin trading, lent more to traders than it could cover. When the price of a thinly traded token called “CLAM” collapsed suddenly, the exchange offloaded the debt onto traders who were unexposed to the asset, a legally dubious practise known as “socializing” the losses.
For the sake of Binance’s incoming legions of margin traders, let’s hope number go up.