Bitcoin enthusiasts agree the digital currency hit a record recently. What they don’t agree on is the level of that milestone or even when it was set.
Data provider Refinitiv recorded an all-time high of $19,510 on Nov. 25. Research and news site CoinDesk recorded the high at $19,921 on Dec. 1. Another startup-data provider, Messari, put the high at $19,931, also on Dec. 1. Other exchanges and data providers have their own numbers.
The fractured marketplace has prompted the introduction of a new crop of tools to help investors track the burgeoning, volatile industry. Since bitcoin exploded in popularity again this fall, S&P Dow Jones Indices has said it would create cryptocurrency indexes. Other firms have launched a bitcoin-volatility index and a tool that aims to be the Bloomberg screen of the crypto industry.
“That’s the biggest problem for trading, getting that historical data,” said Anthony Denier, the chief executive of trading platform Webull Financial LLC, which began allowing its clients to trade cryptocurrencies last month. “Where do you pull the data from? There’s no NYSE, no
or Nasdaq that will match up exactly with every other provider.”
The discrepancies in the bitcoin data reflect the nature of the industry itself. Bitcoin and hundreds of other cryptocurrencies trade on independent exchanges around the world. Every exchange manages its own data feed, comprising millions of trades. Some are regulated and transparent; others are notorious for unreliable volume numbers and fraudulent trading.
In traditional capital markets, exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange and
Nasdaq Stock Market
provide troves of data that help investors value the underlying assets in mutual, index and exchange-traded funds. That doesn’t exist in the crypto market.
Startups like Messari, CryptoCompare, CoinDesk and others have been trying to aggregate data within the industry for years, but as the market grows, traditional companies, like S&P, are jumping in.
S&P unveiled a partnership with the crypto-data provider Lukka earlier this month to create a suite of indexing products for cryptocurrencies. Although details about the projects are scarce, Peter Roffman, the global head of innovation and strategy at S&P, said the company plans to launch a couple of products early next year and create other lines of index products over time.
What mainly exists currently, he said, are market-data feeds that average prices across a number of exchanges. That makes it difficult to come up with an acceptable definition of fair-market value.
“Our goal is to create transparency in markets that investors have interest in,” he said. “Something that I think a lot of people and organizations don’t realize is that crypto is different than traditional markets.”