Good news for you, Satoshi, wherever you are! There’s a new way for traders to exchange high volumes of Bitcoin, without crashing the market.
The Republic Protocol project announced an open-source solution that will allow third parties to create “dark pools” for anonymous cryptocurrency exchanges. In a release issued today, Republic Protocol stated that its dark pool platform will allow cryptocurrency exchanges to create private rooms for “trustless cross-chain atomic trading” of Bitcoin and Ethereum Tokens.
A “dark pool” is a marketplace that offers high liquidity to high-volume traders, without exposing their movements to the investing public.
This isn’t the first Dark Pool for cryptocurrencies—Kraken runs one of the largest—but it is the first platform to offer an enterprise solution to facilitate other parties in setting up their own. “Other crypto businesses will now be able to design and deploy dark pools powered by Republic Protocol that serve the broad spectrum of different trader preferences based on fees, regulation, governance or any number of other factors,” the company explained in its press release.
Naturally, the first dark pool on the Republic Protocol platform will be the one run by Republic Protocol itself. RenEx, or Ren Exchange, will provide large-volume traders for a flat fee of 0.2%, and is expected to go live sometime in Q3.
Dipping into the Dark Pool
Here’s how it works. Imagine a young Mrs. Nakomoto, ready to sell off her enormous million-bitcoin fortune and retire in unimaginable luxury to her condo on the Moon.
However, selling a million bitcoins is a bit more complicated than logging into Binance. For one thing, there isn’t enough liquidity in the entire crypto market to buy up that many bitcoins, and by the time she’s found enough buyers the volume of her sale would have crashed the price. She could conceivably ease her impact by selling only a bitcoin or two a day–at that rate, she’d finally free herself of her golden shackles sometime around the year 3388 AD.
Alternatively, Ms. Nakomoto could sell her Bitcoins in an over-the-counter trade. OTC Markets specialize in trades between high rollers; ItBit, for example, has a minimum trade of 25 BTC. Instead of announcing her price on a public order-book, Ms. Satoshi would negotiate with buyers for a private deal. The final price would be kept confidential, to avoid unduly influencing the market.
But even that might pose a challenge, especially for a ten-billion-dollar fortune. Given her fame, the very name Satoshi might cause tremors throughout the global market, not to mention the inevitable pearl-clutching and salt-sniffing from “technical analysis” fortune tellers. At this point, she needs something a little stronger: a place to trade without being watched.
That’s where dark pools come in. Dark pools preserve the anonymity and volumes of their trades, so that the rest of the market doesn’t go into hysterics every time a high roller wants to cash out. Here’s how Investopedia explains a dark pool:
“The primary advantage of dark pool trading is that institutional investors making large trades can do so without exposure while finding buyers and sellers. This prevents heavy price devaluation which would otherwise occur. If it were public knowledge, for example, that an investment bank was trying to sell 500,000 shares of a security, the security would almost certainly have decreased in value by the time the bank found buyers for all of their shares.”
So, despite an extremely sinister name, dark pools provide an important function for a marketplace which is still subject to mood swings.
The Republic Protocol system won’t be quite like the Dark Pools maintained by Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. In true crypto fashion, the system will rely on an elaborate system of incentives to keep players following the rules. RenEx “Dark Nodes” run the order-matching engine that allows the pools to function; the existence of multiple dark pools will alleviate counterparty risks. To prevent mischief, the Darknodes must pay a bond of 100,000 Ren, the native currency of the Republic Platform.
At the 205th spot by Market Cap, it’s not yet clear if the Republic Protocol will find success, or even a market. But, if crypto wealth continues to grow, the need for private marketplaces is unlikely to diminish.
Disclaimer: The author is invested in Bitcoin and Ethereum.