FCoin Crypto Exchange Draws Fire for Controversial Business Model

China-based FCoin – a new crypto exchange launched in May that takes a novel revenue model – has come under the spotlight after its trading volumes appear to have almost immediately surpassed some of the largest exchanges.

While the platform’s trading data is currently not visible on more notable third party sites such as CoinMarketCap, a similar service in China indicates that FCoin saw over $5.6 billion in trading volume over the last 24 hours – more than the sum of the top-10 platforms on CoinMarketCap.

Seemingly contributing to that spiking volume is the service’s new business model, called “trans-fee mining,” which is seen as controversial by the Chinese cryptocurrency media and has also been criticized by Binance, one of the world’s largest exchanges.

Founded by Zhang Jian, the former chief technology officer of Huobi, FCoin touts a new business model that effectively turns cryptocurrency trading into mining, since it provides a means to obtain FT tokens issued by FCoin.

According to the platform’s white paper, the total amount of FT is capped at 10 billion, 51 percent of which will be allocated to the public and 49 percent will be held by FCoin and its investors.

But instead of adopting an initial coin offering or an airdrop, FCoin is issuing 51 percent of tokens to the public in exchange for making transactions on the exchange. For instance, for every transaction fee a user pays to FCoin in the form of either bitcoin or ethereum, the platform will reimburse the user 100 percent of the value in FTs.

In addition, FCoin says, for all the bitcoin and ethereum it collects in transaction fees daily, it will distribute 80 percent in bitcoin to users who hold their FTs continuously throughout the day.

However, within a month of FCoin’s debut, various media outlets in the Chinese crypto community had raised questions over whether traders are just using bots to send fake transactions to receive the FT coins. Zhang has denied the accusation, claiming all trading transactions are authentic.

Binance’s founder and CEO Zhao Changpeng has also weighed in to criticize the platform, alleging that “trans-fee mining” is just another form of ICO.

He wrote on his Weibo account on Wednesday:

“You pay transaction fees to the platform with BTC and ETH. Then the platform pays ‘100%’ back to you with its token. Isn’t it just buying platform token with BTC and ETH? How is this different from an ICO?”

Zhao went on, accusing the firm of, in effect, making money through price manipulation:

“If an exchange doesn’t get revenue from transaction fees and solely profits from the price of its token. How would it survive without manipulating the token price? Are you sure you want to play against a price manipulator? The same price manipulator who controls the trading platform?”

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