Curve’s CRV Token Under Short Selling Attack, Volatility Surges
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Curve’s CRV Token Under Short Selling Attack, Volatility Surges

Curve's CRV tokens are possibly under a coordinated short selling, according to on-chain data.
Neither the author, Tim Fries, nor this website, The Tokenist, provide financial advice. Please consult our website policy prior to making financial decisions.

With billions in trading volume leaving centralized exchanges (CEXes), their decentralized counterparts are surging in volatility. One of them is Curve.Fi. On Tuesday, its CRV token dropped by -24%, only to rise over the week’s top, from bottomed $0.409 to $0.708, and then back down again.

From on-chain data, it appears there that some whales could be shorting one of the most popular DEXes.

Curve DEX and its Curve DAO Token (CRV) Explained

The core feature of decentralized exchanges is that users themselves provide liquidity instead of banks or companies. In turn, when liquidity providers deposit tokens into the DEX’s liquidity pools, they are incentivized to do so with rewards from the native utility/governance token. 

In the case of Curve.Fi, liquidity providers get CRV tokens, which can then be exchanged to make a profit on its price differences. For example, Curve’s largest liquidity pool, 3pool composed of three stablecoins, has the following CRV incentive structure.

Image credit: Curve

In other words, to topple a DEX, one would go after its main incentive driver. After all, what triggered the FTX collapse was Binance CEO tweeting they will liquidate their FTT holdings, causing a selloff for FTX’s native token and its eventual price collapse.

A similar speculation seems to be happening with the CRV token.

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Why Did CRV Go Up and Down on Tuesday?

Given that Ethereum is a public blockchain, CRV-related transactions are traceable. For all intents and purposes, it appears that a crypto whale is testing DeFi’s fragility. Specifically, the liquidity of another DeFi platform, Aave (AAVE), a lending and open liquidity protocol? But where does the CRV token fit in?

A crypto whale, going by the descriptive moniker ponzishorter.eth, had borrowed CRV tokens on Aave, worth $39.86 million in USDC, on November 13th. Since then, he kept shorting CRV by selling it on centralized exchanges. The selling pressure dropped CRV by -24% on Tuesday, from $0.538 to its two-year low of $0.409.

The whale effect when CRV is borrowed from Aave for shorting. Image credit: Trading View

Because CRV is also used as collateral for loans, the token’s value drop is threatening users with liquidation. This is when founder Michael Egorov stepped in by borrowing $20 million in USDC on Aave, collateralized by CRV, which he then added as collateral.

With this risky move to bolster’s ecosystem, Egorov placed himself for liquidation risk on Aave. Yesterday, Egorov already had $48 million worth of CRV on Aave at a liquidation price of 0.259. As it stands at press time, DeBank aggregator lists Egorov’s holdings at a 1.52 health rate on Aave, which is still above the liquidation threshold of 1.

In the meantime, ponzishorter.eth’s lowered his own health rate to 1.39, as CRV price recovered. Moreover, it appears this shorting action against Curve and Aave’s liquidity is coordinated with other whales like Avraham Eisenberg.

LlamaCollege spotted a conversation between Egorov and Eisenberg on Discord, in which Curve.Fi founder said “But went here to say hi to Abe. A ballsy degen!”

In short (no pun intended), it looks like whales are testing if dumping CRV can liquidate positions on Aave. Total liquidatable positions presently sit at $47.3 million which are holding at a $0.372 liquidation price.

The top address belongs to founder Michael Egorov. Image credit: DeFillama

It remains to be seen if and Aave stand the anti-fragility test. From the outside perspective, it doesn’t look well for users who simply want to check out DeFi after FTX’s collapse.

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Do you think whale impact will be neutralized as DeFi grows to higher market cap levels? Let us know in the comments below.