CoinMarketCap Price Glitch

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Notice: This page is a new case study and some aspects have not been fully researched. Some sections may be incomplete or reflect inaccuracies present in initial sources. Please check the References at the bottom for further information and perform your own additional assessment. Please feel free to contribute by adding any missing information or sources you come across. If you are new here, please read General Tutorial on Wikis or Anatomy of a Case Study for help getting started.

CoinMarketCap Logo/Homepage

On December 15th, 2021, the price on CoinMarketCap glitched. Several services displayed incorrect valuations of user assets, including CoinBase, Crypto.com, TrustWallet, and Yahoo Finance. As far as we can observe, most users discarded the highly unrealistic prices and there was limited material impact from the incident.

TBD: Integrate more sources/information from [1][2]

About CoinMarketCap

CoinMarketCap is a website that tracks the price movement of cryptocurrency.

Traffic Statistics

A recent report by statistics firm HypeStat claimed that every day more than 70 thousand people from countries like the US, India and Japan visit the platform to price-track and stay updated on cryptocurrencies.

Acquisition By Binance Capital Management

Binance Capital Management, which runs cryptocurrency exchanges, acquired CoinMarketCap in April 2020.

The Reality

Trusting any central authority is a potential point of failure. In addition to going offline, the source could provide inaccurate information. Care needs to be taken to avoid making any decisions based on a single source.

What Happened

A glitch on CoinMarketCap (CMC) caused incorrect and exaggerated price data for almost all digital assets, making crypto owners briefly appear as "trillionaires" for a few hours[3]. The glitch showed Bitcoin (BTC) trading at around $779 billion and Ethereum (ETH) at $9.2 billion[3].

Key Event Timeline - CoinMarketCap Price Glitch
Date Event Description
December 14th, 2021 11:56:00 PM MST Twitter Reaction From aesa Twitter user aesa reports that they "just woke up and almost got a heart attack when I opened coin market cap"[4].
December 14th, 2021 2:33:50 PM MST TrustWallet Richness Reddit Thread A post on Reddit suggests that Trust Wallet has caused a significant increase in a user's wealth[5]. The user expresses happiness and shares an image of their financial gain. However, the comments reveal that there might be some technical issues or bugs with Trust Wallet, as some users report incorrect price displays and discrepancies across different exchanges. Despite the humorous tone in the comments, users acknowledge the temporary nature of the situation and express mixed reactions, with some mentioning large amounts in their wallets and others sharing their experiences with the price discrepancies. Overall, the post captures a moment of excitement and confusion within the crypto community related to Trust Wallet and potential glitches in the displayed values[5].
December 14th, 2021 2:59:00 PM MST CoinBase Inflated Value Report CoinBase reports that they are aware of some users seeing inflated prices on non-tradable assets via their platform[6].
December 14th, 2021 3:06:00 PM MST CoinMarketCap Tweet CoinMarketCap tweets to ask the community "How did it feel to be a trillionaire for a couple hours?"[7].
December 14th, 2021 3:11:00 PM MST Michael J Knowles Tweet "So @CoinbaseWallet showed my having $7.7 billion worth of Ethereum. I felt that was a tidy profit, so I decided to sell, despite the $1.2 billion miner fee. But so far I’ve only received $48.05! Where’s the rest of my money, @coinbase?"[8].
December 14th, 2021 3:23:58 PM MST InvestorPlace Article Published InvestorPlace reports a glitch in CoinMarketCap's crypto prices causing widespread confusion among users of Trust Wallet and Coinbase. The glitch displayed inaccurate data, showing massive spikes in gains for some coins, with values reaching millions or billions of dollars[2]. Shiba Inu even appeared above Bitcoin in market capitalization. CoinMarketCap's website showed Bitcoin at over $836 billion and a market cap of $16 quintillion, despite starting the day at around $42,000. The glitch triggered a social media frenzy with over 16,000 posts under the #CoinMarketCap hashtag. The reliance on CoinMarketCap for data was evident, affecting other websites like Yahoo Finance and Trust Wallet, which also showed similar price fluctuations. CoinGecko, a competitor, continued displaying normal crypto price data. CoinMarketCap acknowledged the glitch, stating that its engineering team was investigating the price issues. While some speculated on the cause, it was emphasized that Coinbase reassured users that it was a display issue only[2].
December 14th, 2021 4:26:00 PM MST Jack Mull Quit His Job Twitter user J4CKMULL reportedly quit his job and bought a lambourghini based on the CoinMarketCap prices[9].
December 14th, 2021 4:55:00 PM MST CoinMarketCap Tweet In response to a user reporting they had left their job and bought a lambourghini, CoinMarketCap recommends to tell their boss it was a prank[10].
December 15th, 2021 2:03:00 AM MST CryptoNews Article CryptoNews reports that A glitch on CoinMarketCap (CMC) caused incorrect and exaggerated price data for almost all digital assets, making crypto owners briefly appear as "trillionaires" for a few hours. The glitch showed Bitcoin (BTC) trading at around $779 billion and Ethereum (ETH) at $9.2 billion. CMC acknowledged the issue, stating their engineering team was investigating. The problem affected various crypto platforms reliant on CMC for data, including Crypto.com, Coinbase, Trust Wallet, and Yahoo Finance.

Social media reactions ranged from humor to panic, with some joking about the situation while others were concerned, especially those with short positions. Some pointed out the need for reliable price oracles to prevent such incidents. Chainlink (LINK) was mentioned as one popular oracle on the Ethereum blockchain. Additionally, there were suggestions that trading bots using CMC's API may have contributed to the brief market rally during the glitch.

As of the latest data, Bitcoin (BTC) is trading at $48,588, up 2.9% in a day but down 3.9% in a week. Ethereum (ETH) is priced at $3,901, unchanged in a day and up 2.1% in a week according to CoinGecko.

December 15th, 2021 2:36:00 PM MST CoinMarketCap Website Announcement CoinMarketCap announced that "engineering was aware of the incorrect prices but worked to resolve the issue".
December 15th, 2021 2:39:00 PM MST Issue Is Deemed Resolved The issue was deemed to be resolved. "CoinMarketCap’s systems are currently all operational."
December 17th, 2021 5:59:00 PM MST Barron's Article Barron's reports on the incorrect prices[11].
December 18th, 2021 7:45:00 AM MST BeInCrypto Article BeInCrypto reports on CoinMarketCap experiencing a glitch in pricing data on December 15, 2021, causing inaccurate information to be fed to Coinbase and Trust Wallet users. The glitch led to inflated prices for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and SHIB, with some users briefly thinking they had become billionaires. Bitcoin was reported at $850 billion, and Ethereum at $179 billion during the two-hour glitch. CoinMarketCap attributed the issue to a glitch in its price calculation engine due to high user volume. Twitter users reported anomalies in wallet balances, with one user claiming $7.7 billion worth of Ethereum but receiving only $48.05 upon selling. The incident raises concerns about the reliability of market data sources, emphasizing the need for transparent and credible information for institutional and regulatory confidence.
January 23rd, 2022 9:32:00 AM MST Barron's Mention Barron's mentioned the incorrect prices in an unrelated article on tech stocks[12].

Technical Details

The impacts of the incident were limited by the incredibly unrealistic nature of the price data and the short time frame. The issue was resolved within a couple of hours.

"Crypto market data firm CoinMarketCap experienced a glitch in pricing data for approximately two hours on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. Bitcoin shot to $850B, while Ethereum supposedly hit $179B. This sent traders reeling headfirst into utopia. Many believed they were crypto trillionaires. CoinMarketCap burst their bubble by announcing that a glitch had occurred in its price calculation engine due to the high volume of users on the platform."


"Binance Coin was listed at more than $2B, with its actual price at around $527. Shiba Inu’s price shot up to $22,026. Its actual price was around $0.000034." "Bitcoin hit $850 billion this past Tuesday while Ether popped to $179 billion per token. The prices weren’t real, of course. But they highlight how vulnerable crypto data providers and exchanges are to glitches and hacks."


"CoinMarketCap’s website announced at approximately 21:36 UTC that the engineering was aware of the incorrect prices but worked to resolve the issue. The issue was deemed resolved at 21:39 UTC on Dec. 15, 2021. CoinMarketCap’s systems are currently all operational."


"Binance Coin was listed at more than $2B, with its actual price at around $527. Shiba Inu’s price shot up to $22,026. Its actual price was around $0.000034." "Bitcoin hit $850 billion this past Tuesday while Ether popped to $179 billion per token. The prices weren’t real, of course. But they highlight how vulnerable crypto data providers and exchanges are to glitches and hacks."

"Whether the mistake was due to a security breach or simply a software bug is unclear." "It was an error in the display of the price. Coinbase’s non-tradeable asset data was affected, and assets in Coinbase Wallet were affected."

“A drastic volume of users...caused huge pressure in our servers and impacted our price calculation engine,” CoinMarketCap said in an email to Barron’s, adding that the issue was quickly fixed.

Total Amount Lost

Several services which relied on CoinMarketCap for price feed information were all impacted by the inaccuracy.

List Of Impacted Services
Service Name Impact References
CoinBase Coinbase confirmed that the error only impacted the display of prices and didn't affect trading. The glitch affected non-tradeable asset data on Coinbase and assets in Coinbase Wallet. [3][1][2]
Crypto.com [3]
TrustWallet Multiple users reported incredibly inflated values in the assets of the their wallets. [3][5][2]
Yahoo Finance [3][2]

Michael J Knowles reportedly sold Ethereum and paid a high mining fee at the time[8][1].

There doesn't appear to be any evidence that material funds were lost in the incident.

Immediate Reactions

CMC acknowledged the issue, stating their engineering team was investigating[3]. The problem affected various crypto platforms reliant on CMC for data, including Crypto.com, Coinbase, Trust Wallet, and Yahoo Finance[3].

Community Reactions

Social media reactions ranged from humor to panic, with some joking about the situation while others were concerned, especially those with short positions[3]. Some pointed out the need for reliable price oracles to prevent such incidents. Chainlink (LINK) was mentioned as one popular oracle on the Ethereum blockchain[3]. Additionally, there were suggestions that trading bots using CMC's API may have contributed to the brief market rally during the glitch[3].


"This sent traders reeling headfirst into utopia. Many believed they were crypto trillionaires. CoinMarketCap burst their bubble by announcing that a glitch had occurred in its price calculation engine due to the high volume of users on the platform."

"Twitter user @michaeljknowles tweeted that he appeared to have $7.7B worth of Ethereum in his Coinbase Wallet and decided to sell, despite the $1.2 miner fee. He only received $48.05."[8]

"So @CoinbaseWallet showed my having $7.7 billion worth of Ethereum. I felt that was a tidy profit, so I decided to sell, despite the $1.2 billion miner fee. But so far I’ve only received $48.05! Where’s the rest of my money, @coinbase?".

Reactions From CoinMarketCap

“A drastic volume of users...caused huge pressure in our servers and impacted our price calculation engine,” CoinMarketCap said in an email to Barron’s, adding that the issue was quickly fixed.

Ultimate Outcome

"CoinMarketCap’s website announced at approximately 21:36 UTC that the engineering was aware of the incorrect prices but worked to resolve the issue. The issue was deemed resolved at 21:39 UTC on Dec. 15, 2021. CoinMarketCap’s systems are currently all operational."


As of the latest data, Bitcoin (BTC) is trading at $48,588, up 2.9% in a day but down 3.9% in a week. Ethereum (ETH) is priced at $3,901, unchanged in a day and up 2.1% in a week according to CoinGecko.[3]

Total Amount Recovered

There do not appear to have been any funds recovered in this case.

What funds were recovered? What funds were reimbursed for those affected users?

Ongoing Developments

What parts of this case are still remaining to be concluded?

Individual Prevention Policies

This case does not appear to have resulted in a loss to any individual.

Trusting any central authority is a potential point of failure. In addition to going offline, the source could provide inaccurate information. Care needs to be taken to avoid making any decisions based on a single source.

For the full list of how to protect your funds as an individual, check our Prevention Policies for Individuals guide.

Platform Prevention Policies

This case does not appear to have resulted in a loss to any platform.

For the full list of how to protect your funds as a financial service, check our Prevention Policies for Platforms guide.

Regulatory Prevention Policies

It does not appear that any funds were lost in this case.

For the full list of regulatory policies that can prevent loss, check our Prevention Policies for Regulators guide.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 CoinMarketCap Briefly Makes New Crypto Billionaires Due to a Glitch - BeInCrypto (Jan 26, 2022)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 CoinMarketCap Shows Crypto Spike, Bitcoin ‘Flippening’ in Apparent Glitch - InvestorPlace (Jan 2, 2024)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 CoinMarketCap Glitch 'Sent' BTC, ETH to Billions; Affected Coinbase, Crypto.com - CryptoNews (Dec 1, 2022)
  4. aesa - "I just woke up and almost got a heart attack when I opened coin market cap. almost got me @CoinMarketCap." - Twitter (Sep 6, 2023)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Trust wallet just made me a very rich man folks. - WallStreetBetsCrypto Reddit (Dec 29, 2023)
  6. Coinbase Support - "We're aware some customers are seeing inflated values for non-tradable crypto assets on http://Coinbase.com and Coinbase Wallet. This is a display issue only and does not impact trading." - Twitter (Sep 6, 2023)
  7. CoinMarketCap - "How did it feel to be a trillionaire for a couple hours?" - Twitter (Sep 6, 2023)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Michael J Knowles - "So @CoinbaseWallet showed my having $7.7 billion worth of Ethereum. I felt that was a tidy profit, so I decided to sell, despite the $1.2 billion miner fee. But so far I’ve only received $48.05! Where’s the rest of my money, @coinbase?" - Twitter (Jan 27, 2022)
  9. J4CKMULL - "I quit my job and bought a lamborghini, this ain't no laughing matter" - Twitter (Sep 6, 2023)
  10. CoinMarketCap - "just tell your boss It was a prank" - Twitter (Sep 6, 2023)
  11. Crypto Goes Briefly Haywire. That’s No Joke. - Barron's (Jan 31, 2022)
  12. Tech Stocks Got Hit Hard. Where to Find Bargains Now. - Barron's (Jan 26, 2022)