Stay Away From Bitcoin Arbitrage If You’ve Got A Heart Condition

This must be true for most financial activities. But since I’m
receiving something like 5 emails per day from random people [1] who
wants to run my
bitcoin-arbitrage tool,
most of the time I’m replying with some warnings:

  • Can you trust the exchanges ? The answer is NO, you can’t:

    • Trade engine can be laggy (up to 1 hour lag).

    • APIs are buggy. get-order-book replying with 2 hours delay is
      unacceptable. some API function doesn’t work time to time

    • Bad “cloudflare” config sometimes blocks normal API calls (Yes,
      I’m looking at you bitstamp)

    • The site closes but a part of API is still working (Yes, i’m
      looking at you bitcoin24)

    • And the worst thing: they can close at every moment and block your
      money (1 hour to infinity). History prove this one, see what
      happened to Bitcoinica, Bitfloor, Bitcoin24,
      Bitcoin-Central. Who’s next ?

  • Can you trust tools ? Of course NO. If you can’t read code (blind,
    not a developer or closed source), don’t use the tool. A malicious
    dev can steal your money so easily.

  • To trade you need money, fiat AND bitcoin. If you don’t have
    bitcoins, are you ready to buy some ? Yes, risks everywhere !

  • Moving fiat is so long… SEPA transfers ? sure let me wait a week
    (I’m wondering why it’s so slow, do banks have computers ?). That
    means you’ll need A BUNCH of money (fiat AND bitcoin) in every
    exchanges you’re trading on. Then balance them time to time when
    they drift. And that opens a big risk if one exchange closes and
    blocks your money.

So yes, Bitcoin arbitrage seems easy and very lucrative, but it’s very
risky. Not because of arbitrage principle itself, but mainly because
you can’t trust exchanges.

[1] random people includes: developers (who wants to rewrite the tool
in Ruby, Java, C, Javascript, Python 2.x), students (finance, math),
home trader (that one is scary), unknown (“hey, i stumbled upon your
program, I’ll give you $500 to make the setup on my computer”).