Sep 14, 2023 - Economy

This Telegram bot is crypto's silver lining

Illustration of a robot with a dollar sign screen on its face

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Telegram is infested with bots, and that's the good news β€” at least for true believers in cryptocurrency looking around for anything to feel good about.

Driving the news: Unibots is one of a small handful of Telegram trading bots that are seeing profits, excitement and value creation (for now).

  • Yes, but: These kinds of platforms all tend to be run by anonymous teams, because they are non-compliant and likely quite risky.

In short: These bots make it really easy to trade crypto on your phone. They even enable complex trades, like limit orders, copy trading (doing anything a successful trader does) or even scam insurance.

  • They do it by taking custody of the assets users are trading with. In other words, users have to trust the platform.

Be smart: Telegram is a messaging app (like WhatsApp or Signal). It has hundreds of millions of active users all over the world and is extremely popular with cryptocurrency fans.

What they're saying: "It's clear that people love trading this way," Matt Aaron of Cielo Finance, an app traders use to watch other wallets as a way to get trading signals, tells Axios. "It's kinda like CryptoKitties, as they were to NFTs."

  • That is, Unibot (and its peers like Maestro and Banana Gun) are more version 1.0 of what's likely to be the final form of apps like this.

How it works: Bots like Unibot are basically DEX aggregators with a slick user interface.

  • That is, trades are routed over decentralized exchanges (DEXes) to look for the best execution.

By the numbers: From Sept. 4 to Sept. 11, Unibot brought in an average of 73 ethers (ETH) per day in revenue (approximately $116,000). Cumulatively, Unibots has brought in more than $13 million in revenue so far.

  • That revenue is split among the team and holders of the UNIBOT token.
  • The revenue comes in part from its 1% trading fee, which is pricey. Most of the revenue, though, comes from the tax on trading the UNIBOT token. Holders of the token earn part of both.

The app is still small. It has about 1,000 users per day. It peaked at 2,189 at the end of August (but it's still very early days).

  • That said, its token, UNIBOT, is up 2,500% since its launch in May, going from about $3 to over $80 today.

Of note: Unibot has lots of risk. While it uses decentralized exchanges to make trades, it is not decentralized. Users have to trust assets with it in order to make trades.

  • πŸ’­ Our thought bubble: It's unlikely that the app has Coinbase or BitGo level security. A breach is just a matter of time.
  • That said, it's easy to move assets off the exchange once trading is done.

Quick take: If you're reading this and thinking, "But that all just sounds like another place to play the big speculation game," you're not wrong.

  • The people using apps like Unibot are looking to do quick fun trading. They aren't making long term buys on ethers. They are flipping memecoins.

Go deeper: SEC proposal to re-define "exchange" draws broad industry concerns

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