The cryptocurrency market is back! Volume is roughly double the size of peak trading in 2017
3 Month Change: +116% $134B - $290B
Daily Volume: +169% $32B - $86B (peak $131B), approaching volume of Nasdaq (~$92B/day)
Peak Volume in 2017: $42B, Low Volume in 2018: $8B
In this issue:
- Four key themes that contributed to cryptocurrency growth in Q2
- Q3 2019 Predictions
- How these four fundamental drivers affected the price in Q2
- Fun Things in Q2
#1: Less users are holding more Bitcoin, however, distribution is improving as the top 100 wallets reduced Bitcoin holdings by 21%. Institutional traders (or high net worth individuals) are driving trade volume, compared to retail users in 2017.
Bitcoin transaction size increased nearly 8.5X from $3,750 to $34,800 while the number of active Bitcoin addresses only increased by about 39% from (618k to 856k). Users who already have Bitcoin are accumulating more, versus having more actual users/wallets holding.
Top 100 Bitcoin addresses reduced holdings from 19.5% of all BTC in 2018 to 15.3% this year. This continued dilution, or spread, of wealth, shows a fairer distribution as market adoption grows.
99% of total trading volume is happening on centralized exchanges as opposed to 1% on decentralized (on chain volume is only 860M on average a day)
$6.25B of fiat inflow into the crypto ecosystem in Q2 from stablecoins, crypto funds, and exchanges who were waiting on the sideline for the bear market to end
First half 2019 blockchain wallet growth has outpaced this time last year by 22% as we grew from 32M wallets to 40.3M compared to 21.5M to 26.2M first half last year. We estimate between 60% to 80% wallet growth this year placing end of year total wallets between 51M and 58M.
#2: Geopolitical tension and generally positive regulatory guidance continue to fuel adoption.
Many high net worth individuals in Asia sold their local currencies into BTC this quarter as USA and China trade war picked up steam - with both sides imposing a combined $360B in tariffs. Hong Kong also increased tension with mainland China in June - increasing the local price of BTC.
President Trump implemented a hardline stance towards Iran this quarter - increasing military presence nearby as tensions escalate. As President Trump imposes strict financial sanctions many Iranians are buying BTC in peer to peer marketplaces and on decentralized exchanges.
Russian headlines paved the path to more fruitful legislation, with the Central Bank considering a gold back cryptocurrency and using cryptocurrency on their international trade borders with China.
India clarified that their ban on crypto won’t include 10 years of jail time for traders as many initially feared but has yet to identify the restrictions that will be implemented.
The SEC and FINRA finally admit to being slow to implement regulations creating a backlog of requests from Investment Banks and Brokers who want to start offering crypto products to US citizens. As we move closer to congressional hearings regarding Facebooks Libra we expect better guidance toward the future of US blockchain legislation.
The S&P 500 underperformed BTC both Q1 (3.22%) and Q2 (5.06%) this year while BTC performed 12.9% and 175.42%.
#3: Bitcoin dominates the market: Bitcoin represents 68% of the total crypto market cap because other utility coins have not lived up to their utility claims, whereas Bitcoin has: as a store of value and investment vehicle (trading).
BTC dominance hit a historic low of 36% in January 2018 when alt coins and ICOs were surging. ETH performance during late 2017 outperformed BTC by nearly 30%
The hype and dominations of altcoins were short-lived following the decline of BTC in January of 2018. Many speculated XRP to take over the world banking system, Litecoin to become the silver to BTCs gold, and ETH to “flip” and overtake BTC - but none of that has happened and probably never will.
Bitcoin, however, has continued to outshine most altcoins retaining its place as the dominant force as a store of value with the top developers building scaling solutions on top of the chain to increase speed and decrease fees.
Since the fall of ICO and altcoin season in January of 2018, BTC dominance has increased signifcantly outperforming altcoins on the way down through the 2018 bear market, and on the way up in the current 2019 bull market.
The strong correlation between Bitcoin price and Altcoin price has made it difficult for the majority of alts to outperform a strong BTC. Stellar moves in the same direction as BTC 61% of the time, ETH moves the same as BTC 68% of the time and Litecoin 69% of the time.
#4: Two major price increase periods occurred over the past quarter. Both were surrounded by Positive Sentiment and Geopolitical Tension.
Going forward we recommend traders keep an eye on the price during times of both strong headlines for crypto adoption and worrisome political trouble
Increase in Retail Investors: Total blockchain wallets are expected to grow another 20-30% next quarter to about 52M.
Increase in Average Transaction Size: Average transaction size should reach 2018 highs of $55,000, driven by new adopters.
Continued distribution of wealth: Over the next quarter we expect the ratio of wealth of top 100 address to all addresses to continue to decline by 1-2% as new high net worth individuals and institutions accumulate large portions of BTC via OTC desks
Hashrate and difficulty to reach all-time highs: as miners look to accumulate every Bitcoin they can before block reward halving in 2020. Bitcoin dominance is expected to break above 70% and reach as high as 80% in the next quarter.
Decentralized exchange volume will remain steady or decline: as more new retail traders invest we expect decentralized exchange volume to remain stable or at a slight decline until the markets fully mature as many DEX exchanges are too complicated for the standard user.
Institutional traders will continue to dominate: who have brought much of this past quarters volume will continue to trade on regulated exchanges by the CBOE, CME, and CFTC.
Increased blockchain legislation: Libra testimony this month will force US lawmakers to start initial drafts of legislation. Russia will pass legislation permitting for retail cryptocurrency trading and start cross-border institutional trading.
Asian crypto markets will trade at a premium: Chinese citizens will increase demand for Bitcoin as they face increased censorship from their government. South Korean institutional interest will gain headlines driving the price higher first locally and then abroad.
African markets get much-needed crypto infrastructure: Through google search query “Buy Bitcoin” Nigeria is the number 1 search area. We expect countries with hyper-inflationary currencies in Africa to build crypto exchanges and launch their local currency digitally to quench the demand for a more stable currency.
Global financial markets slow down: The US Federal Reserve just announced their first interest rate cut and the NY Fed predicts a 33% chance of a recession in the coming 12 months. These two factors may be signals of an underlying fundamental weakness in the economy that is not yet exposed. If global stock markets decline the demand for safe-haven assets like Gold and Bitcoin will increase in price.
Tradecipher is a crypto investment app that combines an intuitive trading platform with useable, relevant research available for users in 100 countries. Every weekday (M-F), we publish a weekly report covering XLM, EOS, Industry, BTC, and ETH (in that order).
Cryptocurrency is still a highly speculative market, which means that sentiment and technical analysis represent a significant portion of the price movements. The past quarter's fundamental price drivers can be broken down into four main categories Positive Sentiment Drivers, Negative Sentiment Drivers, Geopolitical Turmoil and Crypto Exchange Outlier Events.
Positive Sentiment Drivers increase optimism in the space while producing a positive economic value or removing barriers to entry. Eg. Facebook removes crypto ad ban, or Russian central banks consider gold backed cryptocurrency
Negative Sentiment Drivers increases uncertainty about future cryptocurrency prices leading many retail traders to sell. Eg. lawsuits against Bitfinex for defrauding investors or the Chinese government seeking to ban crypto mining
Geopolitical turmoil international fear of political uncertainty that is brought about by the fighting between two or more countries. Eg. President Trump's trade war with China or Iran shooting down a US military drone.
Crypto Exchange Outlier Events semi-random one-off events that happen in early stage markets that traders can't predict but need to keep in mind can happen. Cryptocurrency is still an early stage speculative and inefficient market with over 1000+ global exchanges with the top 5 representing over 93% of the real daily volume. Small movements in one exchange can affect others with a large impact. Eg. Binance bans US traders or Kraken flash crash.
Over the past 3 months this is what moved price
The past quarter offered many positive headlines invoking optimism among all investors of crypto, from Bitcoin to altcoins. These headlines may have been the reason for the long positive uptrend we saw this quarter marking the start of the bull run that is expected to continue through next year.
- Facebook announces Libra
- Introduces cryptocurrency to the mainstream in a user-friendly way
- Creates headlines bringing BTC back into the public eye
- Has access to facebook’s 2.6B userbase & partnerships with Uber, Spotify and Mastercard
- Will draw capital into crypto in unprecedented ways
- Facebook lifts crypto ad ban
- Hindered growth of many crypto startups as exposure to consumers was limited
- People are now more likely to read crypto related headlines
- 45% of Americans get their news from Facebook
- Forbes Headline: “Bitcoin Price Report: The Bottom Is In”
- 3.3M daily readers saw a positive headline on Crypto
- Reminder Bitcoin is not dead and the opportunity to invest is now
- Courts decide Bitfinex & Tether don’t have to follow NYAG demands
- USDT is the second largest trading pair after BTC
- Affects the underlying price of BTC in many markets
- Russian Central Bank considers gold backed cryptocurrency
- Russia made several positive crypto headlines this year
- Adopting crypto instead of defending from it
- India denies crypto ban & jail time for crypto traders
- 1.3B people in India & with many being unbanked provides a large opportunity for digital currency
- The central bank removed unsubstantiated fear
Over the past quarter, there were several headlines in the news which made retail investors fearful about the future of cryptocurrency. Many of these headlines turned out to be nothing more than speculation, and many of the proposed policies were never turned into legislation, but at the time they shook the market.
- NYAG accuses Tether & Bitfinex of defrauding investors
- $1.00 stable coin only $0.74 backed made people question the true price of BTC
- NYAG submits new documents against Bitfinex & Tether
- The reopened case against Bitfinex and Tether drove fear back into investors
- China discusses a shutdown of all crypto mining
- China is linked to 71% of total BTC mining power - any attempt to shut down power could freeze the BTC blockchain or open it up to 51% attacks
- China & US trade negotiations restart
- Decentralized currencies do well when there is fear in current economic systems
- When everyone is happy there is little distrust leading many to question why we need alternatives to the status quo
When fear is invoked of existing political or financial systems, individuals question why they are following the status quo and often drive them to create a new system - like Satoshi building BTC out of the 2008 financial crash. This past quarter there had been a lot of headlines regarding increased tensions between global leaders invoking financial restrictions on foreign nations, and even threatening for military action - this events often created an increase in local BTC prices and helped decentralized cryptocurrencies gain traction.
- President Trump threatens to raise Chinese tariffs
- Capital flight from local currencies into decentralized ones
- President Trump signals tougher economic sanctions on Iran
- Iranian citizens attempt to move money overseas through crypto as banking sanctions tighten
- Hong Kong protests push the local price of BTC higher
- Protesters buy crypto for increased anonymity compared to local currency
- Initial Brexit deadline
- British Pound uncertainty as trade rules are set to change
- China increases tariffs on US goods
- Tougher tariffs increase capital outflow from both countries currencies
- US blames oil tanker attack on Iran
- Escalating military tension drives uncertainty of local currencies
- US & Iran confirm Iran shot down a US drone
- Increased military tension from the already heightened stance further drives concern about long term health of countries economy
These outlier events are referred to as the “known unknowns” - events that can happen at any time, we just don't know when or if they will. Hacks, flash crashes, and bans are nothing new to crypto and they will continue long into the future as that’s the nature of the digital market. These events - given the magnitude via dollar value - can have different implications, varying from a small price change, to a major trend change.
- Bitmex hits a record $16B volume in a single day - BTC crashes from 13.6k to 11.2k in less than 2 hours
- Traders overleveraged themselves as price skyrocketed - leaving the other side of the trade empty
- When price increases 20% in one day - expect some sort of price retracement
- Binance announces a ban of US users
- US traders have been skirting local regulations for years as the US SEC & FINRA fail to provide guidance
- Binance increasing the long term health of crypto by launching a US regulated exchange to now make users trading legal
- Trader market sells $38M BTC on Bitstamp - driving the price down 13% in one hour
- A hacker transferring funds to their account bidding significantly below market price shows the potential for manipulation in a thin order book
- BTC flash crashes from $8,000 to $101 on Kraken
- Unpredictable flash crashes occur for various reasons from over leverage, thin order books, or to fat finger trades
- Little effect on long term health of crypto - just a blip on the price chart
- Binance hacked for $40M
- Luckily this hack was small and fully compensated or it could have tarnished the Binance brand name and crypto as a whole
Here's some random fun things
President Trump tweets about Bitcoin:
When your baby understands the impact of the Federal Reserves interest rate cut...