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Mar 18, 2020

Bitcoin's crash seen driven by long-sought institutional buyers

A bitcoin shop in Hong Kong.

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Wait until institutional investors show up had been a mantra for Bitcoin advocates since the debut of the cryptocurrency just over a decade ago.

They should have been careful about what they wished. Large professional and institutional traders were among the biggest sellers during the rout that saw Bitcoin tumble about 40 per cent this month, according to analysis from researcher Chainalysis.

Transfers of between 10 and 1,000 Bitcoins accounted for 70 per cent of all Bitcoin moving through crypto exchanges, the researcher found.

The flight happened just as all other types of assets crashed during the widening coronavirus pandemic. Since March 9, crypto exchanges have experienced their largest ever Bitcoin inflows, which peaked at 319,000 Bitcoins on March 13, Chainalysis said. On a typical day, the exchanges see about 52,000 Bitcoins. But on March 12 and March 13, nine times the daily average amount of Bitcoin -- an unprecedented amount -- was sent to exchanges to be sold, and that led to the fall in the coin’s price, Chainalysis found.

Since then, the amount of Bitcoin sent to exchanges has dropped to twice the average, “suggesting that price pressures have now eased, and the Bitcoin price has stabilized in recent days,” Chainalysis said. The amount of Bitcoin sent to exchanges in the last eight days represents about 5 per cent of all available coins, “suggesting that most Bitcoiners are happy to hold,” according to Philip Gradwell, chief economist at Chainalysis.

Time may be the judge of that.


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