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Bitcoin's 2023 Chronicles: Massive Gains And Exchange Anomalies

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  • February 9, 2024

So, 2023 has been pretty epic for Bitcoin. It’s like Bitcoin woke up and decided to flex its muscles big time. We’re talking a massive leap, over 140% in value – that’s huge! It’s not just about topping traditional rivals like gold; it’s also about leaving other cryptocurrencies in the rearview mirror. Let’s dive into the on-chain action and the exchange buzz, trying to piece together clues to see what Bitcoin might be up to in the coming year.

Bitcoin’s Blast from the Past

According to Glassnode’s report, we’re seeing a déjà vu with Bitcoin cycles in 2015-2017 and 2018-2022 in terms of how long it’s taking to bounce back and the drawdown since the all-time high (ATH).

Source: Glassnode

In the current cycle, Bitcoin has seen a drawdown of about -37% from its ATH, which is pretty close to the -42% in 2013-2017 and -39% in 2017-2021. Plus, since the FTX lows in November 2022, Bitcoin prices are up a solid +140%, making it the strongest one-year return compared to the +119% in 2015-2018 and +128% in 2018-2022.

Exchange Activity: Bitcoin’s Trading Paradox

Despite 2023 being a banner year for Bitcoin, the number of transactions depositing funds to exchanges has surprisingly hit multi-year lows. But here’s the kicker: Glassnode data shows that the on-chain volume flowing in and out of exchanges has skyrocketed, jumping from $930 million to a staggering $3 billion – that’s a massive 220% increase.

This discrepancy between fewer deposits yet skyrocketing volume makes us wonder: what’s driving the intensified exchange activity if not retail investors? On one hand, the decrease in deposit transactions might suggest that investors are becoming more cautious about leaving their assets on exchanges, possibly due to security concerns or a desire for greater control over their funds. This is where the potential shift towards non-custodial exchanges like StealthEX comes into play. Given the FTX drama that’s still on everyone’s mind, it’s no surprise that these platforms where you can keep your private keys are becoming more popular.

There’s a serious uptick in on-chain volume showing that trading and speculation are buzzing more than ever. It seems that while investors might be shying away from depositing their funds, they are actively trading and moving large sums of money. This could be a sign of growing institutional interest, especially as we see the average size of deposits to exchanges nearing the previous all-time high of $30k per deposit, according to Glassnode.

Moreover, the fact that exchange deposits as a percentage of all transactions have dropped from around 26% in May to just 10% today, yet the decline is more modest (around 20%) when adjusted for Inscriptions, adds another layer to this narrative. Undeniably, we’re witnessing a dynamic shift in the blockchain sphere as novel transaction types emerge and new players grab their share of the limelight.

Short-Term Holders Cashing In

Short-Term Holders (STHs) have been making some smart moves lately, cashing in on their Bitcoin investments at just the right time. Glassnode’s got the stats to prove it – the STH-Supply Profit/Loss Ratio has been hovering above ~1 since January. This means these savvy traders have been playing the ‘buy-the-dip’ game pretty well, a classic move in uptrends. However, these STHs are moving hefty amounts of coins to exchanges, and the gap between what they paid and what they’re selling for is pretty sizable.

Source: Glassnode

The first week of December, when Bitcoin hit $44.2k, STHs jumped into action, seizing the moment to take profits. It’s like they saw the wave coming and rode it all the way to the shore, capitalizing on the demand liquidity. This activity has put a bit of a pause on Bitcoin’s upward climb, demonstrating STHs’ sway over crypto prices.

Wrapping It Up: Bitcoin and Beyond

So, there you have it – Bitcoin’s 2023 story is a mix of triumphs, challenges, and a whole lot of excitement. Bitcoin, in its digital universe, never fails to keep us intrigued with its roller-coaster ride of strong recoveries and declines that resonate with historical patterns, even bouncing back recently despite a few bumps on the road. The play of STHs and the unpredictable ebbs and flows of exchange activities knit together a complex, yet intriguing narrative. Regardless of whether you’re in it for the highs or the lows, or simply out of sheer curiosity, observing Bitcoin’s ride is undoubtedly one to watch. 

This is a guest post by Maria Carola. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

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