Coin Metrics’ State of the Network: Issue 57 – Introducing Free Float Supply

Introducing Free Float Supply

By Ben Celermajer and the Coin Metrics Team

Key Takeaways

  • Until now, a standardized approach to determining the free float supply (the supply that is available to the market) of cryptoassets has not been established. This has hindered the market from developing a clear understanding of available supply and market capitalization.
  • Coin Metrics’ free float supply takes many of the best practices from traditional capital markets and applies them to cryptoassets to identify supply that is highly unlikely to be available to the market in the short to mid-term. In doing so, free float supply provides a better approximation of a cryptoasset’s liquidity and market capitalization. 
  • Index weighting can benefit from using free float supply – free float supply reflects the liquid market more accurately and reduces potential manipulability.
  • Tracking free float supply provides insight into primary token holder behavior. This can lead to more transparent reporting of foundation and team selling, increased knowledge of total market supply and behavioral analysis of stakeholders.
  • Many cryptoasset valuation metrics use market capitalization which primarily utilize the on-chain visible supply. Deriving these metrics with a free float capitalization may improve the signal achieved.

Introduction

In April, Coin Metrics announced a new methodology for the determination of a cryptoasset’s supply that is ‘available’ to the market, cryptoasset free float.

Without reporting standards and regulations that require foundations and companies to accurately report holdings in a timely manner, obtaining supply data that is reflective of market trading opportunities can be a challenge.

Coin Metrics’ free float supply takes many of the best practices from traditional capital markets and applies them to cryptoassets to identify supply that is unlikely to be available to the market. In doing so, free float supply provides a better approximation of a cryptoasset’s liquidity and market capitalization. For more information on the supply that is considered restricted, please refer to the CMBI Adjusted Free Float Methodology.

While initially created to help inform CMBI design, cryptoasset free float supply can be applied in many different ways to help market participants make smarter investment decisions. Some of the areas where free float can be applied to improve market understanding include:

  • Market Capitalization
  • Indexes
  • Valuation methods
  • Foundation and Founding Team Transparency

Applying Free Float to Market Capitalization

Typically, investors expect a market size measurement to reflect the total value of assets that are available in the market. For example, to determine market capitalization in equity markets, data providers and participants exclude company and executive team owned shares, as well as shares owned by other strategic investment partners that do not provide liquidity to markets. 

A standardized approach like this has not yet been consistently applied to determining the free float supply and market capitalization of cryptoassets. This has hindered the market from developing a clear understanding of available supply and market capitalization.

For determining supply and market capitalization, the CMBI Adjusted Free Float Methodology applies a standardized criteria for which units of supply to exclude from free float, including but not limited to:

  • Supply owned by foundations, companies and founding teams
  • Supply in addresses that have been inactive for over 5 years
  • Supply staked in a smart contract to partake in governance and long-term strategic outcomes of a network without any direct monetary incentive to do so
  • Supply that is vesting on-chain
  • Supply that is burned or provably lost

Applying the above methodology rigorously to the top cryptoassets identifies a more comprehensive supply that is not available to the market. Utilizing the available supply to trade (free float supply) rather than either reported supply by foundations/companies or total visible on-chain supply can significantly impact investor’s understanding of the total market size of a cryptoasset and related metrics such as dominance and liquidity.

Evidenced in the above, standard industry reporting of cryptoasset supply, and thus market capitalization, has traditionally been overstated. Some of the more pertinent examples of this are:

  • Bitcoin – where the industry standard has been 18.4M. Coin Metrics free float calculations determine that a more accurate representation of free float supply is 14.3M (22% lower), reflecting that 4.1M Bitcoin has not been transacted in over 5 years and as such can be considered to be owned by long term strategic holders that do not provide liquidity to markets (or lost).
  • Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV – the industry standard has been to utilize their on-chain supply of ~18.5M native units to determine market capitalization. Through understanding how many BCH and BSV have been moved since the fork, Coin Metrics has determined that a more accurate representation of supply for BCH and BSV is 12.0M (36% lower) and 9.9M (45% lower) respectively. 
  • XRP and Stellar – both of these foundations report their own holdings to data distributors. Due to an absence of regulatory standards and the irregularity of reporting, not all addresses may be disclosed and the reported values may not be maintained. Coin Metrics has identified additional supply that can be traced to the foundations and team members, which is reflected by XRP and Stellar having a free float supply of 30.4B and 16.5B, lower than is typically reported.

Applying Free Float to Indexes

Most multi asset indexes are weighted by each constituent asset’s market capitalization. Thus, redefining a cryptoasset market capitalization to reflect free float will impact the construction of indexes.

The key benefits of weighting an index using the free float market capitalization as opposed to the reported market capitalization include: reflecting the liquid market more accurately, maintaining more timely supply data to weight indexes, reducing potential manipulability of index weightings, and reducing index rebalancing costs.

Cryptoassets have varying levels of auditability and transparency when it comes to foundation and team holdings. For this reason, Coin Metrics applies a free float supply banding approach when weighting CMBI Indexes. The banding methodology reflects that supply determination is currently not a perfect science. For example if Coin Metrics identify 53% of cryptoassets as the free float supply, but the ‘true’ value is 56% (or 50%), the asset will ultimately fall into the 50-60% band. Such an approach helps to overcome nuances in supply determination and varying levels of transparency, reporting and auditability.

Simply, after determining the ratio of free float to on-chain available supply, each asset’s ratio is rounded up to the closest 10%. This value is then applied for the purpose of weighting assets in the CMBI Market Cap Weighted Asset Index Series. For example:

  1. Bitcoin’s free float ratio is 77.8% (free float supply of 14.3M of a total on-chain supply of 18.4M). 
  2. Rounded up to the nearest 10%, Bitcoin’s band would be 80%
  3. Applied to the total supply of Bitcoin, 18.4M, Bitcoin’s in weight in the index would be derived using a supply of 14.7M (18.4M * 80%)

Increasing Market Transparency

As part of Coin Metrics’ new free float supply metric identification process, addresses in the following categories have been tagged by Coin Metrics and are considered to be restricted: 

  • Owned by foundations/companies
  • Owned by founding team members
  • Governance contracts where there is no direct financial benefit
  • Provably lost 

Doing so can provide timely and transparent reporting of the movements and actions of each category of stakeholder on a cryptoasset’s network. This can lead to more transparent reporting of foundation and team selling, increased knowledge of total market supply and behavioral analysis of stakeholders.

Without transparency, market participants are left uninformed on the actions of foundations and teams, making it impossible to understand the holistic market dynamics. 

Case Study 1: Tether (USDT)

Many market spectators monitor and observe the printing and burning of USDT as significant market events that can impact the price of Bitcoin and crypto markets. Speculation to the impacts of Tether activity has been so high that many academics and regulators have investigated this activity during significant market events. 

However, observing the on-chain activity of USDT can be misleading as Tether has historically printed USDT in large batches in anticipation of future demand and distributions. Thus, on-chain supply does not necessarily mean new supply in public markets. Coin Metrics’ free float supply excludes USDT held by the Tether Treasury to provide a more accurate indication of the supply that is currently in public markets.

As can be observed below, particularly through 2018 and the first half of 2019, the USDT issued does not necessarily represent the USDT in markets. Particularly interesting is the USDT activity in early 2019. Market participants observing the on-chain supply would not have noticed significant change as Bitcoin rose from $4,000 to $12,000. However, by observing free float supply, the correlation between free float USDT and Bitcoin’s price becomes clearer.

Continue Reading…

Continue reading “Introducing Free Float Supply,” including analysis of how free float supply can be used to improve valuation metrics.

Network Data Insights

Summary Metrics

Ethereum (ETH) activity surged again this past week, driven by the rise of DeFi applications like Compound as well as the continued growth of stablecoins. ETH active addresses grew another 8.4% week-over-week and have now reached their highest levels of 2020. Transactions also continue to grow at a fast rate. On average, there were over a million daily ETH transactions over the past week. ETH daily transaction fees grew another 26.4% week-over-week, bringing ETH’s average fees over the last week to $663.9K compared to $322.2K for BTC. 

Despite the large growth in usage and economic metrics, ETH market cap did not significantly outperform over the last week – it only grew by 0.8%, compared to a 0.9% dip for BTC. 

Network Highlights

About 40M units of 0x (ZRX) have entered free float supply since the middle of June. ZRX free float supply increased from 631.5M on June 13th to 671.4M on June 27th. 

As introduced in today’s Weekly Feature, free float supply provides a better approximation of a cryptoasset’s liquidity and market capitalization by measuring the amount of supply that is freely available to the market. The large increase in ZRX free float supply is because the ZRX foundation has started using treasury funds to yield farm on Compound, contributing the 40M ZRX to liquidity pools.

Basic Attention Token (BAT) free float supply has increased by about 10M since the beginning of June, as some BAT team members have also looked to benefit from Compound farming.

ZRX and BAT have both also seen an uptick in transactions in May and June. There were over 13.63K BAT transactions on June 27th, a new all-time high. The following chart is smoothed using a 7 day rolling average. 

Market Data Insights

While certain network activity may be trending up, spot market volume has continued to decline over the past month due to the dampening of volatility. In the analysis below we look at the change in aggregate volume from  Binance, Binance.us, Bitfinex, Bitflyer, Bitstamp, Bittrex, Coinbase’ FTX, Gemini, Huobi, itBit, Kraken, Kucoin, Okex, Poloniex and Upbit.

Bitcoin volume has been trending down over the past 30 days, nearly reaching levels not seen since the larger sell off in mid-march. This pattern correlates with falling ranges of volatility that we noted prior this month

0x, on the other hand, did recently reach a relative peak in terms of daily volume. During June the project’s 30 day average volume increased roughly 560% to ~$33m from ~$5m following the momentum of the DeFi craze.

Basic Attention token also saw an increase in trading volume, however it was not as extreme. The recent DeFi demand brought an uptick in trading but it did not surpass the volumes seen between March and May 2019. This prior uplift was largely due to product releases from the Brave team surrounding their Brave Rewards and Advertising platform.

CM Bletchley Indexes (CMBI) Insights

This week was very similar to the last, with most CMBI and Bletchley Indexes slightly down for the week. The Bletchley 40 was the only exception of the market cap weighted indexes, finishing up 4.2%. 

The strength in small-cap assets this week can be further observed through the positive returns of the Bletchley Total Even Index. Despite the slightly negative returns of the Bletchley 10 and Bletchley 20, when the 70 constituents of the Bletchley universe each receive a weight of 1.43%, the return for the week is positive.

The CMBI Bitcoin Index and CMBI Ethereum Index continue to range trade and experience historically low levels of volatility, finishing the week down 3.1% and 1.7% respectively.

Coin Metrics Updates

This week’s updates from the Coin Metrics team:

  • Coin Metrics is hiring! Please check out our Careers page to view the openings.

As always, if you have any feedback or requests, don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]

Subscribe and Past Issues

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network, is an unbiased, weekly view of the crypto market informed by our own network (on-chain) and market data.

If you’d like to get State of the Network in your inbox, please subscribe here. You can see previous issues of State of the Network here.

Check out the Coin Metrics Blog for more in depth research and analysis.

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Introducing Free Float Supply

By Ben Celermajer and the Coin Metrics Team

Key Takeaways

  • Until now, a standardized approach to determining the free float supply (the supply that is available to the market) of cryptoassets has not been established. This has hindered the market from developing a clear understanding of available supply and market capitalization.
  • Coin Metrics’ free float supply takes many of the best practices from traditional capital markets and applies them to cryptoassets to identify supply that is highly unlikely to be available to the market in the short to mid-term. In doing so, free float supply provides a better approximation of a cryptoasset’s liquidity and market capitalization. 
  • Index weighting can benefit from using free float supply – free float supply reflects the liquid market more accurately and reduces potential manipulability.
  • Tracking free float supply provides insight into primary token holder behavior. This can lead to more transparent reporting of foundation and team selling, increased knowledge of total market supply and behavioral analysis of stakeholders.
  • Many cryptoasset valuation metrics use market capitalization which primarily utilize the on-chain visible supply. Deriving these metrics with a free float capitalization may improve the signal achieved.

Introduction

In April, Coin Metrics announced a new methodology for the determination of a cryptoasset’s supply that is ‘available’ to the market, cryptoasset free float.

Without reporting standards and regulations that require foundations and companies to accurately report holdings in a timely manner, obtaining supply data that is reflective of market trading opportunities can be a challenge.

Coin Metrics’ free float supply takes many of the best practices from traditional capital markets and applies them to cryptoassets to identify supply that is unlikely to be available to the market. In doing so, free float supply provides a better approximation of a cryptoasset’s liquidity and market capitalization. For more information on the supply that is considered restricted, please refer to the CMBI Adjusted Free Float Methodology.

While initially created to help inform CMBI design, cryptoasset free float supply can be applied in many different ways to help market participants make smarter investment decisions. Some of the areas where free float can be applied to improve market understanding include:

  • Market Capitalization
  • Indexes
  • Valuation methods
  • Foundation and Founding Team Transparency

Applying Free Float to Market Capitalization

Typically, investors expect a market size measurement to reflect the total value of assets that are available in the market. For example, to determine market capitalization in equity markets, data providers and participants exclude company and executive team owned shares, as well as shares owned by other strategic investment partners that do not provide liquidity to markets. 

A standardized approach like this has not yet been consistently applied to determining the free float supply and market capitalization of cryptoassets. This has hindered the market from developing a clear understanding of available supply and market capitalization.

For determining supply and market capitalization, the CMBI Adjusted Free Float Methodology applies a standardized criteria for which units of supply to exclude from free float, including but not limited to:

  • Supply owned by foundations, companies and founding teams
  • Supply in addresses that have been inactive for over 5 years
  • Supply staked in a smart contract to partake in governance and long-term strategic outcomes of a network without any direct monetary incentive to do so
  • Supply that is vesting on-chain
  • Supply that are burned or provably lost

Applying the above methodology rigorously to the top cryptoassets identifies a more comprehensive supply that is not available to the market. Utilizing the available supply to trade (free float supply) rather than either reported supply by foundations/companies or total visible on-chain supply can significantly impact investor’s understanding of the total market size of a cryptoasset and related metrics such as dominance and liquidity.

1 – Source: Price from CM Market Data on 28 June 2020

2 – Source: Free Float Supply from CM Network Data on 28 June 2020

3 – Median value of ‘Reported Supply’ from Coinmarketcap, Messari and Coin Gecko

4 – CM Tether Free Float Supply only includes USDT issued on Omni, Ethereum and Tron

Evidenced in the above, standard industry reporting of cryptoasset supply, and thus market capitalization, has traditionally been overstated. Some of the more pertinent examples of this are:

  • Bitcoin – where the industry standard has been 18.4M. Coin Metrics free float calculations determine that a more accurate representation of free float supply is 14.3M (22% lower), reflecting that 4.1M Bitcoin has not been transacted in over 5 years and as such can be considered to be owned by long term strategic holders that do not provide liquidity to markets (or lost).
  • Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV – the industry standard has been to utilize their on-chain supply of ~18.5M native units to determine market capitalization. Through understanding how many BCH and BSV have been moved since the fork, Coin Metrics has determined that a more accurate representation of supply for BCH and BSV is 12.0M (36% lower) and 9.9M (45% lower) respectively. 
  • XRP and Stellar – both of these foundations report their own holdings to data distributors. Due to an absence of regulatory standards and the irregularity of reporting, not all addresses may be disclosed and the reported values may not be maintained. Coin Metrics has identified additional supply that can be traced to the foundations and team members, which is reflected by XRP and Stellar having a free float supply of 30.4B and 16.5B, lower than is typically reported.

Applying Free Float to Indexes

Most multi asset indexes are weighted by each constituent asset’s market capitalization. Thus, redefining a cryptoasset market capitalization to reflect free float will impact the construction of indexes.

The key benefits of weighting an index using the free float market capitalization as opposed to the reported market capitalization include: reflecting the liquid market more accurately, maintaining more timely supply data to weight indexes, reducing potential manipulability of index weightings, and reducing index rebalancing costs.

Cryptoassets have varying levels of auditability and transparency when it comes to foundation and team holdings. For this reason, Coin Metrics applies a free float supply banding approach when weighting CMBI Indexes. The banding methodology reflects that supply determination is currently not a perfect science. For example if Coin Metrics identify 53% of cryptoassets as the free float supply, but the ‘true’ value is 56% (or 50%), the asset will ultimately fall into the 50-60% band. Such an approach helps to overcome nuances in supply determination and varying levels of transparency, reporting and auditability.

Simply, after determining the ratio of free float to on-chain available supply, each asset’s ratio is rounded up to the closest 10%. This value is then applied for the purpose of weighting assets in the CMBI Market Cap Weighted Asset Index Series. For example:

  1. Bitcoin’s free float ratio is 77.8% (free float supply of 14.3M of a total on-chain supply of 18.4M). 
  2. Rounded up to the nearest 10%, Bitcoin’s band would be 80%
  3. Applied to the total supply of Bitcoin, 18.4M, Bitcoin’s in weight in the index would be derived using a supply of 14.7M (18.4M * 80%)

Increasing Market Transparency

As part of Coin Metrics’ new free float supply metric identification process, addresses in the following categories have been tagged by Coin Metrics and are considered to be restricted: 

  • Owned by foundations/companies
  • Owned by founding team members
  • Governance contracts where there is no direct financial benefit
  • Provably lost 

Doing so can provide timely and transparent reporting of the movements and actions of each category of stakeholder on a cryptoasset’s network. This can lead to more transparent reporting of foundation and team selling, increased knowledge of total market supply and behavioral analysis of stakeholders.

Without transparency, market participants are left uninformed on the actions of foundations and teams, making it impossible to understand the holistic market dynamics. 

Case Study 1: Tether (USDT)

Many market spectators monitor and observe the printing and burning of USDT as significant market events that can impact the price of Bitcoin and crypto markets. Speculation to the impacts of Tether activity has been so high that many academics and regulators have investigated this activity during significant market events. 

However, observing the on-chain activity of USDT can be misleading as Tether has historically printed USDT in large batches in anticipation of future demand and distributions. Thus, on-chain supply does not necessarily mean new supply in public markets. Coin Metrics’ free float supply excludes USDT held by the Tether Treasury to provide a more accurate indication of the supply that is currently in public markets.

As can be observed below, particularly through 2018 and the first half of 2019, the USDT issued does not necessarily represent the USDT in markets. Particularly interesting is the USDT activity in early 2019. Market participants observing the on-chain supply would not have noticed significant change as Bitcoin rose from $4,000 to $12,000. However, by observing free float supply, the correlation between free float USDT and Bitcoin’s price becomes clearer.

Case Study 2: Chainlink (LINK)

As per the ‘reported supply’ on all data distributors, the supply of LINK is 350M. However, since genesis in late 2017, the founding team has moved 31M LINK worth almost $50M at the time of wallets’ activity. This represents a 3.5% rate of inflation that investors may not be considering when developing valuation models. 

Applying Free Float to Valuation Methods

Many cryptoasset valuation methodologies use market capitalization in the derivation of indicator metrics. Two of the more popular valuation methods utilized for Bitcoin are: 

Both of these relative measures of Bitcoin’s performance use the market value of Bitcoin. For Bitcoin at least, market value naturally appreciates over time due to its programmatic inflation schedule. However, current measures do not account for inactivity or holders that might restrict supply from markets, thus reducing the ‘accessible’ value of the network. 

In redefining what market value is by adjusting for free float, new and more clear insights and signals can be observed for both these measures.

NVT Signal (NVTS)

Often referred to as the “crypto PE ratio”, NVT was first introduced by Willy Woo as a proxy measurement for the underlying utility of Bitcoin’s network. Such an approach to valuing cryptoassets had not previously been undertaken and the result proved valuable in detecting over and undervaluation. Dmitry Kalichkin later proposed NVT Signal (NVTS) which increases the emphasis on predictive signaling through utilizing a 90-day average for the daily transaction volume.

However, in the last few years, NVTS has often over-signaled bearish and failed to signal bullish as strongly as it previously has. By adjusting the numerator to reflect the free float market capitalization (network value), it can be argued that more distinct and more accurate bearish and bullish signals can be achieved. 

The current NVTS measurement (green line) has largely remained in overvalued territory since the start of 2019, whereas the free float NVTS (blue line) has provided less frequent but more precise overvalued signals. Further, free float NVTS has identified stronger undervalued signals than NVTS in both late 2018 and March 2020.

The definition of Free Float Network Value to Transaction Ratio (FF NVTS) is:

Market-Value-to-Realized-Value (MVRV) Ratio

In their announcement of MVRV, Murad and David indicated that such a measure provided insight into an interesting market dichotomy that can be described as follows:

“The booms seem to expand the network via an exuberant viral gossip mechanism that broadcasts the existence of Bitcoin to the world population; while the busts, in the long-run, seem to reward individuals who chose to delay short-term financial gratification in the search for sound money.”

Such a dichotomy can suggest that at times there is a fracture in the price discovery from short term traders and the ‘sounder’ and more steady long term investors.

In their initial medium post, thresholds were identified as follows:

  • Above 3.7 indicated overvaluation
  • Below 1.0 indicates undervaluation

Potentially suffering from the same issue mentioned above, the numerator of MVRV incurs a natural increase from the programmatic inflation of Bitcoin. In recent history, MVRV has remained closer to the bottom of it’s ‘fair value’ range, which implies that if the natural level of inflation is impacting MVRV negatively, traders are missing potential buy opportunities (i.e. if MV was lower, MVRV may dip below 1.0).

This issue is overcome by adjusting the MVRV numerator for free float supply as evidenced below. Such an approach has shown some additional buying opportunities that have empirically proven to optimize the signal from MVRV. 

The definition of Free Float Market-Value-to-Realized-Value (FF MVRV) is:

Conclusion

Measuring and understanding the Free Float Supply of cryptoassets has a broad host of applications that can improve market participants’ understanding of ‘real’ market capitalization, optimize the signal from network valuation metrics, improve construction of indexes to better reflect the market’s liquidity profile, and increase the transparency of large cryptoasset interest group behaviors. 

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network: Issue 56 – Do Coinbase Listings Turn Altcoins Into Gold?

Digital Alchemy: Do Coinbase Listings Turn Altcoins Into Gold?

By Jon Geenty and the Coin Metrics Team

Key Takeaways

  • A Coinbase listing has historically shown, not surprisingly, to have a positive impact on listed assets’ prices immediately following the announcement.
  • The uplift from a listing is more muted than some may perceive, with the average and median uplift ranging from roughly -1% to 14% against US Dollar, Bitcoin and Ethereum benchmarks. Price trends seen with assets such as the recent OmiseGo listing are outliers. 
  • Coinbase’s ‘Exploration’ announcements tend to have less of a direct impact on mentioned asset’s prices. The price movements surrounding these events are less significant and largely related to the general market regime at time of announcement. We compare these changes in a bearish, bullish and flat market using past examples.

Does a Coinbase Listing Always Deliver Results?

With the recent rise in altcoin prices and volumes, it is as good a time as any to discuss a phenomenon that typically elicits a lot of trading activity: The Coinbase listing.

Exchanges with a significant amount of market share at times can be “king makers” for altcoins. The simple suggestion or rumor that you will be listed on a top exchange has the potential to turn a valueless crypto “bag” into a large profit. Binance, Bittrex and Poloniex are exchanges known for listing the long tail of altcoins, but what about Coinbase?  

With the industry consensus being that Coinbase is the largest ‘retail’ onramp, the impact of a Coinbase listing should hold some significance on assets that might make the cut. However there is another big factor that influences the impact of the listing: market conditions. 

In this piece, we explore three separate instances that Coinbase announced they would be exploring new assets for potential listing, and analyze how the assets performed afterwards. Additionally, we explore the market conditions at time of announcement, and how different market environments (bear vs. flat vs. bull) impact the listings. 

Source: Coin Metrics Reference Rates

Methodology

For details on the methodology used in this piece see the full-length report on the Coin Metrics blog.

The Impact of the Possibility of Listing

December 2018 – Bear Market

On December 7, 2018, Coinbase announced the ‘exploration’ of 31 assets for potential listing.  The below chart shows the median and mean performance for the mentioned group against different benchmarks. 

Prior to that announcement the assets were generally tumbling in price. It is important to put in context of the asset class, with the 25 day prior mark being mid-November 2018.  During this period, Bitcoin sold off from ~$6,350 to ~$3,200, the lowest range that we have seen since the 2017 peak. This is reflected in the following chart, which shows asset price change in USD.

This announcement date precedes this “bottom” by a few days. In the period following these assets saw rebounds in value and over the following 100 days appreciated generally 50% in price against Bitcoin. The histogram below displays how the appreciation changed over time, from a tightly distributed decline in the 10 days immediately following the post to a broader, more positive distribution over the following 100 days.

August 2019 – Flat, Choppy Market

The group of assets in the second ‘exploration’ blog post in August 2019 was a much smaller sample size than the first, with only eight assets.

The market environment had also changed significantly. In this period Bitcoin had just hit 2019 highs in July and was trading in a choppy range between $12k and $8k, trending down. 

Continue Reading

Continue reading the full article including analysis of the June 2020 blog post and impact of actual listings.

Network Data Insights

Summary Metrics

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

On June 9th and 10th ETH daily transaction fees soared past BTC daily fees due to two transactions that each inexplicably spent $2.6M on transaction fees (as covered in the Network Data section of State of the Network Issue 55). Although there is still confusion around the exact reason for the high fees, the sender has been revealed to be South Korean based peer-to-peer exchange Good Cycle. 

ETH fees appear to be down because there were no more anomalous transactions this week, and therefore this week’s fee totals pale in comparison to last week’s. But ETH fees have actually been trending upwards over the last few weeks, as explored in this week’s Network Highlights section.

Network Highlights

Over the last two weeks ETH has flipped BTC in terms of daily transaction fees. Despite the obvious outliers due to the two mysterious transactions, ETH fees have continued to top BTC’s following June 10th. The last time that ETH fees topped BTC fees for at least 14 consecutive days was July 2018.  

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Although ETH total fees have surged, BTC median fees are still higher than ETH median fees. Over the last week, BTC median fees have fluctuated between about $1 and $1.50, while ETH median fees have remained between $0.47 and $0.65. ETH median fees have, however, grown significantly since the beginning of the year. On January 1st, 2020, ETH median fees were a little less than $0.04. 

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

ETH blocks have also been getting increasingly full over the last few weeks. Relatively full blocks shows that there’s demand to use the network. To address the increase in block fullness, on June 20th Ethereum miners voted to increase the network’s gas limit by 25%. This is reflected in the following chart, which shows both the gas limit per block and the gas used per block.

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Market Data Insights

The Compound Effect 

While the overall market has remained little changed over the past month with volatility near record lows for this market cycle, Compound’s launch of their governance token has ignited interest in the decentralized finance space. The amount of collateral locked within the Compound platform has surpassed Maker due to their implementation of liquidity mining — paying out a certain amount of Compound tokens to borrowers and lenders on the platform. 

Compound token’s rapid price growth has been reflected in most other DeFi tokens such as Aave, Maker, Bancor, and Kyber Network. This is suggestive of behavior last seen during the ICO-driven market bubble, although Ren and 0x’s muted price performance indicates that some rationality persists. 

While financial asset bubbles in mature markets are generally undesirable, financial bubbles in rapidly emerging markets such as DeFi can be a good thing in the long-run because it can incentive the build out of additional infrastructure that normally would not be economical. 

Source: Coin Metrics Reference Rates

Tether Supply Growth is Slowing

Since the beginning of the coronavirus-related lockdowns, Tether supply growth has been extremely strong. Here we show Tether’s free float supply, a measure of supply that represents the amount of supply freely available for purchase by investors. Notably, it excludes Tether that has been issued but not yet released. This year, a fairly steady rate of growth brought total Tether free float supply from around 5 billion units to 9 billion units. In just the past few weeks, however, Tether supply growth has slowed considerably, although it is still positive. 

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Although the assumption that Tether is fully backed by fiat currency is tenuous and not fully proven, one interpretation of Tether supply growth is that it represents new capital inflows into the space. The common narrative is that Tether is printed, sent to exchanges, and then used to purchase Bitcoin or other cryptoassets. Here we plot one-month Bitcoin price growth with one-month Tether supply growth to examine the connection. Recent data points to a tight correlation between the two time series. As Tether supply growth has slowed, Bitcoin’s price growth has also attenuated.

CM Bletchley Indexes (CMBI) Insights

CMBI and Bletchley Indexes had a relatively flat week with the exception of the Bletchley 40 (small-cap) Index which closed the week up 7.4%. The CMBI Bitcoin Index and the CMBI Ethereum Index both closed the week slightly down, falling 0.6% and 2.2% respectively. 

With the CMBI Bitcoin Index down near historically low volatility levels, the large and mid-cap markets seem to be awaiting Bitcoin to make its next move before experiencing too much action. However, small-cap assets have performed independently and strongly this month, with the Bletchley 40 up 15% already. The Bletchley 10 and Bletchley 20 have seen little action, returning -2.5% and 0.1% respectively.

Source: Coin Metrics CMBI

Coin Metrics Updates

This week’s updates from the Coin Metrics team:

  • Coin Metrics is hiring! Please check out our Careers page to view the openings.

As always, if you have any feedback or requests, don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]

Subscribe and Past Issues

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network, is an unbiased, weekly view of the crypto market informed by our own network (on-chain) and market data.

If you’d like to get State of the Network in your inbox, please subscribe here. You can see previous issues of State of the Network here.

Check out the Coin Metrics Blog for more in depth research and analysis.

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Digital Alchemy: Do Coinbase Listings Turn Altcoins Into Gold?

A review on the impact of Coinbase’s Listings and “Exploration” announcements on the markets of those assets included in the announcements.

By Jon Geenty and the Coin Metrics Team

Key Takeaways

  • A Coinbase listing has historically shown, not surprisingly, to have a positive impact on listed assets’ prices immediately following the announcement.
  • The uplift from a listing is more muted than some may perceive, with the average and median uplift ranging from roughly -1% to 14% against US Dollar, Bitcoin, and Ethereum benchmarks. Price trends seen with assets such as the recent OmiseGo listing are outliers. 
  • Coinbase’s ‘Exploration’ announcements tend to have less of a direct impact on the mentioned asset’s prices. The price movements surrounding these events are less significant and largely related to the general market regime at time of announcement. We compare these changes in a bearish, bullish, and flat market using past examples.

Does a Coinbase Listing Always Deliver Results?

With the recent rise in altcoin prices and volumes, it is as good a time as any to discuss a phenomenon that typically elicits a lot of trading activity: The Coinbase listing.

Exchanges with a significant amount of market share at times can be “king makers” for altcoins. The simple suggestion or rumor that you will be listed on a top exchange has the potential to turn a valueless crypto “bag” into a large profit. Binance, Bittrex, and Poloniex are exchanges known for listing the long tail of altcoins, but what about Coinbase?  

With the industry consensus being that Coinbase is the largest ‘retail’ onramp, the impact of a Coinbase listing should hold some significance on assets that might make the cut. However, there is another big factor that influences the impact of the listing: market conditions. 

In this piece, we explore three separate instances that Coinbase announced they would be exploring new assets for potential listing and analyze how the assets performed afterward. Additionally, we explore the market conditions at time of announcement, and how different market environments (bear vs. flat vs. bull) impact the listings. 

Source: Coin Metrics Reference Rates

Methodology

We will walk through an event analysis of two major parts of the altcoin listing cycle:

  1. The announcement that there is a possibility of a listing and
  2. The announcement that an asset is being listed with the listing following shortly after

For this analysis we are considering the Coinbase or Coinbase Pro listing, whichever is first, to be the Coinbase listing date. Additionally,  we will focus on three sets of assets that were announced for exploration by Coinbase in these blog posts.

Coinbase made an additional announcement on Sep 19, 2019. However, we exclude this set as a majority of these assets were not trading elsewhere either because the supply is locked, still in IOUs, or privately held. 

The most complete examples to review are the effects from the Dec 7, 2018 and Aug 5, 2019 posts. We will also look at data leading up to and briefly following the June 10, 2020 post, however the full impact of listings from that post has not occurred as of the time of this writing. 

We look at how assets related to these posts performed against BTC, ETH, XMR, ZEC and DOGE as benchmarks. The reason for using multiple assets is so that we can reduce any false findings related to an unrelated trend in the benchmark asset. 

Furthermore, for consistency and simplicity we will look at the assets which we at Coin Metrics calculate Reference Rates for before and after the ‘event’ in question as these assets have met criteria that have allowed us to determine more accurate pricing, such as listings on reputable exchanges and volume that meets minimum thresholds. This helps us to remove additional noise from our analysis. 

The Impact of the Possibility of Listing

December 2018 – Bear Market

On December 7, 2018, Coinbase announced the ‘exploration’ of 31 assets for potential listing.  The below chart shows the median and mean performance for the mentioned group against different benchmarks. 

Prior to that announcement, the assets were generally tumbling in price. It is important to put in the context of the asset class, with the 25 day prior mark being mid-November 2018.  During this period, Bitcoin sold off from ~$6,350 to ~$3,200, the lowest range that we have seen since the 2017 peak. This is reflected in the following chart, which shows asset price change in USD.

This announcement date precedes this “bottom” by a few days. In the period following these assets saw rebounds in value and over the following 100 days appreciated generally 50% in price against Bitcoin. The histogram below displays how the appreciation changed over time, from a tightly distributed decline in the 10 days immediately following the post to a broader, more positive distribution over the following 100 days.

August 2019 – Flat, Choppy Market

The group of assets in the second ‘exploration’ blog post in August 2019 was a much smaller sample size than the first, with only eight assets.

The market environment had also changed significantly. In this period Bitcoin had just hit 2019 highs in July and was trading in a choppy range between $12k and $8k, trending down. 

In the days immediately following the announcement, on average these assets saw a brief bump in price around 10%. In general these assets held up better against the other alts such as ZEC, XMR and DOGE and not so well against BTC, ETH or the US dollar. Again, below we have a histogram of the price appreciation over 10, 25 and 100 days with the distribution moving from a tight distribution around zero that widens over time.

June 2020 – Bull, ‘Melt-up’ Market

The most recent group, announced in June 2020, has the largest positive trend of any of the groups reviewed so far, with the mean and median price changes of the assets rising 20%-40% going into the announcement and continuing to appreciate roughly another 20% in the 10 days following. 

This trend is largely due to broader risk-off in March due to the Covid-19 (81 days prior was the local minimum on March 13, 2020) and the subsequent swift recovery. This risk-on momentum may be contributing to the initial lift in prices. However, because we have not had as long of a period following the announcement to observe price action it is difficult to say whether this trend is temporary or not. 

The Impact of the Coinbase Listing

The rumors about an asset potentially listing are one thing, but the actual listing announcement is an event with a 100% certainty.  Let’s review the impact of the actual listing announcement on the listed asset’s prices the 10 days before and following the announcement. Again, we compare the asset’s price change in multiple assets, here using the US Dollar, BTC and ETH for a more holistic view. 

The three charts above observe the listing trends from 16 listings on Coinbase from 2018, 2019 and 2020. 10 out of 16 (62.5%) appreciated against USD, all but 10 out of 17 (62.5%)  against BTC, and 7 out of 16 (64%) against ETH.  These high level results and relatively limited sample size would lead us to believe that an asset that is listed on Coinbase will likely appreciate over the following ten trading days.  This is a very broad statement and the distribution of those results are investigated below.

Above is a histogram of the same data as the previous charts, with each color representing a different benchmark asset.  This data is what should ultimately be considered when looking to make a short term trade around a listing announcement. This is especially important to view now due to the recency bias that many traders may have after watching the OMG listing last month, which appreciated by over 100% against all three benchmarks here in the 10 days following the listing announcement. That listing was an outlier. The mean and median values for appreciation against the benchmarks fall between -1% and +14%. This range is much more realistic. Traders looking for the 100% gain or ‘ten x’ following a listing may not have the odds in their favor.

Conclusion

Our analysis has found that the shorter-term impacts of the ‘exploration’ and listing announcements are subject to the broader trend of the asset class. This can be seen in the breakdown of events occurring in three distinct market environments: a bear market in late 2018, a flat, choppy market in summer 2019, and the current euphoric ‘melt-up’ market of Q2 2020. The short-term, 10 day, price changes tend to be temporarily skewed toward the broader market trend at the time of the event. Over time these distributions flatten out, with the 100 day price changes becoming more normally distributed over a broad range.

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network: Issue 55 – Assessing Crypto’s Recovery Three Months After The March 12th Crash

Assessing Crypto’s Recovery Three Months After The March 12th Crash

By Nate Maddrey and and the Coin Metrics Team

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) have recovered most of their losses after the March 12th crash, while assets like Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) have lagged behind.
  • Other assets that have outperformed include Cardano (ADA), Crypto.com Coin (CRO), and OmiseGO (OMG).
  • Stablecoin trading volume has exploded since March 12th, with Tether (USDT) leading the way. BTC-USDT spot market volume on Binance, Bitfinex, Bittrex, HitBTC, Huobi, and LBank shot up to new highs on March 13th, and has remained relatively elevated since.
  • Volume continued to spike in April and May on all six exchanges, although to a lesser extent than on March 13th.
  • Another trend that has emerged following March 12th is the growth of addresses holding relatively small amounts of crypto. Since March 12th, BTC and ETH have both had noticeable increases in addresses holding at least 1 billionth of total supply. 

Introduction

On March 12th crypto experienced one of its largest crashes ever with many assets falling over 50% in less than 24 hours. Now, a little more than three months later, the market has turned around and shown signs of recovery. However, not all assets have reacted equally, and the market continues to change at a fast pace as global uncertainty remains high.

In today’s Weekly Feature we look at network data (i.e. on-chain data) and market data to assess how different assets recovered, and analyze some of the ongoing changes after the crash. 

Price Recovery Differs Across Assets

Assets like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) have recovered most of their losses after the crash, while other assets like Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) have lagged behind.

The below chart shows market capitalization for nine major cryptoassets over the last year. All nine assets experienced market cap spikes in February, immediately prior to the crash. BTC’s market cap reached $188.76B on February 14th, its highest point in 2020. ETH’s 2020 market cap peaked at $31.25B, also on February 14th.

After the crash, BTC’s market cap recovered to $187.58B by June 1st 2020, just shy of its February high. Similarly, ETH’s market cap reached $27.69B on June 1st.

But other assets have not recovered as much of their pre-crash highs. BCH’s post-crash market cap peaked at $4.92B on April 8th, down from $9.01B on February 14th. LTC market cap reached $5.37B on February 14th and has not passed $3.2B since. Ripple (XRP) and Bitcoin SV (BSV) are also down compared to other assets.

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Price recovery paints a similar picture. The below chart shows price recovery (i.e. percent regained of initial price) from February 14th, which was the high point for many cryptoassets in 2020, to June 14th. 

In addition to BTC and ETH, several mid-cap assets like Cardano (ADA) and Crypto.com Coin (CRO) have recovered relatively well. OmiseGO (OMG), which launched on Coinbase Pro on May 19th, has also outperformed.

Source: Coin Metrics Reference Rates

Stablecoin Trading Volume Has Surged

Stablecoin trading volume has exploded since March 12th, with Tether (USDT) leading the way. BTC-USDT spot market volume on Binance, Bitfinex, Bittrex, HitBTC, Huobi, and LBank shot up to new highs on March 13th, and has remained relatively elevated since. Volume continued to spike in April and May on all six exchanges, although to a lesser extent than on March 13th.

The following chart shows BTC-USDT trading volume smoothed using a 7-day rolling average.

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

This increase in volume corresponds with the huge growth in Tether supply seen since February 2020. Tether is currently issued on many different platforms, including Ethereum (USDT_ETH) and Tron (USDT_TRX). USDT_ETH supply more than doubled from February to May 2020, and USDT_TRX supply has more than tripled over the last two months. 

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Addresses Holding Small Amounts of BTC and ETH are Growing

Another trend that has emerged following March 12th is the growth of addresses holding relatively small amounts of crypto. 

The following chart shows the number of addresses holding at least 1 billionth of total supply (.000000001%). BTC and ETH both had noticeable increases in growth following March 12th. Ripple (XRP) and Tezos (XTZ) have also shown steady growth over the last year. This suggests that the amount of individuals holding these assets is growing, and that the amount of retail investors (i.e. non-institutional) may be increasing. 

However, it’s important to note that a single entity can own many addresses at once, so an increase in addresses does not necessarily mean an increase in usage. Alternatively, the rise could be caused by a small number of entities spreading their coins across many addresses.

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Conclusion

In three short months after the March 12th crash BTC and ETH have recovered most of their losses. Additionally, stablecoin trading volume has exploded, and the amount of addresses holding small amounts of BTC and ETH have grown. However, not all assets have recovered as well as BTC and ETH. BCH and LTC market caps remain well below 2020 highs, and many other assets are lagging as well. 

As global uncertainty is still high, it remains to be seen whether crypto will continue to trend upwards. But at least up to this point, a lot of the post-crash data has pointed towards a relatively strong recovery.

Check out our free community charting tool to access some of the data used in this piece as well as more of our on-chain network data.

Network Data Insights

Summary Metrics

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) both had slightly down yet relatively stable weeks. BTC’s market capitalization dropped 1.8% week-over-week, while ETH’s dropped 1.3%. Realized capitalization (which values each coin at the last time it moved on-chain), however, increased for both.

Notably, ETH daily fees grew by over 178.5% week-over-week, a seemingly huge surge. However, this was due to two specific transactions which each inexplicably spent $2.6M on transaction fees

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) continued their downward trends as highlighted in today’s Weekly Feature. LTC active addresses dropped 15.8% week-over-week. Although BCH addresses increased 11.3% week-over-week, most other BCH on-chain metrics were down, including a 46.8% drop in transactions.

Network Highlights

There were 1.05M Bitcoin daily active addresses on June 11th, the highest single day total of 2020. Bitcoin daily active addresses have not topped 1.05M since June 2019. 

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Bitcoin active addresses also surged in May. Current levels of active addresses have only been seen twice before in Bitcoin’s history: December 2017, when Bitcoin price was approaching $20K, and July 2019, when Bitcoin’s price climbed from around $5K to over $13K. The following chart shows Bitcoin daily active addresses since May 2015, smoothed using a 7-day rolling average.

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Ethereum daily active addresses have also surged in the past few weeks. Ethereum active addresses are now approaching levels not seen since January 2018. The following shows daily active addresses smoothed using a 7-day rolling average.

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Market Data Insights

This past week in Bitcoin was relatively quiet, with daily volatility reaching the lowest levels in three months. This level of volatility was last seen the week of March 7th, 2020, just days prior to the roughly 50% drop in price on March 12th. Historically, Bitcoin has not been able to maintain volatility below the 50% threshold for periods of time. Is this time different or will volatility be returning soon?

Bitcoin’s rolling 30 day average volatility has only fallen below the 50% threshold 35 times during the modern Bitcoin market (if we consider the modern market for Bitcoin as starting when Bitcoin initially hit $1,000 on November 29, 2013).

Below is a histogram of the number of days that Bitcoin’s 30 Day volatility has remained below 50% for those 35 points mentioned above. 80% of those periods lasted less than 20 days, with 55% lasting less than 10 days. These percentages skew higher when looking only at data since 2017. To keep the following analysis more concise and relevant for the current trading regime we will continue to focus on just the period since 2017.

This leads us to consider what happens following these periods of low volatility. Below is a look at the 10 days preceding and 50 days following periods where the volatility has fallen below 50%. You can see the median and mean trends in red, showing that pattern of rising volatility following the tenth day.

Is this a bullish or bearish signal?  It is difficult to say with certainty using solely historical price data. However, we thought it would be interesting to repeat the analysis above looking at change in price instead of volatility. The results are mixed – sometimes price rises and sometimes it falls. The median and mean therefore both hover around 0% up to 40 days out.

CM Bletchley Indexes (CMBI) Insights

All of the CMBI and Bletchley Indexes experienced losses this week with the exception of the Bletchley 40 (market cap weighted and even weighted) which was up 1.1%. The CMBI Bitcoin Index and CMBI Ethereum Index were down 2.7% and 2% respectfully. 

Interestingly, the Bletchley 10 index, which is composed 82% of Bitcoin and Ethereum, was down 5.1% for the week, implying underperformance in the other constituent assets of the Bletchey 10 (XRP, XTZ, BCH, LINK, BSV, LTC, XLM, EOS). 

Coin Metrics Updates

This week’s updates from the Coin Metrics team:

  • Coin Metrics is hiring! Please check out our Careers page to view the openings.

As always, if you have any feedback or requests, don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]

Subscribe and Past Issues

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network, is an unbiased, weekly view of the crypto market informed by our own network (on-chain) and market data.

If you’d like to get State of the Network in your inbox, please subscribe here. You can see previous issues of State of the Network here.

Check out the Coin Metrics Blog for more in depth research and analysis.

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network: Issue 54 – Analyzing Stablecoin Supply and Activity Distribution

Analyzing Stablecoin Supply and Activity Distribution 

By Antoine Le Calvez and the Coin Metrics Team

Key Takeaways

  • The supply and activity distribution of a stablecoin can help us understand how it is used. 
  • The ERC-20 variant of Tether shines as being particularly well distributed amongst its holders. Meanwhile, 6 accounts or less own 80+% of the supply for Gemini Dollar, Binance USD, Tether (Tron), USDK, and HUSD.
  • At first, Paxos appears to have a broad active user base. However, looking at the top transactors on Paxos leads to an interesting discovery: the two most active accounts on Paxos are linked to MMM BSC, a ponzi scheme which underwent an exponential growth in activity in the past year.
  • Another interesting discovery is that the most active Tether on Tron accounts are linked to “dividend” payouts. In some days, this was responsible for 90+% of Tether on Tron transfers.
  • Some stablecoins like Paxos and Tether on Tron see a lot of retail-like transactions, probably due to the presence of MMM and other dividend schemes on these assets. Other stablecoins like HUSD and Binance USD have a large share of payments above $100k.

Introduction

One of the biggest changes in the crypto industry over the past years has been the emergence and development of stablecoins. Split across many networks (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tron and more) and issuers (Tether, Circle/Coinbase, Binance, etc.), these assets share many similarities: they have the same price, often use the same tech (ERC-20) and serve similar users.

In this piece, we will look at stablecoins network data and try to understand how their usage varies across the networks they are based on and their issuer. More particularly, we will look at Tether (on its Omni, Ethereum and Tron versions), Paxos, USDC, TrueUSD, Gemini Dollar, HUSD, Binance USD, and USDK.

Supply Distribution

The supply distribution of a stablecoin can help us understand how it is used. If it is only used on few exchanges without much other activity, most of the supply will be concentrated in few addresses. On the contrary, if it’s used by many exchanges and users, it will be more broadly distributed.

The ERC-20 variant of Tether shines as being particularly well distributed amongst its holders. Meanwhile, 6 accounts or less own 80+% of the supply for Gemini Dollar, Binance USD, Tether (Tron), USDK, and HUSD.

USDK has a particularly strange supply distribution. As of writing, 3355 accounts hold USDK, but 3170 (94%) only own either $0.5 or $1 which they received in July 2019 from an account who in turn got its money from OKex. Given that barely any recipient spent their money, it doesn’t look like a traditional airdrop.

Activity Distribution

Another way to compare stablecoins is to look at how many accounts are responsible for the majority of the on-chain activity (e.g. 80% of all on-chain activity, as in the chart below). If a small number of accounts are responsible for most of the transactions, it shows a lack of use outside of a handful of exchanges.

Note: For USDK, we exclude the activity related to crediting the 94% of accounts holding only $0.5 or $1.

At first, Paxos appears to have a broad active user base. However, looking at the top transactors on Paxos leads to an interesting discovery: the two most active accounts on Paxos are linked to MMM BSC, a ponzi scheme which underwent an exponential growth in activity in the past year.

Nowadays, more than 40% of all PAX transfers are directly related to this scheme.

Another interesting discovery is that the most active Tether on Tron accounts are linked to “dividend” payouts. In some days, this was responsible for 90+% of Tether on Tron transfers.

Continue Reading on the Coin Metrics Blog

Continue reading the full article on the Coin Metrics blog.

Network Data Insights

Summary Metrics

Ethereum continues to surge, with an 11% increase in both market cap and active addresses week-over-week. While Bitcoin’s market cap and realized cap also grew week-over-week, Ethereum once again led the way. 

Ethereum is also closing the gap in terms of daily transaction fees. Ethereum averaged $463.6K daily transaction fees over the last week, compared to $603.7K for Bitcoin.  Ethereum transaction fees rose towards the end of the week, and surpassed Bitcoin’s daily fees on both June 5th and 6th. We explore this trend more in today’s Network Highlights section. 

Network Highlights

On June 5th Ethereum had more total daily transaction fees than Bitcoin. While Ethereum also topped Bitcoin in terms of daily fees on March 12th (due to network congestion after the price crash), Bitcoin has had more daily fees than Ethereum for most of its history. 

After the recent halving, Bitcoin fees spiked to highs not seen since July, 2019. This rise in fees was mostly due to an increase in competition for block space, as explained in the Network Highlights section of State of the Network Issue 51.

But now Bitcoin fees appear to be dropping back to pre-halving levels. Bitcoin hash rate is recovering quickly following the halving, which means more blocks are being produced which leads to less block space congestion.

The following chart shows Bitcoin estimated hash rate, smoothed using a 7 day rolling average.

Simultaneously, Ethereum fees are spiking. This is at least in part due to the continued rise of Tether issued on Ethereum (USDT_ETH). USDT_ETH transfers surged to a new all-time high of 232.3K on June 6th.

In addition to hash rate, Bitcoin’s realized cap has recovered relatively quickly after the March 12th crash. Bitcoin’s realized cap reached $105.98B on June 6th and is approaching all-time highs. Bitcoin realized cap reached an all-time high of $106.26B in February 2020, before falling down to about $100B after March 12th.

Market Data Insights

To those following the digital asset space, few phrases can evoke as many feelings as “alt season.” Reading it here may stir up emotions of nostalgia, euphoria, greed and, of course, pain surrounding ‘the one that got away’.  

To those unfamiliar, alt season is the portion of the crypto currency investing cycle where the altcoins (smaller cap digital assets which are neither Bitcoin or Ethereum) are in favor. There is no strict definition, but you know it once it arrives. Common informal indicators include tokens with < $50m market caps going on multiple day runs of double-digit returns.  If you find yourself looking up tickers you read about in a forum, trying to predict the next Coinbase listing, or frustrated with how long it will take to transfer funds to an exchange listing your asset of choice, it might just be alt season.

In order to fully appreciate what happened in May, let’s put it in context with the trends in April.  April 2020 was a very positive month for the Bitcoin investment narrative. We had Paul Tudor Jones telling the world that Bitcoin was a sensible trade to hedge inflation risk. CARES Act stimulus checks went out which Coinbase data suggested led to a greater amount of deposits on their platform. Personal savings rates increased to 33% from 12.7% in March, leaving Americans with a larger cushion of cash to be allocated to crypto. Enough speculation though, let’s look at the data.

Notable in the April changes are the increases in Spot Volume Market share of Coinbase, Kraken and Bittrex. These exchanges are the typical fiat on-ramps for retail investors. 

In May, retail investors were feeling good. Bitcoin dip buyers aside, online stock brokers such as Robinhood, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade all reported record amounts of retail trader activity. This demographic of investors (read: speculators) who bought the dip on almost any heavily traded stocks benefited from a strong rally with the S&P 500 index gained 14% during the month of April.

A routinely studied trend in behavioral finance is that overconfident investors tend to move up the risk spectrum and take on more risk (one such study linked here). With this in mind, it is not surprising that we see the trend of trading volumes shifting from the fiat onramp exchanges to those servicing the long tail of riskier alt coins. 

Similar to what we looked at for April, the above chart shows the change in spot market share for selected exchanges in May. Notably Coinbase and Kraken, the fiat exchanges with increases in April saw declining market share in May. However, exchanges such as Binance and Okex saw large increases. These exchanges with increasing market share support trading for a longer tail of assets, i.e. altcoins.

To verify this shift in volume to said assets we take a look at the change in spot trading market share by base asset.

The visual above shows an asset’s share of spot volume at the beginning and end of May, measured using a rolling 7 day average up to and including the relevant date. Notice that there is a break in the chart’s x-axis between 3.5% and 10%. This allows us to better understand the share of volume represented while still including BTC and ETH for context.

We can see that during the month of May, the volumes for BTC and ETH both decreased, roughly by 5% and 2% respectively.  This share of volume shifted to assets such as ETC, OKb, Theta, OMG and MATIC.  Trading volume has moved into these riskier assets sending a strong signal that alt season has arrived.

CM Bletchley Indexes (CMBI) Insights

All CMBI and Bletchley Indexes had another strong week, with the multi-asset indexes performing the best. 

Both the CMBI Bitcoin Index and the CMBI Ethereum Index finished the week slightly up at 1.4% and 1.5% respectively. The Bletchley 20 (mid-cap assets) experienced the strongest returns, up 7.3% for the week, with the Bletchley 40 (small-cap assets) not far behind, returning 6.8%. 

Coin Metrics Updates

This week’s updates from the Coin Metrics team:

As always, if you have any feedback or requests, don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]

Subscribe and Past Issues

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network, is an unbiased, weekly view of the crypto market informed by our own network (on-chain) and market data.

If you’d like to get State of the Network in your inbox, please subscribe here. You can see previous issues of State of the Network here.

Check out the Coin Metrics Blog for more in depth research and analysis.

Analyzing Stablecoin Supply and Activity Distribution

By Antoine Le Calvez and the Coin Metrics Team

Key Takeaways

  • The supply and activity distribution of a stablecoin can help us understand how it is used. 
  • The ERC-20 variant of Tether shines as being particularly well distributed amongst its holders. Meanwhile, 6 accounts or less own 80+% of the supply for Gemini Dollar, Binance USD, Tether (Tron), USDK, and HUSD.
  • At first, Paxos appears to have a broad active user base. However, looking at the top transactors on Paxos leads to an interesting discovery: the two most active accounts on Paxos are linked to MMM BSC, a ponzi scheme which underwent an exponential growth in activity in the past year.
  • Another interesting discovery is that the most active Tether on Tron accounts are linked to “dividend” payouts. In some days, this was responsible for 90+% of Tether on Tron transfers.
  • Some stablecoins like Paxos and Tether on Tron see a lot of retail-like transactions, probably due to the presence of MMM and other dividend schemes on these assets. Other stablecoins like HUSD and Binance USD have a large share of payments above $100k.

Introduction

One of the biggest changes in the crypto industry over the past years has been the emergence and development of stablecoins. Split across many networks (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tron and more) and issuers (Tether, Circle/Coinbase, Binance, etc.), these assets share many similarities: they have the same price, often use the same tech (ERC-20) and serve similar users.

In this piece, we will look at stablecoins network data and try to understand how their usage varies across the networks they are based on and their issuer. More particularly, we will look at Tether (on its Omni, Ethereum and Tron versions), Paxos, USDC, TrueUSD, Gemini Dollar, HUSD, Binance USD, and USDK.

Supply Distribution

The supply distribution of a stablecoin can help us understand how it is used. If it is only used on few exchanges without much other activity, most of the supply will be concentrated in few addresses. On the contrary, if it’s used by many exchanges and users, it will be more broadly distributed.

The ERC-20 variant of Tether shines as being particularly well distributed amongst its holders. Meanwhile, 6 accounts or less own 80+% of the supply for Gemini Dollar, Binance USD, Tether (Tron), USDK, and HUSD.

USDK has a particularly strange supply distribution. As of writing, 3355 accounts hold USDK, but 3170 (94%) only own either $0.5 or $1 which they received in July 2019 from an account who in turn got its money from OKex. Given that barely any recipient spent their money, it doesn’t look like a traditional airdrop.

Activity Distribution

Another way to compare stablecoins is to look at how many accounts are responsible for the majority of the on-chain activity (e.g. 80% of all on-chain activity, as in the chart below). If a small number of accounts are responsible for most of the transactions, it shows a lack of use outside of a handful of exchanges.

Note: For USDK, we exclude the activity related to crediting the 94% of accounts holding only $0.5 or $1.

At first, Paxos appears to have a broad active user base. However, looking at the top transactors on Paxos leads to an interesting discovery: the two most active accounts on Paxos are linked to MMM BSC, a ponzi scheme which underwent an exponential growth in activity in the past year.

Nowadays, more than 40% of all PAX transfers are directly related to this scheme.

Another interesting discovery is that the most active Tether on Tron accounts are linked to “dividend” payouts. In some days, this was responsible for 90+% of Tether on Tron transfers.

Transfer Value Distribution

If stablecoins are truly used as a means of payment for retail users, we should see that the majority of transfers’ value falls below $100 (PayPal’s average transaction value in Q1 2020 was around $58). On the other hand, if one sees stablecoins as liquidity rails for traders, the majority of payments should be of high value (in our case, we picked $100k as the lower bound).

It turns out that both visions are correct, depending on which stablecoin you look at. Some stablecoins like Paxos and Tether on Tron see a lot of retail-like transactions, probably due to the presence of MMM and other dividend schemes on these assets. Other stablecoins like HUSD and Binance USD have a large share of payments above $100k.

Shared Ownership

An old idiom says that “birds of a feather flock together.” A similar question can be asked of stablecoins: are similar stablecoins owned by the same accounts? 

This kind of analysis can only be done on stablecoins that share the same network. For example, stablecoins like PAX and USDC, which are both issued on the Ethereum blockchain. However an address owning Tether on Tron cannot own USDC on Ethereum, since the addresses are not consistent across blockchains. As the great majority of stablecoins are issued as Ethereum ERC-20 tokens, this is the asset on which this analysis has been run:

A few things to note from that chart:

  • Two pairs of assets jump out as being owned jointly by single chart accounts: TrueUSD with USDC and HUSD with Binance USD. 
  • TrueUSD owners seem to be more likely to own other stablecoins.

Conclusion

While stablecoins are often bunched together and treated as a whole but by looking deeply at network data, we can better understand how these assets work and how they differ. Even when issued by the same entity (Tether), stablecoins on different networks have varying outcomes in supply and activity distribution.

Analyzing Stablecoin Supply and Activity Distribution This kind of analysis is only preliminary and many more things can be compared and contrasted between stablecoins. If you would like to dive deeper into our stablecoin data, checkout our free community charting page which features data from all of the stablecoins used in this piece.  

Coin Metrics’ State of the Network: Issue 53 – Measuring Bitcoin’s Trading Volume

Measuring Bitcoin’s Trading Volume

by Kevin Lu and the Coin Metrics Team

Current market conditions have led to a resurgence of institutional interest in Bitcoin. In the face of an unparalleled monetary and fiscal policy response from central banks and governments around the world, more institutions are recognizing that such policies significantly increase the probability of policy error, either by inciting financial imbalances in certain sectors of the economy or by stoking higher levels of inflation. 

Here we examine, from the perspective of an institution considering entering the market, the distribution and size of Bitcoin’s volume across its various markets. The following is a preview of an upcoming research piece with ARK Invest which will feature a more comprehensive analysis of an institutional approach to Bitcoin.

The Many Facets of Bitcoin’s Volume 

Calculating Bitcoin’s market capitalization is relatively straightforward. Coin Metrics estimates Bitcoin’s free float market capitalization to be $136 billion, giving it a size similar to that of the largest publicly traded companies in the United States. An assessment of volume, however, is more complicated and different calculation methodologies can yield significantly different results. 

Bitcoin’s market structure is unique in that it most closely mirrors that of foreign exchange markets. It is similar in that it is globally distributed, operates 24 hours a day, and its markets utilize a base asset and quote asset convention. The exception is that a significant portion of trading volume occurs on centralized exchanges that match trades from any market participant rather than through an interbank market. 

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

Bitcoin’s daily trading volume can be evaluated at different levels of aggregation. For a buy-side institution interested in deploying fresh capital into the space, the trading volume of Bitcoin spot markets quoted in U.S. dollars of $0.5 billion per day from major exchanges is perhaps the most relevant. With this level of trading volume, a buy-side institution wishing to not exceed one percent of total trading volume could expect to deploy $5 million in capital per day. 

While the Bitcoin trading ecosystem consists of hundreds of centralized exchanges, a handful of decentralized exchanges, and several OTC desks, the majority of trading occurs on a set of major centralized exchanges. In this analysis, our volume figures are derived from a set of major exchanges consisting of Binance, Binance.US, Bitfinex, bitFlyer, Bithumb, BitMEX, Bitstamp, Bittrex, Bybit, CEX.IO, Coinbase, FTX, Gate.io, Gemini, Huobi, itBit, Kraken, Liquid, OKEX, Poloniex, and Upbit. 

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

Distribution of U.S. dollar quoted spot market volume follows a power law where roughly 90 percent of the volume is concentrated in the top four exchanges in our sample: Coinbase, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, and Kraken. The fragmented nature of trading volume and liquidity in this space indicates that institutions should expect to go through a process of onboarding with multiple exchanges to access the full spectrum of trading activity. 

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

Expanding the set of markets to include any fiat markets increases daily trading volume to $1.2 billion with the U.S. dollar consisting of roughly half of the total. Aside from the U.S. dollar, the major fiat quote currencies are the Japanese yen, the euro, the Korean won and the British pound. This set of major exchanges chosen in our analysis excludes some smaller regional exchanges, but their volume is too low to be realistically considered by institutions. 

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

Stablecoins have evolved to be systemically important to Bitcoin’s ecosystem and continue to gain trading volume market share. Including markets quoted in stablecoins significantly increases the daily trading volume to $3.5 billion, primarily due to Tether — a stablecoin which operates in a regulatory gray zone. Thus, buy-side and sell-side institutions must make a critical decision whether the advantages of participating in stablecoin markets in the form of increased liquidity and trading activity outweigh the risks. More regulatory compliant stablecoins such as USD Coin, Paxos Standard, or TrueUSD have insignificant volumes compared to Tether. 

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

The largest increase is observed when derivatives markets are added to the mix. Similar to other asset classes, derivatives markets in Bitcoin are several times larger compared to spot markets. If reported volumes are to be believed, gaining exposure through derivatives markets may be the most efficient path. However, crypto derivative markets are still developing, and market participants must contend with a confused mixture of differing contract specifications. Contracts that accept margin in and settle profit and loss in Bitcoin, stablecoins, and fiat all exist. 

Bitcoin’s Volume is Still Small But Growing

Assessing the many facets of Bitcoin’s trading volume can be aided with a frame of reference. Here we compare the spot volume of Bitcoin with the spot volume from other asset classes. 

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

With daily trading volume of only $4.1 billion, Bitcoin’s spot markets are still minuscule in comparison to U.S. equity markets, U.S. bond markets, and global foreign exchange markets. The interpretation is that Bitcoin, in its current state, is most comparable in size to a large capitalization stock rather than a distinct asset class. A large institutional investor such as an endowment, pension fund, or sovereign wealth fund might reasonably conclude that Bitcoin is only suitable for a portion of the already small allocation to alternative assets rather than carving out a separate allocation towards it. 

If historical growth rates can be maintained, however, Bitcoin’s current daily volume from spot markets of $4.3 billion would need fewer than 4 years of growth to exceed daily volume of all U.S. equities. Fewer than 5 years of growth are needed to exceed daily volume of all U.S. bonds. 

Source: Coin Metrics Market Data Feed

Conclusion

The fragmentation of trading volume in the Bitcoin ecosystem prevents a straightforward assessment of its market size. Institutions considering entering the space should first survey the landscape and make a determination of which exchanges, markets, and assets they feel comfortable transacting in. Critical decisions such as whether they would be willing to transact in stablecoins such as Tether or use derivatives such as perpetual futures contracts can have a material impact on evaluation of trading volume and liquidity. Regardless of these decisions, all facets of Bitcoin’s trading volume have experienced exponential growth and, if sustained, will grow to levels similar to major asset classes. 

Network Data Insights

Summary Metrics

Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro

Ethereum (ETH) surged over the weekend and finished the week in the green for most metrics.  ETH daily transaction fees grew 11.0% week-over-week, with an average of $441.8K worth of fees per day. In contrast, Bitcoin (BTC) fees fell 48.6% week-over-week, after showing strong growth over most of May. BTC fees reached $1.82M on May 21st, which is the highest daily total since June 2019.

Network Highlights

When a transaction is broadcast into the Bitcoin network, before it can be included in a block it is temporarily held in a waiting area called the mempool (short for “memory pool”). Miners usually select the highest feerate transactions from the mempool to include in their mined block. 

After the halving, the Bitcoin mempool started filling up with transactions. This was a result of the hash rate drop and subsequent rise of the average interval between Bitcoin blocks following the halving, as reported in the Network Highlights section of SOTN Issue 51. A longer interval between blocks means fewer blocks being mined per day, which in turn results in fewer transactions confirming, causing the mempool to fill up. 

Over the last weeks, the Bitcoin mempool grew and peaked at about 80k unconfirmed transactions.

With the increased transaction count, two methods that Bitcoin Core software utilizes to self-regulate the mempool size could be observed. Firstly, transactions paying a low feerate of just above 1 sat/vByte were evicted from the mempool to make room for higher feerate transactions. The transactions kept in a Bitcoin Core node’s mempool are capped to only use a fixed part of the system’s memory.

In total 7,126 transactions were evicted between May 20th, 09:50 UTC, and May 22nd, 14:30 UTC. The evictions all happened during European and US business hours, the time with the highest network activity.

Secondly, transactions residing in the mempool for over two weeks expired. By default, Bitcoin Core nodes remove transactions from their mempool if no miner found transaction fees to be attractive enough to include them in a block over the last 336 hours (two weeks).

In total 1,627 transactions expired between May 25th, and May 30th. Only 35% of these resided in the mempool for two weeks. The remaining 65% likely spent unconfirmed parent transactions and became invalid as their parents expired.

Market Data Insights

Bitcoin Correlation With Gold Remains High 

The overall market environment continues to be favorable for Bitcoin. On the margin, the policy response to the coronavirus, the protest-related civil unrest in the United States, and the potential for a re-escalation of the trade war between the United States and China should be supportive for store-of-value assets such as Bitcoin. The correlation between gold has consistently maintained relatively high levels for several months now, a phenomenon that has not been historically observed. 

Source: Coin Metrics Reference Rates

Signs of Altcoin Season Regime Shift 

Some interesting signs are emerging that may mark the beginning of an altcoin season regime shift. Ethereum, the primary platform that the majority of altcoins are based on, has begun to outperform other major assets. Cardano is up over 40% this week after announcing a release date for its next major upgrade, named Shelley. And OmiseGo surged over 100% after Coinbase announced that it would begin listing the asset on its platform. Such market movements in response to mainnet launches, new product upgrades, and exchange listings are reminiscent of late 2017. 

Source: Coin Metrics Reference Rates

CM Bletchley Indexes (CMBI) Insights

In the last week of May, most CMBI and Bletchley Indexes recovered the previous week’s losses, with the CMBI Ethereum Index being the outstanding performer. Having only fallen 1% last week, the CMBI Ethereum Index was again the strongest performer, returning 14.7% this week.

All of the Bletchley Indexes experienced returns between 9% and 11%, demonstrating the uniform strength of the market across all large, mid and small cap assets.

Coin Metrics Updates

This week’s updates from the Coin Metrics team:

  • Coin Metrics is hiring! Please check out our Careers page to view the openings.

As always, if you have any feedback or requests, don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]

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Coin Metrics’ State of the Network, is an unbiased, weekly view of the crypto market informed by our own network (on-chain) and market data.

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Check out the Coin Metrics Blog for more in depth research and analysis.