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Drop in Bitcoin 'Whale' Addresses Suggests Market May Be Decentralizing

Drop in Bitcoin ‘Whale’ Addresses Suggests Market May Be Decentralizing

The number of addresses holding a large number of bitcoins, popularly known as whales, has declined to 14-month lows.

However, the drop isn’t necessarily a price-bearish development and may instead that the distribution of bitcoin ownership is shifting. 

As of Sunday, there were 103 addresses holding at least 10,000 BTC – the lowest since May 2019, according to blockchain analytics firm Glassnode. The number has declined by 8% over that 2.5-month period. 

Some may see the decline in the whale addresses as a sign of weaker buying pressure and anticipate a price drop as a result. However, Richard Rosenblum, co-founder, and co-head of trading at crypto liquidity provider GSR suggests otherwise. 

“It’s bearish to see the biggest holders reducing their stakes, but bullish to see the market becoming more decentralized,” Ronseblum told CoinDesk in a Telegram chat. 

Validating Rosenblum’s comments is the growth seen in the number of lower-value bitcoin addresses over the past couple of months. 

For instance, there were 2,155 addresses holding at least 1,000 coins on Sunday – up nearly 3% from a low of 2,097 observed in April. 

Meanwhile, the number of addresses holding at least 1 BTC continues to reach new record highs. So do addresses holding 0.1 BTC and 0.01 BTC. 

As such, one could argue that bitcoin ownership is being transferred from relatively few whales to a large number of smaller investors. 

“Over time, you would expect [bitcoin] to naturally dissipate to more hands,” said Rosenblum.

Blockchains are transparent and allow every single transaction to be viewed and analyzed. Even so, drawing definite conclusions from metrics like address growth can be challenging, as a single user or an exchange can own multiple addresses.  

“Whales may not be having all of their holdings in a single address and moving crypto for risk management purposes,” said Simon Peters, a crypto market analyst at investment platform eToro. 

As such, an increase or decrease in the number of bitcoin addresses may not fully represent the entry or exit of investors. 

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing.


The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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