Speculators vs. hodlers: bitcoin under selling pressure

Profit-taking is keeping Bitcoin in check, making the 40,000 mark a distant prospect again. But investors can capitalize on the price setbacks.

Easy come, easy go: While the Bitcoin price was able to set a new record of over 40,000 US dollars just a few days ago, the cryptocurrency is currently stumbling under the pressure of a wave of selling. With a minus of 3.7 percent on the day, the cryptocurrency is quoted at 34,837 US dollars at the editorial deadline and has thus lost almost 6,000 US dollars in value in just three days.

At the same pace at which Bitcoin marched to its all-time high, it is currently heading in the opposite direction. The market is cooling down again after the hot winter months. In view of the tumultuous price rally of the last few weeks, a breather is also sorely needed.

Surfing the Bitcoin wave

To put this into perspective: in just one month, Bitcoin has risen from under 20,000 to over 40,000 US dollars – healthy growth looks different. After Bitcoin initially needed a few months to come out of the woodwork, a hype suddenly formed after reaching the symbolic 20,000 mark, which showed similarities to the bubble formation in 2017. While after the Corona crash in 2020 it was primarily institutional investors who recognized the signs early on and refreshed their BTC stocks at favorable conditions, in recent weeks more and more small investors also moved in, wanting to quickly jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon that had supposedly already sailed.

No wonder that this pattern brings back memories of 2017, the year in which Bitcoin first made acquaintance with 20,000 US dollars and went to sleep shortly thereafter in the crypto winter. So do investors need to dress warmly again?

Sustainable market growth

Even though the current price trend shares similarities with the 2017 bull run, the trajectories are very different. Probably the biggest difference from 2017 is the BTC investor type. While three years ago it was primarily retail investors who tried their luck with Bitcoin, since then big money has found its way into the crypto market. This capital is parked in BTC in a much more sustainable way than that of speculators.

Asset managers like Grayscale or companies à la MicroStrategy are invested in BTC for the long term, and investor behavior is far more risk-averse than that of retail investors. The recent price turbulence, on the other hand, was primarily on the account of derivatives traders who leveraged themselves.

Speculators vs. hodlers

This highlights a conflict inherent in cryptocurrency: the trench warfare between speculators and long-term investors. On one side, those after the quick mark; on the other, those heading for safe havens. The big question: Can Bitcoin be both a gambler’s asset and a stable store of value at the same time?

The answer: no. Whether Bitcoin fulfills both functions depends on the time perspective. In the short term, the directional decision is likely to remain hard-fought. Profit-taking is too tempting and lucrative with such rapid price gains. In the long run, however, BTC investing should pay off more clearly for those with staying power.

So the old BTC hares have learned their lesson from 2017 and know: After every low comes a high. As the chart below from Glassnode shows, the percentage of bitcoin used in the last three years is gradually closing in on ATH levels. Or, in other words, investors who joined the BTC ecosystem in 2017 continue to hold their Bitcoin.

According to Glassnode CEO Rafael Schultze-Kraft, this speaks against the assumption that investors are just lurking for the next all-time high to cash in quickly. After all, a continuously rising value of currently 35 percent indicates that most investors remain loyal to their Bitcoin over a longer period of time – or speculate on even larger profit margins. Either way, corrections offer buyers opportunities to buy Bitcoin, and the current setback is likely to be a springboard for the next uptrend.