During market lows, cryptocurrency enthusiasts have long urged each other to ‘hodl,’ which as many of us know is a word that came from typo for ‘hold,’ or ‘hold on for dear life.’ According to new data relating to Coinbase, faith in that principle may be waning.
To Hodl, or Not to Hodl
When the price of Bitcoin rallied more than 30% in April, some cryptocurrency investors decided it was time to get out, rather than ‘hodl’ for a market surge. Looking back, it’s been more than six months since Bitcoin reached all-time highs at roughly $20,000 in December. Since then, the subsequent 70% crash and sustained bear market in the cryptosphere has tested the patience of investors, especially those who bought in amid the frenzy towards the end of 2017.
According to new reports from Chime, a San Francisco-based bank startup that offers free credit and debit accounts, customers at the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., Coinbase, withdrew more from the company than they deposited in April.
Since December, withdrawals from Coinbase have been increasing relative to deposits. However, April was the first and only month in which the money flowing out of Coinbase actually exceeded the money flowing in, Chime’s data shows.
During that month, investors took 37% more money out of Coinbase than they put in, withdrawing $1.37 for every dollar deposited. In relation, deposits to Coinbase outweighed redemptions in May, but it was only by a 10% margin, or $1.10 for every dollar withdrawn.
Worth pointing out is that Chime’s analysis is based on the behavior of roughly 500,000 active customers, most of whom are between ages 25 and 35.
The numbers, therefore, likely don’t fully reflect the activity of Coinbase’s more than 20 million users. The issue is that Coinbase also caters to institutional investors, a demographic that is likely not represented among Chime customers. Coinbase declined to comment with Fortune, who outlined the findings.
Despite this potential misrepresentation, the findings do show that there is some sort of trend. Some would say the data highlights a negative sentiment among this subset of investors.
What’s particularly strange is that in April cryptocurrency prices were actually rising, so it was not related to panic selling that can occur during a market plunge. This could be a sign that investors have turned pessimistic in their outlook for Bitcoin and their lack of confidence in the coin’s recovery.
The pattern also reflects a recent class of ‘rookie’ cryptocurrency investors who are out for quick profits, and who are not used to the volatility of cryptocurrencies.
“You have a kind of washing out of momentum investors…investors who were not really taking a longterm point of view,” said Chad Cascarilla, cofounder and CEO of Paxos, an institutional trading firm that also operates Bitcoin exchange itBit.
CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, seemed to acknowledge this pattern in a tweet last week. He said that the prolonged downturn had made some investors give up on cryptocurrencies, but added that that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, saying that the shift served to get ‘rid of the people who are in it for the wrong reasons.’
Chime’s CEO, Chris Britt, also spoke on the findings. He noted that this money flow patterns simply illustrates that investors’ market timing is poor:
“Unfortunately, it’s human nature that investors often buy at the highest prices and sell at lower prices,” Britt said. “While we can’t predict the future value of Bitcoin, I suspect we may look back at the current prices a few years from now and see that these lower prices were a great time to buy.”
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