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Bitcoin Price Analysis – Network fundamentals continue to show signs of increasing growth

Almost all network fundamentals have either continued to show signs of increasing growth, or have recently made new all-time highs.

Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized digital currency created by Satoshi Nakamoto and released in 2009. The spot price is currently up 146% from the low set in December 2018, but down 60% from the current all time high set in December 2017. The BTC market cap currently stands at US$141.25 billion, with US$7.5 billion traded in the past 24 hours. Historically, both April and Q2 have been the most bullish periods. The current quarter ranks as the second highest quarterly gain since 2014 and the seventh highest quarterly gain of all-time.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (1)

Tether (USDT) continues to make headlines after a New York Attorney General (AG) report was released on April 25th revealing that US$850 million of Tether funds had been used to cover bad debts at Bitfinex. In exchange for the funds, Tether limited holds 60 million shares of iFinex, Bitfinex’s parent company, as collateral. Bitfinex and Tether CEO, JL van der Velde, released a statement a few hours after the AG report stating that Bitfinex is working with authorities in multiple jurisdictions to retrieve the missing funds.

One of Bitfinex’s payment processors, Crypto Capital, may have had these funds seized by law enforcement after Crypto Capital was allegedly connected to shadow banking and a narcotics trafficking scheme. The AG also accused Bitfinex and Tether of “ongoing fraud” and proposed a full audit of the exchange.

The market immediately responded to the news by fleeing both USDT and Bitfinex. Over the next few days, the USDT market rate broke US$0.95 and the known BTC cold wallet at Bitfinex has since seen outflows totalling nearly 43,000 BTC. The BTC premium on Bitfinex also initially rose to over 6%. Despite all of this, there have been no user reports of delayed withdrawals of USD or BTC out of Bitfinex, as well as no reports of failed USDT redemptions through Tether.

On April 30th, Bitfinex and Tether’s legal counsel, Stuart Hoegner, responded in an affidavit stating that 74% of USDT is currently back by USD reserves. Additionally, Hoegener argued that a USDT terms of service change in March this year was adequate notification to USDT users that USDT reserves were no longer backed by 1:1 USD reserves. Hoegner also revealed that both Bitfinex and Tether retained independent legal counsel when making this decision.

Despite initial claims that the seized US$850 million would be returned quickly, Bitfinex went forward with a successful Initial Exchange Offering for US$1 billion, raised in BTC, USD, and USDT. The USDT market rate has since returned to slightly above US$1 and there is currently no BTC premium on Bitfinex. Bitfinex will begin trading the IEO token against BTC, USD, USDT, EOS, and ETH on Monday, May 20th, at 08:00 UTC.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (2)

Currently, there are US$2.892 billion in circulating USDT, over 23% of which resides on Binance. Some of the exchange balances below may also represent funds participating in the Bitfinex IEO. This is currently unclear as Bitfinex has not listed any IEO wallet address thus far. Overall, the market seems unphased by the current fractional reserve nature of USDT.

Additionally, US$310 million was migrated to ERC-20 USDT and US$37 million was migrated to Tron USDT (not shown below), which also suggests continued faith in USDT from exchanges. These migrations aim to diversify the base protocol layers USDT can be sent through, as there can be advantages to fees and confirmation times when using these chains.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (3)

On the network side, BTC on-chain transactions per day have continued to rise since April 2018, and are now sitting near the record high set in mid-December 2018 (line, chart below). The average BTC transaction value in USD (fill, chart below) has risen to over US$19,000 after a low of US$6,360 in February. Transaction values peaked on the BTC network in mid-December 2017 at nearly US$100,000.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (4)

The rise in on-chain transactions per day from October 2018 to March 2019 can predominantly be attributed to VeriBlock (VBK), which secures other blockchains through the “Proof of Proof” (PoP) consensus mechanism. VBK transactions currently account for only 12% of total BTC on-chain transactions but for as much as 40% of transactions a few months ago.

These VBK transactions also accounted for at least half of all pending transactions in the mempool from March 25th to April 7th. The majority of these transactions are sent with a one satoshi transaction fee (blue fill, chart below). Currently, the mempool is nearly empty with fewer than 3,000 transactions pending, suggesting the congestion has been cleared significantly over the past few weeks.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (5)

Bitcoin days destroyed (BDD) for the month of March clocked in at near four year lows, likely signifying a period of accumulation rather than the distribution of older coins. April saw a slightly higher BDD compared to March. BDD spiked dramatically in December 2018 and surpassed the previous record set in August 2017. BDD has since declined rapidly but remained significantly elevated in January 2019, based on historical data.

BDD can be used to measure coin velocity over time. For example, if an address holds 10 BTC received 10 days ago, and the BTC is moved to another address, 100 BTC days have been destroyed. This metric accrues over time and resets any time the coins are moved. The months with the highest BDD have historically correlated with extreme highs or lows in price as long term holders begin to sell coins on an exchange. A spike in BDD in July 2017 was likely related to the Bitcoin Cash hard fork. However, this should not be seen as a 1:1 correlation. A rise in BDD can also represent custodial providers moving coins between wallets, which is typical of major exchanges or over the counter (OTC) brokers.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (6)

The 30-day Kalichkin network value to on-chain transactions ratio (NVT) has continued to rise since January, and is currently slightly above 31 (line, chart below). Kalichkin’s NVT does not account for inflation or the use of off-chain transactions, which would decrease the overall NVT ratio. However, NVT remains in the upper-third of the historic range, which paints a bearish picture. While inflection points in NVT can correlate with extreme highs or lows in price, a rising NVT should also be seen as bearish due to decreasing on-chain network utility.

Daily active addresses (DAA) had been ranging between 550,000 to 675,000 over the past few months (fill, chart below) but recently surpassed 775,000, hitting a new yearly high. On December 30th, 2017, DAA exceeded one million. A large uptick in DAA should be seen as a bullish indicator for price as it suggests an increase in on-chain BTC demand. As off-chain transaction facilities increase, daily active addresses may stagnate or decline.

Further, there continues to be grassroots interest in BTC, as suggested by 1.73 million members and almost 5,000 meetups worldwide on The BTC subreddit also has over 1.04 million subscribers and is ranked 184th overall on There are also over 360 BTC-related job postings on LinkedIn in the United States, which has decreased slightly over the past few months. Most notably, the much-hyped Bakkt exchange continues to have 10 job listings relating to engineering, development, and sales.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (7)

Turning to mining fundamentals, the network hash rate and difficulty have increased significantly since late December last year, indicating a substantial increase in mining activity. The recent increases have followed a 35% decrease in difficulty through four difficulty adjustments from October to December 2018. Historically, the BTC network has only had three periods of monthly decline in network difficulty, all three of which have corresponded with the bottom of a bear market.

Network difficulty adjusts up to +/-25% after 2016 blocks have confirmed. As hash rate decreases before a difficulty adjustment, block times increase. As hash rate increases before a difficulty adjustment, block times decrease. Average block times are currently just under 10 minutes with an estimated 2.77% increase in difficulty projected for the next adjustment in 11 days.

The BTC network is secured with the SHA-256 consensus algorithm. The most profitable SHA-256 ASIC miners currently available are the; ASICminer 8 Nano Pro, MicroBT Whatsminer M20S, Bitfury Tardis, Bitmain Antminer S17, and Innosilicon T3+ 52T. Network factors that influence mining profitability include; price, block times, difficulty, block reward, and transaction fees. The next block reward halving is currently set for May 2020.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (8)

The total percentage of overt version-rolling ASICBoost on the network has ranged between 35% and 40% over the past few months, and currently accounts for approximately 41% of all blocks mined, representing a new all-time high. SlushPool mined the first ASICBoost block on March 24th, 2018 and a Braiins OS mining system verified ASICboost capability on Antminer S9s in October 2018. Bitmain responded by releasing firmware to enable overt ASICboost on the Antminer S9. Overt ASICBoost spiked dramatically after mid-October 2018.

Unlike covert ASICBoost, overt ASICBoost has no detrimental effects on the network, while making mining more profitable by requiring less energy usage. Covert ASICBoost encourages small or empty blocks because the mechanism involves transaction reordering. Overt ASICBoost is also SegWit compatible whereas covert ASICboost is not.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (9)

The average BTC block size (fill, chart below) has increased substantially since April 2018, with the average weekly block size establishing a new record high. Thanks to the implementation SegWit, the BTC block size limit is now roughly 2.2MB. Since June 2018, average block size has increased largely in part due to VBK transactions, with average transaction fees (line, chart below) now nearing US$3.50.

A low and non volatile transaction fee market can be partially attributed to the general decline in network use as a whole since December 2017. Additionally, an increase in transaction batching, SegWit use, and off-chain channels like the Lightning Network and Liquid side chains have also contributed to removing network strain and keeping fees low. The Liquid side chain currently has little traffic overall, but has seen a substantial increase in transactions per day over the past few weeks.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (10)

Transaction Batching involves sending one transaction with many outputs instead of sending each transaction individually. Batching is most effective when used by high transaction volume market participants, such as crypto exchanges and miners, which benefit substantially from the reduced fees. As batching increases, the transactions per day metric underreports the total individual transactions per day.

Transactions with only one output have declined steadily since March 2016 (red, chart below). About 88% of all transactions are currently sent with at least two outputs. Transactions with three to four outputs have risen substantially since January 2018 and currently represent 16% of all transactions (yellow, chart below).

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (11)

The overall number of transactions using SegWit reached a record high of 47.8% in late March 2019. This metric has risen and fallen directly with the end of VBK testing and the VBK mainnet launch, suggesting that VBK does not currently use SegWit transactions. The number of SegWit transactions, as a percentage of total volume, accounted for 90% of BTC on-chain volume in mid-January but has returned to just over 50%.

SegWit, or BIP141, was activated on August 23rd, 2017 via a user activated soft fork and allows individual transactions to occupy less block space than a traditional transaction. Although both non-SegWit and SegWit transactions can be sent over the network, SegWit users pay less in accumulated fees to achieve the same number of transactions. SegWit also allows for an effective blocksize limit above 2MB. As fees on non-SegWit transactions have declined significantly since December 2018, users may feel less inclined to use SegWit addresses.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (12)

SegWit also enabled the possibility of further second layer network utilities like the Lightning Network (LN), which facilitates trusted, bidirectional, off-chain, hub and spoke payment channels. The LN also paves the way for the possibility of instant payments, micro and nano-transactions, and increased network scalability.

Since going live on March 15, 2018, the LN has continued to rapidly gain traction. There are now over 42,000 available channels, with a total channel value of 1053 BTC, or US$8.6 million. The channels work much like a tab at a restaurant, which remain open until the client settles the bill. This format allows for numerous transactions to occur with one on-chain network fee, after the channel is closed. Transactions sizes are currently capped at ~0.04BTC while the network is still being developed and built.

Three services built on the LN have quickly gained in popularity. Lightning Spin, a gambling roulette game, accrued over 10,000 invoices in a 10-month span and was sold to another party in late March, becoming the first LN app to trade hands. Tippin.Me, a tipping service similar to the previous on-chain version ChangeTip, allows users to send microtransactions on the LN with a few clicks. The service became so popular so quickly that it initially encountered server trouble trying to keep up with demand. also went live earlier this year, a service which allows U.S. users to instantly purchase Domino’s pizza through the LN, with a 5% discount.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (13)

Turning to developer activity, Bitcoin Core released version 0.17.1 on December 25th and version 0.18.0 earlier this month with various bug fixes and performance improvements. The BTC project on GitHub has two active repos, “bitcoin” and “BIPs” or Bitcoin Improvement Protocols. Over 170 developers have contributed over 3,000 commits to over the past year, mostly on the bitcoin repo (shown below).

Most coins use the developer community of GitHub where files are saved in folders called "repositories," or "repos," and changes to these files are recorded with "commits," which save a record of what changes were made, when, and by who. Although commits represent quantity and not necessarily quality, a higher number of commits can signify higher dev activity and interest.

Future potential protocol improvements in the pipeline include Schnorr signatures, Taproot, and Graftroot. Schnorr signatures and signature aggregation also bring the potential for storage and bandwidth reduction by at least 25%. Taproot and Graftroot improve upon Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST) which offers three benefits; smaller transactions, more privacy, and larger smart contracts.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (14)

BTC exchange traded volume over the past 24 hours has been dominated by Tether (USDT) trading, with the United States Dollar (USD) markets representing 11% of total volume. Stable coin volumes, which have grown to account for over 50% of volume over the past few months and currently represent just over 76% of all reported BTC volume over the past 24 hours.

In Asia, volume on the Japanese Yen (JPY), Korean Won (KRW), Chinese Yen (CNY) pairs have remained subdued throughout the past few years but currently accounts for 4.4% of total volume. Over the past week, KRW volume has increased substantially. These Asian fiat markets may increase substantially if regulatory scrutiny in the region is clarified or if domestic mainland Chinese exchanges open again.

Several potentially game-changing BTC services are also in the works and slated for launch this year. On March 7th, Fidelity Digital Assets announced the launch of a custody service to a select group of eligible clients. The financial behemoth manages over US$2.45 trillion in assets. Bakkt, which raised US$182.5 million from 12 partners and investors in 2018, is also set to launch a physically delivered BTC future some time this year. Bakkt is a subsidiary of the Intercontinental Exchange, which also runs the New York Stock Exchange. Starbucks also received a significant equity stake in the Bakkt BTC futures platform.

Fresh applications for the Bitwise and VanEck-SolidX BTC ETFs were also submitted in February to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). All previous BTC ETF proposals have been rejected by the U.S. regulator, while several other BTC ETNs are available worldwide and seeing increasing volumes. Last week, the SEC delayed the Bitwise application but have yet to announce an approval, delay, or denial decision for the VanEck-SolidX ETF. The deadline for the final SEC decision on the pending U.S. ETFs is set for early December 2019.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (15)

Global over the counter (OTC) volume, from, finished 2018 on a high but has declined over the past few months. USD notional volume has remained essentially flat or declining since January. The biggest increases in BTC and notional volume over the past few months have come from South American countries where inflation or hyperinflation has devalued local currencies. Notional volume has also recently spiked in Hong Kong, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, South Korea and Thailand.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (16)

Google Trends for the term "bitcoin" has increased dramatically over the past few weeks, marking a new yearly high. Throughout the course of 2018, “bitcoin” related searches declined dramatically. Despite the declining interest, the search “what is bitcoin” was the most popular “what is” Google search of 2018.

A slow rise in searches for "bitcoin" preceded the bull run in Q4 2017, likely signaling a large swath of new market participants at that time. A 2015 study found a strong correlation between google trends data and BTC price whereas a 2017 study concluded that when U.S. Google "bitcoin" searches increased dramatically, BTC price dropped.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (17)

Technical Analysis

BTC price has continued climbing since April, with strong bullish momentum, initially fueled by a market-wide USDT exodus. Institutional demand, the U.S. and China trade war, and potential Chinese capital flight, may have also contributed.

As the crypto asset continues to move into high timeframe resistance, roadmaps for key decision points on high timeframes can be found using exponential moving averages (EMAs), volume profile of the visible range (VPVR), and Ichimoku Cloud. Further background information on the technical analysis discussed below can be found here.

On the daily chart, the spot price relative to the 50-day and 200-day EMAs can be used as a litmus test for the trend. Price surpassed the 50-day EMA in mid-February and surpassed the 200-day EMA on April 2nd. The EMAs crossed bullishly in late April, representing an end to the almost year-long bear trend. The 50-day EMA is currently at US$6,150 and 200-day EMA is currently at US$5,200, which should both now act as support. VPVR (horizontal bars) also shows a large volume node at US$6,400, which should also act as support.

There are currently no RSI or volume divergences, but a higher high in price will most likely begin to build a bearish divergence, suggesting waning bullish momentum. Long/short open interest on Bitfinex (top panel, chart below) is now 58% long with shorts closing significantly over the past week.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (18)

Turning to the Ichimoku Cloud, there are four key metrics; the current price in relation to the Cloud, the color of the Cloud (red for bearish, green for bullish), the Tenkan (T) and Kijun (K) cross, and the Lagging Span. The best entry always occurs when most of the signals flip from bearish to bullish, or vice versa.

On the weekly chart, the Cloud metrics are bearish; price is below the Cloud, the Cloud is bearish, the TK cross is bearish, and the Lagging Span is above price and below the Cloud. A long entry based on traditional Cloud strategy would not be warranted until price breaches the Cloud.

Based on recent price action, all comparisons to 2014, 2015, and 2016, have been negated. There was virtually no resistance at US$6,500 (Kijun) with the next high probability target at US$10,000. The Kumo, which represents a 50% retracement of the previous range, should act as a magnet for price.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (19)

On the daily chart, Cloud metrics remain 100% bullish; price is above the Cloud, the Cloud is bullish, the TK cross is bullish, and Lagging span is above both the Cloud and price. After a Kumo breakout, bearish or bullish, the probability of a new trend forming rises substantially. During this period, price returns to the Kijun many times to confirm support before trend continuation, this is known as a Kijun Bounce. Currently, the Kijun sits just below the US$6,162 level. A growing Tenkan-Kijun disequilibrium suggests overbought conditions with a lower likelihood of bullish continuation.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (20)

Lastly, the opening and expiration dates of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) BTC cash-settled futures contracts, launched in December 2017, have had a significant impact on price. The CME facilitates trades for the largest portion of derivatives contracts in the world. A recent report released by the CME showed record high short interest.

Over the past month, the CME saw the highest notional volume ever in a single day for the BTC futures product, exceeding US$1.5 billion. Additionally, volatility increased dramatically after the most recent quarterly contract rollover in late March. The next key zone for increased volatility will likely come near the expiration of the February 25th to May 31st contract.

Bitcoin Price Analysis 20 May 2019 (21)


Almost all network fundamentals have either continued to show signs of increasing growth, or have recently made new all-time highs. Specifically, transactions per day and daily active addresses have shown substantial increases in recent weeks. Hashrate and difficulty has also shown large increases, which is likely directly related to a new round of ASICs being shipped to the public. The average daily block size has also continued to grow due to VeriBlock, which has had a minimal impact on the transaction fee market. However, fees have crept up slightly as on-chain transaction congestion has increased over the past week. Off-chain, the Lightning Network growth has slowed over the past few weeks after the highly publicized transaction relay and other adoption initiatives becoming both high-profile and widely successful. An upcoming decision this week on the VanEck-SolidX BTC ETF will likely have a significant impact on price if approved, despite the low probability.

Technicals on higher time frames continue to show a sustained bullish trend. Price is above both the daily 200 EMA and daily Cloud, a litmus test for the trend. Confirmation of the bullish trend occurred with a bullish 50/200 EMA cross. The nearest upside target, based on the weekly Cloud, sits at US$10,000. Support, based on the 200-day EMA and daily Kijun, sits between the US$5,200 and US$6,100 zone, suggesting bulls will be aggressively buying any dip below US$6,000. There is also strong support likely at the high volume node at US$6,400. Additionally, the daily Cloud continues to print a growing Tenkan-Kijun disequilibrium without any bearish divergence.


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