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Cardano Price Analysis – On-chain metrics hitting all-time highs

A quick comparison between coins using a staking mechanism shows Cardano first in market cap, total daily transaction volume, total fees, and GitHub commits on all repos over the past year.

Cardano (ADA) is a smart contract platform focused on peer-review and scientific study, marketed as a “third generation blockchain.” The coin is down 32% from the all-time high established in January 2018. The market cap is ranked 4th on the BraveNewCoin market cap table and currently stands at US$26.02 billion, with US$1.80 billion in trade volume over the past 24 hours.

ADA development began in 2015. A token presale raising US$62 million occurred in Asia, mainly Japan, from September 2015 to January 2017, where a total of 26 billion tokens were sold at US$0.0024 each. Public trading of the tokens began on October 1st, 2017. There is a hard cap of 45 billion ADA tokens, 13.88 billion of which will be issued through staking rewards.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (1)
Source: IOHK Blog

The team initially included three conglomerates that held 5.18 billion ADA between them; the Cardano Foundation which aimed to standardize, protect, and promote ADA; Emurgo which aimed to develop, support, and incubate commercial ventures; and Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK), founded in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood. IOHK also works on Ethereum Classic development and focuses on research and development in cryptography and distributed systems.

In October 2018, IOHK released a detailed blog post explaining several issues IOHK and Emurgo have had with the Cardano Foundation, including lack of strategic vision or plan, lack of transparency regarding operations, and misrepresentation of the Cardano trademark. Several members of the Cardano Foundation have since been replaced after restructuring in December 2018.

In early 2020, the Cardano Foundation announced legal proceedings initiated by Z/Yen Group Limited. According to the post, “The proceedings relate to an alleged agreement between the Z/Yen Group Limited and the Cardano Foundation dated July 2017. The Cardano Foundation voided/terminated the agreement for various reasons. The Cardano Foundation fully rejects the claims raised by the Z/Yen Group Limited. Due to the ongoing nature of this judiciary process, no further information will be given while proceedings are in progress.”

In November 2018, Hoskinson announced IOHK would be leaving Hong Kong and incorporating in Wyoming. Then in February 2020, IOHK donated US$500,000 to the University of Wyoming and established a Cardano research lab, which will focus on writing code in ADA’s smart-contract language. The lab is also said to be designing a hardware tool for authentication and anti-counterfeit measures on Cardano. Hoskinson also mentioned future work with BeefChain, a livestock traceability platform, according to CoinDesk.

In September 2019, Hoskinson announced a partnership with the New Balance shoe company to authenticate counterfeit goods. Despite teasing the news before an official announcement, an official press release from New Balance regarding the matter could not be obtained. Other reported partnerships include Polymath, StudEx, ScanTrust, Finkda Advisors, Dust Identity, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Priviledge Project, the government of Ethiopia, and the Berkman Klein Center of Harvard University

The ADA development roadmap includes five distinct phases; Byron, Shelley, Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire with three eras; testnet, bootstrap, and reward. Although currently in the bootstrap era, development occurs concurrently between all five phases.

The blockchain will eventually have two layers, the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and Cardano Computation Layer (CCL). The blockchain will also support two scripting languages, Simon and Plutus, as well as sidechains. Currently, 32% of ADA network consensus is controlled by IOHK, Emurgo, and the Cardano Foundation.

Cardano 1.5.0 Mainnet was released in March 2019. Allowing for support of ADA’s consensus algorithm Ourobouros, which uses Byzantine Fault Tolerant-Proof of Stake (BFT-PoS). PoS allows for social consensus and decentralized governance, as well as secure voting on peer-reviewed protocol proposals with a decentralized treasury to fund those proposals, similar to EOS (EOS), Tezos (XTZ), Dash (DASH), Decred (DCR), and PIVX (PIVX).

A quick comparison between coins using a staking mechanism shows ADA first in market cap, total daily transaction volume, total fees, and git commits on all repos over the past year. ADA is in the middle regarding transactions per day, and daily active addresses. EOS was excluded from the on-chain data comparison due to a lack of currently available reliable on-chain data.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (2)

A Shelley testnet launched in June 2019 with a Shelley Incentivized Testnet (ITN) launch in December 2019. The ITN allowed users to delegate ADA to various stake pools in the Daedalus or Yoroi wallet. After the implementation of the Shelley, currently live, earned staking rewards will be transferred to the mainnet. The network will also then rely on consensus through PoS rather than nodes controlled by IOHK, Emurgo, and the Cardano Foundation.

In early 2020, IOHK announced dates moving forward with the Shelley release, which included the hard fork on July 29th, 2020. ITN rewards became available on August 3rd, 2020 and the first mainnet staking rewards began on August 18th, 2020. The plan towards full network decentralization includes a progressive reliance on nodes in the staking pool, not nodes run exclusively by IOHK.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (3)

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (4)
Source: IOHK blog

Time on the Cardano blockchain is divided into epochs and slots. A slot has a 20-second duration, while an epoch contains 21,600 slots, or five days in total. Stake pools will earn transaction fees and a share of the 13.88 billion ADA earmarked for staking rewards.

According to, there are currently 1,761 active pools with 22.9 billion ADA being staked, representing nearly 71.8% of the circulating supply. At US$19.57 billion notional, the total value being staked on ADA ranks 1st among all staking coins. Polkadot (DOT) is a close second with a reported US$18.77 billion staked. Tezos (XTZ), EOS (EOS), and Algorand (ALGO), and Cosmos (ATOM) also all have over US$1 billion staked.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (5)
Source: StakingRewards

Subsequent protocol updates have also recently included a complete redesign of Byron, in preparation for the Shelley mainnet release. On February 12th, 2020 the CSL completed an architecture redesign of the Cardano Node and the Cardano Explorer Backend and Web API. Ourobouros was also updated on February 20th, 2020 allowing for core node migration.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (6)
Source: IOHK Blog

Turning to developer activity, the ADA project on GitHub has 342 repos, over 20 of which have been highly active in the past 90 days. 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.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (7)
Source: GitHub – input-output-hk/cardano-ledger-specs

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (8)
Source: GitHub – input-output-hk/cardano-node

On the network, the total number of transactions per week (red line, chart below) had ranged between 1,000 and 4,000 since April 2018. Transactions per week nearly quadrupled from January to February 2020 and reached 9,100 on August 4th. Earlier this week, transactions per day hit a new all-time high of 34,000. Since August, this on-chain activity has declined substantially, and has once again increased to a new all-time high.

Since 2018, average transaction values per day (green fill, chart below) decreased dramatically to below US$10,000. In mid-2020, average transaction values per day began to rise and recently hit a multi-month high of US$550,000. The causes for a spike in average transaction values in March and July 2018 are unclear, but likely related to large holders splitting coins between wallets and not necessarily economic value transfer. Average transaction values are currently on the rise again and sit at US$106,000.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (9)
Source: CoinMetrics

The average block size per day (fill, chart below) has recently increased to 4,500 bytes after years of nearly all empty blocks. To contrast, Bitcoin currently has 1.2 megabyte blocks, on average. The average transaction fee (line, chart below) is currently US$0.20, also at an all-time high, and is strongly correlated with the increasing block sizes. This may suggest poor scaling mechanisms in the near term, which will likely be addressed in the future.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (10)

The 30-day Kalichkin network value to estimated on-chain daily transactions (NVT) ratio (line, chart below) has decreased to 22 over the past two weeks. The previous decrease to all-time lows in NVT coincided with the mass chain migration to PoS and does not necessarily represent organic on-chain day-to-day activity.

Inflection points in NVT can be leading indicators of a reversal in an asset’s value. An NVT held below 30 should signify bullish market conditions. A clear uptrend in NVT suggests a coin is overvalued based on its economic activity and utility, which should be seen as a bearish price indicator, whereas a downtrend in NVT suggests the opposite.

Monthly active addresses (fill, chart below) increased substantially since the beginning of 2020, recently hitting a new monthly all-time high of just under 50,000. Daily active addresses also hit an all-time high of 103,000 earlier this week.

Active and unique addresses are important to consider when determining the fundamental value of the network based on Metcalfe’s law. The data for total unique addresses could not be obtained. The top 100 addresses on the network currently hold 35% of the circulating supply.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (11)
Source: CoinMetrics

With the full release of the PoS network and rise in ADA token price, Google Trends data for the term "Cardano" increased to two-year highs through the month of July 2020. Over the past few weeks, Trends have begun increasing again, now sitting at new all-time highs. The increase in 2017 likely signaled a large swath of new market participants at that time. A 2015 study found a strong correlation between the Google Trends data and Bitcoin price, while a 2017 study concluded that when the U.S. Google "bitcoin" searches increase dramatically, Bitcoin price drops.

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Technical Analysis

Potential roadmaps for upcoming price movements can be found on high timeframes using Exponential Moving Averages, volume profiles, Pivot Points, and Ichimoku Cloud. Further background information on the technical analysis discussed below can be found here.

On the ADA/USD daily chart, the 50-day Exponential Moving Averages (EMA) and 200-day EMA bullishly crossed on May 16th, 2020. The key EMA cross is typically a strong indication of continued bullish momentum to follow. Price is currently 3.3x the 200-day moving average. Both the 200-day EMA and yearly pivot sit at US$0.26 and should act as support in the near term. Significant volume support (horizontal bars, chart below) also sits at the US$0.078 – US$0.090 zone, with some additional volume support at US$0.36. Additionally, there are no bullish or bearish divergences on volume or RSI to suggest weakening bullish momentum.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (13)

Turning to the Ichimoku Cloud, four metrics are used to indicate if a trend exists; 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.

Daily Cloud metrics with doubled settings (20/60/120/30), for more accurate signals, are bullish; the spot price is above the Cloud, the Cloud is bullish, the TK cross is bullish, and the Lagging Span is above the Cloud and above the current spot price. The trend will remain bullish so long as the spot price remains above the Cloud, currently at US$0.27. Kijun support also sits at US$0.58.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (14)

For the ADA/BTC pair, the daily chart shows bullish trend metrics with price sitting far above both the 200-day EMA and daily Cloud. Yearly pivot support and resistances stand at 1,350 sats and 2,000 sats, respectively. Kijun support also sits at 1,350 sats. VPVR support also sits at 1,000 sats to 1,300 sats. Additionally, there are no bullish or bearish divergences on volume or RSI to suggest weakening bullish momentum.

Cardano Price Analysis 18 Feb 2021 (15)


After years in development, Cardano enabled a staking testnet and mainnet, Shelley, in 2020. As the mainnet launch with staking is successful, exchange listings and exchange staking pools should continue to follow. Multiple additional phases of future protocol upgrades are also being released concurrently over time, with a very active development team relative to other blockchains. On-chain fundamentals and Google Trends have all hit record highs over the past few weeks.

Technicals for ADA/USD and ADA/BTC reveal bullish trends as prices hold above both the 200-day EMA and daily Cloud. The last remaining upside resistance for ADA/USD sits at the psychological level of US$1.00 and the all-time high of US$1.40. Support sits in the US$0.26 to US$0.36 range based on the 200-day EMA, yearly pivots, and VPVR. ADA/BTC sits within a wide potential range of 1,350 sats to 2,000 sats based on previous local highs and current yearly pivots.

Over the next few months, ADA will also be competing with the beginning of ETH 2.0’s staking initiative, Bitcoin’s 1.8% inflation rate, and a myriad of new generation PoS coins. The nearly 32 billion ADA circulating supply and continued staking rewards will likely hamper any sustained bullish rallies in the near term.


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