“HODLing” has returned to a major milestone: The total number of bitcoins that haven’t changed hands in more than a year has crossed the 10 million mark.
About 10.7 million bitcoins haven’t moved in more than 12 months, according to Digital Assets Data, a fintech company building crypto data feeds.
Considering the total number of bitcoins in circulation is 18.14 million, this also means nearly 60 percent of the coins remained dormant and only 40 percent participated in the price action seen in 2019. The percentage of bitcoins lying dormant for over a year is at its highest level since early 2017.
“The sheer size of unmoved bitcoin is definitely a sign of the developing community of HODLers,” Kadan Stadelmann, chief technology officer at Komodo Platform, told CoinDesk.
The top cryptocurrency witnessed substantial swings last year, rising from $3,693 to $13,879 in the first six months only to fall back to $7,179 by mid-December. Thus, bitcoin just about doubled last year despite the brutal sell-off in the second half.
Even so, a large number of bitcoins remained inactive, possibly because investors are expecting a significant price rise following the mining reward halving, due in May. The process, repeated every four years, reduces block rewards by half in order to keep inflation under check.
However, if the market doesn’t live up to lofty expectations, some selling could be seen, Stadelmann said. In that case, the sum of bitcoins lying dormant would drop.
Another strong reason for the growing number of bitcoins lying dormant could be that a sizable portion of HODLers are doing so at a loss and are holding on to their investments.
“Many investors are potentially still underwater with bitcoin that was purchased at higher prices in 2017 and 2018,” said Kevin Kaltenbacher of Digital Assets Data.
Prices higher than the 2019 high of $13,879 were observed during the December 2017-February 2018 rally, and many investors may have acquired coins during that bull market frenzy.
However, the fact these investors have not sold indicates they are likely betting on long-term growth prospects.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, 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.