Market Wrap: Some Miners Face an Uncertain Future Despite Rising Bitcoin Price

A slowly rising bitcoin price might not help some miners run profitable operations now that the halving is in the past.

AccessTimeIconMay 13, 2020 at 8:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:41 a.m. UTC
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Despite a post-halving rise in bitcoin’s price Wednesday, the current value may not be enough to keep less-efficient miners operating, and that could shift market dynamics. 

At press time, bitcoin (BTC) was trading up 2.3% over 24 hours at $9,106. The world’s first cryptocurrency is trading above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, which is a bullish technical indicator, and has been on a steady uptrend since early trading May 13, 00:00 UTC.

Bitcoin trading on Coinbase since May 11
Bitcoin trading on Coinbase since May 11

The long-anticipated halving was, “a little uneventful,” said Jack Tan, founding partner at Taiwan-based crypto trading firm Kronos Research. But there has been one bright spot for traders: Bitcoin prices have been going up slowly but surely.

But market uncertainty lingers when it comes to cryptocurrency miners. The reward for miners to generate new bitcoin was cut because of the halving to 6.25 BTC, so the business of running machines to secure the network is much less profitable: “I think some of the miners might be in trouble. They just took a 50% pay cut overnight, with prices remaining where they are,” added Tan.

One mining metric that immediately changed after the halving was miner revenue from fees, which jumped from 4.6% right before the halving to 7% Wednesday, according to data provider Glassnode. 

Miner fee revenues are highest since 2019 - dotted line is the halving event
Miner fee revenues are highest since 2019 - dotted line is the halving event

Miners bowing out of the business may change the dynamics of the crypto market, said Alexander Blum, of Two Prime, a crypto asset management firm. “The difference is that miners' new net tokens are now not necessarily the primary driving force of sell pressure into the markets,” he said. “That mantle is likely to be taken on by exchanges that make trading fees and have to sell into the market to cover their business expenses.” 

Steady exchange volumes are indicative of the market’s health and whether bitcoin can continue to appreciate post-halving, said David Lifchitz, chief investment officer at quantitative crypto trading firm ExoAlpha.

Spot volumes on Coinbase the past three months
Spot volumes on Coinbase the past three months

“Increasing the scarcity of an asset tends to make it more valuable over time, but only if there's still demand for it,” said Lifchitz. Bitcoin’s price appreciation seems to be increasing in a world where, year to date, bitcoin is performing better than some traditional assets, Lifchitz added, and the numbers back him up. 

Bitcoin is trouncing the S&P 500 Wednesday, with the index of large-cap stocks down 1.75%. The cryptocurrency is also doing better than gold, which is up less than 1%. For the year to date, bitcoin is up 27%, gold is in the green 13% while the S&P 500 is down 12%.

Other markets

Digital assets on CoinDesk’s big board are flashing green on Wednesday. The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), gained 5.4% in 24 hours as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET). 

Ether trading on Coinbase since May 11
Ether trading on Coinbase since May 11

Other cryptocurrency winners include lisk (LSK) up 7.5%, monero (XMR) climbing 6.7% and iota (IOTA) up by 3%. All price changes were as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET) Wednesday.

In the commodities markets, oil is trading flat, up by less than a percent following continued production cuts of crude. “Other oil-producing countries in the Middle East have stated that they will also reduce production. Kuwait will reduce production by an additional 80,000 barrels per day while the [United Arab Emirates] will reduce production by an additional 100,000 barrels/day in June,” said Nemo Qin, senior analyst for multi-asset brokerage eToro.

Contracts-for-difference on oil since May 11
Contracts-for-difference on oil since May 11

U.S. Treasury bonds all slipped as yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, fell most on the two-year bond, down 6%.

The FTSE Eurotop 100 index of Europe’s largest publicly traded companies ended trading down 1.8%. The Nikkei 225 of Japan’s largest companies closed its day in Tokyo down less than a percent as poor performances by large companies in transportation and materials dragged stocks down.


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