Market Wrap: Bitcoin Hits $18.8K as Total Crypto Locked in DeFi Passes $14B

Bitcoin is testing $19,000 as DeFi hits another milestone in total crypto locked.

AccessTimeIconNov 20, 2020 at 9:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:33 a.m. UTC

The price of bitcoin hit new 2020 highs as the “alternative to gold” narrative increases. Meanwhile, smaller crypto tokens might be helping push DeFi to new heights.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $18,638 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 3.5% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $17,723-$18,813 (CoinDesk 20)
  • BTC above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a bullish signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin trading on Coinbase since Nov. 18.
Bitcoin trading on Coinbase since Nov. 18.

Bitcoin’s price made gains Friday, going as high as $18,813, according to CoinDesk 20 data. The world’s oldest cryptocurrency then dropped a bit, to $18,638 as of press time. The last time bitcoin traded at the $18,800 level was back on Dec. 19, 2017, when the price went as high as $18,984.

Daily spot trading on Coinbase since 2017.
Daily spot trading on Coinbase since 2017.

Some analysts see $19,000 as certainly within reach, but bitcoin won’t shoot straight up getting there, noted John Kramer, a trader at crypto firm GSR. “It feels more and more like we’re hitting a bitcoin tipping point,” Kramer told CoinDesk. “That’s not to say that the price will rocket past $19,000; in fact, a cooldown is to be expected.” 

Despite any cooldown that may occur, bitcoin is certainly hotter than gold so far in 2020, with bitcoin up 147% year to date versus the yellow metal’s 22% performance.

Bitcoin’s performance versus gold in 2020.
Bitcoin’s performance versus gold in 2020.

"I expect a lot more media coverage and reinforcement of the narrative around bitcoin being a better alternative to gold in the near future as more and more prominent Wall Street investors like BlackRock are openly sharing their positive views,” said Jason Lau, chief operating officer for San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin. 

Lau was referring to an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” by Rick Rieder, fixed income CIO at BlackRock, the $7 trillion assert manager. "Do I think it's a durable mechanism that ... could take the place of gold to a large extent? Yeah, I do, because it's so much more functional than passing a bar of gold around," Rieder said of bitcoin during the program.

In the derivatives market, options traders are betting on some bitcoin uncertainty for December expiration. Traders expect a 54% chance of bitcoin staying over $18,000, a 44% chance of $19,000 per 1 BTC and a 35% chance of $20,000.

Bitcoin price probabilities based on December expiration.
Bitcoin price probabilities based on December expiration.

Denis Vinokourov, head of research at digital asset prime broker Bequant, said many are dismissing the impact ether could have on the derivatives market heading into 2021. 

“If one goes by the notion that bitcoin will become a more commonly held asset in traditional space, then there is little that would prevent [ether] in following suit,” Vinokourov told CoinDesk. “Expect the CME to launch ether futures and options in due course, as the current market positioning and flow clearly show growing demand.”

TVL in DeFi going up, but not from BTC, ETH

Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was up Friday, trading around $510 and climbing 7.5% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).

The total amount of cryptocurrency “locked” (TVL) in decentralized finance, or DeFi, has passed $14 billion for the first time, at $14.1 billion as of press time.

Total value locked in dollar terms in DeFi the past three months.
Total value locked in dollar terms in DeFi the past three months.

However, the amount of ETH locked has been declining, perhaps because some stakers are moving the asset over to Ethereum 2.0 contract.

Ether locked in DeFi the past three months.
Ether locked in DeFi the past three months.

In addition, the amount of bitcoin locked is also dipping in DeFi.

Bitcoin locked in DeFi the past three months.
Bitcoin locked in DeFi the past three months.

It seems that smaller tokens are seeing major gains along with BTC and ETH, likely contributing to TVL gains, although as of press time DeFi Pulse did not respond to a request for comment on how it accounts for those tokens in its metrics. 

“The substantial recent price run-up in ETH and BTC have caused in nominal dollar terms the TVL to balloon as the smaller absolute number of tokens of each is still representing a much larger dollar amount,” noted John Willock, chief executive officer of crypto custody provider Tritium.

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mostly green Friday. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Notable losers:



  • Oil was up 1.6%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $42.40.
  • Gold was in the green 0.43% and at $1,873 as of press time.


  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell Friday dipping to 0.826 and in the red 0.19%.


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