Market Wrap: Bitcoin Sits at $22.8K While $10B Locked in Top 5 DeFi Protocols

Bitcoin is taking a breather after a breathless price run while investors seem to be placing trust in major Ethereum-based products for locking crypto.

AccessTimeIconDec 18, 2020 at 9:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:45 a.m. UTC
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Bitcoin’s price has hung around $22,400-$22,800 after Thursday’s momentous spot volume day while brand-name DeFi protocols have the lion’s share of the market for locked crypto.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $22,783 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 0.68% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $22,357-$23,261 (CoinDesk 20)
  • BTC above its 10-hour and 50-hour moving average on the hourly chart, a bullish signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Dec. 15.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Dec. 15.

Bitcoin’s price steadied Friday, ranging around $22,400-$22,800 for most of the past 24 hours and was at $22,783 as of press time. 

“Bitcoin continued its ascent, supply has decreased, bears are not particularly resisting and institutions are buying all the coins very quickly,” said Constantin Kogan, partner at investment firm Wave Financial. 

“The $24,000 mark is not far off,” Kogan added. “There is a growing perception among analysts that the demand of institutional investors can overwhelm the supply of whales [large crypto holders] and miners, whose sales in the past have had a tangible impact on the market.” 

Thursday was the highest-volume day in 2020 for the eight exchanges tracked by the CoinDesk 20, with over $4.7 billion in volume. That day Coinbase led the way with $1.6 billion in volume, significant given Friday’s volume tally for the eight exchanges as of press time was only $1.7 billion.

Bitcoin spot volumes on eight major exchanges in 2020.
Bitcoin spot volumes on eight major exchanges in 2020.

The huge price jump has cleared many sell orders on exchanges as they were filled on the run-up, said Andrew Tu, an executive at quant firm Efficient Frontier. “On exchanges, sell-side liquidity is much thinner than buy-side liquidity because we are in uncharted territory,” Tu told CoinDesk. “The lack of liquidity on the sell side means that bitcoin's price can rise faster, as we've seen since it broke the $20,000 figure.” 

However, inevitable exhaustion seems to have taken place Friday. “While there are some early signs of fatigue and profit-taking, what's notable is the record volumes,” said Jason Lau, chief operating officer of San Francisco-based exchange OKCoin. 

In the derivatives market, open interest and volume have surged on futures venue CME, well-known as an institutional tool for hedging out traditional commodities as well as bitcoin.

Daily volume and open interest on CME the past year.
Daily volume and open interest on CME the past year.

“Dec. 17 is registering as the highest volume day on CME, with open interest climbing at its highest,” noted Vishal Shah, an options trader and founder of derivatives exchange Alpha5. 

Excitement abounds to cap off a wild ride for bitcoin in 2020, though momentum may subside in the holiday weeks ahead, according to analysts. 

“I’m feeling very bullish although there is only so fast we can go up before we see a correction,” said Michael Gord, chief executive officer of quant trading firm Global Digital Assets. “It will be exciting to see what happens now that we are in price discovery mode and the mainstream media is starting to take notice once again.”

Just five protocols have $10 billion locked in DeFi

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH) was up Friday, trading around $648 and climbing 1.2% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).

Five brand-name protocols – stablecoin Maker, wrapped bitcoin (WBTC), lenders Compound and Aave along with decentralized exchange Uniswap – make up $10.5 billion of decentralized finance's (DeFi) $16 billion total locked, according to DeFi Pulse.

Top five DeFi protocols in terms of total value locked.
Top five DeFi protocols in terms of total value locked.

George Clayton, managing partner of investment firm Cryptanalysis Capital, says the growth in DeFi value locked is highly correlated with the rise in crypto prices in general. 

“The increase in total value locked (TVL) is from the appreciation of crypto versus [the U.S. dollar]. Deposits are hanging around, not increasing,” Clayton told CoinDesk. However, he’s bullish on DeFi, particularly if some scaling growth pains can be resolved. “I expect these numbers to grow, especially if ETH 1.5 can scale, or if these DeFi platforms can port to the likes of Cardano or AVAX or Solana.”

Other markets

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

Notable losers:



  • Oil was up 1.2%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $48.98.
  • Gold was in the red 0.23% and at $1,880 as of press time.


  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield climbed Friday jumping to 0.945 and in the green 0.71%.
The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market
The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market


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