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Market Wrap: Weak PayPal Pump Leaves Market Mostly Flat With BTC at $38K, ETH $2.7K

Bitcoin’s 30-day volatility has been dropping the past two days. So has gold's.

May 27, 2021 at 8:54 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:03 p.m. UTC

Hype around PayPal allowing users to move their crypto to other venues led to a market jump before tepidity set in.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $38,814 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 0.75% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $37,317-$40,372 (CoinDesk 20)
  • Ether (ETH) trading around $2,756 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). In the green 0.60% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Ether’s 24-hour range: $2,888-$2,650 (CoinDesk 20)

Bitcoin volatility dips

Bitcoin’s hourly price chart on Bitstamp since May 24.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was up Thursday by at 0.75% as of press time. BTC was below the 10-hour moving average and the 50-hour, a bearish signal for market technicians. 

BTC rose from $37,317 at 03:15 UTC (11:15 p.m. ET Wednesday) to as high as $40,372 by 13:30 UTC Thursday (9:30 a.m. ET Wednesday), an 8.1% increase based on CoinDesk 20 data. Bitcoin has since fallen somewhat, however, settling at $38,814 as of press time. 

One possible explanation for the rise: PayPal executive Jose Fernandez da Ponte saying during a Wednesday Consensus 2021 panel that the payments firm will allow its crypto users to move balances to different wallets. This could be a way for retail traders to get into crypto by using PayPal’s existing banking rails, and then push increased liquidity into venues like exchanges. 

Henrik Kugelberg, a crypto over-the-counter trader, told CoinDesk he has been seeing increased bitcoin buying as of late. He thinks bitcoin’s gold-like store-of-value properties in uncertain times will prompt many people to continue to scoop up BTC. 

“There is a veritable rush for gold, no question about it,”  said Kugelberg. “However, the big players in bitcoin are also very active in buying.” 

BTC volatility drops

Bitcoin and gold 30-day volatility in 2021.

Bitcoin’s 30-day volatility has been dropping the past two days, down to 88.4%. Gold’s volatility has been dipping, too, at 12.2%, according to CoinDesk Research data. 

“The macro perspective has not changed,” added Kugelberg. The U.S. dollar's "buying power is diminishing and reserves are being exchanged for gold and bitcoin.” 

Lots of bitcoin puts at $40K

Bitcoin options open interest by strike.

After the $50,000 strike price, where there’s 16,000 BTC in open interest in the options market, the $40,000 strike is the next popular spot for options traders, according to data from Skew. While that might seem bearish at first look, George Clayton, partner at investment firm Cryptanalysis Capital, thinks this orientation is more about hedging. 

“It’s impossible to ascertain if traders are oriented short from $40,000,” Clayton said. “That open interest could mean they are long BTC and buying protection, or are delta hedged and simply long volatility, just as much as it could mean they are bearish.” 

Crypto’s roller coaster-type price changes are why smart derivatives traders are holding options at $40,000 and not necessarily a bear-mode mentality, said Nathan Cox, chief investment officer at digital asset firm Two Prime.

“Because traders and investors are still spooked by recent volatility, they will likely continue to favor downside protection,” Cox said. “Recency bias tells them they need to manage downside risk.” 

Ether open interest still popping

Ether’s hourly price chart on Bitstamp since May 24.

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether, was trading around $2,756 as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET), gaining 0.60% over the prior 24 hours. The asset is below the 10-hour moving average and the above the 50-hour, a sideways signal for market technicians. 

Ether slid from $2,888 at 00:15 UTC (8:15 p.m. ET Wednesday) to $2,650 at 03:45 UTC Wednesday (11:45 p.m. ET Wednesday), an 8.2% fall based on CoinDesk 20 data. ETH has since gained, settling at $2,756 as of press time.  

After a precipitous drop from an all-time high of $598.4 million in ether futures open interest (OI) on CME, that market has steadily increased this week. Climbing from a $366 million valley on Sunday, OI has peaked to $522 million Wednesday, a 42% gain on a venue known for institutional hedging.

Ether might be winning the 'green' bet

Ether futures open interest on CME the past month.

Vishal Shah, founder of crypto derivatives exchange Alpha5, thinks the problematic environmental and social governance (ESG) factors around bitcoin mining may be creating a narrative that ether might be "greener," prompting the rise in ether futures.

“I think the ideological narrative is shifting a bit more in favor of ETH and Ethereum’s leadership has also been vocal about it,” Shah said. “Though ESG is a scapegoat, it may be enough of a buzzword to cause at least a temporary shift in sticky capital allocations.”

It’s important to note that Ethereum also uses proof-of-work mining, at least until the shift to ETH 2.0 occurs. 

“For bitcoin, there's a tug-of-war at the moment between crypto natives and the mainstream regarding extreme energy consumption,” said Brian Mosoff, chief executive officer of Ether Capital. “Whether this is right or wrong, it's left a lot of investors hitting the brakes on going all in on bitcoin and instead turning to alternatives like ether.”

Ether spot volume higher than bitcoin once again

Bitcoin and ether volumes over the past month.

On Wednesday, the latest day for closing metrics from CoinDesk Research, ETH spot volumes again beat bitcoin based on major exchange data. Ether’s volumes were at $52.3 billion Wednesday, while the amount of BTC changing hands tallied $45.4 billion. 

The potential of decentralized finance, or DeFi, is one factor causing increased trading of ether, noted Misha Alefirenko, co-found of crypto market maker VelvetFormula. 

“The main heat right now is in DeFi,” said Alefirenko. “So blockchains that support smart contracts are having stronger ‘use case’ propositions.”

Over the past month, ether’s spot trading volume has been higher than bitcoin’s eight times, with four of those days occurring in the past week. 

“Ethereum has a lot of momentum behind it right at the moment,” added Ether Capital’s Mosoff. “There's a lot to be excited about in this ecosystem.”

Other markets

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

Notable losers:

Equities:

Commodities:

  • Oil was up 1%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $66.79.
  • Gold was in the green 0.10% and at $1,897 as of press time.
  • Silver is gaining, up 0.67% and changing hands at $27.84.

Treasurys:

  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield climbed Thursday to 1.599 and in the green 1%.

The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market

DISCLOSURE

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.

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