First Mover Americas: Ether Ends May 35% Down, Altcoins Lose Out

The latest moves in crypto markets in context for May 27, 2022.

AccessTimeIconMay 27, 2022 at 4:18 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:57 p.m. UTC
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Good morning, and welcome to First Mover. I’m Lyllah Ledesma, here to take you through the latest in crypto markets, news and insights.

  • Price point: Ether is ending May down 35% as investors look to safer risk profile investments.
  • Market Moves: Decreasing NFT interest causes the amount of volume traded on Ethereum to drop significantly.
  • Feature: Stepn gets banned in China, sending its GMT token spiraling.

Price Point

Bitcoin (BTC) was down 1% over the last 24 hours, trading at around $28,850. BTC was headed for a ninth-straight weekly decline, its longest-ever losing streak, based on pricing data going back to 2011.

Ether is down 10% on the day, trading around $1,700. Ether opened the month trading at $2,800 and has dropped 64% since. Bitcoin, by comparison, has dropped by 23% in May.

Ethereum monthly chart performance (TradingView)
Ethereum monthly chart performance (TradingView)

Other altcoins also slid, with Avalanche's AVAX dipping 10%, Solana's SOL by 7% and NEAR by 7%.

As altcoins continue to suffer and bitcoin dominance rises (currently at 46%), traders are seeing bitcoin as a “safer risk profile relative to altcoins,” said Sean Farrell in Fundstrat’s crypto weekly note.

In traditional markets, stock futures edged higher on Friday. The S&P 500 futures rose slightly. Bitcoin has largely followed the S&P 500 downwards this year – but it appears the recent rally hasn’t helped the crypto market.

Market Moves

On-chain metrics

Activity on Ethereum has been declining. Ethereum’s transaction volume is down by 80%, which is one-fifth of what it was a year ago, according to data from IntoTheBlock.

FM 5/27 #2

According to IntoTheBlock, activity on Ethereum and most smart contract platforms have suffered from the decreasing interest in NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.

“As large NFT sales have become less common and there is lower demand for blockchains, the amount of volume traded on Ethereum has been decreasing,” said IntoTheBlock’s head of research, Lucas Outumuro.

“Decreasing NFT interest along with lower yields in DeFi have led to volumes dropping significantly.”

NFTs managed to appreciate in the first quarter of 2021 in contrast to other assets, but the recent decline has caused a knock on effect on activity on the Ethereum network.

The takeaway for ether here is that in the near term there becomes less demand for it as this is the main currency used to purchase NFTs.

“It also means that less ether is getting burned since NFT drops used to be the largest source,” said Outumuro.

In the money, out of the money

The percentage of addresses profiting from their ether positions also dropped to the lowest point since July 2020 according to data from IntoTheBlock.

A metric used to see whether investors are profiting or losing out from their investments, labeled In/Out of the Money (IOM), identifies the average price at which the tokens were bought and compares it to the current price. If the current price is greater than the average cost, the investor is “in the money,” if current price < average cost, the address is “out of the money.”

Currently, 55% of the addresses currently holding ether are “in the money,” and 43% are “out of the money.”

The metric shows when prices were at similar levels and compares the percentage making profits and gets an idea of whether more/less investors are profiting.

“​​The IOM around price is helpful to determine price ranges where buying activity has been concentrated, showing an on-chain equivalent of support and resistance levels,” said Outumuro.

In/out of the money chart (IntoTheBlock)
In/out of the money chart (IntoTheBlock)

Matthew Dibb attributes altcoins’ recent price action to rotation from major crypto and altcoins to BTC. This trend looks set to continue if market weakness persists, with the BTC dominance index breaking out to multi-month highs.

“Speculators are moving exposure from altcoins to bitcoins in search of a more stable asset to hold throughout market volatility,” said Dibb in a conversation with CoinDesk.

Latest Headlines

Feature: Stepn to Bar Gameplay in China, Sending 'Move-to-Earn' Token GMT Spiraling

By Cameron Thompson

Solana-based “move-to-earn” game Stepn will effectively bar gameplay in China in mid-July, the company announced Thursday, sending its GMT token spiraling as the markets digested the news.

Stepn said it will stop providing GPS services to users whose IP address or GPS location shows them in China on July 15. Without GPS services, players who own its membership-like shoe non-fungible token (NFT) will not be able to earn tokens for their steps.

The price of GMT was down 38% in the last 24 hours, according to CoinGecko. Stepn NFT shoes were trading around 8.5 SOL on Magic Eden at press time, 3.5 SOL below Wednesday's price.

Stepn “has always attached great importance to compliance obligations and always strictly abides by the relevant requirements of local regulatory agencies,” the company said in a tweet, without citing a specific policy. It further stated that Stepn has never engaged in business in China.

China’s crypto regulatory landscape is vague, however, and Chinese banking associations' scrutiny of NFTs has been on the rise. Considering users need to purchase NFT sneakers to participate in the game, Stepn could be the next target for a crackdown.

Stepn did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

Today’s newsletter was edited by Lyllah Ledesma and produced by Parikshit Mishra and Stephen Alpher.


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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Lyllah Ledesma

Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.

Cam Thompson

Cam Thompson was a news reporter at CoinDesk.

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