Bitcoin Holdings on OTC Desks Decline 33%: Glassnode

Over-the-counter desk balances are widely considered a proxy for institutional activity. Still, caution is warranted when drawing conclusions.

AccessTimeIconAug 4, 2023 at 9:57 a.m. UTC
Updated Aug 4, 2023 at 10:41 a.m. UTC
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  • Bitcoin held in addresses tied to over-the-counter desks has declined to the lowest level since June 15.
  • While the measure is considered a proxy for institutional activity, it is vulnerable to labeling errors and subject to different interpretations.

The amount of bitcoin held in addresses tied to over-the-counter (OTC) desks, a proxy for institutional activity, has declined to the lowest level since June 15.

As of Thursday, the so-called OTC desk balance stood at 5,138 BTC, about $150 million at BTC's current market price of $29,225. That's a 33% slide from the one-year high of 7,697 BTC at the end of June, according to data tracked by Glassnode.

The tally surged by 156% in the first half as bitcoin's market value rose 84%, with some observers at the time referring to the climb as a bullish development. "In our view, increased balances on OTC desks suggest that institutions and other large capital allocators are focused increasingly on bitcoin," Ark Investment Management's June report said.

Crypto investors, like their traditional market counterparts, can transact on an exchange or through an over-the-counter desk. The exchange acts as an intermediary between trading parties, matching orders. On an OTC desk, trades happen directly between the two parties, with one of them typically being the desk itself.

High-volume traders and institutions typically deal with OTC desks to avoid affecting the market price of the asset. For that reason, activity on OTC desks is said to reflect the behavior of large, sophisticated traders. In the past, some analysts have associated upticks and downticks in OTC desk balances with miners' intention to build/run down their coin stash.

That said, drawing definite conclusions from changes in the desk balances may be risky because they are exposed to address-labeling issues. Besides, the balance itself does not reflect whether the desk is accumulating or looking to liquidate coins on behalf of their clients.

"BTC accumulation by OTC desks could mean that they are buying on behalf of clients OR it could mean that clients are passing their BTC to OTC desks to be sold," Noelle Acheson, the author of Crypto is Macro Now, newsletter told CoinDesk.

Disclaimer: This article was written and edited by CoinDesk journalists with the sole purpose of informing the reader with accurate information. If you click on a link from Glassnode, CoinDesk may earn a commission. For more, see our Ethics Policy.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Omkar Godbole

Omkar Godbole is a Co-Managing Editor on CoinDesk's Markets team.

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