Miner outflows of bitcoin have dropped to decade lows, with analysts suggesting a hoarding mentality is partly responsible.
The seven-day average of the total amount of bitcoin transferred out of miners’ addresses declined to 987 on Thursday, hitting the lowest level since Feb. 3, 2010, according to data source Glassnode. The previous decade low of 988 was registered on May 23.
The number of coins being sent by miners to exchanges is also at its lowest point in over a year, as noted by Glassnode in its weekly report.
“It is a sign of efficient miners continuing to hoard (only selling a proportion of BTC),” said Asim Ahmad, co-chief investment officer at London-based Eterna Capital.
The increase in miner holding does not necessarily have long-term bullish implications for the cryptocurrency’s price. Miners tend to operate mainly on cash and liquidate their holdings almost on a daily basis to fund operations.
As such, miner hoarding could be termed as temporary deferral of BTC sales, possibly due to fears that the market lacks the strength to absorb the regular amount of supply. Essentially, they may be waiting for the market to show strength and prices to rise before realizing their profits.
The market, therefore, could face an above-normal miner supply during the next meaningful price rise. That, in turn, could put the brakes on a price rally.
Hoarding aside, the other main reason for the decline in outflows is the reduction in bitcoin being mined since May’s reward halving, said Ahmad.
Indeed, transfer volume from miner addresses fell from 2,334 BTC to 1,034 BTC in the nine days following the May 11 reward halving, which reduced the per block emission by 50% to 6.25 BTC.
That sharp decline in profitability forced out less inefficient miners, as evidenced by a drop in the seven-day average of the hash rate – the total computing power dedicated to mining blocks on the blockchain. That fell from 120 tera hashes per second (TH/s) to 90 TH/s in the two weeks following halving (though it’s since climbed as more efficient machines were switched on).
Forced out miners, however, may return to bitcoin’s blockchain if prices rise sharply, making older hardware once again profitable.
Bitcoin is currently trading largely unchanged on the day near $9,370, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index.
The cryptocurrency has been largely restricted to a narrow range of $9,000 to $10,000 since mid May. The direction in which the range is breached will likely set the tone for the next big move.
Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing.