Author: Duane M. Tilden, P.Eng. Date: July 2, 2018
The arrow of time points forward; past events are irreversible.
This article, has grown and is expanding as I write. Being my own editor I have to make decisions, so that in order to expedite publishing I am breaking the material down into parts. The idea behind this article is to explore what makes the cryptocurrency market move and the psychology behind the market, a collection of minds or “hive-mind“. We will use references from the stock market and investing community, social sciences, finance, engineering and other realms of thought and application.
I would like to postulate that collectively CC markets are populated by a type of person who has a basic understanding of the fundamentals of Bitcoin, blockchain and smart contracts, online interaction and the use of app’s, purchasing and trading, banking, stock markets, economics and other needed basics to make the ecosystem have value and meaning to the user.
Or perhaps, the user is in the process of learning these fundamentals, as such having desire and ability to learn new concepts and be able to employ them digitally is necessary for success. There are learning curves to be surmounted; patience, persistence and diligence are required. In any event I invite seasoned pro, novice or the curious to follow my explorations into the world of crypto.
What is the Cryptocurrency Market?
The cryptocurrency market is dominated by a few major assets, most notably Bitcoin which has a current dominance factor of 42.6%. Reviewing listed CC assets listed on the website coinmarketcap.com we find the use of charts and graphs useful in understanding how values and prices fluctuate over time in these markets. I have used these charts in previous articles, listed below is the current Total Market Cap of $257 Bn, which has recently increased by $21 Bn since Friday, June 29th.
Figure 1: CryptoCurrency Total Market Cap Chart – June 24 to July 1, 2018
For the sake of simplicity, my analyses is generalized in nature. Individual traded assets have their own utility and value based on a multiplicity of factors, some of which may be intangible. When deciding which assets to choose for holding and trading there are many of those factors which become important when considering risking investment over time. We will delve into this issue in another post, all part of the due diligence process.
Over the past decade, blockchain technology has captured the imagination of technologists around the world, and in the past year Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) of cryptocurrency tokens have exploded in popularity. In just the first four months of 2018, ICOs raised $6.3 billion USD in funding, 18% more than in all of 2017. (1)
As we can see from the excerpt taken from the CPA Ontario website ICO’s raised $6.3 Bn in funding for the first quarter of 2018. For argument’s sake we can extrapolate a value of $30 Bn for the year, or even more to $50 Bn if we assume more issues later in the year. However, considering the total trading values in active markets we can by inspection see that the ICO market is small compared to values traded on exchanges. Total Market Cap can increase by over $20 Bn or more in a day (2), and daily volumes also can vary in the same range of about $10 to $20 Bn over 24 hour periods.
As a final note, not all transactions in cryptocurrency need to be done through an exchange, and private transactions are not included in TMC analysis, although it is fair to assume that trade values of these transactions will be made close to current market prices. When trading on exchanges one must always be aware of the market depth compared to order size, which can cause significant run up in price when a large transaction is made on the market. One reason why experienced traders generally make smaller incremental buys or sales to limit market distortion and costs as well as profit from large trade orders which run up the market temporarily.
For the sake of most of my market reviews there are certain generalizations which I make, first is I exclude ICO’s as a minor influence on the market as a whole. Those who intend to issue ICO’s would be wise to incorporate market analysis and timing as part of their marketing strategy. Starting an ICO in a soft market will be more difficult when money is tight for investors, as an example.
The second generalization I make is to limit reviews generally to the top 25 listed CC’s by market capitalization. From past analysis I have found that over 80% of capital is contained in the top 25 while the remaining 1500+ listed account for the remaining 20% Total Market Cap. Movements of these coins may be important to the individual trader, however as factors that may move the whole market their sphere of influence is generally limited.
Thus, as we can see, the above reductions will simplify future modeling of cryptocurrency markets by eliminating ICO’s and examining global movements of the top 25 listed cryptocurrencies, of which Bitcoin currently dominates with a MC of $108 Bn USD, followed by Tether, Ethereum, EOS, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, etc.
Who are the Players in the CryptoCurrency Markets?
First there are the digital assets or cryptocurrencies, which we already discussed in general and of which there are many. However, we have reduced this population down to a usable quantity for analytical and discussion purposes by reducing the market to the top 25 and ignoring the effects of ICO’s on the market. Next to be discussed is the user base, which is a generalization for investors, holders, developers, traders, speculators and the consumer marketplaces. Some of these markets are more developed than others as more people learn the benefits of cryptocurrency, the blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
As both sides of the markets have grown we will examine the effect of exchanges and how this third component enables the other two components to interact much like how a third leg is necessary to the utility and stability of a stool. These virtual cryptocurrency exchanges have many similarities to the stock market as both represent an asset the basis of which are distinct and separable, frequently representing commodities or utility previously considered intangible.
Demographics of the User
Is it possible to identify the “average” or “normal” user, and thus be able to establish some trends or behaviours that can be predicted? Let us explore this concept further.
One Bloomberg News article found online mentions a survey which found 5% of 5700 adults surveyed owned Bitcoin.
Nearly 60 percent of Americans have heard or read about the world’s largest cryptocurrency, according to a joint SurveyMonkey and Global Blockchain Business Council poll of more than 5,700 adults conducted in January. But only 5 percent of people actually own the digital coin.
Those few Bitcoin investors are of a fairly consistent demographic. An overwhelming 71 percent of them are male. The majority — 58 percent — are young, between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. And unlike the broader U.S. population, nearly half of them are minorities. (3)
Another survey is more thorough providing demographics on users interviewed in their surveys. It also provides interesting feedback as to the nature of existing resistance to adoption as seen below in Figure 2. Something which should be paid particular interest.
Other interesting demographic information can be examined such as age groups, gender, income level and ethnicity of those surveyed may provide useful information. For example who are those most likely to invest in Bitcoin or other Cryptocurrencies? This survey compares Millennials, Gen X and Babyboomer generations.
Millennials and Generation X
A similarity between the results of the Finder survey and the survey by LENDEDU is that Millennials are the largest group invested in cryptocurrency followed by Generation X.
The survey by Finder found that among those who purchased cryptocurrency there are:
17.21 percent of Millennials surveyed,
8.75 percent of Generation X surveyed.
Figure 3. Table of Crypto Investors by Age Group (4)
Summary Comments – Part 1
In order to make sense of our examination of the cryptocurrency market we have used scientific methods of reduction to group together data in meaningful ways and thereby reducing workloads. The generalizations, rules or assumptions are that the market is fairly well represented by the movements of the top 25 listed cryptocurrencies, and that ICO’s are a separate market which has little effect on the main market.
The current model is a spreadsheet analysis of price and total market capitalization of the top 25 cryptocurrencies as listed on Coinmarketcap.com for a particular time period. Cycles in capitalization may be uncovered through data analysis. Also opportunities in markets and penetration. Current surveys indicate populations which require more attention and information for wider adoption which are useful for marketing campaigns.
Part 2 (To be Continued)
- Trading Exchanges and Price Movements
- Whales and Institutions
- Trading Levels, Trust and the Nash Equilibrium
- Time Frames, Cycles and Risk
- Geographical and Geopolitical Factors