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Bitcoin: Retail v. whale traders and who profited the most?

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Bitcoin’s last 2 quarters in 2020 have been quite volatile. Rather, that has been the case for most of 2020. In fact, each quarter had something important like the Pandemic-induced crash in Q1, the V-shaped recovery in Q2, the institutional buying in Q3, followed by the rapid explosion in price in Q4.

While institutions have and are continuing to acquire heavy BTC bags ahead of the bull run, it is obvious that Bitcoin is poised to perform. However, let’s take a look at how the market’s whales, institutions, retail, and professional traders fared during the last 4 months.

According to a report by OKEx, a clear trend was observed in the last 4 months, one where retail was more bullish in the short term than institutional, albeit the latter was long-term bullish.

In summary, retail bought in the FOMO while whales didn’t. OKEx summed it up by stating,

“It would appear that retail traders have been chasing Bitcoin’s price rally… while professional traders also joined the rally later, large traders (and possibly whales) seem to have taken profits.. institutions (and possibly whales) remained somewhat balanced, despite some bias toward selling.”

For this purpose, OKEx’s report classified traders between 0-0.5 BTC as retail, 0.5 to 2 BTC as professional traders, 2-5 and 5-10 BTC traders as whales, and 10+BTC holders institutional. It should be noted, however, that 2-5 BTC and 10+BTC holders include overlapping whales and institutions.

The Metrics

Source: OKEx

It can be seen that retail traders bought BTC chasing its price from September through November while professional traders followed a similar trend. Whales, however, sold their holdings aka took profits.

Institutions that hold BTC for the long-term seemed neutral in September, but took profits as Bitcoin hit its ATH towards the end of November.

Source: OKEx

A similar trend can be seen in the last week of November, a time when retail bought BTC while whales and institutions took profits.

To sum all of this up, clearly, retail must be taking a hit as Bitcoin is now well below its highs from a few weeks ago. Institutions and whales, however, will be buying more Bitcoins as the cryptocurrency’s price continues to dip.


Akash is a full-time cryptocurrency writer and an analyst at AMBCrypto. He is an engineering graduate with an avid interest in finance and economics. Attracted to the chaos of trading, Akash has invested in BTC, ETH and XRP for educational purposes.
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