We have been living interesting times these first weeks of the year. New all-time highs are almost daily and spectators are running out of superlatives to describe the rise. The lodestar is of course Bitcoin, but also other cryptocurrencies have made leaps in its wake. A good example is Ethereum, which has strengthened its position as the second strongest crypto project.
This week we will check out how the price rise has led to other phenomena, such as Bitcoin surpassing Facebook in market value and growing mining difficulty. In other news we have Finland’s Customs agency selling its confiscated bitcoins as well as peaking interest for Ethereum in Google.
Last week’s news can be read here.
Bitcoin is worth more than Facebook
The combined market capitalization of all bitcoins has risen higher than Facebook. At the moment bitcoin is more valuable than all but six publicly listed stock companies.
According to Coinmarketcap, Bitcoin’s market value is currently around $755 billion dollars. This measure puts its value between the giants Facebook and Tesla. Facebook’s market value stands at approximately $752 billion, whereas Tesla is valued at $805 billion dollars.
”Makes sense that a money network would be more valuable than a social network,” commented crypto billionaire Cameron Winklevoss.
Bitcoin’s rise has also elevated it to one of the world’s most valuable currencies. In the past days bitcoin has surpassed the Thai baht and Russian ruble. At the time of writing Bitcoin’s combined market cap is just slightly below the Swiss franc.
BTC mining difficulty hit new high
The difficulty level of Bitcoin mining saw its biggest rise in almost four months, as the network difficulty rose by roughly 11% on the 9th of January. As a result the mining difficulty level has risen above 20 trillion for the first time.
The difficulty level is a relative measure for how hard it is for miners to create new blocks. The higher the metric is, the more mining capacity is required for new blocks to be mined.
Bitcoin’s mining difficulty is automatically adjusted between every 2016 blocks. This is meant to keep the birth pace of blocks as close to 10 minutes as possible. If the network has more mining power, the difficulty level grows. If there in turn is less, the metric will decrease accordingly.
Growing mining power and difficulty levels are often connected to bitcoin’s rising price. The higher the price is, the more miners are willing to spend resources on mining. Bitcoin’s enormous rise has contributed a lot of additional mining capacity, which in turn makes the network safer than ever.
At current prices every mined block is worth roughly $253 600 dollars. It is noteworthy that already nearly 10% of block mining profits stem from transaction fees.
More value transferred with BTC than ever
The amount of value transferred with Bitcoin has surpassed earlier records by a lot. Bitcoin’s rise above $40 000 dollars has also correlated with more dollar value moved with bitcoin than ever before.
During the past week bitcoin was used to transfer $67 billion dollars worth of value. This marks a growth of more than 100% compared to the previous record from May 2019. Back then bitcoin’s price rose temporarily to five-digit numbers after tumbling down to $4 000 dollars in March.
Also other sources report record-breaking sums transferred with Bitcoin. According to CoinMarketCap, up to $85 billion dollars worth of BTC was exchanged in a single day. CoinGecko in turn reports that bitcoins were exchanged for $77 billion dollars.
Finnish Customs sells its BTC
Finland’s Customs agency has accumulated itself a notable number of bitcoins throughout the years. Now the agency has decided to sell its stash of 1 981 BTC, valued at roughly $60 million euros at current prices.
Most of the agency’s bitcoins originate from the year 2016, when the Customs seized bitcoins in connection to the dark marketplace Douppikauppa. This seizure brought the agency a total of 1 666 BTC.
However, the Customs office has yet to decide on the details of the sale. The agency fears that selling the coins may lead to them circulating back to criminal use. The revenue from this sale will be forfeited to the government treasury of Finland.
Whales rock the Bitcoin boat
Whales, meaning investors owning large sums of bitcoins, seem to be the driving force behind the latest price volatility. The news is backed by data from crypto analysis company Material Indicators.
According to analysts of the company, so called ”mega-whales” or very wealthy investors are selling large amounts of bitcoins every time the asset reaches a new high. Later they buy these coins back after first securing profits.
As an example Material Indicators names the two latest price corrections. On the 7th of January bitcoin’s price rose to $40 000 dollars, whereafter it plunged down by 10% in a few hours. Material Indicators believes large investors were the foremost reason for this.
However, soon after the price began to soar again and reached a new peak at $42 000 dollars. This in turn led to a new wave of sell orders dropping the price to $40 800 dollars.
Such corrective movements are normal per se just as with any investment asset. However, in Bitcoin’s case the movements tend to be more intense than average, since the asset is still relatively marginal despite its immense growth.
Google searches for Ethereum on the rise
Ethereum is being searched more than ever before in the entire history of the blockchain project, reports Google Trends. This surpasses the previous record from the 13th of January 2018 almost three years ago.
Data from Google searches often somewhat correlates with cryptocurrency price development. When the price is rising, Google is also used to search more information on the matter. Google searches have also been linked to forecast upcoming price rises.
This time Ethereum is a rare exception in the sense that it has broken both records for its price and searches. While other cryptocurrencies have risen to all-time highs, they have failed to do so with Google search records.
Also the term ”bitcoin” has been trending in searches, but is still far from its earlier search record from December 2017. Right now searches only amount to 65% relative to the record.
The differences between Ethereum and Bitcoin searches can naturally be explained by the awareness around these two cryptocurrencies. The number one cryptocurrency Bitcoin is already quite known and used, while investors may require more information about the more obscure Ethereum.