Lifting the Offer provides key market data, macro analysis and price outlooks to prepare bitcoin investors for the week ahead. Check out the full archive here.
Bitcoin by the Numbers
Best Bits from Last WeekBitcoin Foundation Survival Proposal and Financials Leak
Wall Street Bank BNY Mellon Experimenting With Bitcoin Rewards
Google Ventures-Backed Bitcoin Exchange Buttercoin Is Shutting Down
Samsung Plans to Take Bitcoin Technology Beyond Virtual Currency
PayPal Now Allows Its Merchants to Accept Bitcoin Payments
The Macro View
Bitcoin Price and the Decline of Nodes
Last week, we took a look at the growth of the network as it related to the average amount of data transacted in each block. This week, we turn our focus to the number of Bitcoin nodes around the world and their relationship with the price of bitcoin.
A node is any program running the Bitcoin client that connects to the Bitcoin network. Nodes participate in the network by processing transactions, broadcasting transactions and/or relaying blocks. Further, “full” nodes hold updated copies of the complete blockchain which serve as the blueprint for the Bitcoin network.
Just as Bitcoin is a decentralized, distributed network, so are the nodes which support the network. In an evenly distributed network, there is less distance between nodes which allows data to travel faster. Unfortunately, the number of nodes has been rapidly declining over the past year, raising red flags over the future health of the network.
There is no central database for the actual number of nodes (non-mining vs. mining and full vs. partial) in the network. Bitnodes.io is a reliable independent source that has been consistently tracking node data. They define the nodes that they record as both mining and non-mining nodes which distribute the blockchain.
According to Bitnodes.io, the number of nodes has declined by more than 20% (from 8,087 nodes to 6,208 nodes) since last April. Even in just the last three months, the number of nodes fell by nearly 6% (from 6,553 nodes to 6,208 nodes).
A big reason for the disappearance of the nodes can be tied to the gradual decline in the price of bitcoin over the last 12 months. This price decrease has made operating a node less profitable, especially for non-mining nodes. For mining nodes, the total amount of potential miner revenue per day (a combination of newly mined bitcoins and transactional fees) has dropped from an all time high of $5.1 million in December 2013 to $800,004 as of yesterday according to Blockchain.info. This represents an 85% decline in open revenue to potential mining nodes over that time.
Other macro related factors certainly play a part, but should the price of bitcoin continue to bounce sideways, it will get harder to build a business case for running a node.
Bitcoin Price Outlook: Neutral
Short-term support was broken over the past week and the price of bitcoin fell more than 15% off last week’s high to hit a new 60-day low. On Monday, the market also broke an important support level of $230 which was set in the second half of February and was the level which served as a springboard for March's first half bull run from $230 to $295.
The unavoidable natural selling pressure from miners has helped push the market down. In general, 3,600 bitcoins are mined every day which represents approximately 5% of the total USD exchange traded volume at the time of publication. There is little reason for miners to attempt to strategize around the price of bitcoin hence they monetize their holdings on a daily basis. Further, as the network’s difficulty continues to increase, fiscally responsible miners will continue to lock in profits ahead of their peers and competitors to minimize carry-risk.
In the short term, the market does not appear to have built new support, but may have found an existing support level from the end of January at $215. Traders should consider $215 as a key level to watch this week. Should the market continue down, new support is not likely until we have hit $200 (January's support level).
This Week in Bitcoin’s (Limited) History
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Bobby Cho is the Director of the Institutional Client Group at itBit. Previously, Bobby was Vice President of Trading at SecondMarket specializing in trading bitcoin and illiquid asset-backed securities.