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Institutional Crypto Trading on Coinbase Reaches Record Volume

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Coinbase Institutional Trading Volume

Coinbase trading volume record

The Briefing

  • Institutional trading volume on Coinbase has increased more than fivefold since Q1’2018 ($11B), reaching $57B in Q4’2020
  • Despite the surge in institutional volume, retail volume has not reached the high set in Q1’2018

Coinbase’s Institutional Volume Surges Alongside Bitcoin’s Price

As Coinbase prepares to go public with a direct listing on the Nasdaq, the company has released its S-1 filing detailing just about every aspect of their business.

Along with surging users and crypto prices, Coinbase’s trading volume has also increased exponentially, with institutions leading the way.

This graphic looks at the return of rising institutional and retail trading volumes on Coinbase over the past two years alongside bitcoin’s price.

Coinbase’s Volume and Active Users are Rising

Crypto trading volume on Coinbase set record highs in Q4’2020 with $89B in volume, with institutions making up $57B. While recent institutional volume is more than five times Q1’2018 volume, retail trading volume is still below Q1’2018 levels despite bitcoin making new all-time highs.

Overall, trading volumes on Coinbase’s platform are far greater today than they were at the peak of the last bitcoin bull run. However, monthly transacting users on the exchange in Q4’2020 just barely surpassed the numbers of Q1’2018.

Coinbase’s Monthly Transacting Users per Quarter

DateMonthly Transacting Users (millions)
Q1'20182.7M
Q2'20181.2M
Q3'20180.9M
Q4'20180.9M
Q1'20190.8M
Q2'20191.3M
Q3'20191.2M
Q4'20191.0M
Q1'20201.3M
Q2'20201.5M
Q3'20202.1M
Q4'20202.8M

Along with Coinbase’s volume figures showing a greater increase in institutional volume compared to retail, it’s clear that institutions have bought into the bull run while retail investors have returned to transacting crypto more slowly.

The Institutions Buying into the Bitcoin Bull Run

It began with Michael Saylor’s company MicroStrategy purchasing $250M worth of bitcoin in August of 2020, before eventually investing a total of $2.2B in the cryptocurrency. These aggressive bitcoin purchases were followed up by Jack Dorsey’s Square and Elon Musk’s Tesla investing $220M and $1.5B respectively, with Tesla also revealing plans to accept bitcoin payments in the future.

Along with these companies betting on bitcoin, banks have renewed their interest in cryptocurrency as well. Earlier this month the Bank of New York Mellon set up a digital assets unit to help customers manage their cryptocurrencies, and Goldman Sachs just announced the return of its cryptocurrency trading desk.

While it’s rumored that Goldman Sachs could even pursue listing a bitcoin-focused ETF, the Chicago Board Options Exchange has already filed a request with the SEC to list VanEck’s bitcoin ETF, which would be the first of its kind in the United States.

>>Like this? Then you might like this article comparing bitcoin’s market cap to other cryptocurrencies

Where does this data come from?

Source: Coinbase S-1 Filing
Details: Volatility on this graphic is Coinbase’s internal measure of crypto volatility in the market relative to prior periods.

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Datastream

Bitcoin is the Fastest Asset to Reach a $1 Trillion Market Cap

Bitcoin is now part of a select very few assets that hold a market cap greater than $1 trillion. How long did it take to get there?

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Bitcoin fastest asset to $1 trillion

The Briefing

  • Bitcoin (BTC) hit a $1 trillion market cap in just 12 years, making it the fastest asset to do so
  • Investor sentiment towards BTC appears to be at extreme bullishness, with the asset adding roughly $500 billion in market cap just in 2021

Bitcoin is the Fastest Asset to Reach $1 Trillion

The world is moving forward at an accelerated pace. Historically, it’s taken multiple decades for companies to be worth $1 trillion. For bitcoin, it took just 12 short years to reach such a milestone.

To help put things into perspective, here’s a look at how long it took America’s biggest tech companies to reach the $1 trillion market cap.

AssetTime To Reach $1 TrillionCurrent Market Cap
Microsoft44 years$1.9 trillion
Apple42 years$2.2 trillion
Amazon24 years$1.7 trillion
Google21 years$1.5 trillion
Bitcoin12 years$1.1 trillion

Market caps as of April 12, 2021

Extreme Bullish Sentiment

Bitcoin has been subject to widespread commotion in markets.

At the start of 2021, the cryptocurrency had a more modest market cap of $500 billion, but has gained more than another $500 billion since. An onslaught of headlines has contributed to extremely bullish investor sentiment, including:

1. CEOs begin to show interest
Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey have made sizable investments in bitcoin through Tesla and Square, respectively. It’s estimated the gain from Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin investment was greater than the profits from the entirety of their business in 2020.

2. New ETFs on the block
Multiple Bitcoin ETFs focused were recently approved by Canadian regulators and some have already launched on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). For many years, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) was the only readily accessible investment vehicle trading on equity markets that had exposure to BTC.

3. Financial institutions finally joining in?
Mastercard, Visa, and Bank of New York Mellon have made announcements to make it easier for customers to use cryptocurrencies.

On to the Next Trillion?

Future projections for the price of bitcoin are garnering more extreme and widening price targets.

The accelerated rate of change today has many of the Big Tech companies already inching closer to the next trillion in value. Will bitcoin follow suit?

Where does this data come from?

Source: coinmarketcap.com
Notes: Financial data is as of April 12, 2021

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What The Data Says About Wealth Inequality

Over the past decade, the top 1% of U.S. households’ portion of wealth has gone from 28.6% to 31.2%.

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The Briefing

  • Today, the top 1% of U.S. households own 31.2% of total wealth
  • Data going back over 200 years suggests that wealth inequality in both the U.S. and Europe reached its peak in the early 1900s

What The Data Says About Wealth Inequality

Wealth inequality has gone through peaks and troughs throughout history.

Most recently, in the decade between 2010 and 2020, the top 1% of U.S. households’ portion of wealth has gone from 28.6% to 31.2%.

However, when expressed in raw dollars, things begin to look different. Wealth during the same period for the 1% went from approximately $17.5 trillion to $35 trillion. Meanwhile, the total wealth pool rose from $60 trillion to $112 trillion.

In other words, all households by category have amassed wealth during the same period, albeit at different rates.

Household Wealth PercentileAnnual Growth in Wealth (CAGR)
Top 1%6.54%
90-99%5.75%
50-90%4.97%
Bottom 50%3.30%

Source: The Federal Reserve

Drivers Of Wealth Inequality

The longest bull market in history, which went from March 2009 to February 2020, has been a big driver for the recent divergence. The U.S. composition of wealth for the top 1% of households skews towards corporate equities and mutual funds, of which they collectively own $14 trillion. By contrast, the bottom 50% of households own $0.16 trillion.

It’s often said a stock market correction is long overdue. Since the top 1% of households clearly have the most skin in the game, if one were to transpire, wealth inequality would likely retract.

A Longer Term Look

Although the inequality of wealth is heavily discussed in today’s climate, the numbers have been higher before.

Wealth inequality, measured by the top 1% of U.S. households’ portion of wealth, was at its peak at the start of the 20th century. Back then, a harsh and more concrete class divide with lower rates of upward mobility were common themes.

2 centuries of wealth inequality

At its peak in 1910, the top 1% of U.S. households owned well over 40% of all wealth. Major world wars and the Great Depression seemed to be catalysts against this, and the years after WWII brought about some of the lowest levels of inequality seen in the modern era.

Wealth inequality has ebbed and flowed throughout history, but it has steadily crept back up in the last few decades. Today, its adverse effects continue to garner the attention of more people—including policy makers who are facing immense pressure to find a solution.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The Fed
Notes: This data covers Q2’2010-Q2’2020

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