Cryptocurrency reserves held on digital asset exchanges have been dropping to new lows, as some of the top exchanges have seen significant bitcoin reserve balance drops. A few months ago trading platforms had a lot more bitcoin reserves on hand and onchain data shows a few exchanges have seen customers steadily drain 187,000 bitcoins ($2.1B) from exchange-owned cold wallets.
In February, Coinbase had 1 million bitcoin under management and today reserves are down over 9% as 92,000 bitcoin ($1B) has left the exchange. Today, according to Bituniverse’s online exchange balance rank tracker, the San Francisco trading platform has 908,560 BTC under management.
36,000 BTC ($408M) left Coinbase since news.Bitcoin.com’s reserves report published on June 30, 2020. A number of top exchanges below Coinbase have also seen cold wallets drained during the last three months.
The second-largest exchange in terms of bitcoin reserves held is Huobi and the trading platform is down over 53,000 BTC ($601M) since June 30. Binance’s balances remained the same as the exchange holds 266,000 BTC today and three months ago, Binance held 269k BTC. Similarly, the fourth-largest reserve holder, Bitfinex, didn’t see much movement in the last three months.
Statistics show out of the top five crypto trading platforms over 187,000 BTC ($2.1B) has left these exchanges since the June report.
Just recently, Bitmex had some legal troubles with the U.S. government and since the incident, a lot of bitcoin has left the derivatives exchange. Three months ago Bitmex had 224 BTC in reserves and today the exchange only has 113,000 in cold storage. Onchain data indicates Bitmex lost a whopping 49.55% in BTC reserves since June 30.
At the time of publication, Glassnode’s “Exchange Balance vs. Bitcoin” stats show that there’s 2.7 million BTC held on exchanges today. Glassnode’s stats indicate that out of the 21 million BTC cap, exchanges hold 12.85% of all that will exist, and 14.59% of the 18.5 million BTC in circulation.
1.8 million BTC out of the aggregate 2.7 million BTC held on exchanges sits in the world’s top five crypto trading platforms. The top five custodial platforms by BTC reserve status include Coinbase, Huobi, Binance, Bitfinex, and Okex.
Exchange balances have been riding lower consecutively for the last 15 months and the last time balances were this low was around May 2019.
To many crypto enthusiasts and traders, the low balances on exchanges suggest users are storing assets in a noncustodial fashion as opposed to leaving funds with a third party. The data from Bituniverse and Glassnode also suggests that liquidity and selling pressure may lower.
Only 1.3 million Bitcoin are left in circulation on cryptocurrency exchanges!
Christmas is coming, and Bitcoin (BTC) scarcity is at historically low levels. CryptoRank announced in a recent tweet that just 6.3% of the overall Bitcoin supply, or 1.3 million BTC, are kept on cryptocurrency exchanges.
The decreasing amount is nothing new; it’s been steadily declining since the Bitcoin halving in 2020, when the BTC block reward was cut in half. The supply of BTC on exchanges has also decreased gradually over the past year, trending downward. On October 2020, exchange wallets made up 9.5% of the BTC supply, just before the all-time highs at Christmas time, and 7.3% in July 2019. In December 2021, the 6.3 percent figure is a record low.
However, the dominance of Coinbase’s BTC wallet is also falling. The American exchange used to store more bitcoin than all other exchanges combined. Over the past year, its domination has decreased from 50.52% to 40.65%.
Following a spate of good price statistics that tie into the rising price of Bitcoin, the announcement has sparked further excitement among investors. First and foremost, owing to the fact that BTC output is shifting from a “liquid” to an “illiquid” state, monthly BTC production has frozen at 100,000 BTC. In other words, more BTC is stored in cold storage than is being mined.
Additionally, it’s crucial to remember that many retail investors and several firms keep their BTC on exchanges, demonstrating that the “illiquid” BTC category may be even smaller. Instead of keeping their BTC in cold storage, some Bitcoin holders would entrust it to exchanges instead of leaving custody of their keys with them.
Surprisingly, Binance CEO and co-founder Changpeng Zhao has encouraged hot wallets, despite the best efforts of Bitcoiners like Andreas Antonopolous to the contrary: “Not your keys, not your bitcoin.” is part of everyday BTC mantra.
This may lead to the situation in which 1.3 million BTC is “stored” on exchanges, but they are not “circulating,” and they certainly do not contribute to the liquidity problem.
Despite calls for a “Santa Rally” on the back of strong analytics, the bears are not yet out of the woods. A tweet from BullRun Invest using Glassnode data showed that 24.6% of all BTC supply is sitting above $47,000.
According to the report, close to a fourth of the BTC purchased at those prices levels are now underwater. If BTC fails to make progress into the 50s, there may be fewer gifts under the tree tomorrow.
U.S. Takes Crypto Crime Seriously with Anti-Money Laundering Reforms
The United States passed into law its Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, which takes effect on January 1, 2021. This brings digital currency exchange companies and other digital-asset-related businesses under the scope of regulations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), which requires financial institutions “to actively detect, monitor and report potential money laundering activity.”
“I’m pleased that our anti-money laundering legislation was included as a part of this year’s [National Defense Authorization Act]. This bipartisan legislation protects Americans by depriving criminals and terrorists of the tools they use to finance illicit activity. It is the first serious overhaul of our anti-money laundering system in decades, and it makes sense to include it in the biggest, most important national defense legislation Congress passes each year,” South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds said in a press release.
The massive anti-money laundering reforms are targeting businesses dealing with digital currencies and assets by clearly specifying the definition of a “financial institution” to “‘a business engaged in the exchange of currency, funds, or value that substitutes for currency or funds” and “a licensed sender of money or any other person who engages as a business in the transmission of funds or value that substitutes for currency.”
The reforms further define a “money transmitting business” to include those who deal with “currency, funds, or value that substitutes for currency.” Now, there are no longer loopholes that digital asset companies can use when dealing with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the agency that enforces the BSA.
Stricter Penalties Enforced
Aside from updating definitions to ensure that digital currency exchange firms and others dealing in digital assets are clearly within the scope of the AML Act of 2020 and the BSA, stricter penalties are now being enforced for crypto criminals.
Now, those who have been found guilty of violating the AML Act of 2020 and/or BSA are faced with fines amounting to profits earned while committing the violation and possible jail time. Those guilty of an “egregious” breach are also going to be banned from taking a board member position of any financial institution in the country for 10 years. Furthermore, employees of financial institutions who commit these crimes will be obligated to return to their employer all bonuses received during the time the act was committed.
FinCEN is being given additional resources, like increasing its manpower, to ensure the enforcement of these reforms. This will further safeguard investors against crypto crimes and nail down digital currency exchange firms and other digital-asset-related businesses that do not comply with BSA regulations.
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