We are in the middle of a crypto bull market but you wouldn’t know it from social media trends, news headlines and anchors, and just all-around hype.
If it feels a lot quieter this time around, it’s because it is. The gap between BTC and ETH prices and mainstream interest, measured by Google search, is at the widest ever in a run-up.
Bitcoin at $18k
Bitcoin yesterday crossed $18k, just about 10% away from its record of almost $20k. When the largest cryptocurrency was last trading at these levels Google search trends were near a record, or almost 7 times higher than it is now.
Up until the 2017 rally, the Google search score had closely tracked the Bitcoin price. But after that boom, the metrics started to decouple, with the divergence intensifying since October.
Ether at $500
ETH crossed $500 for the first time since July 2018. Google search interest, while climbing, has been near these levels many times this year. When ETH crossed $500 for the first time in 2017, Google search interest was more than 5 times higher than where it is now.
In the case of Ethereum’s cryptocurrency ether, it still has a long way to go before it can come close to its previous record of over $1k, which explains why the difference between the ETH price and the Google search score isn’t as wide as it is for Bitcoin —ETH hasn’t climbed as high relative to historical prices.
One explanation for this divergence between price and interest is that, at least in this stage of the current cryptocurrency bull-run, it’s not so-called “retail” demand driving prices. Instead, it could be that larger investors and institutions are loading up.
Data points to support this: Public companies including Microstrategy and Square adding Bitcoin to their treasuries, digital assets investment firm Grayscale crossing $10B in AUM, BlackRock CIO today saying Bitcoin could replace gold.
Unlike in the 2017 bubble, this time around it’s easier for professional investors to get cryptocurrency exposure: There are institutional-grade custody solutions, with clearer regulation, and liquid, US-regulated derivates.
It may also be possible that it’s simply easier for individuals to buy cryptocurrencies, reducing the need to ask Google how to do it. Robinhood, Cash App, and most recently, PayPal, have put crypto at the fingertips of millions.
Or it could be that we’re at the earlier stages of a rally and mainstream interest is bound to follow the recent price run-up. So when your friends start asking how to buy BTC, this time around you’ll also be able to show them to how they can put their crypto to work in DeFi.