The stream of negative regulatory news concerning Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies has been nonstop over the past couple of weeks.
Today’s FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt — news that failed to cite any actions and merely refreshes old information from China. A statement from the Chinese government revealed plans to “crack down on Bitcoin mining and trading behavior.”
While retail traders are easily scared by this type of news, whales and market makers know how to spot a buying opportunity, which was the case for today’s drop to $36,200.
China banned Bitcoin trading… in 2017
The Chinese Financial Stability and Development Committee minutes presented general guidelines on multiple issues, including reforming mid-sized financial institutions and cracking down on illegal securities activities. Therefore, it was neither a targeted attack on Bitcoin nor did it differ from the actions and discourse from previous years.
On May 18, trade associations under the People’s Bank of China warned financial institutions and other member organizations to not engage in crypto business transactions.
However, crypto trading in China has been banned since September 2017, and concerns regarding the carbon emissions of Bitcoin mining operations were expressed over three weeks ago by Chinese state media outlet PengPai.
Even market-making platforms have been targeted by Chinese authorities since 2018. Some crypto trading sites continued to operate illegally in the country, but most were identified and shut down by authorities in 2019.
Derivatives indicators signal accumulation
Exchange-provided data highlights traders’ long-to-short net positioning. By analyzing every client’s position on the perpetual and futures contracts, one can obtain a clearer view of whether professional traders are leaning bullish or bearish.
Whales and market makers on OKEx reached a 1.08 long-to-short ratio in the early hours of May 21, favoring longs by 8%. It is worth noting that this level was the lowest in 30 days, indicating a lack of conviction. However, these pro traders entered bullish positions over the day as Bitcoin retraced below $37,000, favoring longs by 62%.
Volume spikes confirm the theory
Trading volume is the best indicator to confirm whale activity, and those peaks need to coincide with price bottoms. Even though every trade has a buyer and a seller, extreme volatility can occur on low trading volumes, therefore not necessarily involving pro traders.
By looking at the above data, there should be no doubt that whales and market makers aggressively bought the $36,200 dip on May 21. Spot exchange volumes surpassed $5.6 billion in four hours, which is extreme even for a 12% price movement.
To put things in perspective, the daily average volume over the past month stands at $11 billion. Therefore, by combining this data with derivatives exchanges’ long-to-short ratio, one should assume that some heavy players were brave enough to buy today’s dip.
Although no one can precisely forecast whether $35,200 will hold over the weekend, one should expect those heavy hands to maintain their position for a very long time.
Bitcoin Futures Heating Up, Why BTC Traders Should Expect Volatility
Bitcoin has been moving sideways during the day as it was rejected north of $63,000. As of press time, BTC’s price trades at $62,698 with a 1% profit in the weekly chart.
However, Bitcoin could see some action in the short term. The benchmark crypto has been rallying on the back of an increase in institutional demand and the launch of the first BTC-linked ETFs in the U.S.
As a consequence, Bitcoin went from the lows at $40,000 to a new all-time high in less than a week. This caused a FOMO effect most notoriously visible in the derivatives sector.
As CryptoQuant showed, the amount of leverage positions in this sector has been on the rise since the end of September. Moving to a year high with BTC’s price, the leverage ratio points to an excess which could be reflected on the price action.
The CEO of CryptoQuant Ki Young Ju believes this excess in leverage is caused by new players, as it is has happened historically when Bitcoin enters price discovery. Usually, the market reacts with a sudden move to the opposite direction of the majority of the overleverage position.
Whales and other major players try to shake out these new traders and take advantage of the liquidity in the market to make their own moves. In response to the possibility of the current high leverage in Bitcoin futures been driven by Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) futures Open Interest, Young Ju clarified:
This data doesn’t take into account CME futures. I think CME users are new players joining this industry, which indicates the market is over-leveraged by *existing* investors who are using crypto exchanges. Folks who use CME might not have over-leveraged positions.
New BTC ETFs, Same Bitcoin Price Action
The recently launched Bitcoin ETF are backed by CME futures. Therefore, some expects believe the platform could gain more relevance in the future and have a bigger impact in BTC’s price.
In case of volatility, Bitcoin could find critical support at $60,000, as $840 million in futures contracts were purchased when BTC’s price was hitting this mark, Young Ju said.
As noted by research firm Glassnode, the OI for the CME futures has increased by over 265% in just a month. This points towards a moment of euphoria which has favored the bears over the past months
However, the general sentiment around Bitcoin remains positive as Glassnode reported. This demonstrated by the amount of long-term investors that have stopped taking profits during BTC’s most recent price rally.
Bitcoin Funding Rates Touch Same Level As Early September, More Correction To Come?
Data shows Bitcoin funding rates right now are at the same level as they were in early September. This means the coin may see another flush out similar to how it happened back then.
Bitcoin Funding Rates Float Around Similar Levels To Early September
As per this week’s on-chain report from Glassnode, the BTC futures perpetual funding rate of all exchanges is currently at the level similar to what it was back in early September before the crash.
The “funding rates” is an indicator that shows the premium that traders have to pay each other while holding on to their positions in the perpetual swap futures markets.
When the metric has negative values, it means that short traders are paying longs, and that many traders are bearish on Bitcoin right now.
Opposite to that, positive funding rates imply that the overall market sentiment is leaning towards bullish and longs are currently paying shorts to keep their positions.
Now, here is a chart that highlights the trend in the value of the indicator over the last six months:
Looks like the metric is currently showing highly positive values | Source: Glassnode's The Week On-Chain, Week 43
As the above graph shows, when Bitcoin made its new all-time high (ATH) some days ago, the indicator reached positive local highs.
This means traders started opening many leveraged long positions so that they don’t miss out on the wave of BTC making new ATHs.
However, the price had a correction, which has often been the case during periods of high leverage, and a lot of the excess leverage was flushed out.
Nonetheless, the funding rates are still at similarly high levels right now as in early September. What followed then was the El Salvador crash that took the rates to negative values.
It’s possible another correction can take place now in order to flush out more of the currently high leverage in the market. Though it’s not a certainty that it will be how it plays out.
At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s price floats around $62.5k, down 0.4% in the last seven days. Over the past month, the crypto has gained 44% in value.
The below chart shows the trend in the price of the crypto over the last five days.
BTC's price seems to be recovering somewhat from the dip | Source: BTCUSD on TradingView
Over the last few days, Bitcoin has shown some effort to bounce back from the correction, but in the last couple of days, the crypto has only moved rather sideways. If the futures funding rates are anything to go by, the market may be heading towards another correction soon that will wipe out the excess leverage.
South Korean pension fund to invest in Bitcoin ETF: Report
South Korea’s public pension fund, the Korean Teachers’ Credit Union (KTCU), is reportedly looking to gain exposure to Bitcoin (BTC) via a crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF).
KTCU, one of the largest institutional investors in South Korea, is considering investing in a pure Bitcoin ETF or Bitcoin-linked ETFs in the first half of 2022, local news agency The Korea Economic Daily reported Monday.
According to the report, KTCU is considering investing in several Bitcoin ETF products, including those by South Korean asset management firm Mirae Asset Global Investments. The company launched two ETFs tracking the value of Bitcoin futures via its Canadian subsidiary, Horizons ETFs, in April 2021.
“As there are some well-made cryptocurrency-linked ETF products by asset managers such as Korea’s Mirae Asset Global Investments, we plan to invest in the ETF products after consultation with domestic asset managers,” an executive at KTCU reportedly said.
The official also mentioned potential investment in a Bitcoin ETF by Mirae Asset’s subsidiary, Global X ETFs, which filed for a Bitcoin ETF with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in July.
According to the report, KTCU is the second-largest institutional investor in South Korea, with $40.2 billion in assets under management. The pension fund has allocated 40% of its investments in alternative assets, 10% domestic and 9% international stocks. KTCU has yet to determine the size and other details of its potential Bitcoin ETF investment.
The news comes amid global pension funds getting increasingly interested in gaining exposure to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and major companies in the industry. Last week, the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund reportedly purchased $25 million in Bitcoin and Ether (ETH). Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board participated in a $420-million funding round for major crypto exchange FTX, the firm announced on Thursday.