The cryptocurrency world is both anonymous and highly transparent, as blockchains account for all transactions in an open, decentralized and public ledger. For those reasons, when a price shift takes place, analysts are able to look back through transaction histories to determine potential causes for those fluctuations.
Yesterday, bitcoin fell by roughly $200 in under 20 minutes. Even in the highly volatile world of cryptocurrencies, this shift was large enough for analysts to take notice. Now, Market Watch suggests that the change in global price may have been due to some actions by major owners of bitcoin, based on transactions from some of the largest wallets.
One of the largest bitcoin wallets in the world, known only by its anonymous name consisting of seemingly arbitrary letters and numbers, is valued at nearly $1.5 billion. The balance of this account fell by 6,500 bitcoin Tuesday, meaning that it sold off just over $50 million worth of the cryptocurrency. Another bitcoin whale sold off 6,600 bitcoin the day before. Together, the two owners dumped more than $100 million worth of the largest digital currency by market cap in a 24-hour period.
Speculation Runs Rampant
Among analysts, there is already significant speculation as to why these major owners might have decided to sell off such a large quantity of bitcoin at one time. Some individuals have pointed to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who made an announcement indicating plans to launch an inquiry into 13 digital currency exchanges in order to determine information regarding volume, exchange fees and margin trading. However, news of Schneiderman's inquiry broke several hours after the price o the cryptocurrency plunged.
It could be that these users happened to sell off large portions of bitcoin holdings at the same time by chance. On April 12, the second-largest bitcoin wallet sold $38 million worth of the digital currency. Perhaps there is a broader trend among bitcoin whales to sell off small portions of their holdings. Considering that the cryptocurrency space remains a highly speculative environment, the skittishness among these investors could be attributable to a wide variety of possible motives.
Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.