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Dormant Bitcoin Wallets Keep Waking Up — Ancient Whales Reviving ‘Lost’ BTC?

Published June 12, 2024 1:04 PM
Eddie Mitchell
Published June 12, 2024 1:04 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Satoshi-era wallets over a decade old are steadily coming back online.
  • Approximately 1.8 Bitcoin wallets totaling $121 billion have been inactive for over a decade.
  • Bitcoin retail demand is at a 5-month low while institutions hoover up BTC.

A dormant whale wallet has transferred 7,999 Bitcoin (BTC) worth around $540 million from a Coinbase cold storage wallet after years of inactivity.

After a long slumber, ancient wallets containing heaps of BTC tokens are showing signs of activity at an increasing rate, but it is unknown if these tokens are making their way back into the retail market.

Half a Billion

A Bitcoin wallet with thousands of BTC tokens has come back online after five and a half years, transferring 7,999 BTC to an unknown address on June 11, 2024.

According to data provided  by on-chain analytics firm, Arkham Intelligence, the wallet then proceeded to transfer the tokens to a Binance deposit address some 10 minutes later. At this point, it is unknown if the owner has cashed out.

However, the sudden movement of half a billion in Bitcoin may signal pending selling activity. According to Arkham data, the original wallet acquired the tokens across dozens of transactions in December 2018.

These were mostly done in batches of 200 BTC when the price hovered around $3,750. All in all, those 7,999 tokens cost a total of $30 million to acquire at the time. With an approximate increase of 1,700%, it appears that this wallet owner was ready to do something with their tokens.

Awakening Whales

It’s estimated that some 1.8 million BTC  tokens worth $121 billion have been inactive for over 10 years. According to Fortune and Chainalysis , an estimated 192 of these ‘lost’ wallets contain 1,000 BTC tokens or more, and 2,600 wallets contain 51 to 1000 BTC tokens. Over 12,000 contain less than 50 tokens.

Slowly but surely, major HODLers are coming back. In 2021, a sleeping whale with 111,114 BTC woke up after years of inactivity. It moved $100 million of its $720 million (at the time) fortune to Bitfinex and Binance.

In 2023, a number of  Satoshi-era whales woke up. In June, three  addresses from 2010  were found to be moving  some 150 BTC tokens in total, and just a month later in July, a treasure trove of some 1,037 BTC tokens was also flagged  by on-chain analysts.

In April 2024, a 14-year-old crypto miner wallet came back online, moving around 50 BTC ($3 million) to Coinbase. Ancient Bitcoin whales coming back online and transferring their wealth to centralized exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance may be a sign of things to come.

Retail Down, ETFs to Blame?

Retail investment has hit a 5-month low, with demand for Bitcoin dropping to -17%, according to a June 10 post by CryptoQuant author Axel Adler.

According to Adler, a similar drop occurred in January when U.S. spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) were approved. At this time, BTC jumped from around $40,000 to $70,000.

Since January, it’s been estimated that the global Bitcoin exchange-traded product (ETP) market owns approximately 1 million BTC tokens, or around 5% of the 19.7 million circulating supply.

Couple that with the waning interest in Bitcoin on Google trends since March 2024, and it’s likely that we are entering into an entirely new market. Though it is uncertain as to whether or not it is one where ancient whales are revived, only to refill the coffers of centralized exchanges and ETF funds.

Naturally, since this is crypto, nothing is for certain. But if trends continue, ETFs will accumulate even more of BTC’s supply and ultimately price out the retail market, which may seek to place their money elsewhere.

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