Cryptocurrency prices have slid this week, with bitcoin sliding below $43,000 and the overall crypto market cap falling below $1.7 trillion. Several key factors explain this cooldown after early January’s spot bitcoin ETF-fueled rally.
- Hype around spot bitcoin ETF approval is fading, with markets cooling off and consolidating
- Uncertainty persists around US crypto regulations, with no clear outcome yet on Coinbase vs SEC case
- Bitcoin and crypto prices face sell pressure from a strengthening dollar and rising US Treasury yields
- $137M in crypto longs liquidated in last 24 hours as bulls get caught off-guard by decline
- GBTC holders transferring bitcoin out, possibly closing positions after ETF conversion
Firstly, the excitement around the long-awaited U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) approvals is evaporating. The massive first day trading volumes for these ETFs had crypto bulls celebrating, but sustained upside momentum has not materialized.
Investor psychology has shifted from the initial elation over regulatory approval to now questioning whether the volumes are actually substantial enough to justify further significant bitcoin price gains. With the market taking a breather, volumes and volatility have declined across most cryptoassets.
Traders are also growing cautious amid uncertain and complex regulatory headwinds gathering in the U.S. A New York court case between the SEC and Coinbase regarding whether crypto assets are securities remains unresolved, despite both sides finding common ground that bitcoin and ether are more akin to commodities.
The lack of clear crypto regulation from Congress means unfinished business and lingering doubts that hinder adoption by risk-averse institutions. Until clear-cut guardrails emerge regarding areas like securities laws, custody requirements, and taxation policies, mainstream funds face hurdles entering crypto markets.
Beyond regulatory uncertainty, bearish technical factors are also weighing. The U.S. dollar is strengthening against other major fiat currencies, fueled by high retail sales data and rising Treasury yields. A higher dollar makes bitcoin and other cryptos less appealing to overseas buyers, exerting selling pressure.
Similarly, over $137 million worth of bullish crypto leveraged positions were liquidated across exchanges in the past day. Caught wrongfooted by the abrupt price declines, these unwinding longs perpetuate downward momentum through cascading margin calls and involuntary selling.
On the bitcoin front specifically, additional pain stems from outflows emerging out of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) after its long-awaited conversion to a spot ETF structure. The trust no longer operates on a closed-end basis, meaning investors can now exit positions and withdraw bitcoin.
Data shows that GBTC holders have transferred over 8,700 bitcoin worth $380 million in recent days to custody platforms like Coinbase Prime. This likely represents investors closing out of GBTC to reallocate funds into cheaper spot ETF options now available.