Bitcoin whales can send prices plummeting by selling even a portion of their holdings. Many traders worry about moves by these whales for various reasons.
For instance, on November 12, someone moved 25,000 bitcoins, worth about $159 million to an online exchange, prompting some people to think he wanted to sell the currency.
About 40 percent of Bitcoin is held between 1,000 users today. Top 100 Bitcoin addresses hold about 17 percent of all the cryptocurrency according to Alex Sunnarborg, co-founder of crypto hedge fund Tetras Capital. In Ethereum, the top 100 investors control 40 percent of supply while they could control more than 90 percent of supply in coins such as Gnosis, Qtum, and Storj according to Bloomberg.
Most of these top investors have known each other for years and stuck by Bitcoin and can share information legally and coordinate their moves according to Kyle Samani, a managing partner at Multicoin Capital.
Samani told Bloomberg,
“Investors are generally more forthcoming with other investors. We all kind of know who one another are, and we all help each other out and share notes. Just we all want to make money”.
He calls them to know the motivation behind the sales. He says some investors buy directly from one another to avoid affecting prices though. Ordinary investors, although may track the addresses, they may remain in the dark as to what market plans the whales have.
Ari Paul, co-founder of BlockTower Capital and a former portfolio manager of the University of Chicago endowment also supported the same point speaking to Bloomberg. He said manipulation is extreme because of the youthfulness and speculative nature of these markets.
Roger Ver, a well known Bitcoin investor told Bloomberg,
“I suspect that is likely true, and people should be able to do whatever they want with their own money. Thus, I’ve personally never had time for things like that though”.
With prices very high at the moment compared to the past. It is possible that some whales may want to sell about a half of their holdings. Says Aaron Brown, former managing director and head of financial markets research at AQR Capital Management.
Another worry is that “Pump groups” are also common and they spread rumors about cryptocurrencies. Since to help push prices higher so someone can dump.
But there are many exceptions. For instance, many times whales also do fail in their motives points out Jamie Redman in a post on Bitcoin.com. He explains many ways through which whales can affect market prices. Including using ‘rinse and repeat cycle’ tricks, using “dark pools,” and using “buy and sell walls.”
Again, most of the crypto exchanges today discourage habits where people spread rumors for purposes. Like pushing high prices, known as pumping. For instance, Bittrex recently warned users that their accounts could be suspended. If they engaged in a group activity to manipulate prices.
Also, looking at the nature of cryptocurrencies, it is not weird that the founders would own large amounts at the early equity stages. It also happens in non-crypto dealings where just one or two individuals are majority shareholders in a company. Again, many whales have long-term plans and so they may not want to destroy cryptocurrency in one day. According to Sebastian Kinsman who also trades cryptocurrencies, speaking to Bloomberg.