Trading volume among institutional investors for crypto funds fell to $1 billion last week, the second-lowest all year, according to a report from crypto asset manager CoinShares.
Trading activity has been low for a while now. Volumes have hovered at just above $1 billion for each of the last three weeks. That’s a 55% drop from the average trading volume for the year, and last week's dip to $1 billion makes it the second-worst week trading week so far this year, according to CoinShares.
The report notes that, by the end of last week, Bitcoin exchange-traded products, or ETPs, saw net outflows of $15 million. That makes it the third consecutive week that investors pulled more money out of Bitcoin funds that they put in. The first week of August, products saw net outflows of $9 million, and the week before short-Bitcoin products, which bet against the cryptocurrency, saw outflows of $3 million.
On Monday morning, BTC was trading at just above $20,000, according to CoinMarketCap, and down 7% from last week.
The price of Bitcoin dipped below $20,000 last week, falling as low as to $19,600.79 on Friday, following bearish remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell about raising interest rates again to counter inflation. As of July, the U.S. inflation rate was 8.5%, having gained a full percentage point since the start of the year and up from 5.4% the same time last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are signs that interest has been falling among retail traders as well, according to a report last week from Glassnode. The crypto analytics firm wrote that even as Bitcoin’s price experienced a moderate boost last week, trading volume for transactions of $1,000 or less—which Glassnode attributes to retail traders—fell steadily.
“This pattern adds additional confirmation of the underlying weakness of this market rally,” Glassnode wrote in its report.
The institutional investor malaise seems to have impacted all crypto ETPs, according to CoinShares Head of Research James Butterfill.
“It is worth noting that volumes remain very low in investment products and totaled US$901m last week, the lowest since October 2020,” he wrote in the report. “While history indicates this is in part due to seasonal effects, we believe it also highlights continued apathy following recent price declines."
The one bright spot, although not overwhelmingly so, has been Ethereum. The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization ($184 million as of Monday morning) saw net inflows totaling $3 million last week.
Last week, the Ethereum Foundation, the nonprofit that supports the Ethereum network, confirmed that the Ethereum merge would be completed between September 10 and 20. The merge refers to a major protocol upgrade that will combine the Ethereum mainnet with the proof-of-stake beacon chain.
That means the network will switch from a proof-of-work system that supports mining to a proof-of-stake system that will instead support staking, which involves pledging pre-existing assets to the blockchain in order to validate transactions and secure the network. Although plenty of developers have forecasted dates, it was the first time that the foundation itself got specific about when the switch will take place.
“The successful upgrade of all public testnets is now complete, and The Merge has been scheduled for the Ethereum mainnet,” the foundation wrote in a blog post last week.
That said, even the “merge surge” may be waning. The price of Ethereum is down 6.5% over the last week.