In brief

  • CEX.IO has reported a spike in pairings for ETH, with trading increasing by several times in the past week.
  • People are depositing BTC into the exchanges and withdrawing ETH, indicating an increased demand for buying ETH.
  • Bitcoin’s market capitalization dominance has been weakening ever since the halving.

Alt season, where smaller coins are on the rise, is among us once again—even if somewhat contained.

Since July, 20, crypto exchange CEX.IO has reported a spike in pairings for Ethereum (ETH). Back in June, ETH pairings amounted to just under half of the volume, with the Bitcoin/US dollar pairing making up the lion’s share of the transactions, or 40% of the exchange’s entire volume. 

But after the rise of DeFi, or decentralized finance—non-custodial financial products—which this month added $2 million to its market cap in about two weeks, Bitcoin is no longer top dog. In the past few days, Bitcoin amounted to just 20% of transactions on CEX.IO, meaning it’s decreased by 50%.

Trading for other pairings, on the other hand, boomed, forming 80% of transactions in the past week. ETH pairings alone increased by three times on the exchange. “It is safe to say that ETH is now the driver of the cryptocurrency market growth,” said Dmytro Volkov, CTO of CEX.IO. 

Ethereum has received a boost in attention, and to its price, as a result of the DeFi boom of 2020. The top DeFi protocols, Compound, Maker and Aave, live on Ethereum. And their associated Ethereum-based tokens have taken off in recent months ever since the introduction of "yield farming," where lending protocols use platform-specific incentives to ratchet up profits.

On CEX, Volkov said that the “balance of BTC and ETH deposits and withdrawals [...] has been preserved." He's noticed, however, that people are plugging BTC into the exchange and withdrawing ETH. “This indicates either an increased demand for buying ETH or active arbitrage strategies of traders,” he said. 

CEX is just a small exchange. According to CoinGecko, it trades around $30 million each day. By comparison, the market leader by volume, Binance, trades about $5 billion. It’s worth noting, however, that CEX is just one of 13 crypto exchanges that analytics firm Coin Metrics included just yesterday in its list of trustworthy trading platforms in terms of volume data.

And the same story is playing out elsewhere. According to data from metrics site CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin’s market capitalization dominance has been dwindling ever since May, about the time of the halving, when the block reward cut in two.

Back then, Bitcoin accounted for around 67% of the entire crypto market cap while Ethereum accounted for 8.67%. Now, Bitcoin makes up about 61-62% of crypto’s market cap, while Ethereum accounts for 11%. 

The ETH spike has whacked an additional $60 billion onto the crypto market cap since the start of the month. The entire crypto market cap is now $328 billion, far higher than it was in February, the month prior to the COVID-inspired crash.

Still, the crypto market cap is a fraction of what it was at the 2017 boom, around $830 billion.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.

Editor's note: This article was updated to show that its CTO, not CEO, said that ETH pairings are up, and to remove a reference stating that this drove growth on the exchange. We regret the error.