People are HODLing bitcoin like never before.

Data from Coin Metrics, a crypto market analytics firm, has shown that bitcoin’s popularity as a store of value has reached new heights. The amount of 'un-moved' bitcoin–currency that has remained untouched for between six months and two years–hit 21.6 percent of the overall supply of Bitcoin.

The amount of held bitcoin, according to Coin Metrics, has been steadily growing since the coin's inception in 2009. Looking at the chart below, that growth has followed wider trends in sentiment towards bitcoin, and crypto more generally. Between 2015-2017–before the big bull run–bitcoin's price rose a relatively modest $700 in two years, which resulted in investors taking long positions on bitcoin.

But as prices started to rocket, HODLers dumped their stashes to cash in on the boom. As crypto-winter took hold in the second half of 2018, however, HODLing sharply increased.

‘HODL’ed bitcoin back in fashion as untouched supply reaches all-time high

The data suggests bitcoin's value is increasingly regarded as a form of investment instead of a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system”, as Satoshi Nakamoto hoped it would in his white paper. Storing the digital asset has always been regarded as a popular use of bitcoin, with the term HODL, a misspelling of the term 'hold', an investment term meaning to not sell off assets, becoming intimately attached to the currency. But there is another way of looking at these numbers.

Instead of savvy investors parking their bitcoin in the hope of a major payday, it could simply be the result of careless crypto users forgetting their passwords. According to a study from Chainalysis in 2017, as many as four million bitcoins have been lost, worth an eye-watering $38,860,000,000 at the time of writing. Ouch.

Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.