Have you ever heard of crypto whales? These titans of the crypto realm hold the power to make waves with their massive holdings, influencing the prices of specific digital assets. Like big players in traditional markets, these whales can cause a splash that ripples through the entire market.
Since the entire blockchain industry can be affected when a crypto whale makes a move, they’re worth understanding. Here, we explore why whales are important and how traders can track their activities to find portfolio growth opportunities.
Who are crypto whales?
A crypto whale is a large holder of a specific cryptocurrency. Like the biggest creature in the ocean — the whale — crypto whales are people or organizations that own a significant amount of a specific cryptocurrency and can therefore make astronomical purchases.
No specific amount of a coin or threshold defines a whale. The crypto community generally agrees that whales hold at least 10% of a particular cryptocurrency in their crypto wallets.
And in the case of Bitcoin, most Bitcoin whales hold a minimum of 1000 BTC in their wallets. However, an entity like MicroStrategy owns over 152,000 BTC at July 2023, putting the software intelligence company in this category.
Only a small number of investors make up the crypto whale community. However, with their large wallets, whales can single-handedly control coin prices, investors’ sentiment, and the entire cryptocurrency market using massive orders called buy and sale walls.
Sale walls occur when whales execute a large sell order. This usually causes the underlying asset price to drop, allowing whales to make purchases at a lower cost, while buy walls force investors to increase the price of a coin a whale owns.
Why track crypto whale transactions?
Since cryptocurrency transactions are decentralized and transparent, the crypto community and investors closely monitor crypto whales’ activities. The act of monitoring crypto whales is known as “Whale Watching” or “Whale Tracking.” For example, if one of the top whales makes a transaction, there’s usually a public announcement on Whale Alert’s website and Twitter account.
Whales can create price volatility with their transactions, especially when they buy or sell a large quantity of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in one transaction. For example, when a whale sells their Bitcoin for fiat currency, the large transaction size affects the Bitcoin network liquidity.
That way, there’s downward pressure on the current BTC price because other market participants and investors see the transaction and go on high alert. They watch for indicators to determine whether whales are dumping their Bitcoin holdings.
A common sign other market participants look out for at this time is the exchange inflow mean. This is the average amount of a specific cryptocurrency that a whale deposits into exchanges at a particular time.
Whales will likely dump their assets if the mean amount of coins per transaction is high. And if this happens with different whales simultaneously, the whales are likely to use an exchange.
But why are these transactions tracked?
With this data and a record of whales’ activities, smaller investors can stay informed about the current market realities and adjust their investment strategies if they believe the whales’ activities can cause significant changes to a coin’s price.
Also, users can vote for the coins and tokens they find appealing and provide helpful data about the most active cryptocurrencies.
However, in some cases, the whales could be changing their wallets, crypto exchanges, or making a genuine large purchase. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean retail investors should panic and buy or sell off their coins when whales make large purchases.
How to successfully track whale movements
Tracking whales’ activities can be the difference between a successful and futile crypto investment. Since crypto whales can manipulate market trends and coin prices, monitoring their activities can help retail investors make informed trading decisions.
Investors who want insights into what crypto whales are buying and their other activities can successfully track whale movements using common crypto whale tracking tools and analysis, including:
Whale tracker tools and websites
like Whale Alert, Watcher Guru, and the leading on-chain analytics platform, Whalemap. These platforms offer trading charts, real-time whale trading alerts, and analysis for investors to track whale activities.
of crypto whales to determine the type of cryptocurrency and the amount, and prepare for upward or downward impacts on the coin value. When whales move stablecoins into an exchange wallet, it can be a good investment. While the movement of volatile coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum can mean that the whales are dumping their assets.
help investors determine when whales withdraw their assets from crypto exchanges to wallets. This reduces the amount of the crypto in circulation and affects the exchange's liquidity.
Top five Bitcoin whales
Bitcoin is the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and trading volume. Since launching in 2009, millions of individuals, public entities, private organizations, and even countries have invested heavily in the cryptocurrency. As stated earlier, Bitcoin whales are investors with 1000 BTC or more in their wallets. We highlight the top five individual Bitcoin whales below.
1. Satoshi Nakamoto
Satoshi Nakamoto is the father of Bitcoin and the first to add transaction blocks to the Bitcoin network and mine new BTC. According to data from River Financial, Satoshi mined approximately 22,000 blocks of Bitcoin transactions from January 2009 to when he left the project in 2011.
At the time of writing, Satoshi has 1.1 million BTC stashed across about 22,000 Bitcoin addresses. The coins have reportedly never been used for any transaction apart from network tests.
2. The Winklevoss Brothers
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are other popular Bitcoin whales with holdings reported to total 70,000 BTC, according to Forbes. The brothers have also invested in other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, and crypto-related businesses, like their privately-owned Gemini Exchange. The exchange is one of the most reputable cryptocurrency exchanges today for buying, selling, and storing Bitcoin and other digital assets.
3. Michael Saylor
Michael Saylor is a renowned Bitcoin maximalist with various publications of bullish Bitcoin posts on Twitter. The businessman is also popular for his contributions to the crypto industry through his company, MicroStrategy — a business intelligence, mobile software, and cloud-based service provider in the United States.
While MicroStrategy is an institutional Bitcoin investment company with 130 thousand BTC holding, Saylor personally owns over 17,000 BTC, as personally revealed in an interview in 2021.
4. Barry Silbert
Barry Silbert is a big name in the crypto space. The billionaire and founder of Digital Currency Group (DCG) runs a conglomerate of five crypto-focused companies, including Genesis and Grayscale. Silbert and his group of companies support Bitcoin and blockchain companies with financial investments and funding, and DCG has reportedly invested in over 160 blockchain and crypto companies today.
5. Tim Draper
Tim Draper is another venture capitalist that has made a fortune through crypto investments. Draper was one of the earliest investors in Skype and Tesla, and one of the earliest heavy investors in Bitcoin in 2012. In 2014, Draper added 29,000 BTC to his holdings.
Crypto whales are wealthy individuals and entities that can manipulate the entire crypto market with high-volume transactions. Because of their influence, their activities can lead to gains or losses for other crypto investors.
Seasoned investors understand that Bitcoin whales are vital in the crypto ecosystem. They help maintain liquidity, and retail investors can monitor whale activities to make the most of their investments. However, while this can be a good decision, investors must have their trading plans and rely on something other than whale movements.
How do you identify crypto whales?
Investors can identify crypto whales by monitoring the wallet addresses of the largest coin holders or following websites like Whale Alert for crypto whale transactions.
How do crypto whales make money?
By opening multiple buy orders at prices above the current market value (a buy wall). That way, other investors are forced to buy the manipulated coin at higher prices set by the whales.
Who are the biggest whales in crypto?
The biggest crypto whales are Satoshi Nakamoto, Michael Saylor, The Winklevoss Twins, and Vitalik Buterin, to name a few.
Should you follow whales in crypto?
Tracking crypto whales and their activities can help investors anticipate large market movements and price swings. These investors can adjust their strategies and make more profitable trades with the information.
Where do whales keep their crypto?
Whales store their cryptos in hardware or self-custodial wallets. These cold wallets are not connected to the internet, so they are more secure.
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