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Bitcoin has had its best start to the year since 2012, rising more than 22% in the first 15 days.

Among the biggest contributors to the rally may be the hope that 2020 could finally see institutional investors move into the digital field en masse, prompted by growing client demand and more attractive ways to get exposure rather than direct ownership of coins, Forbes reported.

Last week, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launched one such product, a bitcoin options contract, which reportedly had a successful first day of trading with a total of 55 contracts, worth 275 bitcoin, or the equivalent of $2.4 million.

Financial advisers, though, may be holding out for an exchange-traded fund (ETF) backed by cryptos such as bitcoin, if a recent survey is any indication. As much as 65% of respondents to a survey conducted by crypto indexer Bitwise and ETF Trends said that a crypto ETF was their preferred method of getting exposure, followed by a distant 16% preferring direct ownership and an even more distant 9% preferring a mutual fund.

Meanwhile, a key on-chain metric has witnessed growth over the past 12 months, possibly indicating steady accumulation of bitcoins by retail traders, Coindesk reported.

As of January 14, there were 784,000 addresses holding one or more bitcoins, up nearly 11% from 707,000 seen a year ago, according to blockchain intelligence firm Glassnode. The number has more than doubled since early 2015.

“The steady rise is the result of accumulation by retail buyers,” according to Connor Abendschein, crypto research analyst at Digital Assets Data in Denver.

Address growth can also come from exchanges and big players, known as “whales,” though such addresses usually hold large balances and often rank at the top of bitcoin’s “rich list,” a table of the addresses holding the most bitcoins.

For instance, three of the top five addresses on the rich list, published by, belong to prominent exchanges Huobi, Bitfinex and Binance. Topping that list is Huobi’s cold wallet, currently holding 255,502 BTC.

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