Holiday volume dips
A tendency in the traditional markets is that a part of traders, professionals, and institutions stop trading during the holiday periods. Thus, dips in volume can be seen in the days during Christmas and around New Year’s Eve. The exact levels of traded volume are difficult to forecast since it is affected by many factors. The number of active market participants is definitely one and that shows a clear pattern of fall during the December holidays.
Bitcoin compared to traditional markets
Some might say that markets can be called mature when institutional entities are joining in. It can be a signal that the market is serious enough to be considered by the big players. An indication for the presence of institutions can be the drop in traded volumes during holidays.
A similar trend is showing up in Bitcoin. During the last 3 years, the days before Christmas and New Year’s Eve show normal/average amount of trading volume, however, during the holidays the average trading volume declines significantly. To empirically back this observation, a comparison was made between the Bitcoin trading volume and NYSE trading volume.
Both the traditional and Bitcoin markets, similar declines can be seen during the holiday periods. For the Bitcoin market, it was easier to make assign the holiday period and the pre-holiday period. For the traditional markets, it was more cumbersome because the markets have fluctuating opening and closing times. The markets are also closed during weekends. Both aren’t the case for Bitcoin.
Analyzing the holiday period
Hourly data was used to examine the Bitcoin market. The pre-holiday period for Bitcoin ranged from 16th December to the 24th (11:00 AM UTC). The holiday period ranged from 24th (12:00 PM UTC) to the 1st of January (11:00 PM UTC). For the traditional markets, daily data was used, the overview can be seen at the bottom of the article. The pre-holiday period ranged from 15th of December to the 23rd, with fluctuation due to weekends. The holiday period ranged from 22th of December to 31st, again with fluctuation due to some days falling on the weekends. The results for the Bitcoin markets are shown in the graphs below.
As can be seen in the graph, during the period before the holidays the hourly average volume was $10.8M and the average hourly traded volume during the holidays was $5.9M. The volume dropped by 45%.
In 2018 something similar happened. Before the holiday period started the average hourly volume was $17.1M and during the holiday period, it declined by 35% to $11.2M.
During December 2017 the highest hourly traded volume ever was recorded. Before the holiday period a staggering amount of $130.1M per hour was traded. During the holidays it dropped by 65% to $78.7M. The volume can be explained by multiple reasons, like Bitcoin gaining momentum or that it is getting mainstream and the ICO craze set off by Ethereum.
Only 2016 deviated from the pattern, there could be multiple reasons for this behavior one of them could be that the market wasn’t mature yet. Or due to the lack of fiat off-ramps, investors did not want to carry the Bitcoin currency risk. Another reason could be a lack of trustworthy exchanges to trade on. These reasons or combinations thereof could explain why bigger players wouldn’t want to trade on Bitcoin.
While there is not conclusive evidence showing that the market has matured over the four years period, the data does show that the hourly volume has significantly increased by at least threefold and at its height even over 60 times compared to 2016. Before Bitcoin got mainstream, it didn’t adhere to volume patterns similar to the traditional markets, however that has changed over the last 3 years. Currently, a significant decline in volume during the holiday periods can be observed which phenomenon is expected to persist as crypto markets are getting more and more mature.
This section shows the daily trading volume data for traditional markets during holiday periods, before the holiday periods, and a control period (outside both periods). The data is from the CBOE website, only NYSE data is used. Below are the graphs and tables with the data.
A = First 5 trading days of Dec
B = Consecutive 5 trading days of Dec