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What Are Crypto Whales & Why Do They Matter?

Author: Jeffrey Craig Date: August 5, 2022

Summary

  • What is a Bitcoin whale? What are crypto whales? A Bitcoin whale usually refers to a single wallet address with over 1,000 BTC. However, people owning large amounts of other cryptocurrencies can be referred to as “crypto whales.”
  • How do whales manipulate crypto? The value of crypto coins are determined by and large through supply and demand. Crypto whales have the unique ability to essentially manipulate the crypto market for their benefit due to their large size.

Crypto Whale Overview

Whales are the biggest creatures in the oceans, and it’s no different in the cryptocurrency sphere, whales. The label crypto whale applies to people or entities that hold (or hodl) the largest amount of crypto. A Bitcoin whale in particular refers to a single wallet address with over 1,000 BTC. However, people owning large amounts of other cryptocurrencies can be referred to as a “crypto whale.”

Crypto & Bitcoin Whales

Who Is A Crypto Whale?

A crypto whale is a person, entity, or blockchain wallet that holds an extremely large amount of crypto. Generally speaking, in order to be labeled a crypto whale, you’ll have to possess around $10 million equivalent in any various cryptocurrency, including BTC, ETH, SOL, ADA, DOT, AVAX, SHIB, DOGE, USDT, and USDC.

However, there are various cut offs as to what is labeled a whale or not, depending on the crypto. Nonetheless, a crypto whale is generally a very rich person or institution moving around large sums of cryptos. So no average joe can be a crypto whale.

For example, a classification table arose on how to categorize the whales versus the non-whales. A shrimp is someone with less than 1 BTC, a crab is someone with 1 to 10 BTC, an octopus is someone with 10 to 50 BTC, a fish is someone with 50 to 100 BTC, a dolphin is someone with 100 to 500 BTC, a shark is someone with 500 to 1000 BTC, a whale is someone with greater than 1000 BTC, and a humpback is someone with greater than 5000 BTC. So there are indeed levels to this game.

In addition, because cryptocurrencies have been designed to have higher levels of anonymity, it’s difficult to directly link accounts to specific people or entities. So this makes it hard to determine exactly who each whale is, where they’re located, what job they have, what institution they belong to, who their network is, and what’s the reason they’re making this transaction. However, by looking at the blockchain data of those who have made their public addresses known, you can indeed identify at least some of the people that own significant amounts of various coins. In fact, some of these are extremely well-known Bitcoin whales.

Who Are The Bitcoin Whales?

Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin is thought to hold around 1 million BTC. The Winkelvoss twins, played by Armie Hammer in The Social Network, at one time owned 1% of all Bitcoin. Exchanges are also known to have large Bitcoin wallets. Although these funds mostly belong to their users, and moving funds within crypto exchanges doesn’t have much impact on the market.

These are just some of the known Bitcoin whales, however there are many more. For example some other known Bitcoin whales include Michael Saylor of MicroStrategy, Tim Draper, Barry Silbert, and previously Tesla.

One of the best ways to keep track of whales buying Bitcoin is through a blockchain explorer as well as setting up crypto-whale alerts. For example, there are designated Twitter accounts that specifically track the movement and trading of crypto whales. These people are referred to as crypto whale watchers and they’re incredibly important and play a role in adding transparency to the network. It’s always good to keep track of who is buying and selling at certain times. The account that provides this service is @whale_alert on Twitter. Give it a follow!

However, as a note of precaution, analysts on Twitter are humans and can make mistakes and put out false information. So whenever reading about these crypto whale transactions on Twitter, it’s best to also verify it and research on your own.

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What Is A Whale In Trading?

As discussed above, a crypto whale is a person or entity who holds a large amount of cryptocurrency, therefore, a whale in trading is when these individuals or institutions put to work their capital and employ their vast amount of crypto in big-time day trades, shorts, longs, or long-term investments.

How To Become A Crypto Whale?

There’s no secret sauce to becoming a crypto whale, only by accumulating and stacking sats and other cryptos can you become a crypto whale. It takes time. So it’s best to get started on this journey sooner than later. For example, market crashes are great times to accumulate your favorite cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Why Do Crypto Whales Matter & How Do Whales Manipulate Crypto?

The value of crypto coins is determined by and large through supply and demand. Meaning, if a large portion of the supply of a particular coin is held out of circulation, this drives up the price of the coins left in circulation. It follows that if a large number of coins are suddenly liquidated, the value of those coins will drop. Because of this, whales have the unique ability to essentially manipulate the crypto market for their benefit.

For instance, what if a whale wishes to acquire more coins for a cheaper price? All they need to do is start selling an impactful portion of their assets. This causes downward pressure on the market and is likely to generate a fire sale increasing liquidity for the coin at a lower price. They can then simply buy back their coins and more at cheaper prices.

They can then hold on to these coins and reduce the supply. Prices tend to rise and increase the value of the coins they have just purchased. This is a very simplistic take on how whales can affect the market, but it demonstrates the power that they wield.

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Do I Need To Whale Watch?

For most people, the answer is no. At the end of the day, it’s in the interest of crypto whales for the value of their coins to be high (the exception to this being if they’re planning to completely withdraw from the market for some reason). Jumping on every wave a Bitcoin whale makes will have you chasing your tail and take up a lot of time. Making sure that you are keeping an eye on the market in general and having a view on why things are moving the way that they are is a better long-term strategy that can help you spot and avoid manipulation by whales.

In long-term investing, having an idea of when you want to come out of the market or a minimum profit you want to make, and sticking to your plan is going to keep you from making rash decisions. For short-term crypto trading, setting your stop loss, and sticking to it is going to offer the same protection.

FAQ

Did All The Whales Sell Off During The Recent Market Crash?

During the recent market crash many big time investors and crypto whales were forced to dial down on their Bitcoin holdings, especially institutions like Celsius, Voyager, BlockFi, and 3AC for example, as well as individuals like Roger Ver (the Bitcoin Jesus), who got tied into the VC liquidation cascade, and companies like Tesla that decided to sell off Bitcoin to make up for lost cash on their regular EV business. However, at the same time, many Bitcoin whales continue to accumulate, and recently, the number of wallets holding 1 BTC or more hit new ATHs. So the takeaway from this is that many people sold, but at the same time, there are thousands of people currently accumulating at current prices, especially in certain price ranges and RSI oversold levels. This is where the TAs generally advise to buy, in addition to moving average readings and number of coins in profit.

Do I Have A Chance Against Crypto Whales?

As mentioned above, it’s not an advisable strategy to trade with or against crypto whales, as they typically move the market in both positive and negative directions. For example, you don’t want to be shorting the market when whales are actively accumulating during a bull market event, neither do you want to be longing the market when there’s a cascade of liquidations and crypto whales are forced selling.

Conclusion

Bitcoin and crypto whales are individuals and entities that hold a large sum of cryptocurrency in the multi-millions. Crypto whales are extremely rich and influential in the market as they play a big role in moving the price up and down in bull and bear markets. Including a crypto whale alert in your investing and research strategy is a positive that should be considered as it can help retail better understand the psychology driving huge market buys and sells.


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