Bitcoin reserves on exchanges near 6-year low, positive for price?

Bitcoin reserves on exchanges near 6-year low, positive for price?

The Declining Bitcoin Exchange Reserves: Insights into the Blockchain Industry


The blockchain industry has been experiencing a significant shift in recent times, especially in terms of Bitcoin exchange reserves. Data from CryptoQuant reveals that leading crypto exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken currently hold near a six-year low of Bitcoin (BTC). This reduction in exchange reserves comes at a time when the broader market has stabilized after sharp losses in August and September. Despite BTC prices remaining below $30,000 as of September 20, there has been important sideways movement in the market over the past few weeks.

Bitcoin exchange reserves are declining. Source: CryptoQuant

Bitcoin Reserves On Exchanges Falling

As of now, exchanges control 2.09 million BTC, out of a total of 21 million coins that the Bitcoin network will issue. However, there are currently over 19.7 million BTC in circulation, with entities like Tesla and MicroStrategy actively acquiring and holding significant amounts. These entities can choose to hold their cryptocurrencies in non-custodial wallets or exchanges like Binance and Coinbase.

Exchanges provide custodial wallets where users can store their coins for trading or long-term holding (HODLing). Holding coins on exchanges allows users to easily swap them for other altcoins or stablecoins like USDT. Despite the declining number of coins held in exchanges, which could be seen as a bullish sign, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee price recovery.

Historically, coin outflows from exchanges have indicated a strengthening market and expectations of price expansion. However, due to the current regulatory environment, both traders and Bitcoin holders may prefer taking control of their coins by securing them in their non-custodial wallets. This cautionary measure might help explain the falling Bitcoin exchange reserves.

SEC Toughens Regulations on Exchanges

The number of Bitcoins held in exchanges has been declining throughout 2022, but the drop accelerated in late 2022. One significant event during this period was the collapse of FTX, a popular crypto exchange, which resulted in the lockup of billions of dollars worth of clients’ funds. The outflow of Bitcoin slowed down in Q1 2023 following the collapse of several regional banks in the United States, but it has since continued to decline.

The decline in exchange reserves can be attributed to the current bear market and the intensified scrutiny from regulatory bodies such as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC has been cracking down on exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, accusing them of non-compliance. In June, the SEC sued both exchanges, claiming that they were issuing unregistered securities, citing examples like Cardano (ADA).

Among these regulations, Binance US has become a major focus. It has experienced significant staff resignations, layoffs, and disruptions to its operations. As a result, trading volume on Binance US has plunged by over 95%.

Bitcoin price on September 20| Source: BTCUSDT On Binance, TradingView


The declining Bitcoin exchange reserves highlight the changing landscape of the blockchain industry. With leading exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken holding near a six-year low in BTC reserves, it suggests a shift towards users securing their coins in non-custodial wallets. This shift may be a response to the regulatory pressures faced by exchanges and the desire for individuals to have full control over their digital assets.

While the decline in exchange reserves could be seen as a positive signal for the market, indicating a potential price recovery, it is important to consider the broader market conditions and the current regulatory environment. As investors and traders become more concerned about regulatory compliance, they are taking precautions to protect their holdings. Moving forward, the blockchain industry will continue to navigate regulatory challenges while evolving to meet the changing needs and demands of its participants.