Crypto token unlocks cause price decline in two weeks, research shows.

Crypto token unlocks cause price decline in two weeks, research shows.

The Impact of Token Unlocks on the Blockchain Industry

If you have been following the crypto market for a while, you have probably heard of token unlocks. Token unlocks refer to the staggered releases of specific amounts of cryptocurrencies that had been previously frozen to prevent early investors or project team members from selling large quantities at once. This process is often associated with significant impacts on the market, as it can free up liquidity and potentially affect the price dynamics of the tokens being unlocked. In this article, we will explore the implications of token unlocks in the blockchain industry and shed light on some of the recent findings in this area.

Understanding Token Unlocks

Token unlocks are a common practice in many blockchain projects. When a token is initially issued, a certain percentage is often set aside and locked up for a specific period. This lock-up period aims to ensure stability, prevent manipulation, and protect early investors. Once this lock-up period expires, the tokens are gradually released, allowing the holders to freely trade or sell them.

The process of token unlocks is carefully planned and executed by project teams. The objective is to strike a balance between maintaining stability and providing liquidity to the market. Early investors and project team members often have a significant stake in the project, and unlocking their tokens can have a substantial impact on the overall token supply and market dynamics.

New research conducted by analytics firm The Tie sheds light on the impact of token unlocks on market trends. The study analyzed over 350,000 unique unlock events involving more than 100 tokens, providing valuable insights into the behavior of tokens before and after unlocks.

The research found that, on average, tokens experienced a decline in value leading up to the unlock event. This decline can be attributed to market participants anticipating the influx of additional tokens into circulation. However, when the liquidity freed up represented more than 100% of the average daily volume, prices quickly rebounded, albeit for a brief period.

Lawrence Lewitinn, the director of content at The Tie, suggests that this rebound can be attributed to traders feeling relieved that the unlock did not flood the market with new tokens immediately. However, the study also revealed that within two weeks following the unlock, token prices fell below their initial levels at the time of the unlock. This suggests that holders preferred to wait a few days before selling into the market.

To visualize the impact of token unlocks, The Tie’s research showed an exponential increase in trading volumes for coins that experienced large unlocks. This surge in trading activity indicates heightened market interest and potentially increased volatility during these unlock events.

The Role of Liquidity and Market Sentiment

Token unlocks play a crucial role in shaping market sentiment and liquidity conditions in the blockchain industry. When a significant amount of tokens is unlocked, it can lead to an influx of supply, potentially diluting the value of existing tokens. This dilution effect can be particularly pronounced if the unlocked tokens represent a substantial portion of the overall token supply.

However, the impact of token unlocks on the market is not solely determined by the quantity of tokens being released. Market sentiment also plays a significant role. If investors perceive the unlock as a positive event, such as the release of tokens from a successful project with strong fundamentals, the market may react favorably. Conversely, if investors view the unlock as a sign of instability or lack of confidence in the project, it can lead to a negative market response.


Token unlocks have become a significant aspect of the blockchain industry, with their impact on market trends and liquidity conditions garnering attention from researchers and market participants alike. The recent research by The Tie highlights the importance of understanding the dynamics surrounding token unlocks and their potential effects on token prices and trading volumes.

While token unlocks can provide increased liquidity, they also introduce the risk of dilution and potential market volatility. Project teams need to carefully plan and communicate their unlock strategies to manage market expectations and maintain investor confidence. By doing so, they can mitigate the potential negative impact of token unlocks and foster a healthy and stable market for their tokens.

As the blockchain industry continues to evolve, the study of token unlocks and their impact on the market will remain a crucial area of research. By gaining a deeper understanding of these dynamics, market participants can make more informed decisions and navigate the ever-changing landscape of the blockchain industry.

Image Source: The Tie