Weekend Bitcoin Trading Hits Record Low in 2024

A report from research firm Kaiko found that Bitcoin’s weekend trading volume has dropped from 28% in 2019 to just 16% in 2024.

Bitcoin's weekend trading volumes have reached historic lows in 2024, dropping to 16%. This is likely caused by factors like the launch of spot Bitcoin ETFs and the closure of 24/7 crypto-friendly banks. Despite reduced weekend activity, there has been an uptick in trading during the weekday benchmark fixing window. Michael Saylor is still very optimistic about Bitcoin's future, but Peter Thiel is a bit more skeptical about its long-term value potential. Meanwhile, Runes transactions and miner fees have plummeted, impacting Bitcoin's hash price and miner profitability post-halving. 

Weekend Bitcoin Trading Volumes Plummet

Bitcoin's reputation for volatility has been well-established in the mainstream, but its once-volatile weekends may be a thing of the past. In fact, in 2024, weekend trading volume for Bitcoin (BTC) has sunk to its lowest level in history. 

In 2019, up to 28% of Bitcoin trading volume happened on weekends, but this past year that figure dropped to just 16%, according to a report from crypto research firm Kaiko.

BTC weekend volume (Source: Kaiko Research)

The decline can be attributed to several factors, including the launch of spot Bitcoin ETFs. While crypto markets operate around the clock globally, ETF trading is only limited to stock market hours during the week. 

Kaiko researchers also saw an increase in Bitcoin trading during the last hour of market trading, which is known as the benchmark fixing window, after the launch of these ETFs in the fourth quarter of 2023. To closely reflect the benchmark price, Bitcoin buying and selling for ETF creations and redemptions happen during this window, between 3 and 4 p.m. New York time. This window has become the second most popular time for Bitcoin trading on weekdays.

However, weekend trading has been consistently declining since 2021, and reached its lowest historical level this year. While 6.6% of trading happens during the benchmark window on weekdays, this share drops to just over 4% on weekends. 

Another contributing factor to the reduced volatility is the closure of crypto-friendly Signature and Silicon Valley banks in March of 2023. These banks operated 24/7 networks, which allowed market makers to place large buy and sell orders for crypto. Since these banks closed, market makers have been less inclined to provide liquidity in a low-volume environment.

Michael Saylor Still Optimistic About BTC

MicroStrategy co-founder and chairman Michael Saylor shared a stirring message about Bitcoin on X over the weekend. In the  tweet, Saylor stated, "Bitcoin expands your universe," which could suggest that he is still very optimistic about the cryptocurrency. 

This post from Saylor was made despite the fact that Bitcoin's weekend trading activity has reached a record low. However, Saylor's vision for Bitcoin represents a rallying cry, as he seems to expect that interest and trading activity will eventually return.

Bitcoin dominated headlines at the start of 2024 after the launch of the first U.S. spot ETFs. ETFs from BlackRock and Fidelity saw massive inflows, driving BTC to a record high of $73,798 in March. However, since then, demand and pricing for the crypto king have cooled a bit.

At press time, things were looking up for BTC as it was trading hands at $63,346.20 after its price was able to climb by more than 4% over the past day of trading. BTC’s price was also up by 1.06% on the weekly time frame.

Bitcoin's Big Gains Are Over

On the other hand, Billionaire investor Peter Thiel recently shared his thoughts on Bitcoin, and stated that most of its potential value has already been extracted. Thiel believes big price increases for Bitcoin are very unlikely to happen from its current level.

Despite his pessimistic tone, Thiel still regrets not buying more Bitcoin earlier. Now, he is more concerned about BTC’s future, especially with the rise of decentralized computing. Thiel specifically referred to the FBI's preference for criminals to use Bitcoin over fiat money like $100 bills, which he believes highlights just how traceable Bitcoin really is.

This traceability, according to Thiel, makes it harder for Bitcoin to really gain mainstream traction as a financial asset. He pointed out that big financial firms, like BlackRock and its CEO Larry Fink, have appropriated Bitcoin, giving it legitimacy but potentially diverging from its original ideals of financial autonomy and decentralization. Thiel even suggested that Bitcoin's revolutionary decentralized nature might be losing its initial appeal because of this institutional involvement.

Despite still acknowledging Bitcoin's volatility and the possibility of some upward movement, Thiel warned that any gains would come with major risks. He ended up describing the future of Bitcoin as a volatile and bumpy ride.

Runes Transactions Hit Record Low

Meanwhile, Runes experienced a very large drop in daily average transactions, plunging by more than 88% from its peak in June. Data from Dune Analytics shows that the average daily Runes transactions between June 22–28 was 37,820. This is a big change from the 331,040 daily average that was recorded between June 9–15. June 24 saw just 23,238 transactions, the lowest since the protocol's launch at Bitcoin's fourth halving event on Apr. 20.

Runes daily transaction volume (Source: Dune)

Additionally, Runes transactions have only accounted for between 4.9% and 11.1% of all Bitcoin transactions in the past week. This sharp decline has had a big impact on Bitcoin miner fees, which have been struggling since the last halving event. 

Over the last six days, Runes have contributed less than 2 Bitcoin in miner fees, which is a dramatic decrease from the 884 Bitcoin recorded on Apr. 24. Fees from Ordinals inscriptions and BRC-20 tokens have been even lower during this period.

Initially, these protocols were seen as new revenue streams for miners, who previously relied on ordinary peer-to-peer Bitcoin transfers for network fees. After the Apr. 20 halving event, fees from Runes and Ordinals covered the 50% reduction in block subsidy for a few days, but trading volumes have since become unpredictable. 

The decline in network fees, along with Bitcoin's price, has led to a drop in Bitcoin’s hash price, which is a key metric for measuring miner revenue, to nearly its lowest level ever. Additionally, Bitcoin miner reserves fell to 1.90 million Bitcoin on June 19, the lowest level in over 14 years.

Post-Halving Profitability Concerns

On June 28, Bitcoin mining company Bitdeer announced a 30-year leasing agreement with the Monroe County Port Authority for a site at the Hannibal Industrial Park in Clarington, Ohio. The site was previously an aluminum factory, and has the necessary power infrastructure to support Bitdeer's mining operations. 

Bitdeer plans to secure up to 570 MW of additional power in two phases, with 266 MW expected in Q3 2025 and the remaining 304 MW contingent on utility authority reviews.

In March, analyst Mark Palmer pointed out Bitdeer's competitive advantage because of its low energy costs, averaging $0.04 per kilowatt hour. In May, stablecoin issuer Tether also invested $150 million in Bitdeer, buying over 18 million shares and a warrant for an additional 5 million shares at $10 per share.

After the April 2024 Bitcoin halving, miner profitability has become a critical issue as miners face high energy costs and a reduced block reward. Cantor Fitzgerald's research revealed that several Bitcoin mining companies might not be profitable post-halving, with all-in costs per Bitcoin ranging from $43,913 to $62,276.  Argo Blockchain Mining had the highest costs at $62,276 per Bitcoin, followed by Hut8 at $60,360. The research used a $40,000 market price to determine profitability, a level not yet reached since the halving.