Bitcoin and Ethereum’s Great Exodus Characterized by a Shift from Exchanges to Long-Term Holdings

As we venture deeper into 2024, the cryptocurrency landscape is witnessing a significant shift. Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) are leading an exodus from centralized exchanges. This trend marks a pivotal moment for crypto investors and the market as a whole. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this migration, the rise of “diamond hands” investors, the influence of institutional players, and the implications for long-term value.

The Great Migration: Bitcoin and Ethereum Leave Exchanges

In recent months, retail investors have been pulling their Bitcoin and Ethereum out of centralized exchanges at an unprecedented rate. According to Glassnode data, Bitcoin balances on exchanges have dropped to a four-year low of under 2.3 million coins, valued at approximately $158 billion. Similarly, Ethereum balances have fallen to less than 16 million coins, worth about $58 billion.

Image obtained from Glassnode

This trend suggests a shift in investor behavior. Rather than actively trading, many are opting to hold onto their assets, anticipating higher prices in a future bull market. This movement started before the July 2020 bull run and has continued unabated. Investors are increasingly viewing Bitcoin and Ethereum as long-term stores of value.

This exodus is not limited to retail investors. Institutional giants like BlackRock and Fidelity have also been increasing their Bitcoin holdings, driven by the launch of spot Bitcoin ETFs. This institutional interest further validates the long-term potential of these digital assets.

Rise of “Diamond Hands” and Dollar-Cost Averaging

A new breed of crypto investors is emerging. Known for their “diamond hands,” these investors are holding onto their coins through market highs and lows. Rather than chasing quick gains, they are in it for the long haul. This shift in mentality is reflected in the declining exchange balances.

Economic uncertainty and rising inflation have driven many to seek alternative assets like Bitcoin. With its capped supply, Bitcoin is seen as a hedge against inflation. Investors are using strategies like dollar-cost averaging, steadily buying more coins to build their positions over time.

For Ethereum, the situation is slightly different but equally bullish. Ethereum’s dominance in the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) space, which underpins a $68 billion ecosystem, adds to its allure. With over 25% of Ethereum’s supply currently staked, investors are signaling their confidence in the platform’s long-term value.

Institutional Investors and the DeFi Boom

Institutional investors are playing a crucial role in this evolving landscape. Companies like MicroStrategy have made significant investments in Bitcoin, further legitimizing its status as a store of value. The approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs has also driven up demand, making Bitcoin an attractive investment for large financial institutions.

Ethereum, on the other hand, is benefiting from the DeFi boom. As the backbone of decentralized finance, Ethereum supports a range of financial applications that do not rely on traditional banking systems. This has positioned Ethereum as a major player in the future of finance.

The introduction of Ethereum ETFs has also contributed to the reduction of Ether on exchanges. Over $3 billion worth of Ether has been removed from centralized exchanges since the approval of spot Ether ETFs in May 2024. This suggests that investors are moving their Ether to self-custody, further reducing the supply available for immediate sale.

Long-Term Value and Market Implications

The reduction in exchange balances is a bullish signal for the long-term potential of Bitcoin and Ethereum. Fewer coins on exchanges mean less liquidity, which can lead to higher prices as demand increases. This supply squeeze is particularly evident in Ethereum, where the percentage of circulating supply held on exchanges is at its lowest level in years.

The move towards self-custody also reflects a growing confidence in the security and value of these digital assets. Investors are increasingly willing to take their crypto off the trading floor and into cold storage, a move that suggests they are in it for the long haul.

Moreover, the introduction of Ethereum ETFs and the upcoming complete switch to proof-of-stake for Ethereum paint an optimistic picture for its future. Unlike Bitcoin miners, who need to sell BTC to cover mining costs, Ethereum validators do not face the same financial pressures. This could result in less structural sell pressure for Ether, further supporting its price.


The exodus of Bitcoin and Ethereum from centralized exchanges marks a significant shift in the cryptocurrency market. Retail and institutional investors alike are demonstrating long-term confidence in these digital assets. The rise of “diamond hands” investors, the influence of institutional players, and the bullish prospects for DeFi are reshaping the landscape. As Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to evolve, their reduced availability on exchanges signals a strong future ahead, driven by a belief in their enduring value and potential.

Image obtained from CryptoTotem