The Google search engine has been turning up a lot of bitcoin as of late, a sign of growing interest in the cryptocurrency. In fact, searches for how to buy bitcoin have far outpaced similar searches about gold, according to a recent report.
According to The Telegraph, the search term “buy bitcoin” first outstripped “buy gold” on Google in May. Its popularity has since grown manifold. In fact, “buy bitcoin” is now three times more popular than the search term “buy gold” during the 2008-09 financial crisis.
The financial crisis triggered the most protracted recession since the 1930s, making gold the rational choice for risk-averse investors. Gold prices would later surge to record highs, eventually maxing out above $1,900 a troy ounce in 2011.
Bitcoin is often referred to as digital gold for its perceived haven-like status. Although many would disagree with that assertion, bitcoin and gold share some important similarities. Both are finite resources and reflect a general distrust in governments and traditional financial institutions. Apparently, bitcoin has also been used to shield against growing economic, financial and geopolitical risks, although we don’t have enough data to draw definitive conclusions about its risk-hedging capability.
Bitcoin set another milestone on Thursday by smashing through $14,000. The world’s foremost digital currency has added a jaw-dropping 42% over the past five days, which is equivalent to more than $4,000.
Google search trends tell us that interest in the digital currency skyrocketed once more after prices rose above $10,000 for the first time. As bitcoin crossed the five-digit mark, Google search interest for the coin rose from 26 to 100. According to Google, these numbers represent “search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time.” As you might expect, 100 is considered peak popularity for a search term.
Google search results are a proxy for underlying demand in the cryptocurrency market. Higher search density suggest greater buyer interest and trading volumes for bitcoin. A simple look at the latest trade volume data corroborates this point.
Bitcoin’s 24-hour trading volumes surpassed $13.2 billion on Thursday, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s more than double the previous day’s volumes. Considering that BTC/USD has more than doubled since October, it’s reasonable to assume that higher search results have been associated with increased trading activity.
South Korea’s Bithumb is turning over the most bitcoin trades at the moment. The exchange is responsible for 10% of daily transactions, which is equivalent to roughly $1.3 billion. Bitfinex is a close second at around 9.4% of the total market.
With volume like this, it’s little wonder why bitcoin controls nearly 60% of the cryptocurrency market. Its growth has also triggered a buying frenzy in other cryptocurrencies, commonly referred to as altcoins.
Growing demand for cryptocurrency is also reflected in another key metric – the number of account registrations. For that, we look not further than Coinbase, which is America’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The platform recently reported 13.3 million accounts, including 100,000 new signups over Thanksgiving weekend.
Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.
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