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Tom Rodgers
Tom Rodgers Head of Research
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BTC Q2 2021 results

Worldwide: 10 August 2021 - Bitcoin (CRYPTO: $BTC), the world’s leading decentralized store of value blockchain, reported financial results for its second quarter ended 30 June 2021.

Key Indicators

Total transaction fees increased over 750% YOY. Also known as network revenue (the fees paid to miners), transaction fees increased 757% to US$416.6 million in Q2 2021, compared to US$48.5 million in Q2 2020.
Total transaction fees graph
Total transaction volume on the Bitcoin blockchain increased over 330% YOY: $527.1bn in Q2 2021, compared to $120.2bn in Q2 2020.
Total transaction volume graph
Median transaction fees increased over 1,000% YOY. To $14.64 in Q2 2021,compared to $1.24 in Q2 2020.
Median transaction fees graph
Median daily active addresses get close to 1M. A proxy for daily active users, active address increased 11.5% to 982k for Q2 2021, compared to 880k for Q2 2020.
Median daily active addresses graph

Results Table

Q2 2020 Q2 2021 Y/Y
Transaction volume ($b) 120.2 527.1 338%
Transaction fees ($m) 48.5 416.6 757%
Median transaction fee ($) 1.24 14.64 1,080%
Daily active adresses (k) 880 892 11,50%
BTC supply (m) 18.418 18.745 1.78%

Bitcoin Quarter Review: Q2, 2021

Adoption has grown significantly, both on institutional balance sheets, in place of cash treasuries, in government pension funds and more broadly in payments and beyond, and while some countries continue to adopt a cautious or outright hostile stance to the world’s first and largest cryptoasset, others like El Salvador have made historic strides to integrate bitcoin into their national currency models.

During this quarter Bitcoin reached an all-time high of over $63,000 in mid-April, before losing half its value to end the quarter at $35,069.

One reason for the fall in price has been he continuing negativity toward crypto from the Chinese Government. An outcome from this is the beginning of a mass migration of cryptomining power. Mining pools in regions outside of China — like Foundry USA — are expected to be among the biggest winners of this shift, and access to renewable sources of energy are expected to quickly take precedence over coal and fossil fuels.

As adoption has grown, Bitcoin has rightly faced criticism of its proof of work consensus algorithm for that mechanism’s contribution to outsize energy use and, by extension, climate change.

Leading a response to environmental concerns, ETC Group was the first crypto provider to announce a carbon neutral policy for its Bitcoin security.

Companies benefiting from cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are right to take meaningful steps to address climate concerns. We are pleased to see that bitcoin miners are increasingly sourcing renewable electricity, but we at ETC Group feel it is important to do more and act now. That’s why we have launched our initiative to calculate our bitcoin product’s carbon footprint and offset it with high quality projects curated and monitored by some of the world’s most respected climate action companies. Bradley Duke, CEO, ETC Group

Key Bitcoin Events

On April 14, Coinbase (NADSAQ:COIN) went public on NASDAQ via direct listing. The listing is by far the biggest yet of a cryptocurrency company, with the San Francisco-based firm saying last month that private market transactions had valued the company at around $68 billion this year, versus $5.8 billion in September.
Coinbase logo
Venmo, currently ranked the second most popular financial app in the US, started allowing its 52 million+ users to store, buy, and sell Bitcoin on its platform on April 20. Like PayPal, Venmo will support four popular cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.
Venmo logo
El Salvador became the first country in the world to make Bitcoin legal tender, becoming a dual-currency model alongside the US dollar. President Nayib Bukele announced the news on 5 June 2021 in a pre-recorded video played on stage at the Miami Bitcoin 2021 conference.
The law will come into effect in September 2021, Bukele later said, with all 6 million citizens eligible for a $30 airdrop of free Bitcoin if they download the official Chivo crypto wallet
El Salvador map
2.3 million UK adults now own cryptoassets including bitcoin, said the FCA, the UK’s market regulator, in a 17 June 2021 consumer survey. 78% of UK adults said they have heard of cryptocurrency, up from 73% in a year, but overall understanding of cryptocurrency has declined.
United Kingdom map
ETC Group led the charge to be first to list cryptocurrency exchange-traded products (ETPs) on UK’s Aquis exchange, Euronext Paris and Euronext Amsterdam. Listed companies, trusts and ETPs now control 7% of the bitcoin supply, according to industry research.
ETC logo

Additionally, institutionally-focused products like ETC Group’s Bitcoin ETP (BTCetc) have announced plans to offset the carbon emissions associated with that investment product’s mining and transaction activities. The creation of a Crypto Climate Accord has attracted the sector’s biggest names in a bid to green the industry and promote more transparent reporting of energy use.

Bitcoin Technical Update

Bitcoin Core 0.21.1 was released on 1 May 2021, with activation code for the Taproot soft fork (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 341), Schnorr signatures (BIP340) and tapscript (BIP342). Version 0.21.1 is the first minor update to the 21st major release of Bitcoin Core, the original Bitcoin software client launched by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.

Taproot will come into force in November 2021 and sets the stage for several important functionality upgrades on the Bitcoin network, including efficiencies relevant for creating smart contracts on the base layer and higher layers, for example its payment channel, the Lightning Network.

Taproot is a backwards-compatible soft fork of the Bitcoin network that is essentially a collection of many long-awaited upgrades. In total, it is designed to improve wide-ranging scripting capabilities and generate improved privacy on the Lightning Network. Taproot enables Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST), which allow for smaller transaction sizes, and larger smart contracts by only revealing the relevant parts of a smart contract when spending occurs.

Secondly, BIP340 enacts Schnorr signatures: provably secure cryptographic digital signatures. They come with advantages over Bitcoin’s current ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) algorithm, including much-simplified signing and verification. They are linear, which allow developers to add a host of additional features to Bitcoin, the result of which could be anything from cross-chain atomic swaps to sidechain channel creation and scriptless scripts — a way to execute smart contracts off-chain.

Schnorr signatures are also useful in multi-signature transactions where multiple parties are involved. With the Schnorr signature setup, multiple signers can jointly create a public key and then sign together as one, which again improves scalability and privacy compared to each public and private key [needing] their own individual signatures.
Multi-signature transactions will be shown on-chain just like a transaction with one signature...the aggregated signatures make for smaller transaction sizes, which saves space and improves scalability.
BRD Blog

When implemented on the Bitcoin network, Schnorr signatures are widely expected to improve scalability and privacy on the core protocol.

The net result of these upgrades will be to inject some much needed momentum into Bitcoin’s technical prowess.

Bitcoin Outlook

Bitcoin’s has been on a rollercoaster ride in Q2 2021 with some huge adoption and institutional investment news, married with significant price volatility. But has the crypto ecosystem outgrown its founding member?

A relatively small increase in the number of daily active addresses — just 11% year on year — could support this assertion, as interest and excitement about moving value on-chain shifts elsewhere. This could be attributed to a larger proportion of accounts simply holding Bitcoin and waiting for its value to rise, however.

Bitcoin is old technology and has largely been superseded by more recent blockchain innovations, so the prevailing narrative goes. Today, it is perhaps seen as more of a static store of value and kind of digital gold, than a thriving ecosystem capable of supporting some of the more exciting and useful functionality prevalent on other networks like Ethereum or Solana.

However, the recent technical upgrades noted above repudiate that narrative and experts in the Bitcoin space are beginning to push back on this theme with more force.

Indeed, the introduction of better smart contract functionality, the use of the Lightning Network inside a sovereign state money system and the possibility of attracting greater numbers of developers to build out its app ecosystem — which could include Bitcoin DeFi — rivals anything to come on Ethereum and there is clearly potential here for reconfiguration of the story behind Bitcoin to develop as we progress deeper into the 2020s.

One key point to note is that global financial and political institutions are not behaving as though Bitcoin could be regulated out of existence, as they have in the past. Rather they are coming up with solutions to ensure that the structurally-important cryptoasset lives on in perpetuity.

Another innovation that we may see widely adopted in companies paying employees in Bitcoin:

By offering to pay employees in cryptocurrencies, companies may attract workers looking for a forward-thinking employer by distinguishing themselves as early tech adopters that offer compelling benefits and compensation. Companies with remote or international contractors or employees might also appreciate the ease of making cross-border payments in cryptocurrency. Who needs to pick among international currencies and worry about exchange rates when anyone can send and receive Bitcoin in minutes with nothing more than a cell phone? Hassan Aburish, Nicholas Hulse and Erica Wilson, Fisher & Phillips LLP

Credits: Article layout originally inspired by James Wang

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