The global Covid-19 pandemic has certainly affected the price of crypto assets. But it’s also worth asking a slightly different question: how has the pandemic impacted crypto user activity? Are users flocking to, or avoiding, various blockchains now that much of the world is staying at home?
To answer that question, we started by looking at active address data from Coin Metrics for the top ten projects on CoinMarketCap (as of March 24). Coin Metrics doesn’t have active address count data for EOS, so that left us with nine tokens: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, the Ethereum implementation of Tether, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Litecoin, Binance Coin, and Tezos.
The first question is whether there have been any broad trends in active address counts. Did most of these projects see spikes or drops around the same time? Close correlation between the active address counts of these projects might suggest a broader pattern in the activities of crypto users, so we took a look at the Pearson correlation scores for each token using daily active address counts from January 1, 2020 to March 23, 2020.
We found no evidence of any pattern. In the correlation matrix above, a score of 1 reflects a perfect positive correlation, a score of -1 reflects a perfect negative correlation. Any score between -0.4 and 0.4 suggests there’s little evidence of any correlation at all. And as you can see, there was little evidence of correlation between the active address count patterns of any of these tokens.
The only exception to this was Ethereum and USDT’s ERC20 implementation on the Ethereum chain. This correlation isn’t particularly meaningful, as we would expect some level of correlation at any time between active address counts on Ethereum and active address counts on a popular ERC20 token, since ERC20 tokens use the Ethereum blockchain.
Clearly, these tokens aren’t following the same broad pattern. But what about each token individually? We plotted each token’s daily active address count for that same timeframe to compare:
There’s a lot going on in the charts above, and but here are key takeaways:
Active addresses on Ethereum (and USDT’s Ethereum implementation) have climbed pretty noticeably as the COVID-19 crisis has escalated. It may be that many users who aren’t generally active have turned to USDT as a safe haven over the past few weeks, leading to a spike in active addresses here.
Binance Coin has also risen slightly.
Active addresses on Bitcoin SV’s chain actually seem to be trending downward. This seems to have started before the global market crash dragged crypto prices dramatically downward.
Litecoin saw a huge spike in active address counts from March 6-8. That time period saw some major news, including Italy’s lockdown, the announcement of a state of emergency in California, and the cancellation of SXSW, although it’s very possible there’s no causal relationship between these news stories and Litecoin’s on-chain activity.
Interestingly, it doesn’t seem like most of these major tokens saw any major changes in active address patterns even as life changed massively for millions as the pandemic spread.
Raw DApp data is difficult to come by, but a quick glance at State of the Dapps 30-day user activity charts suggests that the situation there is similar. There is no consistent pattern that suggests crypto users in general have changed their habits.
And perhaps that’s good news. The fact that users haven’t abandoned crypto in this time of crisis might reflect the fact that many people see the industry as stable enough to withstand this crisis And the fact that people haven’t flocked to it, while less positive, at least suggests that the crypto mainstream may have more realistic expectations about the market, and people aren’t turning to it for some kind of magical rescue from the traditional stock market that isn't likely to happen.