Bitcoin is fascinating to me. One of the cool parts about it is that every transaction using it has public components. There is also a booming industry that permits the trading of bitcoin for more traditional currencies such as dollars or euros. We can combine public transaction data with public trading data to see how much value flows across the bitcoin network. Blockchain.info has a nice chart that does this.
Unfortunately, the above chart tracks the data in daily increments. This is problematic because the amount of value sent over the network varies greatly day to day. It also varies by the day of the week, weekdays have about a 20-40% higher volume than weekend days. I decided to take the daily data from the chart and bin it into weeks. I think this clarifies the dataset considerably. Lets compare the daily values to the weekly values visually.
It is worth noting that there were huge outlier days in the 5th and 7th weeks. I was able to average out the outlier in the 5th week, but three consecutive days of very abnormal volume in the 7th week prevented me from repeating the same method there. I began to wonder if there might be some external factors driving the numbers behind transaction volume. The price of bitcoin seemed to be one possible candidate.
I was surprised to see that despite considerable setbacks in the price of bitcoin over the previous 6 months, the transaction volume appears to be holding steady, or even rising. Transaction volume seems to rise during periods when the price of bitcoin is going up or down considerably, so I added exchange volume that to the secondary Y axis.
Exchange volume appears considerably more correlated to transaction volume than price. During periods of high price movement and thus higher trading volume, transaction volume tends to rise. This could be due to people moving money into and out of exchanges at a greater rate during these time periods. A final comparison I think would be appropriate would be to compare the transaction volume from this year to the transaction volume of the same period last year.
It seems that in the timespan of months, trends in transaction volume can appear but only vaguely. Over the timespan of years trends appear clearly and dramatically. The amount of value the bitcoin network transmitted on a weekly basis is up an average of 277% year over year. The exchange rate of bitcoin has risen and fallen greatly over the past year, but the amount of value the network transmits, and thus it’s real value to society, appears to be gaining ground steadily.
-Bitcoin Average did not collect price or exchange volume data for June 26th, 2014. I averaged data between June 25th, 2014 and June 27th, 2014 to produce an estimation of June 26th, 2014.
-The graph with the weekly exchange volume does not include data from Chinese exchanges, which I believe to be mostly useless when studying the real economic activity of Bitcoin.
-On May 25th, 2014 the daily transaction volume was $179,516,928. I took the average of every other day in Week 5, $54,934,653, and used that to remove the outlier.
-On June 11th – June 13th, 2014, the daily transaction volume was exceptionally high, distorting that week’s average greatly. I could not think of a reasonable way to remove these outliers, and therefore left them in.
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