Is rising usage driving crypto’s recent price boom?

Everything is dumb until it works.

As 2020 comes to a close, the cryptocurrency world is experiencing another late-year surge of consumer interest as prices climb in value. Bitcoin is over $23,000 as I write to you, an all-time high. Ethereum’s cryptocurrency has recovered sharply as well, returning to mid-2018 prices.

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These gains have created a huge amount of wealth for crypto holders. According to CoinMarketCap, after falling under $140 billion in mid-March during the market selloff surrounding the beginning of COVID-19’s battering of America, the value of all cryptos has surged to nearly $659 billion.

It still has some way to go before it crests the record of around $830 billion set back in January 2018. But your Twitter feed is once again rife with notes about crypto and some of your friends have become insufferable once again.

The tweets and the friends have something of a point. This morning I went around the internet with a basket, collecting information about active bitcoin wallets, the distributed app (Dapp) market, the burgeoning decentralized finance (DeFi) space and other aspects to get a picture of what’s going on beyond mere price records.

After all, the price of every damn thing is inflated today, so seeing bitcoin set an all-time-high felt more appropriate than strange. Does the data show that there’s activity behind the valuation hype?

A quick look around the world of crypto

We have a few metrics to peek at, but let’s start with some old bitcoin-flavored favorites.

  • Unique bitcoin addresses used, via Modestly bullish.

Per the charting section of, bitcoin unique addresses used — a proxy for the coin’s popularity — is up some in recent weeks, and up more generally in 2020. It remains below historical highs.