Is Bitcoin underperforming compared to altcoins?


The primary half of 2021 within the crypto markets introduced many comparisons to 2017. Bitcoin (BTC) was on a tear to its all-time excessive, the brand new frontier of decentralized finance emerged, and nonfungible tokens have been gaining myriad superstar endorsements. 

However after the preliminary months of euphoria and a subsequent sell-off, BTC’s efficiency has been much more lackluster. The recent market sell-off ensuing from the Evergrande disaster has compounded fears. Nonetheless, it will probably’t be ignored that many altcoins, significantly platform tokens, have undergone spectacular runs and, in some circumstances, even bucked broader market traits. 

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With hopes nonetheless excessive that one other bull run is probably going throughout this halving cycle, ought to BTC holders be frightened that the flagship asset is underperforming? 

2021 by the numbers

Between January and reaching its all-time excessive (ATH) of practically $65,000 in April, BTC posted features of 113%. Based mostly on present costs, the year-to-date (YTD) features are round 45%. 

By comparability, Ether (ETH) gained 497% between January and its ATH in Could, whereas its year-to-date rose over 300% regardless of taking a recent battering

Nonetheless, even ETH’s spectacular features are nothing in comparison with rival platform tokens. Cardano (ADA) has posted a staggering YTD improve above 1,000% whereas barely yet supporting any actual exercise. Solana’s SOL has even dwarfed that determine by rising over 8,000% since January. This comes after dropping from its all-time high above $200. Honorable mentions go to Polygon (MATIC), Avalanche (AVAX) and Terra (LUNA), all of which have undergone spectacular rallies in 2021. 

Stephen Gregory, CEO of, instructed Cointelegraph:

“Usually, there may be a whole lot of enthusiasm for Net 3.0, whether or not that’s powering the metaverse with ETH, or a lot quicker transaction occasions with SOL, or regardless of the future holds for ADA. Individuals see holding layer-one protocols as sturdy worth picks for the long run. Investing in sound tech and following the momentum and development of the asset class following real-world use circumstances appears to be prudent.”

Why are altcoins outperforming BTC? 

On the face of it, the numbers do certainly appear to point that BTC is underperforming in comparison with different cash. One issue that might clarify that is the legislation of diminishing returns. BTC is the oldest asset and twice the age of Ether. Though Bitcoin has delivered eye-popping returns throughout its lifetime — making billionaires out of early adopters — is it doable that the flagship asset can proceed to ship three- or four-figure returns because it ages? On condition that Bitcoin’s complete financial mannequin relies across the precept of diminishing returns, with block rewards halving each 4 years or so, it appears believable. 

Furthermore, as Cointelegraph has previously reported, as extra buyers and establishments pile in, Bitcoin has begun to reflect different property. We are able to be aware this impact within the dampening of Bitcoin’s volatility over time. 

Arguably, the one purpose that markets proceed to develop is that buyers regularly search out new property of worth. Subsequently, whereas BTC seems to be delivering decrease returns, it shouldn’t shock anybody that buyers are desirous about extra unstable property to revenue from value actions. 

However that results in different questions: Is there a danger of making a self-fulfilling adverse cycle from BTC? As buyers look to different property to earn giant features, will BTC inevitably change into much less enticing? 

Or, if we dare to think about it, does the present urge for food for platform tokens point out that buyers’ sentiment towards Bitcoin is gravitating to the “no intrinsic worth” argument? In spite of everything, stronger fundamentals and potential for adoption is probably the one huge promoting level that platform tokens have over Bitcoin. 

Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of decentralized Web-of-Issues community Nodle, believes that platform tokens have a shiny future forward, however maybe not on the expense of BTC. He instructed Cointelegraph:

“I feel the market is simply starting to know the worth of blockchain ecosystems and providers. That’s why altcoins are performing so properly. Bitcoin, which is extra a retailer of worth, is on its trajectory and is turning into a crypto asset class with much less danger and for folks with a long-term funding technique.”

Is $100,000 Bitcoin nonetheless lifelike?

From one other angle, even when Bitcoin returns are diminishing in comparison with their historic highs, features proceed to outstrip different property, akin to shares and gold, by far. On the present fee of diminishment, BTC will proceed to ship superior efficiency for fairly a while to come back. As such, it appears unlikely that an exodus is imminent. Daniele Bernardi, CEO of investing agency Diaman Group, instructed Cointelegraph:

“In fact, Bitcoin seems to be underperforming in comparison with small- and medium-cap cash in share phrases. However don’t neglect the massive distinction in capitalization. If BTC costs improve by 10%, it could elevate the market cap by $80 billion. If Solana, for instance, will increase by 100%, the true worth in market cap goes up by $40 billion. Because of this, I don’t assume there’s any foundation for doubting Bitcoin or its place because the market-leading asset.”

So far as the bull trajectory goes, it’s additionally value noting that in 2017, Bitcoin gained 1,900% between January and December. Nonetheless, till now in 2021, it’s solely up round 450%. If costs do observe the identical sample, that can put us on observe for a year-end BTC value of round $138,000. 

That estimate is eerily near the $135,000 year-end value predicted by the stock-to-flow (S2F) mannequin, which continues to be essentially the most correct forecast of Bitcoin costs. Certainly, August’s BTC closing value is, give or take, precisely as predicted by S2F creator PlanB again in June, and September’s could possibly be on observe to observe go well with. 

Bitcoin stands agency

The numbers illustrate that BTC’s returns are certainly diminishing over time throughout consecutive bull cycles. However this shouldn’t be stunning to anybody, contemplating Bitcoin’s financial mannequin. Michaël van de Poppe, Cointelegraph contributor and full-time dealer, agrees, telling Cointelegraph: 

“Traders shouldn’t be frightened. It’s truly a pure behavior of the markets to decelerate and have lengthening cycles. That is one thing we’ll see extra usually sooner or later and can truly open up the gates for extra buyers. The much less Bitcoin shall be swinging round with their efficiency and each day actions, the higher as an asset in your portfolio.”

Nonetheless, progressively reducing returns mustn’t detract from the truth that Bitcoin is, by any measure, delivering a wholesome efficiency in step with even essentially the most bullish forecasts. Based on Igneus Terrenus, head of communications at Bybit, BTC continues to be by far the go-to coin for newcomers — establishments or people — getting into the house. He instructed Cointelegraph:

“Bitcoin stays one of the best investment-grade crypto asset for institutional buyers. And a comparatively extra steady ranging sample may very well assist Bitcoin’s case as an alternative choice to gold and add gas to its long-term rise. When one zooms out to 5 years or 10 years — horizons acquainted to whales and institutional buyers — Bitcoin returns beat every thing.”

It’s additionally unattainable to say whether or not any of the current platform token rallies would have occurred if BTC had been languishing in long-term bear territory, as cash tends to flow down from BTC. 

What’s extra, the fashions present that there’s nonetheless each purpose to consider in a year-end BTC value above six figures.’s Gregory agreed regardless of the growing demand for platform tokens. He instructed Cointelegraph, “BTC is outperforming the market however is at the moment being held again by macro market traits and occasions on Wall Road. Nonetheless, traditionally, This autumn has been the strongest for BTC, and it’s doubtless historical past repeats itself earlier than the tip of 2021.”

However, whereas BTC is in no hazard of dropping its standing as crypto’s flagship asset, hovering altcoins undeniably supply larger alternatives proper now for many who consider they will time the markets.