Wrapped Bitcoin ‘Burns’ Outpaced Minting for the First Time in December

9 January 2021

Traders are swapping their tokenized bitcoins for the real thing more than ever.

  • BitGo saw a record 11,613 wrapped bitcoin (WBTC) swapped for real bitcoin (BTC) in December, with only 2,731 BTC exchanged for the bitcoin-backed ERC-20 tokens last month.
  • December marked the first time in the young project’s history that “burns,” the reversion of WBTC back to BTC, have outnumbered “mints.”
  • The total value of the “burned” WBTC is approximately $235 million, based on bitcoin’s price at the time the tokens were swapped for BTC.
  • Diminishing yields in decentralized finance (DeFi), a primary use case for WBTC, and increased trading activity on traditional cryptocurrency exchanges amid bitcoin’s recent eye-popping surge are likely reasons for the increase in burns and slowed rate of minting.
  • Most of the burns came from trading firms Alameda Research and Three Arrows Capital.
  • BitGo’s Wrapped Bitcoin project gained wide popularity through Q3 and early Q4 2020 amid a DeFi frenzy that saw over 124,000 BTC tokenized on Ethereum at its peak after starting the year with less than 600 BTC.
  • In mid August, demand for WBTC was so high that bitcoins were being tokenized faster than they were being mined.
  • To date, roughly 110,000 WBTC are still circulating in the DeFi ecosystem.
Wrapped Bitcoin mints and burns in December
Source: Wrapped Bitcoin, CoinDesk Research
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