Altcoin Roundup: 3 metrics that traders can use to effectively analyze DeFi tokens

DeFi presents a wealth of opportunity for investors, but there are also risks. Here are three metrics investors use to analyze decentralized finance tokens and their associated protocols.

Much to the chagrin of cryptocurrency proponents who call for the immediate mass adoption of blockchain technology, there are many “digital landmines” that exist in the crypto ecosystem such as rug pulls and protocol hacks that can give new users the experience of being lost at sea. 

There’s more to investing than just technical analysis and gut feelings. Over the past year, a handful of blockchain analysis platforms launched dashboards with metrics that help provide greater insight into the fundamentals supporting — or the lack thereof — a cryptocurrency project.

Here are three key factors to take into consideration when evaluating whether an altcoin or decentralized finance (DeFi) project is a sound investment.

Check the project’s community and developer activity

One of the basic ways to get a read on a project is to look at the statistics that show the level of activity from the platform’s user base and developer community.

Many of the top protocols in the space offer analytics that track the growth in active users over time. On-chain dashboards like Dune Analytics offer more granular insights into this metric such as the following chart showing the daily new users on the Olympus protocol.

Olympus daily new users. Source: Dune Analytics

Other pertinent data points to consider when it comes to evaluating community activity include the average number of active wallets on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Investors should also look at the number of transactions and volumes transacted on the protocol, as well as social media metrics such as Twitter mentions that can help with gauging investors’ sentiment about a particular project.

Alert systems like Cointelegraph Markets Pro provide up-to-date notifications on a project’s Twitter mention volumes and unusual changes in trading volume that can be an early sign that a cryptocurrency is turning bullish or bearish.

CT Markets Pro twitter and trading volume dashboard. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

Regarding project development and developer activity, GitHub has been the go-to place for learning about upcoming upgrades, integrations and where the project is in its roadmap.

If a protocol is boasting about “soon to be released” features but showing little ongoing development or commits being submitted, it might be a sign to steer clear until the activity is better aligned with the claims.

On the other hand, spotting an under-the-radar project with steady development activity and a committed user base could be a positive sign.

Look for steady increases in total value locked

A second metric to look at when assessing the overall strength of a project is the sum of all assets deposited on the protocol, otherwise known as the total value locked (TVL).

For example, data from Defi Llama shows that the total value locked on the DeFi protocol DeFiChain (DFI) has been rising lately following a major protocol upgrade, with the TVL hitting new all-time highs on several days so far in December. This signals that momentum and interest in the project are increasing.

Total value locked on DeFiChain. Source: Defi Llama

DeFi aggregators like Defi Llama and DappRadar allow users to dive deeper into the data and look at the statistics for different blockchain networks such as the TVL on the Ethereum Network or Binance Smart Chain, as well as by individual projects like Curve and Trader Joe.

Protocols with a higher TVL tend to be more secure and trusted by the community, while projects that rank lower on the list generally carry more risk and tend to have less active communities.

Related: Point of no return? Crypto investment products could be key to mass adoption

Identify who the majority token holders are

Other factors to take into consideration are the benefits that token hodlers receive for holding and being active in the community. Investors should also look into the manner in which the token was launched and who the dominant token holders currently are.

For example, SushiSwap allows users to stake the native token SUSHI on the platform to receive a portion of the exchange fees generated, whereas Uniswap, the top decentralized exchange (DEX) in DeFi, currently offers no such feature.

While other factors like trading volume and daily users have made Uniswap a legitimate investment for many holders, some traders prefer to hold SUSHI because of its revenue-sharing model and multichain trading capabilities.

On the flip side, caution is warranted when excessive yields are offered for low liquidity, anonymously-run protocols with little community activity because this can be the perfect setup for catastrophic losses. In DeFi, these are called rug pulls, and typically they occur after a large amount of money has been deposited onto smart contracts controlled by a single anonymous party.

Examining the token distribution for the protocol, as well as keeping an eye on the percentage of tokens allocated to the developers and founders vs. the tokens held by the community can give some useful signal on whether a platform could fall victim to a rug pull or the whimsy of mercenary capital.

If most of the available supply is held by the creators and backers, there is always going to be a chance that these tokens will later be sold at market rate if or when early investors choose to exit their position.

Want more information about trading and investing in crypto markets?

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Pro traders know it’s time to range trade when this classic pattern shows up

Traders analyze bearish and bullish rectangles to spot trend changes and range trade stocks and cryptocurrencies.

A bull trend is formed when demand exceeds supply and a bear trend occurs when sellers overpower the buyers. When the bulls and bears hold their ground without budging, it results in the formation of a trading range.

Sometimes, this leads to the formation of a rectangle pattern, which can also be described as a consolidation zone or a congestion zone. Bearish and bullish rectangles are generally considered to be a continuation pattern but on many occasions, they act as a reversal pattern that signals the completion of a major top or bottom.

Before diving in to learn more about the bullish and bearish rectangle patterns, let’s first discuss how to identify them.

Basics of the rectangle pattern

A rectangle is formed when an asset forms at least two comparable tops and two bottoms that are almost at the same level. The two parallel lines can be used to join the high and the low points, forming the resistance and support lines of the rectangle.

The duration of the rectangle could range from a few weeks to several months and if this time is shorter than three weeks it is considered a flag. Typically, the longer an asset spends in consolidation, the larger is the eventual breakout or breakdown from it.

Bullish rectangle pattern

Bullish rectangle pattern. Source: TradingView

As shown above, the asset is in an uptrend but after the rally, some bulls took profits and this created the first reaction high. After the price corrects, several dip buyers jump in and arrest the decline, which forms the first trough.

As demand exceeds supply, the asset attempts to resume its up-move but when the price nears the previous reaction high, traders book profits again. Joining these two high points with a straight line forms the resistance of the rectangle. When the price turns down, buyers defend the earlier reaction low and this forms the support.

It is difficult to predict the direction of the breakout beforehand and the price could trade between the support and the resistance for a few weeks or even months. For this reason, it is better to wait for the price to escape the rectangle before turning bullish or bearish.

In the above example, the price breaks out of the resistance of the range as demand exceeds supply. This could result in the resumption of the uptrend.

Bearish rectangle pattern

Bearish rectangle pattern. Source: TradingView

As shown in the above example, the asset is in a downtrend but when the price reaches a level deemed as undervalued by traders, dip buyers absorb the supply and form a reaction low. Bulls then attempt to reverse the direction but the sentiment is still negative and traders sell on rallies, forming the reaction high.

Traders again buy the dip when the price reaches the first reaction low but the bears stall the recovery near the earlier reaction high. Thereafter, the price gets stuck between the parallel lines, forming a rectangle.

The bearish rectangle pattern completes when the price breaks and closes below the support of the range. This generally results in the resumption of the downtrend.

A bullish continuation rectangle pattern

THETA/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

THETA had been in an uptrend before hitting resistance near $0.80 on Sep. 30, 2020. On the downside, buyers stepped in and arrested the correction near $0.55. Thereafter, the price remained stuck between these two levels until Dec. 15, 2020.

The THETA/USDT pair broke above the rectangle on Dec. 16, 2020, which indicated that the bulls had overpowered the bears. This signaled the resumption of the uptrend.

THETA/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

To arrive at the target objective of the breakout from the rectangle pattern, calculate the height of the rectangle. In the above case, the height is $0.25. Add this value to the breakout level, which is $0.80 in the above example. That gives the target objective at $1.05.

After a long consolidation, when the uptrend resumes, it may overshoot the target by a huge margin as is the case above. Traders can use the target as a reference point but the decision to close or hold the trade should be taken after considering the strength of the trend and signals from other indicators.

The same processes apply to bearish rectangles as shown below.

LTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

Litecoin (LTC) had been in a strong downtrend, dropping from $184.98 on May 6, 2018, to $73.22 on June 24, 2018. The buyers stepped in at this level and attempted to form a bottom but the bears were in no mood to relent. They stalled the recovery at $90 on July 3, 2018. Thereafter, the LTC/USDT pair remained range-bound between these two levels until Aug. 6, 2018.

The bears reasserted their supremacy and pulled the price below the rectangle on Aug. 7, 2018. This resumed the downtrend.

LTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The target objective following the breakdown from a bearish rectangle is calculated by deducting the height of the rectangle from the breakdown point. In the above case, the height of the rectangle is $17. Deducting it from the breakdown level at $73 presents a target objective at $56.

The rectangle as a reversal pattern

ETH/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

Ether (ETH) topped out at $1,440 in January 2018 and started a strong downtrend, which reached $81.79 in December 2018. This level attracted strong buying from the bulls and the ETH/USDT pair made a sharp recovery. However, bears stalled the recovery near $300 in June 2019. Thereafter, the pair remained stuck between these two levels until July 24, 2020.

The bulls pushed the price above the rectangle on July 25, 2020, which suggested the start of a new uptrend. The bears tried to pull the price back below the breakout level at $300 but failed. This showed that the sentiment had turned positive and traders were buying the dips. The pair resumed its uptrend in November 2020.

Although the pattern target of the breakout from the rectangle was only $518.21, the pair rose to an all-time high at $4,372.72 in May.

Key takeaways

The rectangle pattern is a useful tool because it can act both as a continuation pattern and a reversal pattern. If the rectangle is large, traders may buy near the support and sell near the resistance.

To benefit from the rectangle and avoid getting whipsawed, traders can wait for the price to break and sustain above or below the pattern before establishing positions.

The target objective should only be used as a guide because when the price breaks out of a long rectangle it tends to overshoot the target objective by a huge margin.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Here’s 5 ways investors can use the MACD indicator to make better trades

Traders use the MACD indicator to identify turning points, facilitate entries on pullbacks and capture the larger part of a move until the trend starts to reverse course.

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence, also called the MACD, is a trend-following momentum indicator used widely by traders. Although the MACD is a lagging indicator, it can be very useful in identifying possible trend changes.

BTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The MACD oscillates above and below a zero line, also known as the centerline. The shorter moving average is subtracted from a longer moving average to arrive at the value of the MACD. A signal line, which is the exponential moving average of the MACD completes the indicator.

The blue line is the MACD and the red line is the signal line. When the blue line crosses above the red line, it is a signal to buy and when the blue line falls below the red line, it is a trigger to sell. A cross above the centerline is also a buy signal.

Let’s have a look at how to use the indicator for better entries and exits from a variety of positions. Afterward, we’ll investigate how the MACD is analyzed during pullbacks and in an uptrend. Lastly, we’ll take a brief look at the importance of divergences on the MACD.

Adapting the indicator to crypto market volatility

Compared to legacy markets, cryptocurrencies witness large movements in a short time. Therefore, the entries and exits should be quick to capture a large part of the move but without too many whipsaw trades.

When a new uptrend starts, it generally remains in force for a few weeks or months. However, every bull phase has its share of corrections. Traders should aim to stay with the trend and not get stopped out by every minor pullback along the way.

The goal should be to enter the position early as the new uptrend starts and remain with the position until a trend reversal is signaled. However, that is easier said than done. If the indicator gives too many signals, there will be several unwanted trades which will incur large commissions and be emotionally draining.

On the other hand, if the time frames are chosen to give fewer signals, a large part of the trend could be missed as the indicator will be slow in identifying reversals.

This problem was addressed by MACD creator Gerald Appel in his book, Technical Analysis: Power Tools for active investors.

Appel highlights how two MACD indicators can be used during strong trends, with the more sensitive one being used for entries and the less sensitive one being used for exits.

Related: Unsure about buying the dip? This key trading indicator makes it easier

Are two MACDs better than one?

The default value used for the MACD indicator by most charting software is the 12- to 26-day combination. However, for the subsequent examples, let’s use one MACD with the 19- to 39-day combination which is less sensitive and will be used for generating sell signals. The second one will be more sensitive, using the 6- to 19-day MACD combination which will be used for buy signals.

BTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

Bitcoin (BTC) was trading in a small range in September 2020 and during that period, both MACD indicators were largely flat. In October, as the BTC/USDT pair started an uptrend, the MACD gave a buy signal when the indicator crossed above the centerline in mid-October of 2020.

After entering the trade, watch how the MACD came close to the signal line on four occasions (marked as ellipses on the chart) on the sensitive 6- to 19-day MACD combination. This could have resulted in an early exit, leaving a large part of the gains on the table as the uptrend was only getting started.

On the other hand, notice how the less sensitive 19- to 39-day combination remained steady during the uptrend. This could have made it easier for the trader to stay in the trade till the MACD dropped below the signal line on Nov. 26, 2020, triggering a sell signal.

BNB/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

In another example, Binance Coin (BNB) crossed over the centerline on July 7, 2020, triggering a buy signal. However, the sensitive MACD quickly turned down and dipped below the signal line on July 6, as the BNB/USDT pair entered a minor correction.

Comparatively, the less sensitive MACD remained above the signal line until Aug. 12, 2020, capturing a larger portion of the trend.

LTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

Traders who find it difficult to keep track of two MACD indicators can also use the default 12- to 26-day combination. Litecoin’s (LTC) journey from about $75 to $413.49 generated five buy and sell signals. All the trades generated good entry (marked as ellipses) and exit (marked with arrows) signals.

Related: 3 ways traders use moving averages to read market momentum

How the MACD can signal corrections

Traders can also use the MACD to buy pullbacks. During corrections in an uptrend, the MACD drops to the signal line but as the price resumes its uptrend the MACD rebounds off the signal line. This formation, which looks similar to a hook, can give a good entry opportunity.

ADA/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

In the example above, Cardano (ADA) crossed over the centerline on Jan. 8, 2020, signaling a buy. However, as the up-move stalled, the MACD dropped close to the signal line on Jan. 26, 2020 but did not break below it. As the price recovered, the MACD broke away from the signal line and resumed its move higher.

This gave an opportunity to traders who may have missed buying the cross above the centerline. The sell signal was generated on Feb. 16 just as the ADA/USDT pair was starting a deep correction.

MACD divergences can also signal a trend change

BTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

Bitcoin’s price continued to make higher highs between Feb. 21, 2021, and April 14 but the MACD indicator made lower highs during the period, forming a bearish divergence. This was a sign that the momentum was weakening.

Traders should become cautious when a bearish divergence forms and avoid taking long trades during such a period. The long bearish divergence in this case culminated with a massive fall.

LTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

Litecoin shows how the MACD formed a bullish divergence during a strong downtrend from July to December 2019. Traders who bought the crossover above the centerline may have been whipsawed in September and again in November.

This shows that traders should wait for the price action to show signs of changing its trend before acting on the MACD divergences.

A few important takeaways

The MACD indicator captures the trend and also can be used to gauge an asset’s momentum. Depending on the market conditions and the asset being analyzed,  traders may vary the period setting of the MACD. If a coin is a fast mover, a more sensitive MACD could be used. With slow movers, the default setting or a less sensitive MACD may be used. Traders can also use a combination of a less sensitive and more sensitive MACD indicator for better results.

However, there is no perfect indicator that works all the time. Even with the above permutations and combinations, trades will move opposite to expectations.

Traders should deploy money management principles to cut losses quickly and protect the paper gains when the trade moves as per the assumption.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Here’s how the Purpose Bitcoin ETF differs from Grayscale’s GBTC Trust

The newly launched Purpose Bitcoin ETF surpassed even the most bullish expectations but how does it differ from Grayscale’s GBTC Trust?

Since 2017, investors have been anxiously awaiting a Bitcoin ETF approval as the existence of such a fund was an important symbol of mass adoption and acceptance from the realm of traditional finance. 

On Feb. 18, the Toronto Stock Exchange hosted the official launch of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF and the fund quickly absorbed more than $333 million in market capitalization in just two days.

Now that the long-awaited Bitcoin ETF is here, investors are curious about how it will compete with Grayscale Investments GBTC fund. On Feb. 17, Ark Investment Management founder and CEO Cathie Wood said the likelihood that U.S. regulators will approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund has gone up.

Although exchange-traded funds (ETF) and exchange-traded notes (ETN) sound quite similar, there are fundamental differences in trading, risks, and taxation.

What is an exchange-traded fund?

An ETF is a security type that holds underlying investments such as commodities, stocks, or bonds. It often resembles a mutual fund, as it is pooled and managed by its issuer.

ETFs have become a $7.7 trillion industry, growing by 65% in the last two years alone.

The most recognizable example is the SPY, a fund that tracks the S&P 500 index, currently managed by State Street. Invesco’s QQQ is another EFT that tracks U.S.-based large-capitalization technology companies.

More exotic structures are available, such as the ProShares UltraShort Bloomberg Crude Oil ($SCO). Using derivatives products, this fund aims to offer two times the daily short leverage on oil prices.

What is an exchange-traded note?

Exchange-traded notes (ETN) are similar to an ETF in that trading occurs using traditional brokers. Still, the difference is an ETN is a debt instrument issued by a financial institution. Even if the fund has a redemption program, the credit risk relies entirely on its issuer.

For example, after Lehman Brothers imploded in 2008, it took ETN investors more than a decade to recoup the investment.

On the other hand, buying an ETF gives one direct ownership of its contents, creating different taxation events when holding futures contracts and leveraging positions. Meanwhile, ETNs are taxed exclusively upon sale.

GBTC does not offer conversion or redemption

Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust Fund (GBTC) is the absolute leader in the cryptocurrency market, with $35 billion in assets under management.

Investment trusts are structured as companies — at least in regulatory form — and are ‘closed-end funds.’ Thus, the number of shares available is limited and the supply and demand for them largely determines their price.

Investment trust funds are regulated by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), therefore outside the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authority.

GBTC shares cannot easily be created, neither is there an active redemption program in place. This tends to generate significant price discrepancies from its Net Asset Value, which is the underlying BTC fraction represented.

An ETF, on the other hand, allows the market maker to create and redeem shares at will. Therefore, a premium or discount is usually unlikely if enough liquidity is in place.

An ETF instrument is far more acceptable to mutual fund managers and pension funds as it carries much less risk than a closed-ended trust like GBTC. Retail investors may not have been aware of the possibility that GBTC trades below net assets value. Thus the recent event might further pressure investors to move their position to the Canadian ETF.

To sum up, an ETF product carries a significantly less risk due to greater transparency and the possibility to redeem shares in the case of shares trading at a discount.

Nevertheless, the impressive GBTC market capitalization clearly states that institutional investors are already on board.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Here’s how multi-leg options allow traders to profit from $2K Ethereum price

Using multi-leg options can give traders a less risky way to invest in Ethereum price as it pushes above $2,000.

This week Ether (ETH) price finally broke through the $2,000 level as aggressive institutional inflow through Grayscale Investments products and declining exchange reserves signaled that buying pressure was increasing.

While many traders are skilled at using perpetual futures and the basic margin investing tools available on most exchanges, they may be unaware of additional instruments that can be used to maximize their gains. One simple way, albeit expensive, is buying Ether call option contracts.

Ether 60-day historical volatility. Source: TradingView

For example, a March 26 call option with a $1,760 strike trades at $340. In the current situation, the holder would only profit if Ether trades above $2,180 in 39 days, a 21% gain from the current $1,800. If Ether remains flat at $1,800, this trader will lose $300. This is certainly not an excellent risk-reward profile.

By using call (buy) options and puts (sell), a trader can create strategies to reduce this cost and improve the potential gains. They can be used in bullish and bearish circumstances and most exchanges offer easily accessible options platforms now.

The suggested bullish strategy consists of selling a $2,240 put to create positive exposure to Ether while simultaneously selling a $2,880 call to reduce gains above that level. These trades were modelled from Ether price at $1,800.

Two out-of-the-money (small odds) positions are needed to protect from the possible price crashes below 20% or Ether gains above 130%. Those additional trades will give the trader peace of mind while also reducing the margin (collateral) requirements.

Profit / Loss estimate. Source: Deribit Position Builder

The above trade consists of selling 1 Ether contract of the March 26 put option with a $2,240 strike while selling another 1 Ether contract of the $2,880 strike. The additional trades also avoid the unexpected scenarios for the same expiry date.

The trader needs to buy 0.73 Ether contracts of the $4,160 call in order to avoid excessive upside losses. Similarly, buying 1.26 Ether contracts of $1,440 puts will protect against more significant negative price moves.

As the estimate above shows, any outcome between $1,780 and $3,885 is positive. For example, a 20% price increase to $2,160 results in a $478 net gain. Meanwhile, this strategy’s maximum loss is $425 if Ether trades at $1,440 or lower on March 26.

On the other hand, this strategy can net a positive $580 or higher gain from $2,240 to $3,100 at expiry. Overall it yields a much better risk-reward from leveraged futures trading, for example. Using 3x leverage would incur a $425 loss as soon as Ether drops 8%.

This multiple options strategy trade provides a better risk-reward for those seeking exposure to Ether’s price increase. Moreover, there is zero upfront funds involved for the strategy, except from the margin or collateral deposit requirements.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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