Bitcoin (BTC) price dropped below the $18,000 support level on Nov. 22. This comes after BTC continuously saw high over-the-counter (OTC) and institutional volume throughout November.

BTC/USD 1-hour chart. Source: Tradingview

Data suggests that the growing institutional demand was likely one of the main catalysts behind the BTC price rally to $18,965.

According to the data from Skew, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust’s volume on OTC Markets increased significantly in the fourth quarter.

OTC Markets is a securities exchange in the U.S. that allows institutional and accredited investors to purchase various securities. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust trades on OTC Markets, similar to an exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust daily volume. Source:

This is an institution-led Bitcoin rally

There is a clear difference between the ongoing uptrend and the 2017 rally. This time, Bitcoin has shown more composure and stability throughout the uptrend, consecutively reclaiming major resistance levels.

Bitcoin saw a large spike in spot volume, futures exchange open interest, and institutional demand. Yet, various metrics such as Google Trends have shown the mainstream interest for Bitcoin is relatively low.

The combination of the two abovementioned factors suggests institutions have likely been the primary driving force of the recent rally.

The heavy involvement of institutions in a prolonged Bitcoin rally is optimistic because institutions are likely to accumulate BTC with a long-term strategy.

This trend explains why most of the major dips Bitcoin saw in November were aggressively bought up. As Cointelegraph reported, Dan Tapiero, the co-founder of 10T Holdings, said “big boys will buy dips now."

Tapiero also emphasized that real fundamentals are driving the ongoing rally, unlike the 2017 mania. He said:

“3rd wave up to dwarf the 2017 move and should persist for several years.”

Michael Novogratz, the billionaire Bitcoin investor, also said that Bitcoin has become an institutional asset along the way.

In recent months, more institutions, hedge funds, and investment banks have started comparing BTC to gold. Novogratz said on CNBC:

“Bitcoin is now an institutional asset. Period. The good thing is most institutions aren’t in yet. It’s why 2021 will be as good or better than 2020.”

3 whale clusters to watch as BTC dives below $18,000

Whales, or high-net-worth investors, typically use OTC and exchanges simultaneously to accumulate Bitcoin.

Throughout November, analysts at the on-chain analysis firm Whalemap found the emergence of major whale clusters.

Whale clusters are price levels where whales buy BTC and do not move their holdings. Clusters often signify areas where whales buy Bitcoin.

Bitcoin whale clusters throughout November. Source: Whalemap

The data from Whalemap show that $16,411, $16,278 and $15,691 remain as the big whale clusters. Hence, even if BTC sees a short-term pullback, the aggressive accumulation from whales in November has established crucial support areas.

In the near term, following BTC’s recent minor correction from $18,865 to below $18,000, whale clusters are expected to act as important support levels. The $17,300 and $16,411 price levels remain as the major support levels.