Specifically, the ADA/USD exchange rate gained almost 200% after bottoming out at $1.007 on July 20. The pair reached its record high of $3.02 in the previous session, a move that was followed by a 6.42% price correction to $2.73 at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, the same period saw the total number of Cardano wallets that hold at least $1 million worth of ADA tokens surge from 3,625 to 9,830, per information provided by data analytics platforms CoinMetrics and Messari.
Additionally, against ADA's 1,455% year-to-date (YTD) gains, the total number of Cardano millionaires surged from 504 to 9,830 — a 1,850% jump. That coincided with erratic spikes in Google Trends searches for the keyword "Cardano," signaling retail interest.
Furthermore, the number of Cardano wallets holding more than $10 million worth of ADA tokens climbed from 504 on July 20 to almost 1,000. On Jan. 1, there were only 86 wallets with balances above $10 million.
Hodling makes Cardano investors rich
ADA's rise in 2021 also led to a spike in the sum of its unspent transaction outputs, or UTXOs.
UTXOs represent cryptocurrencies that have remained unspent in their crypto wallets after deposit. Therefore, if a blockchain network sees a rise in UTXOs, it indicates that most wallets are holding the cryptocurrency instead of transferring it to other addresses — i.e., a weaker selling sentiment.
CoinMetrics data fetched by Messari shows that Cardano's UTXO count surged from 816,600 on Jan. 1 to 2.85 million at the time of writing. That illustrates an incredible rise in Cardano investors' "hodling" sentiment, something that might have worked as a backstop to ADA's 1,455% YTD rally.
The decision to hold instead of selling ADA tokens found its cues in Cardano's potential to unseat its top blockchain rival, Ethereum, as the latter experienced problems with network congestion and higher transaction fees at the beginning of this year.
For instance, ADA/USD surged 579% in the first quarter on optimism around its "Mary" upgrade, a protocol update that made Cardano a multi-asset blockchain. In doing so, the blockchain became compatible with host projects involved in the emerging decentralized finance (DeFi) and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) space.
The update, which went live on March 1, was followed up with another hard fork in July, called "Shelley." The new mainnet introduced Cardano’s proposed proof-of-stake layer, allowing users to contribute to the transaction validation process either directly (by operating a stake pool) or indirectly (via delegation) in exchange for staking rewards.
But despite solid fundamentals, ADA/USD surged a mere 19.21% during the second quarter, partly due to China's crackdown on its regional cryptocurrency industry and Tesla CEO Elon Musk's anti-Bitcoin (BTC) tweets.
Nonetheless, the Cardano UTXO count kept surging during the second quarter's turbulence in the crypto market. It topped out at 2.93 million on July 26, when ADA was changing hands for $1.25.
The third quarter has witnessed Cardano finalizing its plans to become a smart contract platform similar to Ethereum via its so-called "Alonzo" upgrade. As a result, speculative bids for ADA, alongside investors' hodling sentiment, have surged.
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