Retail Interest in Bitcoin is Dwindling, Google Data Suggests

Bitcoin’s (BTC) price surge to as much as $69,000 last year and a range above $40,000 this year has failed to attract continual interest from retail crowds, search data from Google Trends suggests.

Worldwide searches for bitcoin have reached mid-2020 levels as of April 22, 2022, with readings of 17 for the week of April 17-April 23. This is a relative drop from May 2021’s readings of 76.

Google Trends allows users to compare the relative volume of searches. This, however, does not mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing, but just means its popularity is decreasing compared to other searches. A line trending downward means that a search term's popularity relative to other popular terms is decreasing

Data suggests most searches for bitcoin originate from Nigeria, followed by El Salvador and Austria. These search queries are relative to other terms or keywords searched in those regions, meaning Nigerians searched for bitcoin more than they searched for other keywords, but this wasn’t necessarily more than overall search figures from, say, the U.S.

But despite the apparent waning interest in bitcoin, some analysts say retail crowds are gravitating towards newer sectors and markets within the crypto space, such as tokens of decentralized finance (DeFi) or layer 1 blockchains such as Solana and Avalanche.

“Bitcoin has risen in price several times, with its investment threshold becoming higher for new users," explained Johnny Lyu, CEO of KuCoin, in a Telegram message. "But many new cryptocurrencies known as altcoins have appeared since, which, according to users, can be more attractive as investments."

Lyu added the quick presence and popularity of memecoins have gradually shifted users' attention from bitcoin in comparison to the past few years.

Egor Volotkovich, the executive director of cross-chain solutions EVODeFi, seconded that sentiment. “DeFi, NFT, and blockchain gaming are areas of interest that are now enticing investors across the board,” he said.

“Retail investors are more interested in exploring these other innovations the blockchain ecosystem now offers, which explains the declining search trends irrespective of the price differentials between now and the past two years,” Volotkovich added.

Meanwhile, some like Vasja Zupan, president of crypto exchange Matrix, argue the search data does not represent interest from institutional investors.

“Google Trends do not reflect institutional and professional interest. And I believe that current prices reflect those groups' interest and entering the market more than pure retail,” he said in an email to CoinDesk. “With Bitcoin maturing we will see a less retail impact, with exception of times of peak bull cycles and more influence from institutional demand,” Zupan added.

Firms like business analytics maker MicroStrategy and electric carmaker Tesla have purchased billions of dollars worth of bitcoin in the past two years, unlike previous cycles in 2018 and earlier.

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