Wrapped Bitcoin ‘Burns’ Increase as Traders Rotate Capital Out of Cooling DeFi

Wrapped bitcoin, the bitcoin-backed token on Ethereum now worth over $2 billion, has seen an increase in burns (or “unwrappings”) by some of its largest users as the Ethereum-based decentralized finance sector continues to cool.

BitGo clients including Three Arrows Capital and Alameda Research are exchanging an increasing amount of their tokenized bitcoins minted earlier this year for real bitcoins as the bullish cryptocurrency market continues to center on bitcoin (BTC, +1.95%) and Ethereum’s decentralized finance takes a back seat for now. 

“In general, the yield has dipped in DeFi and the increased trading on centralized exchanges directed our needs to do so,” said Lan Gu, quantitative trader at Alameda Research, in a direct message with CoinDesk. 

In the months following DeFi’s red-hot summer when bitcoins were wrapped faster than they were mined, the sector has cooled significantly and yields across various Ethereum-based protocols have subsequently dropped. 

Alameda’s WBTC burns are also partially the result of shifts in their OTC order flow and internal capital base readjustment as the price of bitcoin continues to climb, the firm told CoinDesk. 

Another catalyst for the increase in burns could be the sunsetting of liquidity rewards program for leading decentralized exchange Uniswap on Nov. 17, giving users less of an incentive to keep funds on the platform, according to Kiarash Mosayeri, wrapped bitcoin product manager at BitGo. Talking to CoinDesk, Mosayeri said the recent WBTC burns “were expected.”


To date, nearly 120,000 WBTC are still in circulation with over 8,000 WBTC minted in November. A record 4,300 WBTC were burned over the same period, however. Nearly 2,000 more were also burned in the first few days of December with no new minting. 

Three Arrows Capital, another prominent wrapped bitcoin merchant that burned over 4,000 WBTC in the past two weeks, declined to comment on why they “unwrapped” these coins. The Singapore-based trading firm has not minted new WBTC since mid-October, per BitGo’s wrapped bitcoin order book. 

The market capitalization of wrapped bitcoin is above $2.3 billion at last check.

WBTC burns in 2020

Source: Wrapped Bitcoin, CoinDesk Research


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