What Is Bitcoin Dominance? Detailed Guide 2024 | OWNR Wallet

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What Is Bitcoin Dominance?


Bitcoin dominance stands for Bitcoin's share of the overall crypto markets. As the first and most widely adopted digital currency, Bitcoin has dominated the crypto market for most of its history. However, with the emergence of alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) like Ethereum, its dominance has fluctuated over time.

In this article, we will explore what Bitcoin dominance is, how it is calculated, historical trends, and why it is important for crypto traders. Whether you are a beginner in digital assets, or are a seasoned trader, understanding this concept will enable you to make informed decisions amidst the unpredictable swings of the crypto market.

What Is Bitcoin Dominance?

Bitcoin dominance, also known as the Bitcoin ratio or index, is a key metric in the crypto landscape. It defines the percentage of the total cryptocurrency market capitalization contributed by Bitcoin. In other words, it reflects the relative size and influence of Bitcoin on the crypto market. For seasoned investors, this ratio is a strategic tool. When compared to Bitcoin fluctuations, it can help assess market sentiment and potential shifts in investment flows.

Calculating Bitcoin Dominance

Calculating the Bitcoin index isn’t complicated. It’s just Bitcoin's total value divided by the whole crypto market capitalization (minus Bitcoin itself).

To calculate Bitcoin’s market cap, you need to take all the Bitcoin in circulation and multiply that by the latest BTC price. As of February 2024, the total Bitcoins in existence are around 19,636,106, while the price of BTC as of February 25th is around $51,581.

So, 19.6 million BTC x $51.5K per coin = $1 trillion market value. If the total crypto market value (again, sans Bitcoin) equals $2.09 trillion, then Bitcoin makes up around 47% dominance ($1 trillion / $2.09 trillion).

As Bitcoin's price and circulating supply shift relative to other cryptos, its slice of the overall market cap pie grows or shrinks over time. Traders can use these percentage shifts as clues to predict when money may rotate between Bitcoin as the steady blue-chip vs. riskier emerging projects with crypto cycles. But the main takeaway is that tracking Bitcoin dominance keeps your finger on the pulse of its evolving power struggle with competitors.

Historical View of Bitcoin Dominance

In Bitcoin’s early days, it dominated the nascent crypto landscape at essentially 100% market share. For years, BTC existed as the sole disruptive digital currency on the block. However, Bitcoin dominance trended downward with each new crypto wave and innovation cycle that followed.

When altcoins like Litecoin first emerged around 2011, Bitcoin dominance held above 90%. The biggest shakeup came during the ICO boom around 2017, when Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens proliferated. The Bitcoin ratio bottomed under 35% on January 14, 2018, its lowest point ever. Hundreds of flashy crypto projects with multi-billion dollar valuations sprang up seemingly overnight.

Bitcoin has never reclaimed the supreme dominance it enjoyed in those pioneer days. Its share now fluctuates between the 35-75% range, dragged up and down based on institutional and retail interest, regulation, scalability solutions, and crypto hype cycles in general.

Tracking historical Bitcoin dominance charts provides context around when and why its reign gets challenged during the rise of each new altcoin faction. However, Bitcoin, the largest crypto, still determines market cycles and psychology more than anything else in this ever-evolving crypto arena.

Factors Influencing Bitcoin Dominance

The key variable controlling Bitcoin dominance is, obviously, Bitcoin itself.

  1. Bitcoin uptrend. When Bitcoin’s price moves upward, market enthusiasm typically ignites, and money pours out of altcoins back into Bitcoin, pushing its dominance higher.
  2. Bitcoin downtrend. Sustained bearish Bitcoin price action has the opposite effect, allowing altcoins to grab more market share. Their combined successes can rapidly reduce Bitcoin dominance.

Bitcoin ratio levels also shift based on the rise and fall of altcoins within the overall crypto market cap.

  1. When innovative alt projects capture investor interest, or new sectors like DeFi start trending, money tends to flow out of Bitcoin into these altcoin options. Their market caps swell while Bitcoin market dominance declines.
  2. Conversely, speculation-fueled altcoin rallies can collapse just as quickly when optimism fades. Altcoin winter can leave the majority far below their peak valuations. As disillusioned capital returns to the relative stability of Bitcoin during such altcoin declines, BTC dominance starts climbing upwards again.

Another factor that influences Bitcoin dominance is broad crypto market movements.

  1. When the market is bullish, traders tend to get more speculative with their capital. They divert more funds into riskier bets on fast-rising altcoins, trying to maximize profits. As such, Bitcoin dominance decreases.
  2. When the market is bearish, Bitcoin transforms into a relatively safe-haven asset. As altcoin prices brutally correct in a prolonged downturn, many traders rotate their holdings back into stable Bitcoin.

How Crypto Traders Utilize Bitcoin Dominance


The Bitcoin dominance index offers a snapshot of Bitcoin's market cap relative to the total value of all cryptocurrencies, acting as a barometer for market sentiment. Savvy traders keep close tabs on Bitcoin dominance to help them assess market cycles and interpret when allocation shifts occur within the broader crypto landscape.

When Bitcoin dominance rises, it often signals a preference for the relative safety of Bitcoin over the potentially higher risk and reward of altcoins. Conversely, a decline in dominance can indicate growing interest and confidence in altcoins, suggesting a broader appetite for risk among market participants.

Analyzing Bitcoin dominance patterns and inflection points allows traders to pinpoint the stage of market cycles. It serves as an analytical tool to find optimal times to take profits or enter new positions. Traders fundamentally aim to follow the momentum and money flows.

So, whether trading strictly Bitcoin or diving into altcoin assets, keeping a pulse on Bitcoin dominance keeps traders informed on where capital is concentrating next within the dynamic crypto economy.

Bitcoin Dominance and Market Cycles

As the first cryptocurrency asset compared to fledgling altcoins, Bitcoin serves as the barometer gauging overall market fear or greed. Analyzing Bitcoin dominance patterns provides clues about when market participants become more risk-seeking versus risk-averse.

When Bitcoin dominance soars to yearly highs, it signals a widespread rotation back to a cautious BTC-heavy allocation. Rotating money out of shaky alt positions and into secure Bitcoin protects against potential bubble bursts.

Conversely, sinking Bitcoin dominance reflects increasing market euphoria and fosters traders' desire to speculate on high-flying altcoins in a risk-on appetite.

Recognizing these shifts in market sentiment enables traders to align their strategies with the current market cycle, optimizing their portfolio's performance in response to the ever-changing crypto market dynamics.

Trading Bitcoin Dominance

Actively trading Bitcoin dominance levels offers adept crypto investors another tool to strategically maneuver market cycles. When Bitcoin dominance trends upwards, indicating a consolidation of market value within Bitcoin, traders often interpret this as a cue to pivot towards Bitcoin, anticipating a safer haven amidst potential market turbulence. Conversely, a downward trend in dominance can signal the onset of an “alt season,” a period marked by flourishing altcoin values, prompting traders to diversify into these assets to capitalize on potential gains.

Here is a table to help traders build their trading strategy to reflect Bitcoin dominance and BTC price shifts.

Bitcoin DominanceBitcoin price trendAction
BullishBullishBuy BTC
BullishBearishSell altcoins
BearishBullishBuy altcoins
BearishBearishSell BTC

Limitations of Bitcoin Dominance

While still a useful metric, there are concerns about the reliability of Bitcoin dominance as the market matures.

Critics point out that this single indicator fails to capture nuances across a complex, multi-faceted crypto ecosystem. Not all altcoins trend in sync, making it oversimplified to view allocative flows as only a Bitcoin vs. rest-of-market dynamic.

Bitcoin dominance also discounts critical fundamental analysis specific to individual altcoin projects when generalizing rotational cycles. Macro conditions driving Bitcoin do not necessarily echo micro developments powering specific DeFi, NFT, metaverse, and other sector trends.

As the crypto space expands, Bitcoin presence and influence arguably diminishes as money spreads across more assets, platforms, and use cases. Bitcoin once accounted for 80-90% of value flow. With its current dominance fluctuating around 50%, its cycles hold less predictive weight than historical comparisons.

While it is one insightful perspective on market psychology, Bitcoin dominance alone provides an incomplete picture. Therefore, when evaluating rotations and seeking trade signals, it’s crucial to combine this metric with on-chain, technical, sentiment, and qualitative factors.


Bitcoin dominance offers crypto traders a snapshot of market structure — specifically Bitcoin's size relative to the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. As a high-level gauge of flows between asset classes, Bitcoin dominance provides clues about sentiment-driven rotational cycles.

However, while an insightful metric, the Bitcoin ratio alone has limitations in reliably predicting future price action. Given the complex interplay of factors driving individual token valuations, traders should incorporate dominance alongside on-chain data, project fundamentals, plus technical and qualitative indicators as part of a holistic analytical approach.

With an understanding of its merits and restrictions, Bitcoin dominance can be a helpful instrument for interpreting the ever-changing crypto asset arena.


What is the difference between BTC and Bitcoin dominance?

Bitcoin (BTC) refers specifically to the cryptocurrency and its market price, while Bitcoin dominance measures BTC's market capitalization as a percentage of the total crypto market cap. Bitcoin market dominance is an important instrument for interpreting and foreseeing fluctuations in the crypto market.

What is Bitcoin's dominance right now?

As of February 2024, Bitcoin accounts for about 47% dominance. This means that Bitcoin market capitalization makes up roughly 47% of the global digital asset market cap.

How do you interpret a Bitcoin Dominance chart?

Bitcoin dominance charts visualize the percentage of total crypto market capitalization contributed by Bitcoin over time. When Bitcoin dominance rises, it often signals a preference for the relative safety of Bitcoin, while a decline in dominance can indicate growing interest and confidence in altcoins.

What happens if BTC dominance goes down?

Sustained drops in Bitcoin dominance indicate strong speculative interest and funds flowing out of Bitcoin into higher-risk, higher-return altcoin bets based on market euphoria during such altcoin runs.

What is the highest and lowest BTC dominance rate?

The highest Bitcoin dominance happened in the early years of this crypto. The lowest dominance dropped below 35% in January 2018 during the ICO boom when money flooded into altcoins, and investors speculated on alternative blockchain projects besides Bitcoin.

DISCLAIMER: None of the authors, contributors, administrators, or editors connected to OWNR Wallet encourage readers to invest in Bitcoin (BTC) or other cryptocurrency without doing proper research on their own. This article is purely for educational purposes only.

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