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Data: Coin Metrics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Now more than ever, bitcoin as "digital gold" is the prevailing narrative fueling big-name adoption, writes Coindesk. Bitcoin is something to be bought and stored, not something to be spent or used. 

Why it matters: Bitcoin as a store of value is trouncing bitcoin as a medium of exchange. While the price of bitcoin is near its all-time highs, usage of bitcoin for anything other than investing has slowed.

By the numbers: Roughly 60% of all bitcoins have not moved in at least a year. The average time bitcoin is being held in individual wallets recently surpassed 1,000 days for the first time.

Between the lines: That said, bitcoin does function as a currency in two key places: darknet e-commerce and countries with economic instability. 

  • Darknet volumes are still seeing a steady upward trend. Such marketplaces drew roughly $1.5 billion in revenue in 2020, up from just under $500 million in 2015. Overall, about 1% of crypto transactions last year were for illicit purposes.
  • Kenya, Venezuela, Nigeria and Colombia lead the pack in peer-to-peer exchange volume, which is the sector’s best proxy for grassroots activity. Even among the leaders, however, volumes remain tiny. Nigeria, the leader, saw $353 million in P2P volume in 2020 — a number that’s been fairly flat for the past three years.

The bottom line: For now, bitcoin is more cryptoasset than cryptocurrency. Take it from Coinbase, the San Francisco crypto exchange prepping to go public: 

  • "The fact that wallet-count is outpacing the volume of on-chain transactions illustrates the market’s belief that Bitcoin’s primary application is as a store of wealth," Coinbase wrote in an annual report published last week. "In short, people are holding their Bitcoin rather than sending or spending them."

Interested in more Axios crypto content? Please click here to be on our list if we launch something in the space.

Go deeper

U.S. indexes see worst day since October amid short squeeze chaos

Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Equity prices tumbled Wednesday, with U.S. indexes booking their worst day since October, but traditional hedging assets like Treasury bonds, the Japanese yen and gold saw minimal gains or losses, continuing a trend that has been in place for more than a year.

By the numbers: The S&P, Dow and Nasdaq all fell by more than 2%, but the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield declined by just 1 basis point from its closing level on Tuesday.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."