What is a Whale in Crypto?

By Julia Cook
Published Sep 27, 2022 and Updated Mar 21st, 2023

A cryptocurrency whale, more commonly referred to as a ‘crypto whale’ or ‘whale,’ is a term used to refer to an individual or wallet address that owns a very large amount of cryptocurrency.

A cryptocurrency whale typically refers to a particular crypto wallet address that holds a large amount of cryptocurrency. Since wallet addresses are publicly viewable, even though the identities of their owners are not, the cryptocurrency is able to keep track of which wallets hold the highest amount of crypto, as well as any transactions that occur between those addresses and others.

Although there is no specific amount or cryptocurrency that the term ‘whale’ is meant to apply to, it is usually used in reference to someone who holds a large amount of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) or other major altcoin. As for the amount, it must be an amount that is significant enough to influence the crypto market. Therefore, some feel that a whale should be at least 1,000 BTC. There are some who feel that this could even be as low as 100 BTC.

Whales have been known to greatly influence the demand and pricing of BTC and other cryptocurrencies. A notorious example includes the whale who sold off $710 million USD worth of Tether (USDT) when the USDT price dropped below its pegged value of 1:1 USD ratio.

For the most part therefore, it is important to keep an eye on whale’s movements solely for the purpose of assessing their impact on the part so as to determine when to buy and sell your crypto. However, no decisions should be made solely on the basis of their actions or words, but rather on what is occurring in the cryptocurrency market as a whole. In general though, because they are aware of the impact that their trading would have on pricing on a cryptocurrency exchange platform, most whales prefer to trade wallet-to-wallet without any type of intermediary.