The key benefit of blockchain technology is transparency. Blockchain data is publicly available — which means anyone, anywhere, at any time, can access and analyze it. This also means you can scrutinize trades and transactions across blockchains — even those made by the most influential investors or “crypto whales”. Savvy investors often use this transparency to refine their trading strategies or be early to new projects.
In this article, we will explore what crypto whales are and how to see what crypto whales are buying so that you can incorporate it into your trading strategy.
What are crypto whales?
Crypto whales are individuals or institutions that hold a large amount of a particular cryptocurrency. While there is no set threshold for becoming a “whale”, these entities often hold a significant portion of the total coins in circulation of an asset. In the case of Ethereum, commonly accepted whale thresholds range from 1,000-10,000 ETH, but for altcoins, the holding requirements can be drastically lower.
Whales typically have the power to influence crypto markets due to their sizable holdings. When a whale decides to sell a major chunk of their assets, the market might react by pushing the price down. On the other hand, if a whale accumulates a large bag of a specific cryptocurrency, the asset could become more scarce — thereby leading to a price uptrend.
Informed market participants often follow whale activities, assuming they have insider knowledge or significant market insight. Their actions, combined with whale movements, can trigger a domino effect, with other traders following suit. Being early to large movements gives you the opportunity to make the most returns. This is one of the primary reasons to track crypto whales.
Why track the top crypto whales?
As a crypto investor, finding your next profitable trade can be challenging. Tracking crypto whales can help you identify potential market trends and study successful investment strategies.
For instance, you could get early signals by monitoring whale activities and can time your entries and exits on coins accordingly. Further, if many popular whales take an interest in a specific project, you can assume market enthusiasm for the asset.
However, it’s important to be cautious if a project has too many whales. Since whales can manipulate coin prices, a project with too many whales can be extremely volatile.
Therefore, while making a crypto investment strategy, tracking the top crypto whales gives you an edge over the average retail participant.
Who exactly are the “top” crypto whales?
It’s important to realize that not all whales are created equal. Some whales could have bought their entire holdings after the asset became popular — institutional investors buying Solana, for example. Some could be cryptocurrency exchanges holding crypto assets on behalf of their customers. Some could simply have large balances but are historically unprofitable or have low returns on their investments. Tracking these wallets might not give helpful insights for investors with smaller-sized portfolios.
Instead, a better option would be to use a crypto analytics platform like Nansen and look for whales with an extensive history of making profitable trades. These investments typically tend to be in more uncommon assets or cryptocurrencies that are slowly gaining traction but not mainstream yet.
In other words, you need to follow the “smart money” that invests before a significant uptrend in the price action of a cryptocurrency. Smart money gives you clearer signals and consistent patterns — making it easy to understand their strategies or copy their trades with greater success.
So, how do you find these smart whales?
How to find crypto whale wallets?
Discovering crypto whale wallets requires a thorough exploration of blockchain data, strategic investigative work, and vigilant monitoring, commonly known as on-chain analysis. In this section, we’ll go over the top three ways you can find whale wallets.
Whales holding tokens you’re interested in
One of the first things you should analyze before investing in a cryptocurrency is token distribution. Simply put, token distribution means the distribution of a cryptocurrency among its stakeholders. Given the public nature of blockchain data, you can conveniently filter out the top holders for any cryptocurrencies you're interested in — these are your local "whales."
An easy way to find and analyze these local whales is through Nansen’s Token God dashboard. Token god mode allows you to dive deep into a specific cryptocurrency. It shows you where every token is — from team wallets and liquidity pools to exchanges and large holders.
With the token distribution dashboard, you can also see how token balances have changed over time to gauge market sentiment and interest in that cryptocurrency. You can view top balances based on seniority and tokens held by smart contracts, CEXes, team wallets etc. This can help highlight staking opportunities, large wallets to watch, and even early investor activities. Additionally, you can observe which “smart money” or whale wallets have invested in a specific token.
Top DEX Traders
While spotting local whales can provide you with valuable insights, these investors are often early backers of a single project and may not execute a replicable success formula across a broad portfolio.
So, to form a more comprehensive and holistic trading strategy, you need to cast a wider net, looking beyond private investors with early access. You need to find whales with a history of making successful trades across multiple projects consistently. In other words, “smart money.”
However, finding “smart money” across different chains and tokens can be an incredibly time-consuming and challenging task. Instead, you can use advanced tools like Nansen’s Token paradise, which tracks millions of successful traders across decentralized exchanges.
Token Paradise’s unique DEX PnL Leaderboard lets you analyze the performance of various whale wallets over different time periods — 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days, or 90 days. You can instantly view information about the whale’s number of successful trades, realized profit and loss, their top 3 tokens, and initial capital.
Armed with this data, you can get a fair idea of trending tokens across multiple whale wallets. Further, each wallet has a unique label, such as a ‘smart’ or ‘heavy’ DEX trader, to help you understand a whale’s trading style instantly.
What are whales holding, buying, and selling
Tracking smart money often leads you to clusters of “whales” or alpha groups that invest in similar assets. You can follow this trail to find more whale addresses, allowing you to analyze collective behavioral and investment trends.
An efficient way to find popular assets is through Nansen’s Smart Money section. Smart money token holdings show you an overview of token volumes of trending tokens over time periods of an hour, a day, seven days, and 30 days. It also shows you the number of smart wallet addresses holding that token, which gives you a rough idea about the popularity of the token. From here, you can find multiple potential whale addresses to track.
An important thing to note is that tracking “smart money” isn’t a one-size fits all process. Your own trading strategies will influence the tokens and metrics you focus on. For example, private sale investors may look at different tokens and metrics compared to airdrop hunters when identifying a trending token.
Nansen addresses this market need by allowing you to filter by different market segments, such as HODLers, first movers, DEX traders, NFT flippers, and more. You can access the filter option by clicking on the top left section of the screen. With over 6k labeled wallet addresses and growing, Nansen gives you the flexibility to switch between different types of trading styles.
Once you’ve identified the top whales from the above methods, it is time to set up a system to track them. Tracking them will help you analyze their patterns and strategies, such as trade timing, the type of coins they trade, risk management, and response to market conditions.
How to analyze and track crypto whale activity?
You can analyze and track crypto whale activity directly on the blockchain via tools like block explorers such as Etherscan or major data analytics platforms like Nansen. Block explorers typically focus on raw blockchain data and individual transactions, while data analytics platforms aggregate and analyze to produce actionable insights.
Let’s look at how these two methods differ and how you can use them.
Block Explorers - Native Analytics for Blockchains
Block explorers, as the name suggests, allow you to “explore” the blockchain. You can access historical and real-time transactions, wallet balances, block history etc, on a particular blockchain through a block explorer. Popular explorers include Etherscan for Ethereum and Blockchain.com for Bitcoin
Block explorers are a useful and beginner-friendly way to track crypto whales. Once you’ve identified a whale address in the previous step, you can track the inflows and outflows of their addresses and gauge their overall activity. You also set up alerts for specific wallet addresses through these tools.
While block explorers are useful while tracking whales, they have their limitations. One of the key issues with block explorers is limited label coverage. For instance, Block explorers can only display the transaction history of a specific address and do not provide any insight into the nature of transactions.
For instance, you must dig through a lot of historical data to identify the important whale transactions on a block explorer. This grunt work can become pretty repetitive if a crypto whale is very active. It can also be hard to understand the nature and context of the overall whale activity.
Plus, if a crypto whale has multiple wallets (and they often do), identifying, linking, and tracking them can become a significant time drain. With millions of transactions and addresses, tracking crypto wallets can be tough. This is where blockchain analytics platforms shine.
Simplify wallet tracking using Nansen
Going beyond data aggregation, Nansen enriches on-chain data with wallet address labels. This gives users a deeper understanding of what’s happening and makes it easier to find and track crypto whales.
One of the most popular features of Nansen, Wallet Profiler, offers you an in-depth view of a wallet’s activity and current holdings. You can simply input a crypto address into the Wallet Profiler, and find information about every transaction that whale has ever made.
Wallet Profiler neatly organizes this transaction data into daily, hourly, and all-time statistics, with separate tabs for NFT and DEX activity. Navigating to the NFT and DEX tab will give you more insights into transaction activity in that segment, such as their total spend, gains or losses, gas spent, and so on. Beyond that, Nansen detects activity across other wallet addresses and smart contracts and aggregates that in their counterparty tab.
You can easily find the top wallets and smart contracts they interact with, helping you uncover new whale wallets or projects.
Since crypto whales typically have their assets spread across multiple wallets, Nansen provides a list of potentially related wallets for deeper analysis. With this information, you can differentiate between the whale’s long-term storage wallet (a vault), the wallet they use for risky transactions, and even their day-to-day wallet.
In short, you can essentially analyze a whale’s complete personality and trading preferences through Wallet Profiler.
Smart Alerts - Be Alerted to Whale Activity
Crypto investing requires constant monitoring — keeping a track of market trends, asset prices, macro impacts, and, notably, whale activities. The quicker you can interpret and act on signals from whale activities, the higher your chances of executing successful trades.
With Nansen Alerts, you spot investment opportunities as soon as they happen. Nansen’s smart alert feature allows you to track whale movements efficiently without remaining glued to your old blockchain explorer. You can input the whale addresses and the value of transactions you’d like to monitor as well as add any other constraints.
When a whale initiates a transaction that fulfills your criteria, Nansen's Smart Alert feature promptly sends you a notification through your preferred communication channel — Telegram, Discord, or Slack.
Track whales with Nansen
In crypto, knowledge is power, and understanding smart money movements can be an invaluable advantage. Understanding the dynamics behind price movements is fundamental to trading cryptocurrencies. And whales are a key piece of the puzzle.
Tracking crypto whales can help you contextualize and understand market movements and make an informed investment plan. Data points from crypto whales, along with fundamental analysis and other indicators, can give you unique insights into the market. Tools like Nansen help you effectively navigate through these complex data points and track smart money easily.