Data from Google Trends appears to suggest that bitcoin’s rally so far this year has been fueled by institutional investors entering the market, and not by retail investors buying the flagship cryptocurrency to then sell higher.

The search engine’s data comes in an index that ranges from 0 to 100, and indicates search interest for the term “bitcoin.” While an exact number of searches isn’t known, it’s clear from Google’s data that interest for BTC dropped significantly when compared to 2017,

When the flagship cryptocurrency hit its all-time high near $20,000 in December of 2017, the index for bitcoin was at 100, and dropped throughout last year’s bear market to a low of five before it started to recover in December of 2018. Currently, it’s at 12.

Google Trends' data on the word bitcoin

Notably, CryptoCompare data shows that in December of last year the cryptocurrency hit a low of $3,200. Since then, it’s been recovering and in a six-month period its price tripled as BTC is now trading at $10,500. This, after briefly cruising past the $11,000 mark.

It’s believed many retail investors lost interest during last year’s bear market, as those who put their money in when BTC was close to its all-time high are still in the red. The rally in 2017 was likely partly caused by fear of missing out (FOMO) as BTC’s price rose in a short amount of time and investors wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on potential gains.

This year’s rally is believed to have been led by institutions. As CryptoGlobe covered, a report published by blockchain analysis firm Diar showed that in less than nine months bitcoin whales accumulated 450,000 BTC. In February of this year, it was also reported whales were acquiring large amounts since the start of 2019.

Crossing the $10,000 psychological resistance is significant. Tyler Winklevoss, one of the co-founders of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, has noted that after surpassing it he believes bitcoin will soon hit $15,000.

Tom Lee, managing partner at independent research boutique Fundstrat Global Advisors, noted during a talk at the CryptoCompare Digital Asset Summit that “full blown” FOMO was set to start after bitcoin breached the $10,000 mark, and noted it could go to $40,000 within five months.