After a stark plunge Thursday that wiped out $100 billion in market value, the world’s largest cryptocurrency is back near all-time highs Tuesday as corporations like Visa and PayPal join other institutional players in expanding their crypto offerings.
As of 4 p.m. EDT, the price of bitcoin has climbed 2% over the past 24 hours, pushing its market capitalization up to $1.1 trillion–about $40 billion shy from an all-time high on March 13 and pushing gains to roughly $144 billion since a sharp correction on Thursday, according to crypto-data website CoinMarketCap.
‘Analysts are pinning the resurgence to still-booming institutional adoption, including PayPal’s new cryptocurrency checkout service, which launched Tuesday and allows the company’s more than 375 million customers to shop using cryptocurrency at millions of online merchants (PayPal didn’t specify an exact figure, but says the program will expand in the coming months).
Qanda Senior Market Analyst Edward Moya calls the move “another massive cryptocurrency endorsement from Wall Street” and “further proof of mainstream acceptance” just one day after Visa said it will start settling transactions with cryptocurrency partners using a token built on the Ethereum blockchain, which underpins the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, ether.
Moya notes that bitcoin, which is priced at about $59,080, could struggle to push past $60,000 again but says the recent developments “should be enough to keep the bullish trend going strong.”
Nigel Green, the CEO of $12 billion wealth advisory deVere Group, said in an email Tuesday that growing corporate investments from the likes of Tesla and billionaire Jack Dorsey’s Square are signs that institutions are employing the “buy the dip” mantra popularized by retail investors—meaning they’re loading up on bitcoin when prices plunge.
What To Watch For
Regulation. Though Wall Street is warming up to bitcoin, legendary hedge fund manager Ray Dalio warned last week that he thinks there’s a “good probability” bitcoin could be banned by the U.S. government, similar to how it banned gold nearly a century ago. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been slow to issue regulation for cryptocurrencies.
In an interview with Forbes, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce said Gary Gensler, President Joe Biden’s nominee to head up the agency, would likely be “sympathetic to the call for regulatory clarity.” When nations like South Korea started cracking down on cryptocurrency three years ago, prices crashed as much as 80% over the course of one year, though it’s unclear how such a development could affect markets today.
Bitcoin prices have skyrocketed over the past year amid booming institutional adoption and inflation fears sparked by unprecedented government spending to combat the pandemic. Last week, billionaire Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla would start accepting bitcoin for vehicle purchases and retaining the cryptocurrency tendered, as opposed to converting it to U.S. dollars. Also this month, Fidelity Investments filed an application for its first bitcoin exchange-traded fund, and banking powerhouse Morgan Stanley said it would open up bitcoin exposure to its wealthy clients, though it’s limiting such funds to investors with “an aggressive risk tolerance.”
Bitcoin has surged nearly 800% over the past year. Its return of about 96% this year is more than any sector tracked by the S&P 500.
I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism and economics while working for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as a marketing and communications assistant. Before Forbes, I spent a summer reporting on the L.A. private sector for Los Angeles Business Journal and wrote about publicly traded North Carolina companies for NC Business News Wire. Reach out at email@example.com
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Bitcoin smashed through $40,000 to hit a new record high on Thursday helping to lift the total value of the entire cryptocurrency market above $1 trillion for the first time. The digital coin hit an all-time high of $40,367 at around 1:17 p.m. ET, just a few hours after blowing past the $39,000 level, according to data from Coin Metrics.
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One of the controversial things about bitcoin (BTC) is that it pays the people that keep the bitcoin blockchain running and secure. These folks are called miners, purely because the process seems slightly similar to mining. The process of mining is to run software that executes the search for the solution to a puzzle that acts as the password to creating the next record on the bitcoin blockchain. Success in cracking this puzzle and then creating the next block of records is rewarded in bitcoin. At the moment the reward is 12.5 BTC, which at the rate of $8,000 a BTC is exactly $100,000.
That sounds like a lot of money to solve a lil’ ole puzzle. The trouble is the puzzle is to mash numbers to create a result with say 23 zeros, which, because of the math involved, means you have to do literally zillions of trillions of calculations to find one password code. Miners run these bazillions of calculations, sifting through the wrong answers to get to a single right one. This takes perhaps three years for a specialist machine running flat out at 50 trillion calculations a second, burning a few thousand dollars of electricity as it goes.
That doesn’t sound like a bad business model but as new mining machines enter the game, so the game gets harder, which means that the amount of time taken by any given machine to get a result goes up and so does the cost. Bitcoins difficulty has over the years gone truly exponential, so that the money a machine can make when put into a team of machines halves every six months or so as time passes. That makes making money mining tricky because while you may make great money to start with, after about 18 months it may have fallen to nothing.
Apart from increasing difficulty, mining also gets harder because every so often the blockchain will halve the reward. This last happened in July 2016. The reward is currently 12.5 bitcoin but soon enough the reward will be only 6.175 BTC. The price should rise to pay the miners more for their smaller haul of new bitcoin. If it doesn’t, unprofitable miners must stop work so the difficulty can fall and the job can get easier for those that remain or certain miners must get way more efficient and push the less efficient miners off the pitch.
The general consensus is that the bitcoin price will rise.
The reason for this is that the inflation of the BTC money supply by 12.5 BTC every ten minutes, means that there is a new supply of 1,800 coins a day, let’s call it $14 million a day. This $14 million of new supply, which is currently absorbed by buyers, will suddenly be cut in half to $7 million. The demand, however, will remain roughly constant. Unchanged demand coupled with lower supply, equals price up.
This is how it has worked in the past and this is what I’m putting my money on. There are skeptics who suggest that if the price doesn’t move up then miners will wither away, block times will slow dramatically, bitcoin will be less useful, people will panic and dump and so on. However, there are a lot of people like me who would love that and would buy a lot into such a panic. Less supply, same demand, high price, wins the simple proven logical outcome of the next halvening.
But of course people are going to preempt.
To add to the price pressure, bitcoin gets lost. That happens to gold too and was also a problem for gold when it was money. That enables bitcoin to get ever more expensive overtime.
If a Satoshi was 1 cent, bitcoin’s market cap would be 21 trillion dollars, but when you think about it, if a Satoshi was $1 or $100, then it would become a currency much like gold, which in the past was used foremostly as a store of wealth, expressed in the usage for silver coins which acted as a store of wealth for the general usage of copper coins. This is the dream of all crypto fans, bitcoin as the reserve currency of crypto, an incredibly valuable blockchain fungibly linked on top of a hierarchy of other ‘lesser’ currencies.
It could happen.
The upcoming halvening speaks to this dream and it’s coming to the BTC blockchain in May. As a hodl’er I can wait.
I am the CEO of stocks and investment website ADVFN . As well as running Europe and South America’s leading financial market website I am a prolific financial writer. I wrote a stock column for WIRED – which described me as a ‘Market Maven’ – and am a regular columnist for numerous financial publications around the world. I have written for titles including: Working Money, Active Trader, SFO and Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities in the US and have written for pretty much every UK national newspaper. In the last few years I have become a financial thriller writer and have just had my first non-fiction title published: 101 ways to pick stock market winners. Find me here on US Amazon. You’ll also see me regularly on CNBC, CNN, SKY, Business News Network and the BBC giving my take on the markets.