What was not said about Bitcoin when it first appeared and cost only $ 0.001. Some called the BTC a child’s game and fun, others called it a scam and a pyramid scheme, but not many people believed in it. Today, its price has exceeded $61k.
The Path of Becoming a King
When Bitcoin neared its peak historical high of around $ 20,000 in December 2020, many investors feared it would just be a repeat of 2017, when it suddenly soared and then collapsed almost as quickly. However, unlike in 2017, its growth in 2020 was not caused by the excitement of retail consumers, but by the interest of large institutional investors, who gave a greater degree of stability to the trajectory of the currency. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have also become more widespread since 2017.
This is a key and important difference. We started talking about this back in December 2020, when the BTC was gradually approaching its historical price level of $ 20,000. With the advent of large-scale institutional investment from financial technology companies such as Square, PayPal, support from banks such as JPMorgan, combined with concerns about global inflation due to large-scale quantitative easing, the rise in Cue Ball prices was probably justified.
Media hype vs rising investment
One important indicator demonstrating the dramatically different environment surrounding Bitcoin’s growth in 2017 compared to the current one is the analysis of Google search query levels to measure the overall hype. Price increases due to a surge in media attention are much less sustainable than price increases, which are primarily supported by institutional and committed investors. Below is a chart of Google search trends for Bitcoin and a chart for GameStop, a stock that experienced a surge in value and media attention before collapsing like the BTC in 2017.
Bitcoin Google Trend
GameStop Google Trend
As the chart above shows, the media attention on Bitcoin has barely reached half of what it was during its sudden rise in 2017, driven mostly by frenetic retail traders. Cryptocurrency and blockchain were a minor idea back in 2017, but as Nasdaq noted in December 2020:
“Traditional banks are now taking the plunge and offering cryptocurrency-related services. The shift coincides with the BTC price hitting record highs in December.
Banks may have been scrutinizing digital assets for some time, but they are skittish, and don’t say anything publicly. They now appear to be joining a general shift towards cryptocurrency in the second half of 2020 that included payment giant PayPal (PYPL) and hedge fund pundits including Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller.”
Since the price of Bitcoin has been steadily rising month after month without significant media attention spikes, there is reason to believe that its value may be due more to sustained institutional adoption than to retail advertising.
Growing mainstream adoption
Until 2020, institutional investors certainly showed interest in blockchain technology and Bitcoin, but now the interest has turned into action. In February 2021, Market Insider noted:
“A Bank of America research report shows that banking giants JPMorgan and Citi are using blockchain technology, while other banks are considering allowing commercial and institutional clients to store cryptocurrencies in their accounts”.
We previously wrote that Goldman Sachs has added Bitcoin to its global asset rating. The article notes:
“Goldman Sachs, a well-known Wall Street firm, did not include BTC in its weekly rating of the return of asset classes in the world until the largest cryptocurrency quietly appeared at the top of the rating.
But since then, BTC’s advantage (+6.6%) over assets from stocks to bonds, oil, banks, gold and technology stocks and the euro has increased.
According to Goldman Sachs ‘ latest US Weekly Launch report, as of March 4, Bitcoin’s annual return, at around 70%, was roughly double that of its next closest competitor, the energy sector, at around 35%.
In addition, Bitcoin.com writes:
“Global investment bank Goldman Sachs sees a huge institutional demand for Bitcoin that will not decline. A survey of Goldman’s institutional clients shows that 61% expect their cryptocurrency assets to increase. Meanwhile, 76% say the price could reach $ 100,000 this year”.
Large companies are also starting to hold a crypto asset to diversify their assets, just as they would hold gold. We can probably expect this trend to continue as more companies and business leaders become more confident about investing in cryptocurrency.
Below is a graph showing a gradual increase in the number of active Bitcoin addresses after their surge towards the end of 2017, which demonstrates that mass adoption is also growing along with institutional investment.
According to an article published by Forbes in July 2020, approximately 15% of respondents said they had invested in Bitcoin or Ethereum, and approximately half started investing in 2020. For context, according to Statista, approximately 55% of the US population invests in the stock market. These trends demonstrate the growing interest and confidence in the Cue Ball from both institutional and retail investors. It also suggests that there is a lot of room for growth at the moment.
BTC as an asset
There is much debate over whether Bitcoin will see mass adoption as a form of currency like the US dollar, which understandably scares many potential investors and raises questions about its skyrocketing value. Matt Frankel of Motley Fool said:
“It’s very volatile. You don’t want to buy a currency that can cost half as much in just a week.”
This is an important factor to keep in mind, as the price can fluctuate dramatically in a matter of hours, and it is unclear how much of Bitcoin’s value is related to long-term institutional investment and retail investment. Although it is likely that its long-term value will continue to rise, and short-term price fluctuations caused by retail investment create a significant level of uncertainty.
However, it seems that the prevailing view now is that Bitcoin is a kind of valuable commodity that is valued like gold and silver, which does not require it to be accepted as legal tender to justify its value.
Although this does not mean that Bitcoin does not enjoy more widespread use as a currency. Jim Barth, a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, said in an interview that he sees the growing use of BTC by consumers, its limited quantity and the aforementioned widespread adoption as investments, and the main drivers of a reasonable increase in its value.
CNBC notes that ARK Investment Management CEO Kathy Wood believes that Bitcoin can become the recommended part of portfolios in a 60-20-20 distribution: 60 percent of stocks, 20 percent of bonds, 20 percent of cryptocurrencies.
Gold-related stocks such as SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) have fallen in value since the summer as the value of the king of the crypt continued to rise. In addition, when bond yields soared in early March 2021, investors pulled their money out of tech stocks and other investment assets, causing many stocks to fall by double digits. The price of Bitcoin has not changed and continues to rise, which may indicate that investors see it as an alternative means of saving, rather than a speculative stock.
Forbes wrote in October 2020:
“The Bitcoin market has matured since JP Morgan Chief executive Jamie Dimon called the asset a” scam ” in September 2017, aided by its (still very volatile) value, which this year found support as a hedge against inflation alongside gold.
Now, JP Morgan has said that a strong Bitcoin in 2020 could continue to grow, finding that its price has “significant” upside potential in the long run as it better competes with gold as an alternative currency.
As more and more major investors and experts set price targets in the range of $ 65,000 to $ 100,000+, along with growing acceptance and understandable concerns about inflation, the case for Bitcoin’s rise seems quite compelling.
At the moment, the idea of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is still developing, but they were once considered a game. Their growing proliferation not only supports the continued rise in the value of BTC, but also demonstrates an interesting tipping point for the world of finance.