Is Bitcoin going to dazzle or disappoint in 2020? - Jim Duffy

A Bitcoin ATM - Duffy says the cryptocurrency has not yet become mainstream. Picture: John Devlin.
A Bitcoin ATM - Duffy says the cryptocurrency has not yet become mainstream. Picture: John Devlin.
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It must be the New Year as the price of Bitcoin starts to rise again.

Its price jumped by more than $200 (£152) in one hour on Monday morning. This rise in the blockchain cryptocurrency put it at a 30-day high of $7,800. So, while there was no Santa rally in the crypto markets, it seems there may be optimism for 2020.

From 2020-2023, forecasters have predicted Bitcoin will leap in value, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.

From 2020-2023, forecasters have predicted Bitcoin will leap in value, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation – Bitcoin – climbed after data provider CoinMarketCap showed a jump in the supply of stable-coin Tether. What now for Bitcoin as it shows signs of a potential rally?

Well, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet as Bitcoin has promised lots over the past year, but has not quite reached its previous highs of more than $19,000. Certainly, 2019 has produced a very good return for those holding (holding on for dear life to) Bitcoin.

Its value has more than doubled in the last year. But 2020 will probably be the most interesting year for this cryptocurrency. There are many reasons for this.

From 2020-2023, forecasters have predicted Bitcoin will come into its own and so leap in value. Many of these forecasts are from Bitcoin bulls who have already made huge fortunes in its first ten years. Such predictions for Bitcoin over the next 24 months are always upwards.

Rationale

Tim Draper, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and reported billionaire, said he sees Bitcoin hitting $250,000 by the end of 2022. Each Bitcoin advocate has their own reasoning for why the price will rise, but it gets more interesting when these are examined.

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Draper argues the “use” case as to why Bitcoin will become valuable. He has reiterated his scientific approach in mapping out the different countries that may start to adopt cryptocurrency, and specifically Bitcoin. Countries in Africa where sudden currency fluctuations can cause serious implications for citizens may see them switch from unstable currencies to Bitcoin that they can quite literally store and trade via their smartphones.

Draper spells out his theory that as millions of users start to earn, save and spend Bitcoin then its scarcity will increase, and therefore its value. I’m not sure so sure. Even in 2020, with 42 million blockchain wallets reportedly holding Bitcoin, the use case has been poor.

It was hoped by many that Bitcoin would be run-of-the-mill by now for making and receiving payments in the retail industry. Certainly, many outlets accept cryptocurrency as payment for good and services, but nowhere near the levels required to punch these currencies into orbit in terms of their value.

Candidates

Starbucks is a notable example of a company many thought would accept Bitcoin by now. With its 28,000 locations globally, it has been mooted that the idea has been considered but is way off implementation, part of the problem being the accounting practices that are not yet ready for Bitcoin.

This year will also see a “halving” event for Bitcoin. On 20 May, 2020 the third Bitcoin halving will occur. This in effect means that 50 per cent fewer Bitcoins will be generated every ten minutes. In short, it is hoped that fewer Bitcoins coming into circulation will mean a rise in its value. It is the case that on the previous halving events, the price of Bitcoin has jumped. But, many analysts feel this event has already been priced into current levels.

Lots of ifs, buts and maybes in how many see Bitcoin performing this year. But there is one key metric that stands out for me. Despite all the speculation, and with average performance over the last year, Bitcoin holders are quite literally holding.

It is estimated that around 70 per cent of global wallets holding Bitcoin have not traded actively in the markets. It seems, therefore, that the “store of value” case for Bitcoin may be the real arbiter in how its price may rise – or not. It seems many have bought in and through optimism, blind faith, fear of missing out, or indeed, a forensic belief in the rationales for growth, they are waiting for some big event.

The question is, will the next 12 months be worth the wait?

Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special.