Bitcoin is surging like it's 2017 — up 225% since March
Is the current trend just getting started or a bubble about to burst, asks Mark Ting, CBC's finance columnist
The price of bitcoin is up 225 per cent since the recent March lows and is getting close to overtaking the 2017 all-time high.
At these prices, many are wondering if the current trend is just getting started or if it's a bubble that is about to burst?
To help answer this question let's review what happened in 2017.
In 2017, the price of bitcoin went from $1,000 US in January to almost $20,000 US by December.
It seemed that everyone wanted a piece of this transformative technology, or at least they wanted to profit from it.
Greed flooded the market on the back of forecasts predicting $50,000, $100,000 and even $1 million bitcoin valuations.
When the forecasts failed to materialize, greed was replaced with doubt and fear, the bubble burst and bitcoin dropped to $3,300 US in just a couple of months.
Compared to 2017, when most holders of bitcoin were either speculators or drug dealers, cryptocurrencies are now more "mainstream" with several large fund managers, companies and governments preparing to launch their own or use existing coins.
Companies such as Fidelity Investments, J.P Morgan and many others are investing heavily in the crypto space.
For many crypto bulls, the real game-changer is PayPal's announcement that their clients will soon be able to transact in bitcoin. It's a pivotal step on the way to widespread public crypto adoption which, if it happens, would make the value of bitcoin soar.
Bitcoin is also acting as digital gold. In theory, the more that the central banks print money, which they are doing in the trillions, the more valuable bitcoin should become.
With bitcoin prices surging higher, it feels like déjà vu. A lot of people are buying, not because they believe in blockchain technology or crypto, but because they want to get rich quick.
For investors who are considering entering this crypto market at these prices, it's important to learn from the past and understand that extreme greed and emotional buying increases volatility and leads to booms and busts.
Currently, bitcoin has momentum on its side, but the true test is whether it can exceed the previous all-time high of $20,000 US. If it does, and does so with authority, that's a sign that bitcoin will keep increasing, however, if the momentum fades at the $20,000 US ceiling, it's a warning that the trend could reverse.
While bitcoin is back in the spotlight, it is far from the frenzy that we experienced in late 2017.
At that time many of my neighbours, my daughter's hockey teammates' parents, and so many others were talking about bitcoin — which is a strong indicator that we were nearing the peak.
My feeling now is that it is going higher, potentially much higher over time if it breaches the $20,000 US mark, but it won't go up in a continuous straight line. There will be plenty of boom and bust periods along the way.
Try not to give in to FOMO (fear of missing out) but, if you are interested in crypto and understand the risks, gradually enter the market over the next year as opposed to going "all in" today.
I own some bitcoin and invest in blockchain and crypto infrastructure but, due to the risk and volatility, it isn't a huge part of my overall portfolio, although the weighting has increased over the past year.
As I already have some crypto, I'm not planning on buying any more at these prices — nor am I planning on selling. If you are considering entering the crypto market a good starting point is to read my article "The epic rise and fall of crypto currency."
It was written last year when the price of bitcoin out of the spotlight was selling for $8,000 US.
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