A Year of Highs
There's no doubt about it: Bitcoin has proven itself to be the most resilient cryptocurrency around, overcoming a number of hurdles, including hard forks, in 2017. The currency hit a new record price of $19,796 per coin on December 17, before falling to its current price of $13,164 per coin (at the time of writing). Naturally, the record year has observers rife with speculation about the future of Bitcoin.
Experts predict that, a year from now, the price of bitcoin could grow more than triple its record value. "Bitcoin can reach $60,000 by [December] 2018," Marvin Dumont, a senior editor for Bitcoin.com, told Futurism.
Medicalchain COO Mohammed Tayeb shared a similar prediction. "Bitcoin could reach $50,000 by this time next year, if not more," he told Futurism. "I think all of us are less and less surprised by the headlines that are coming out nearly monthly about the breakthrough Bitcoin is making and it should come as no surprise when it does reach $50,000."
Bitcoin's meteoric price hike has already gone beyond what some experts have previously predicted. Just a few months ago, one estimated that it could hit a now-modest-seeming $6,000 before the year ends, while another said Bitcoin would reach $10,000 by April 2018.
Jeremy Epstein, the CEO of Blockchain startups marketing firm Never Stop Marketing, believes that the price of Bitcoin could go up to $18,000 before the end of 2017. "Like anyone, I've been mega-surprised by how quickly Bitcoin has hit the mainstream," he told Futurism.
"As far as the price goes, I tell everyone the exact same thing. It's not about a year price horizon. It's about a 5-year price horizon and there's a 50-50 chance," Epstein added, saying that he wouldn't be surprised if Bitcoin reaches $250,000 or more in the next 5 years. He did note, however, that it's still "a coin toss between huge success and total failure."
Bursting the Bubble?
While the growth of Bitcoin is undeniable, it's perhaps the same trend that makes some less excited about the cryptocurrency. Critics have often referred to Bitcoin as a bubble, and one that could burst with potentially extreme consequences.
"[I]s it a bubble? ... yes," said Armindo Araújo, the head of finance, planning and control at French corporate and investment bank NATIXIS, in an interview with Futurism. "[T]he demand for it will keep it moving up, yes. For how long? I would love to know."
"My understanding is that [Bitcoin's] position in one year will depend, on one side, on the evolution of regulation and acceptance by the global markets," Araújo added, "and on another side, on the increasing demand and acceptance of Bitcoin as it grows mainstream."
Dumont, however, gave three reasons why he doesn't consider Bitcoin to be a bubble:
[Bitcoin] has a max limited supply of 21 million whereas most fiat currencies are inflationary. Millennials have lost faith in banks and governments.
Media hype and investor interest keep people buying. If you live in Venezuela (650 percent inflation) or Zimbabwe, you have no choice but to protect your savings from extremely high inflation. Cryptos are a convenient way of doing that.
Institutional investors are putting in huge amounts of capital. Bitcoin's market cap is tiny compared to the $200 trillion globally invested in stocks, bonds, real estate, gold and other commodities.
Epstein shares this sentiment. "Bubble is a convenient, pejorative word used by some to explain something they don't understand. I don't think it's a bubble because the deflationary nature/fixed supply is what makes Bitcoin unique," he explained, adding that the bubble "is in many of the alt-coins. Much of them are nonsense."
He did, however, call for caution. "I am planning on HODLing," Epstein said, which is his acronym for Hold On for Dear Life. "I think it's wise to take some money off the table... maybe what you invested, plus whatever you consider to be a great return."
Whatever the case may be, these experts agree that the price of Bitcoin will continue to rise, at least for the coming year. At the same time, cryptocurrencies seem to have a pretty solid future ahead. "Cryptos are here to stay because money can only be digital in our digital world," Dumont explained. "At some point, humans stopped using seashells and exotic bones as money. Digital money is an upgrade over paper money. You can't take $1 billion in paper cash and transport it via spaceship to a human base on the moon or Mars."
"We are seeing a radical shift in power and decentralization," Tayeb told Futurism. "2018 will continue from 2017, to be an exciting time to be involved in cryptocurrencies."
Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.