The bear market that has lasted for more than one year has, for now at least, been put to bed as Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies are surging again.
Over the past few days Bitcoin has dominated digital asset markets and moved by 33% in the week to reach a new high for 2019. During early Asian trading on Tuesday, Bitcoin surpassed US$8,000 for the first time since July 2018. The move has also increased Bitcoin’s dominance of the market as a whole to almost 60%, as it eats into the alternative crypto assets, or ‘altcoins.’
The king of crypto had blasted past several key resistance levels at about $6,000 late last week with many expecting it to pull back. The correction never came and Bitcoin pushed higher over the weekend and ended up at more than $8,000 by Tuesday morning in Asia.
The move has pulled most of the rest of the core market up with it, although other key crypto assets such as Ethereum and Ripple’s XRP have not seen similar action. Total crypto market capitalization has surged more than 100% since mid-February, quashing any further sentiment of a ‘crypto winter.’
In afternoon trading in Asia, market capitalization for all cryptocurrencies was about $235 billion, its highest level since early September last year, prompting many to start to look for comparisons with Bitcoin’s run in 2017, when it moved from $1,000 to almost $20,000.
There are a number of fundamental factors that could be driving the Bitcoin rally at the moment. US president Trump’s ongoing trade wars have done nothing for economic confidence as stock markets start to tumble this week and Bitcoin has often been seen as an alternative store of value when traditional markets are in jeopardy.
Institutional interest is also at an all-time high with several big names such as Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, E*Trade and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) owned Bakkt entering the fray. Ikigai Asset Management CIO Travis Kling, speaking to Bloomberg, argued that “this is a hedge against irresponsibility from governments and central bankers … the world is waking up to the value of a hedge against quantitative easing.”
Kling referred to New York Blockchain Week to say “the largest crypto gathering in the world is going on right now [where] Bakkt announced their futures product is going to be up and running in July.”
Bakkt, which is owned by the NYSE’s ICE, has finally announced a date for its highly anticipated Bitcoin futures contracts. The firm said it had started preparations for user acceptance testing for futures and custody, which they expect to launch fully in July.
With big names including Microsoft and Amazon looking towards crypto and blockchain, and eBay, Whole Foods and Facebook eyeing crypto payments, the momentum is building for digital assets once again and that has been reflected in the monumental surge in prices.