From a 2018 low point, of just over $100 billion total market capitalization over the weekend, cryptocurrencies have rebounded nearly 14% to Tuesday's highs. Image: iStock
Image: iStock

As the crypto market heats up, many bitcoiners are expecting to see their investment multiply in value in the coming year. Some observers, however, believe more modest gains are on the horizon, although they still expect them to be very impressive by traditional asset standards.

As Asia Times has reported, Citibank‘s analysts have said the price of bitcoin could reach $318,000 by the end of 2021, Real Vision CEO Raoul Pal thinks it will be worth around $400,000 in the same time frame (and $1 million in five years), and statistician PlanB sees it hitting a minimum of $100K. However, on average, a panel of 47 experts and fintech leaders featured in Finder’s Bitcoin Price Predictions report expect the leading crypto to peak at a mere $51,951, a little over double its valuation at the time of publication – $23,400.

The majority of panellists (58%) also think this bitcoin bull run will only last until the second half of 2021. 

Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song, who is among the 42% who believe the bull run will last until the final quarter of 2021, says both supply and demand are driving the rally.

“The halving caused the supply to decrease even if demand stayed the same; that would explain why the price went up. Demand has gone up because of the insane money printing, so the combination has led to a pretty nice price rise. I expect the supply shock to continue in 2021,” he said.

However, just over half the panel (52%) thinks bitcoin will see a sharp (50% or more) drop from it’s peak valuation at the end of this bull run.

Thirty-six percent said increased regulation could put the brakes on the rally and over a quarter (27%) said a stock market drop would hurt bitcoin’s price. Many said this would result in investors selling their cryptos to buy discounted shares.

A number of panellists, including CEO of Invest Diva, Kiana Danial, also pointed out that whales may “dump” their bitcoin if the price rises high enough.

“Bitcoin’s medium-term movements are mainly psychological and market sentiment based. When there’s hype, everyone buys and then the whales dump and the rest of the retail investors get nervous too, causing a crash. Bitcoin price action has been this way since 2011,” she said.

The leading drivers behind the 2020 rally include large-scale public investments from firms like MicroStrategy and Square (cited by 72% of the panel), Paypal’s announcement that it will allow customers to hold bitcoin (72%), large-scale quantitative easing by central banks (66%) and a general sentiment shift and increased acceptance of the bitcoin narrative (66%).

The rally is being driven mostly by institutional investors, according to 72% of the panel, with 17% arguing it’s being driven mostly by bitcoin “whales” and 11% retail investors. 

Panxora Crypto Hedge Fund managing partner Gavin Smith said bitcoin will increasingly be used as a hedge against fiat currency by both institutional and retail investors.

“Bitcoin is now being used as a hedge against fiat money printing by early adopters in both retail and institutional sectors. This trend is expected to continue. We don’t believe this will be an uninterrupted move higher, we expect the market will exhibit high volatility to both the upside and downside but with a clear bias to higher levels,” Smith said.

Read: Bitcoin soars into uncharted territory