Another day, another $1,000-plus increase in bitcoin’s price, bringing the leading cryptocurrency’s combined gains this new year to about $5,000.
- The price of bitcoin surged past $34,000 for the first time ever early Sunday morning Eastern time, extending a record-setting holiday rally and adding an immediate exclamation point to the Bitcoin Network's 12-year anniversary.
- Once the price of the leading cryptocurrency crossed the $30,000 mark for the first time Saturday – something it had struggled to do for the previous couple of days – it seemed all resistance vanished, rising more than $3,000 in about seven hours and reaching a new all-time high of $33,136.92, before settling down to fluctuate between $30,000 to $33,000.
- "Bitcoin makes TSLA [Tesla] look like it is standing still," tweeted Jim Bianco, well-known macro strategist, when the cryptocurrency broke $30,000.
- Then, Saturday evening, bitcoin resumed its climb, setting a new all-time high of $34,544.94 shortly into Day 3 of the new year, before giving back some gains, recently trading at $34,295.11, up 15.09% in the last 24 hours.
- It's a wild start to 2021 and follows a landmark year in which the cryptocurrency rose more than 300%, with an almost 50% gain in December alone. On Nov. 30, bitcoin breached a nearly three-year-old high of $19,793. By the close of Dec. 31, the cryptocurrency had risen about $10,000.
- Into the third day of 2021, the price of bitcoin has risen about $5,000, bringing its year-to-date return to about 12%.
- Propelling the record-setting run is a growing narrative that bitcoin represents a form of "digital gold," and bringing with it a flood of institutional investors into the cryptocurrency. Among them: Anthony Scaramucci’s Skybridge Capital ($182 million in December); insurance giant MassMutual ($100 million in December); and Guggenheim Investments (up to 10% of its $5 billion macro fund).
- "Bitcoin's price is being driven by institutional money and there is not enough supply," Laurent Kssis, managing director at 21Shares, told CoinDesk. "The number of family offices asking to invest in our [exchange-traded product] is just staggering. I've never seen this before. In 2017 it was just retail knocking at the door. Now it's only institutional."
- Kssis' statements are buttressed by the fact that the number of whale entities – clusters of crypto wallet addresses held by a single network participant holding at least 1,000 BTC – rose to a new record high of 1,994 this past Wednesday.
- The metric increased by over 16% in 2020 and 7.3% in Q4 alone.
- "The final land grab has started, and by this time next year, accumulating >1,000 bitcoin will be nearly impossible for most people," Jehan Chu, CEO at Hong Kong-based trading firm Kenetic Capital, told CoinDesk.
- HODLers also have the U.S. Federal Reserve to thank for the cryptocurrency's rise, as it, along with other central banks, has been printing money with abandon, trying to stave off the worst economic effects of the pandemic. This is viewed by many as a potential catalyst for inflation and bad for the U.S. dollar, both of which could be positive for bitcoin.
- "Many corporations are parking [U.S. dollars] in BTC because they are losing money in conventional banking, so it makes total sense," 21Shares' Kssis said.
- Growing global macro uncertainty may also be playing a factor in the recent surge. A peaceful transition of power in the U.S. is no longer the ironclad guarantee it used to be as 11 Republican senators say they'll vote to reject the presidential electors from certain states. While it's still almost certain President-elect Joe Biden will assume office later this month, the need for a qualifier is a new event.
- That, plus a mutated strain of COVID-19, a lagging world economy and concerns over the effects of the now-completed Brexit may not be helping the zeitgeist but could be aiding bitcoin, which some see as insurance against global chaos.
- With a market value now of over $638.00 billion, bitcoin is more valuable than all but nine publicly traded companies, sitting between Alibaba at $648.3 billion and Berkshire Hathaway at $543.7 billion.
- Bitcoin enthusiasts will likely find some joy in that last bit, an event that occurred last week, as Berkshire's CEO, legendary investor Warren Buffett, once famously derided bitcoin as "probably rat poison squared."
- With today's surge, the cryptocurrency again has resumed its march up the ranks of the world's most valuable currencies, again overtaking the Mexican peso, which it had briefly surpassed Saturday, to move into 16th place, behind the Russian ruble.