Google search data can predict the price of bitcoin, new research has found.
Academics from the University of Cagliari, Italy, compared USD trading volume with data from Google Trends in the 12 months leading up to July 2015.
The results, detailed in their new paper, indicated that search volumes for the keyword 'bitcoin' correlated with – and sometimes predicted – the currency's market volumes.
Using a Pearson correlation, which shows the relationship between two variables on a scale of -1 (lowest) to +1 (highest), Martina Matta, Ilaria Lunesu and Michele Marchesi found a positive correlation equal to 0.6. This means trading volumes "[follow] the same direction pace of queries volumes," they said.
The trio found the Google Trends data also functioned as a "good predictor", because of its high cross correlation value (calculated using a Granger causality series). This means query volumes were able to anticipate trading volumes in "almost three days".
The researchers say they would like to test out their hypothesis on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
The team's research supports findings from previous studies that have compared public interest in bitcoin with the currency's market performance.
A 2014 report from Swiss university ETH Zurich concluded that surges in searches and tweets about the currency lead to major price fluctuations. While a 'positive feedback loop' saw price rises increase search volume, which in turn increased the price, high search volume also functioned as an indicator for those planning to sell off their coins, lowering the price, it said.
Another paper from the finance department at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland, observed that bitcoin returns tended to grow when the currency was searched for, alongside its mentions in the media.
A 1% increase in articles that mentioned bitcoin would raise returns by 0.3% (30 basis points), while a similar increase in Google searches would pump returns by 0.5% (around 50 basis points), it said.
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