While some near-term pricing correction is likely to be expected, analysts who spoke to CoinDesk said bitcoin's latest rally will be more sustainable for the long term compared with 2017, the last time bitcoin’s price hit an all-time high.
One difference from the last bull run? The current market has gained support from a new wave of institutional investors mainly based in North America.
“You could look at the timing of the rally, which coincided with typical U.S. market open hours,” said John Todaro, director of institutional research at cryptocurrency analysis firm TradeBlock. He added that volumes at LMAX Digital, which primarily caters to institutional traders, are also higher.
Bitcoin’s price broke its previous all-time high earlier Monday, according to CoinDesk’s BPI, setting a new record at $19,850.11.
“During the thinly traded Thanksgiving holiday, regulation concerns, which were outlined by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong in a series of tweets, caused the asset to correct, declining to around $16,500 – during a time when a large number of U.S. institutional investors and traders were not actively transacting,” Todaro said. “Today, Monday morning, you had a large return of institutional traders who bid up the asset, buying the dip.”
To be sure, not all the data for the world’s oldest cryptocurrency is bullish for the near term. Bitcoin’s inflow to exchanges has exceeded outflows since the Thanksgiving sell-off, according to data provider CryptoQuant.
That on-chain metric could indicate a short-term bearish trend, sending bitcoin back to a level of around $16,000, said Ki Yong Ju, chief executive officer of CryptoQuant. That’s because it means large bitcoin buyers, or whales, seem to be active on exchanges, adding more selling pressure.
Nonetheless, the activity is another sign this market isn’t what it was three years ago. After hitting its former record in December 2017, bitcoin’s price quickly dropped to as low as $5,947.40 in just about two months. At the time, the market widely attributed bitcoin’s rally to an increase in active retail investors.
Until very recently, the term “institutional investors” in the crypto world meant an assortment of crypto quant firms, bitcoin miners and early investors. The composition of market participants has gradually changed this year to include a new group considered institutional investors by the traditional financial world, according to Denis Vinokourov, head of research at digital asset prime broker Bequant.
Ongoing capital inflows into the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and other exchange-traded products (ETPs) issuers, including 21Shares and CoinShares, are evidence the institutions in traditional financial markets are pouring money into bitcoin, Vinokourov said.
Grayscale is owned by Digital Currency Group, which is also the parent company of CoinDesk.
“The long-only aspect has partly caused the surge higher and, in turn, attracted the momentum-driven investing that tends to push bullish rallies even higher,” Vinokourov said.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.