General interest in bitcoin looks to have risen alongside the top cryptocurrency's rally to a new peak price.
Bitcoin set a new record high of $19,850 on Monday, having narrowly missed the previous lifetime high of $19,783 last week. The cryptocurrency surged over 40% in November to register its biggest monthly gain since May 2019.
What makes bitcoin's ascent more impressive is that traditional assets seldom chart a 40% rally to record highs in a single month.
However, the market is far from being in a state of retail frenzy seen in December 2017, when the google search for the term "bitcoin price" returned a maximum value of 100. The data may validate analysts who say this year's rally is mainly driven by increased institutional participation.
Several publicly listed companies such as MicroStrategy, Square, Cypherpunk Holdings have bought bitcoin in the wake of the coronavirus crisis in the global economy, strengthening bitcoin's appeal as a reserve asset. PayPal has also started offering cryptocurrency services, possibly driving a bitcoin supply shortage.
"The differences between 2020's run toward $20,000 and 2017's is that this current one is against a backdrop of greater geopolitical chaos, increased adoption but less general audience interest and less new coin supply," Clem Chambers, founder and CEO of financial markets website ADVFN.com, told CoinDesk in an email.
Many observers expect institutions to power more substantial gains over the long run. "We believe we have just scratched the surface," Arjun Vijay, co-founder and COO of cryptocurrency exchange Giottus, said in an email. "We will have the mother of all bull runs in 2021 when the cryptocurrency gets adopted by masses and cryptocurrencies go mainstream."
According to Chambers, bitcoin will sail through $20,000, and the "sky is the limit" in the long term.
Traditional and non-financial media widely reported $20,000 as the record high back in December 2017. As such, a notable rise in retail interest may not be seen until prices establish a foothold above that level.
At press time, the cryptocurrency is changing hands at $19,593, up 5% over 24 hours.
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