Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, has been stealthily rising in 2023.
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Bitcoin’s value could jump to as much as $100,000 by the end of 2024, Standard Chartered said in a note published Monday.
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and other mid-tier U.S. lenders has solidified the case for bitcoin as a “decentralised, trustless and scarce digital asset,” Standard Chartered analyst Geoff Kendrick said in the note.
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“We see potential for Bitcoin (BTC) to reach the USD 100,000 level by end-2024, as we believe the much-touted ‘crypto winter’ is finally over,” Kendrick said in the report, titled “Bitcoin — Pathway to the USD 100,000 level.”
“The current stress in the traditional banking sector is highly conducive to BTC outperformance – and validates the original premise for Bitcoin as a decentralised, trustless and scarce digital asset,” Kendrick added.
“Given these advantages, we think BTC’s share of total digital assets market cap could move into the 50-60% range in the next few months (from around 45% currently).”
Bitcoin was trading at $27,601.55 as of 9:40 a.m. ET, according to CoinGecko data.
The woes of Circle’s USD Coin and other so-called stablecoins, which aim to achieve a 1-to-1 peg to the U.S. dollar, has also benefited bitcoin, Kendrick said.
USDC lost its peg to the dollar after its issuer Circle revealed exposure to SVB. The coin has since regained its $1 value, however its total market value has fallen to $30.7 billion from more than $43 billion since Mar. 10 when the bank was placed into receivership by the U.S. government, according to CoinGecko data.
This, coupled with a stabilization of risk assets and speculation that the Federal Reserve will ease monetary tightening further, means the “pathway to the USD 100,000 level is becoming clearer,” Kendrick said.
Proponents of bitcoin maintain the digital currency is an asset worth diversifying into in times of economic distress. As the theory goes, bitcoin has a limited supply of 21 million bitcoins, meaning it should appreciate as demand for alternative assets grows to avoid the effects of high inflation.
The cryptocurrency failed that test last year when it plunged 65%, marking the second-worse year for bitcoin of all time amid a tumultuous backdrop of multibillion-dollar flameouts such as FTX and Terra and regulatory clampdowns.
More recently, however, the token has been climbing, suggesting a recovery may be on the cards. Bitcoin is up 66% since the start of the year — though it has fallen sharply since breaching $30,000 two weeks ago.
“The associated price jump – from below USD 20,000 before the SVB issues to above USD 30,000 – has dramatically increased the profitability of Bitcoin mining companies,” Kendrick wrote.
Bitcoin miners are volunteers who allocate computing power toward solving complex cryptographic puzzles in order to verify transactions are genuine and mint new units of currency.
“With the price of BTC now well above our USD 15,000 estimate of direct costs, miners are unlikely to sell many coins,” Kendrick said, noting that this would be a positive development for the cryptocurrency as miners are a major driving force for the market given the size of their holdings.
“The broader macro backdrop for risky assets is also gradually improving as the FOMC nears the end of its tightening cycle. While BTC can trade well when risky assets suffer, correlations to the Nasdaq suggest that it should trade better if risky assets improve broadly.”
Bitcoin’s price outlook
Standard Chartered isn’t the only one predicting a strong rally of bitcoin’s price. Last month, at a blockchain conference in Paris, multiple crypto industry insiders forecast bitcoin hitting a new all-time high in 2023 — with an executive at U.S.-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange Gemini telling CNBC $100,000 could be a possibility.
Last year, CNBC quizzed multiple venture capitalists, investors and analysts on how they think the digital currency will perform in 2023. On the bullish end of the spectrum, Draper Associates founder and noted bitcoin bull Tim Draper said he thought the cryptocurrency could reach $250,000.
Ironically, on the bearish end, Standard Chartered said that the cryptocurrency could tumble as low as $5,000 in a list of market surprise for 2023.
Some crypto investors are pointing to anticipation of the next so-called bitcoin “halving,” which reduces the rewards to bitcoin miners by 50%, as a potential catalyst for another monster rally in the coin’s price.
— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report