The price of bitcoin hit another new high today as the cryptocurrency continues its record rally in December.
Bitcoin, which surged through $20,000 Dec. 16, then $24,000 Dec. 20, hit $28,221.92 at 6:30 a.m. EST before profit-takers entered the market. Bitcoin was trading $26,721.61 as of 7:30 p.m., still above the $26,000 it passed on Saturday.
Much has been made this month about the surge in bitcoin’s price being driven by institutional investors, and that certainly continues to play a role. At the same time, it’s unlikely institutional investors alone drove the surge on the weekend after Christmas.
“I think that the move here is extraordinary and could be viewed alternatively as being the only game in town during this period — with most of traditional finance away until mid- to late January,” Thomas Kuhn, head of research and trading at Mine Digital, told Forbes.
Marc Bernegger, a bitcoin pioneer and member of the Board of Crypto Finance Group, agreed. “The massive price increase of bitcoin during Christmas is mainly driven by retail traders as traditional markets are closed,” he told Forbes.
In the age of computerized trading it’s certainly conceivable that some of the action may have come from retail and institutional investors, but a price rise of some $3,000 in less than 48 hours suggests a speculative rally.
Another consideration is that bitcoin is being used as a hedge against inflation. The U.S. Federal Reserve and other countries have been printing money for stimulus packages, and as Coindesk noted, “these actions are viewed by many as potential catalysts for inflation and bad for the U.S. dollar, both of which could be positive for BTC.”
Whatever the reasons people are flooding into bitcoin and driving its price up, its continued growth is likely to prompt further regulatory scrutiny. Bloomberg reported today that cryptocurrency faces several risks, including a Treasury proposal that would require other banks and intermediaries to maintain records and submit reports to verify customer identities for certain transactions, as well as concerns about what the incoming Biden administration may mean for the market.
“Generally, I think we have had challenges with the Dems — they prefer more regulation, more oversight,” Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at digital asset manager CoinShares, told Bloomberg. “I am a bit worried about the direction things are trending, especially around antitrust lawsuits and an erosion in internet privacy.”
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