What’s behind Bitcoin’s 2020 bull run?
Bitcoin has been on a real rollercoaster ride in 2020 – after the uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic sent the cryptocurrency crashing below $5,000 in March, the world’s largest cryptocurrency has produced an almost miraculous recovery towards the all-time high $20,000 level.
Looking at the Bitcoin price chart on CoinMarketCap, we can see a strong upwards trend emerging in the second half of 2020. Bitcoin surpassed the $10,000 milestone in late July, and hasn’t returned below that key price level since.
As Bitcoin fans, let’s take a break from constantly checking live crypto prices in the hopes of finally seeing BTC break above $20,000, and take a look at some of the most important factors that have contributed to Bitcoin’s amazing performance in 2020.
Growing institutional presence in Bitcoin
The 2017 cryptocurrency rally was in large part driven by retail investors, i.e. everyday people who decided to invest some of their money in cryptocurrency as the asset class started showing a strong performance.
The cryptocurrency landscape is quite different in 2020, as we’re seeing a much stronger presence of institutional investors – these are companies and wealthy investors that have the means of single-handedly moving millions and potentially billions of dollars into the cryptocurrency market.
One of the clearest examples of the involvement of institutions in the cryptocurrency market is Grayscale, a company that creates products for investing in cryptocurrency that can be bought in a similar way to buying a stock.
In each consecutive quarter of 2020 so far, Grayscale has broken its own previous records in terms of the amount of money that flowed into its cryptocurrency investment products. In Q3 2020, quarterly inflows broke the magical barrier of $1 billion for the first time in Grayscale’s history, with the company revealing that 84% of the inflows originated from institutional players (primarily hedge funds). The company’s Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, which provides investors with exposure to Bitcoin, recorded $719 million in inflows during the quarter.
Established players in the financial markets are also becoming involved in cryptocurrency. Major banks like BBVA and Standard Chartered are reportedly working on cryptocurrency custody and trading solutions, while DBS Bank, the largest bank in Singapore, is working on a trading platform for digital assets. With these major names entering the picture, it will become easier than ever for more institutional players to allocate a part of their capital to the emerging cryptocurrency asset class.
The Bitcoin as a store of value narrative is strengthening
In the early days of the project, Bitcoin was being presented as a form of digital cash with the potential to displace the fiat currencies that we use today on an everyday basis. However, as Bitcoin’s scalability limitations became apparent, the narrative has largely shifted towards Bitcoin being a store of value.
And to be fair, Bitcoin does have many properties that make it very appealing as a store of value – it has a hard cap on its supply (only 21 million BTC can ever exist), new BTC coins are mined at predictable and constant rates, and the network is extremely resistant to censorship and outside interference. In comparison with gold, the most well-established store of value asset, Bitcoin also has the advantage of being almost infinitely divisible and BTC can be cheaply transferred anywhere in the world on a 24/7 basis.
As Bitcoin increasingly becomes perceived as a legitimate store of value, we’re now seeing some companies opting to purchase BTC to protect the value of their holdings against inflation and aggressive money printing. The most prominent examples of this include MicroStrategy, which has purchased over $450 million worth of Bitcoin (with plans to buy more), and Square, which has bought $50 million worth of BTC.
Legendary investors like Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller have also expressed bullish views on Bitcoin, and have both compared the world’s leading cryptocurrency to gold.
The Bitcoin halving
2020 was the year of the third Bitcoin halving, which happened on May 11. The halving decreased the Bitcoin block reward from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC, constricting the flow of newly mined BTC. The Bitcoin protocol is designed so that miners gradually receive fewer rewards over time until the total supply of BTC is mined. Don’t worry, this won’t happen very soon – according to estimates, the last Bitcoin will be mined in 2140.
While there were fears that the Bitcoin mining industry could suffer heavily because of the halving, the reality is that the Bitcoin network’s hashrate is now significantly larger than it was before the halving in May. Bitcoin halvings happen every 4 years and are generally accompanied by very strong bullish sentiment. As far as fundamental factors are concerned, it’s tough to find something that draws more attention to Bitcoin than its halvings.
The best part about the trends outlined above is that their influence on the Bitcoin market will likely only continue to strengthen in 2021 and beyond. Bitcoin is currently in a very strong position, and we can’t wait to see what the next year brings to the table. While it’s impossible to predict the future exactly, Bitcoin HODLers have plenty of great reasons to be bullish right now.