One of the most disruptive technologies to have emerged in the last number of years – and one that has dominated the headlines for weeks on end – is bitcoin. From its humble beginnings as a way to buy pizza online to now being the prized investment opportunity of bankers and hedge fund managers across the world, cryptocurrencies have truly taken the world by storm.
However, cryptocurrencies, and bitcoin in particular, haven’t had the smoothest of ride over the last number of years. Market speculation has been rife with bitcoin since it burst onto the scene so loudly in 2017 during the first cryptocurrency gold rush, which saw prices surge towards $20,000 per bitcoin – and crash rapidly just a few months after that. Since then, investors have been hesitant to dip their toes back into the crypto market, which has further fuelled market speculation and stagnated prices across all cryptocurrencies during the last year. However, with prices rising and technological innovations being unveiled by the day, attention is beginning to shift back towards cryptocurrencies and, in particular, bitcoin. With this in mind, what can we expect from bitcoin as 2019 draws to a close and we look towards 2020?
The rise and fall of bitcoin: the cryptocurrency gold rush
Although it was originally created in 2009, bitcoin didn’t enter the public consciousness in any real sense until late in 2017 when the price of bitcoin underwent a number of massive price surges, which sent the price of a single bitcoin into the thousands for the first time ever. From previous highs of around $700 in 2013, bitcoin suddenly surged to an all-time high of $19,000 in December 2017. This new peak sent the world crypto mad, and within hours, news stations across the world were predicting bitcoin to be the next biggest thing. This sudden spotlight, however, eventually triggered a slow but steady decline for the currency, and by the end of January 2018, the ‘Great Crypto Gold Rush’ had been replaced by the ‘Great Crypto Crash’.
Following this, cryptocurrencies in general underwent a period of recession and price stagnation, known as the ‘Crypto Winter’, where prices stagnated at a fraction of their all-time peak. For many people, this is when they stopped paying attention to cryptocurrencies in any significant way and they very much dropped off in terms of their importance. For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, however, this was also a time when investment and development really started to happen. Although prices had fallen, the rapid rise and fall had done a lot to reveal some of the potential future uses for the underlying technology. As such, following the crash, there was a lot of investment in the technology. Almost two years after the great gold rush of 2017, prices are beginning to rise again. However, as we look forward to 2020, what’s in store for bitcoin? Will we see another rapid rise and fall? Or will public interest in bitcoin hit a critical tipping point, marking the entry of bitcoin into the mainstream? Keep reading to find out!
Bitcoin – groundbreaking tech or pure hype?
Mention the word ‘cryptocurrency’ to anyone, and the first thing that will likely pop into their head is bitcoin. In fact, so influential has it become over the last decade since it was first established that for many investors out there, their cryptocurrency portfolios consist of nothing but bitcoin! As evidence of this, bitcoin dominates the market when it comes to cryptocurrency investments, and it has by far the largest market capitalisation of any cryptocurrency out there.
Created in 2009 by the mysterious ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, bitcoin is a decentralised digital currency that exists on a peer-to-peer network. Because it is decentralised, there is no need for intermediaries to process currency transfer like in a traditional banking system. This means that transactions made using the Bitcoin network can be processed in an instant, which is one of the reasons why it has become so popular as a way to send and receive cash online.
Although in the early days, it was used to conduct low-value, everyday transactions such as buying pizza or some ‘special’ goods on the dark net, these days bitcoin – and cryptocurrencies more broadly – are big business. So revolutionary is the underlying technology that institutional investors from across the traditional banking and fintech spaces have been pouring funding into a variety of cryptocurrency projects, with the result that bitcoin – as the most dominant currency – has seen massive fluctuations over recent years.
Cryptocurrencies and online casinos – a match made in heaven?
It isn’t just the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin that has forced online casinos to implement the technology into their platforms, however. The fact of the matter is that they are incredibly useful and improve the overall playing experience. Because they are so useful, we have seen a massive increase in the number of online casinos supporting the technology, which makes sense because cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin were created specifically for this space!
The efficiency of a decentralised currency
Thanks to the decentralised nature of bitcoin, transactions can be processed incredibly quickly when compared to traditional currencies. This is because they rely on intermediaries to process transactions, which means that if you want to send a sum of money to, for example, an online casino, then you would need both a bank and a credit or debit card processing company to do this. In contrast, bitcoin transactions are processed across the user network itself, meaning that there is no longer a need for third parties, other than to acquire the currency in the first place. As such, payments can be processed in a matter of minutes rather than the days that it takes traditional payment systems. This pairs well with an online environment such as an online casino, where the customers themselves are not bound by time zones or opening hours.
A global payment system for the digital age
Another benefit of using cryptocurrencies in an online casino gaming context is that it is a much more discreet form of payment. With conventional banks, it can be easy to obtain your personal information, which is a big source of anxiety for those who are security-minded. In contrast, bitcoin does not need to be tied to any particular identity or permanent address as payments can be sent anonymously across the open book ledger network.
When you add into the mix the fact that cryptocurrencies are designed to operate in a global space where borders, time zones and continental divides don’t mean anything, you begin to get a sense of why bitcoin has proved so popular in online spaces such as the online casino gaming scene.
To the moon and back? Bitcoin price predictions for 2020
When it comes to predicting what price bitcoin will reach in the next few months, there are a wide array of opinions out there. On the more bullish end of the spectrum, prominent figures such as John McAfee are strongly committed to the belief that the $1m mark is just around the corner. On the other end of it, crypto sceptics believe that it is only a matter of weeks before bitcoin bottoms out at a little over zero. Who is chiming in on the future of bitcoin, and what do they have to say?
· John McAfee: McAfee is one of the more controversial figures in the crypto space and has been making wild predictions about the new heights that bitcoin’s price might reach in the next year. He became well known in the space for predicting that it would swell to $1m per bitcoin by 2020 – a prediction that he still firmly stands by, despite all the criticisms it has earned him!
· Tom Lee: This former chief equity strategist from JP Morgan has voiced a slightly more sceptical opinion on the future price of bitcoin. Although completely discounting potential surges in value, Lee is on record saying that it will tend to correlate with the cost of mining one whole bitcoin. With that said, he has predicted continued institutional investment from the traditional banking sector, which, given his background, is a positive signal for all crypto investors out there.
· Fran Strajnar: CEO of Brave New Coin, a research organisation focused on the cryptocurrency market, Strajnar believes that by the year 2020, bitcoin will reach new all-time highs of around $200,000. Although he isn’t specific on when this could happen exactly, Strajnar is very bullish that it will happen sooner rather than later. His argument for this is based on the adoption rates of bitcoin and cryptocurrency more broadly. He argues that we are only in the very early stages of this process. There is solid logic to this argument, and so far we have only seen very minimal adoption of cryptocurrency in the real world.
· Sam Doctor: A highly experienced quantitative strategist at Fundstrat, Doctor has made a bullish, if somewhat conservative, prediction that bitcoin will hit $36,000 before the end of 2019. As mining costs break even, Doctor predicts that this will provide a natural support level for bitcoin prices, which will gradually push prices past previous all-time highs set in 2017.
Reality bites: what can we realistically expect bitcoin to hit?
Putting some of these wild predictions aside, what can we realistically expect bitcoin to hit in 2020? Will it ever reach the all-time highs it set in 2017 when it burst into the mainstream for the first time? Or do we look set to settle into another long ‘crypto winter’ like we have been stuck in for the last 18 months?
Truth be told, the answer to this really is a mystery! On the more conservative end of the scale, there seems to be a widespread sentiment that rather than seeing meteoric rises pushing us past the previous all-time highs, we are more likely to see more modest, steady gains in the price of bitcoin. With that said, we could very well see bitcoin gradually surpass the $20,000 mark, slowly easing it into all-time high territory. When it comes to bitcoin, however, the markets are prone to drastic fluctuations over the course of any given day. As such, it’s best to try to filter out most of the market noise clouding your judgement and to look at the stats before you in a broader context.
Furthermore, with a revolutionary technology such as bitcoin that is still so young in its development cycle, there is no real need to get caught up obsessing about the price on a day-by-day basis. Instead, focus on the long-term potential value of the project. When it stops promising this, it might be time to move your investment into something else – but until that time comes, now is as good a time as any to get involved! Just remember, there was a time when bitcoin was worth way less than a dollar, trading for an average of $0.125 per bitcoin. The fact that we can even begin to talk about it potentially returning to highs of $20,000 just shows you how revolutionary this technology is.
Believing the hype – why do price predictions vary so greatly?
As you might have noticed from the various price predictions that seem to be doing the rounds these days, opinions on the future of bitcoin seem to vary greatly. On the one hand, you have the wild cryptocurrency evangelists such as McAfee who seem dead set on convincing us that a $1m price tag is just around the corner, while on the other, you have crypto-pessimists who think that bitcoin is essentially worthless. Given these two starkly contrasting positions, who can we trust?
As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere right along the middle. Although we might not be anywhere near the $1m mark, there is no denying the utility of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Given how deeply integrated modern society is with digitisation and digital networks, there is simply no denying that we have a growing need for technological solutions such as bitcoin and Ethereum. These cryptocurrencies reflect the digital age that we find ourselves in, and as long as they continue to serve a purpose, bitcoin will continue to hold its value.
Furthermore, from a purely price-oriented perspective, in light of this continued relevance in the digital age, the scarcity of bitcoin itself will ensure that it continues to hold its value as an asset. When it was first created, there were a finite number of bitcoins created – about 21m in total – of which around 3.7m remain to be mined. This means that as long as cryptocurrencies continue to serve a function and purpose in the digital space, bitcoin will hold its value. As such, it’s best to not pay too much attention to the market hype.
Looking beyond value – what does bitcoin have to offer?
Despite the emphasis that this article has so far put on the price history and predictions of bitcoin, this really is only one side to the story. If you were to focus on price and value only when assessing bitcoin’s performance over the last year, you would miss out on the incredible advances that have been made across the cryptocurrency space. 2019 has been a year in which more focus than ever has been put on developing the actual tech itself, with a number of network upgrades being developed and deployed across all major cryptocurrencies. More developers are transitioning into fintech and cryptocurrency development with each passing week, which indicates a bright future for bitcoin. Once the underlying technology continues to develop, the price will undoubtedly follow. This is the only metric that we need to focus on for the foreseeable future.
Big events on the horizon – what’s next on the menu?
With this focus on technology and development in mind, what’s next in store for bitcoin? As mentioned above, there is only a finite number of bitcoins that can ever be in circulation. When it was first created, it was limited to a total of 21m bitcoins that could be mined. Additionally, the currency was programmed to halve the reward for every block mined. At the start of its lifecycle, active miners earned 50 bitcoin for each block mined, which was halved four years later to 25 bitcoin. Currently, miners get 12.5 bitcoin for their efforts. In May 2020, this is set to halve again to just 6.25 bitcoin per block mined. As such, the total number of bitcoin entering the market decreases. When you add in the general market awareness about bitcoin, this means that the price is likely set to rise. Indeed, basic economics suggests that as supply decreases, demand should go up, which, it is hoped, will be reflected in its price. A price surge is not set in stone, however, and no one really knows exactly how the markets will react to growing scarcity and a decrease in supply.
Rising competition – will bitcoin always be king?
When looking at the future of bitcoin, it’s important to remember that although bitcoin is the king of cryptocurrencies right now, this is not guaranteed to continue to be the status quo indefinitely. In fact, bitcoin is only one of a number of prominent cryptocurrencies out there, and some of them present a serious threat to bitcoin’s dominance.
One of the main reasons why bitcoin is in the dominant position that it is in today is simply because it was the first cryptocurrency on the scene around a decade ago when this industry was first created. Because of this, it has become essentially synonymous with cryptocurrencies for the majority of people out there. Those in the know, however, are all too aware that bitcoin is only one of a number of options out there. Other prominent cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, Ripple and Ethereum all present a serious challenge. Ethereum in particular could be the cryptocurrency of the future as it was specifically created to address the shortcomings of bitcoin from a technological perspective. Bitcoin has struggled to implement network upgrades to increase processing times for transactions and doesn’t have the same infrastructure to support app development. On the other hand, Ethereum was specifically designed with these in mind, meaning that it could be likely to give bitcoin a serious run for its money going forward into 2020. As such, if you are thinking about acquiring some bitcoin in the near future, then it’s a good idea to hedge your bets and have stakes in both. Thankfully, platforms such as Bitcasino support both, so either way, you won’t miss out!
Going forward into 2020: what’s in store for bitcoin?
While we can’t necessarily guarantee that the highs of the great crypto boom of 2017 are just around the corner, what we do know is a certainty is that investment in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.
This is certainly the approach that Bitcasino is taking. It is unquestionable that from a customer perspective, cryptocurrencies offer the best all-round experience for online casino fans. From the instant processing times and withdrawals to the ease of changing currencies between platforms no matter what your home currency is, bitcoin is without question the currency of the future. For these reasons alone, Bitcasino is going to continue to support it on its platform.
If all this talk about bitcoin has caught your interest and you want to see how this groundbreaking technology can be seamlessly integrated into the online space, don’t hesitate to head to Bitcasino and check out the different kinds of cryptocurrencies that are supported. Cryptocurrencies are truly a cutting-edge way to play games, so don’t hesitate and get playing today!
Words: Sean McNulty