Bitcoin prices drop to US$7,900, lowest since November 2017
Bitcoin prices are stepping back in time, but wherever they go from here it seems unlikely that history will repeat itself.
It's almost like December 2018 and January 2018 never happened, with bitcoin prices hitting a recent low of US$7,900 according to CoinMarketCap. These bitcoin prices are about the same as they were on 20 November 2017, and it might seem like a step back in time for a lot of bitcoin holders.
But a value rollback doesn't mean the last two months never happened. Other than its price tag, bitcoin is in a very different place now than it was a few months ago.
Firstly, the cryptocurrency genie can’t go back in the bottle after the surge of popularity that accompanied bitcoin's rise at the end of 2017. Bitcoin became a household name between then and now, which seems like it should have some kind of impact on future prices.
Upcoming developments are also closer. The Lightning Network mainnet is currently under testing, and it going live could be a game-changer.
Bitcoin's climb in December-January was followed by a crunch as the network hit the limits of its scalability. But if it does climb again, and if the Lightning Network is live and functional when it happens, it's going to be climbing in a very different environment.
The December-January ascent saw a lot of third party services enter the market with the promise of bitcoin payment solutions, but many of them were withdrawn, delayed or cancelled as scaling problems hit and bitcoin seemed to hit a wall. Another climb and surge in popularity, backed up with the Lightning Network and functional payment options, means the coin might not hit that wall the second time around.
But whether this new climb will ever happen is anyone’s guess.
Bitcoin’s market share is a lot smaller than it was a few months ago, and even among cryptocurrency newcomers, it’s no longer known as the only game in town. There are a lot of other coins out there, and by the numbers, the bulk of the market is shifting towards them.
Regulated bitcoin futures trading is another new feature. It’s hard to say what kind of effects this may be having on bitcoin prices, but the weathervane it provides suggests that hedge funds are feeling relatively optimistic about bitcoin prices at the moment. For whatever that’s worth.
Also, some signs could cautiously be interpreted as bitcoin whales stocking up. Bitinfocharts is showing intakes on some of the largest individual-owned wealthier bitcoin wallet addresses. But this should also be taken with a dose of caution, even if it does show the whales consolidating BTC.
Buying doesn’t mean holding, and it’s quite possible that these addresses are simply buying low to sell higher in the very near future. From at least one angle bitcoin’s reliably volatility nature has it looking good for day traders, but uninspiring for "holders".
Bitcoin prices are back at November 2017 levels, where they were shortly before the meteoric rise of December. But that doesn't mean history will repeat itself. Signs of a price rebound and a new climb could just as easily be signs of traders riding bitcoin on the way down. And if it does go for another December-style bull run then for better or worse it certainly won't be the same as last time.