Bitcoin Price Unable to Break Downward Spiral as Speculation Drives Market

Bitcoin’s price touched new yearly lows on Saturday, as the broader cryptocurrency market risked further capitulation in the days and weeks ahead. According to the CEO of BitPay, bitcoin’s price is driven predominantly by speculation regarding future adoption and is less concerned with current market forces. If that’s the case, there’s a reasonable case to be made for a strong rally in the new year.

BTC/USD Update

The bitcoin price reached a low of $3,130 on Coinbase in early-morning trade, the lowest since August 2017. The U.S.-based exchange last quoted BTC/USD at $3,147. Exchanges Bitstamp, Bittrex and Gemini show similar levels, while Bitfinex maintained a $100 premium.

Market-wide data provided by CoinMarketCap show an average bitcoin price of $3,207, down 2.7%  over the 24-hour period.

Trading volumes across the virtual exchange market reached $4.1 billion, according to the latest available data. BitMEX saw its share of the total volume rise to 24.4% as derivatives continued to drive the market. BitMEX and other futures markets allow traders to profit from bitcoin’s decline. This avenue has increased in popularity since the selloff began last month.

Bitcoin’s market capitalization has experienced a significant drop over the course of the selloff. Now valued at $55.9 billion, bitcoin’s market cap is down a staggering $56 billion compared to early last month.

Speculation Drives Market

Speculation about bitcoin’s perceived utility in the future continues to influence market behavior far more than its actual use in today’s market, according to Stephen Pair, CEO of BitPay. Although BitPay is focused on supporting the actual market for bitcoin payments, this segment has little impact on how BTC is priced by investors and speculators.

“A very big component of the price is certainly speculation,” Pair said in a recent interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box. “It’s investors speculating on the future usage and adoption of this technology. A small component of the price is actual utility, and that’s what BitPay is focused on — using the platform and delivering products to our customers that they find valuable.”

BitPay is hoping to radically alter how bitcoin is priced in the future – not by manipulating the market, but by expanding adoption of cryptocurrency payments. Currently, BitPay processes roughly $1 billion in transactions per year, a figure Pair believes should grow ten-fold in the coming years.

Although bitcoin is accepted by hundreds of thousands of merchants globally, its primary utility continues to be as a store of value for investors looking to capitalize on the alternative asset class. Now that the initial crypto craze is over, adoption as a payment mechanism is the next great hurdle facing BTC and its peers.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi