Bitcoin (BTC) managed to eke out some gains on the week, outperforming ether (ETH), which remained under pressure, and litecoin (LTC).

Some analysts say they’re optimistic the recent bear market could be coming close to an end as investors who had been paring back after what they had perceived to be an overbought market start to settle into their positions.

Many investors are concerned cryptocurrencies are a fad.

At about 4 p.m. EDT Friday afternoon, bitcoin was trading at $6,514.81, according to ThirtyK data provided by CoinMarketCap, up 6.9 percent from a week earlier. The cryptocurrency fell late Monday below the key psychological level of $6,000 yet bounced back as the week progressed. The digital currency reached a high for the year of more than $17,000 in January.

Among major cryptocurrencies, ether was hit hard, falling a hefty 12.2 percent to $303.64. Earlier in the week, it slid to around $253.88, its lowest level of the year. Litecoin (LTC) managed a small gain of 0.8 percent to end the week at $59.05.

ICOs Cashing Out

Market observers tie Ethereum’s price drop to selling by companies that have conducted initial coin offerings. The large number of ICOs by companies that built platforms on the Ethereum blockchain helped to drive up the cryptocurrency’s price. But amid the cryptocurrency market’s price slide, existing ICOs have cashed out, pushing ether’s price down more than other cryptocurrencies. Investors also worry about Ethereum’s ability to handle increased volume on its network.

Greg Dwyer, head of business development and sales at crypto exchange BitMEX, tells ThirtyK he doesn’t think the bear market is over quite yet. “We will experience lower lows as traders sell into these local highs,” he said, adding that “we should see aggressive selling in coins like [ether] as ICOs look to reduce risk on their initial raised capital. 

A Growing Sector

Bill Slaughter, president of Beneteau Capital Management in Miami and a former Wall Street financial adviser, is more bullish on the market. He takes a macro view, telling ThirtyK he sees the industry continuing to grow and evolve as investors become more informed.

Currently, “there are too many uniformed investors that just don’t want to put their feet in the water,” he says.

Many investors are concerned cryptocurrencies are a fad, he says, that prices will plummet or the market will be hacked. More education is needed. Just like with the advent of the automobile, buy-in and adoption for cryptocurrencies will take time, he said.

“This is an industry that at some point is going to hit the U.S. like a tsunami,” Slaughter says. “There are so many offshoots to the business. It’s a huge sector that’s going to grow in many different directions.”

Business in general is also changing, Slaughter says, pointing to a decline in manufacturing companies in the Fortune 500 and emergence of digital companies like Amazon. “This digital age is going to have to be supported by what I believe will be some type of digital currency,” he said.

A cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund will help broaden cryptocurrencies’ appeal, he says, adding he thinks one will win regulatory approval. Those bringing ETF proposals to the Securities and Exchange Commission “wouldn’t be spending all this money if they didn’t really think they were going to get it through, he says.

Slaughter is optimistic about bitcoin, and sees the market in general edging up into the end of the year as the sector continues to grow. “I believe bitcoin will survive, and be on top,” he says, adding that “the [cryptocurrency] market is one of greatest opportunities to build wealth in our time.”

Deborah Lynn Blumberg is a Houston-based freelance writer specializing in business, finance and health and wellness. Her work has appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch, The Christian Science Monitor and Newsday. Previously, she was a reporter at Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal.