It was another subdued week for the digital currencies market with the prices of major cryptocurrencies continuing to bounce around in a tight range.
The market has been largely trading sideways since late summer as investors sit tight and wait for the next major catalyst. Some observers believe that catalyst could come from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission if it finally approves a bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund, which could open up the market to a wider swath of investors. So far, the SEC has denied or delayed action on a number of ETF proposals, with one more expected in the coming week.
“Bitcoin does not generally trade in such tight windows,” Mark Dukas from BitcoinSmartMoney.com tells ThirtyK, adding that remaining stuck in such a window for a prolonged period tends to suggest a big move ahead.
Friday afternoon bitcoin was up 0.24 percent at $6,393.62. Ripple (XRP) was up 1.2 percent at 46 cents, while ether (ETH) was up 1.3 percent to $201.25 and bitcoin cash (BCH) was up 10 percent to $466.01. Prices have remained relatively stable since mid-August after having skyrocketed in December 2017, only to fall during the spring and early summer. Bitcoin climbed to nearly $20,000 late last year.
Too Many Speculators
Dukas has a bullish bias, but foresees a $1,500 move in either direction in the foreseeable future. Besides waiting for the SEC to approve an ETF, the market is awaiting Bakkt bitcoin futures, which are scheduled to launch on Dec. 12. That’s “giving some uncertainty,” Dukas says, which is partly to blame for tight prices. “Fundamentals have never been better,” he adds.
Alex Mashinsky, a blockchain entrepreneur and founder of Celsius Network, tells ThirtyK he’s surprised the market has failed to react to major news, including cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s announcement of a $300 million series E round on Tuesday. Coinbase also announced the company is currently valued at over $8 billion. The market largely shrugged off news Fidelity Investments recently launched Fidelity Digital Asset Services, a separate company that will handle cryptocurrency custody and trade execution for institutional investors.
“No one cared,” Mashinsky said. “It tells you there just aren’t enough buyers out there. We’ve had this downside pressure for several weeks,” he adds. “Having this stability, though, is not bad news.”
Mashinsky points to the market suffering under ongoing selling pressure from initial coin offerings. “We have to finish with that,” he says, “and it will take little more time.” Barring any unexpected negative news, he believes at least bitcoin will see some support in the near term, with higher highs and more price stability.
Attending and speaking at World Crypto Con in Las Vegas this week, Mashinsky said attendance was high, with several thousand attendees, a contrast to the several hundred participants he’s seen at recent, similar events.
“There’s a resurgence of excitement around security tokens,” says Mashinsky. “There are some new opportunities, but everybody is more cautious after they left 50 percent of their gains on the table. The adoption curve is taking much longer.”
Mashinsky is skeptical the market will see significant gains, however, heading into year’s end. “People make big promises that things will turn by the end of the year,” he says, “but I’m not a big believer. We have too many speculators.”
Wall Street Weighs In
This week, market participants and Wall Street used bitcoin’s 10th anniversary as an opportunity to opine about the future of the digital currencies market. Speaking Tuesday at an Axios conference in Los Angeles, JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon said he doesn’t “really give a shit” about bitcoin, reported MarketWatch. He has belittled bitcoin in the past, for instance calling the cryptocurrency a fraud.
His company, however, continues to explore how to make money off the underlying blockchain technology. Recently, it announced it had built a blockchain platform called Quorum. The platform is based on Ethereum and is for enterprise customers.
Morgan Stanley, which reportedly has bitcoin-based derivatives trading in the works, also took the anniversary to put out a research report that concluded bitcoin and altcoins have been a “new institutional investment class” since 2017.
The report, “Bitcoin Decrypted: A Brief Teach-In and Implications,” cites “surprises” to come from crypto in 2018 including a “strong” formation of new funds that target the sector plus “growth” of cryptocurrency-tied futures. In the report, decentralized blockchain technology was also described as making the world “better.”