The “crypto winter” that has chilled cryptocurrencies and brought them lower plodded on this week as bitcoin (BTC) plunged to fresh lows for the year.
The selling frenzy intensified as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week postponed once again its decision on a bitcoin exchange-traded fund. The new deadline to review proposals by investment firm VanEck and blockchain company SolidX is now set for Feb. 27, 2019. Bitcoin has fallen 16.7 percent over the past week to $3,375. Over the last month the drop into the ice cold has been nearly 64 percent, and the currency is down 132.5 percent from last year. Ether (ETH), at $91.68, is down nearly 20 percent over the past month and 128.4 percent from the previous year.
While major cryptocurrency prices have been sliding since peaking late last year, losses escalated in early November. That’s when a hard fork in bitcoin cash (BCH) sparked a debate among miners and developers about updates to bitcoin cash’s network. As the two sides sparred, many market participants cashed out of their cryptocurrencies to protect themselves from the possibility of selling from major holders.
“These opportunities will be some of the greatest investments over the next 18 months,” Mark Dukas says, “which is another reason why I’m here to stay.”
As bitcoin tumbled, so fell other major coins. On Friday afternoon bitcoin cash was down 57.4 percent on the week to $104.84. Ripple’s XRP (XRP) was down 18 percent for the week at 30 cents.
Looking Past Price
“The market continues to stay bearish, and for the mid- to long-term bitcoin will be challenged as a leading cryptocurrency,” Gina Heng, co-founder and CEO of the Marvelstone Group, a private investment group based in Singapore, and founder of Miss Kaya, a money management tool for women, tells ThirtyK.
Ethereum is also losing its momentum as a leader of smart contracts, Heng adds, as other new blockchain platforms are created and growing their communities. She says 2019 will be the year “to test other coins to be the next bitcoin and the next [ether]. It will be an interesting year to find those opportunities.”
As prices continue to fall, Mark Dukas from BitcoinSmartMoney.com believes those predicting doomsday for the cryptocurrency market are “extremely short-sighted.”
Sellers are focusing solely on price, he tells ThirtyK, and they aren’t “realizing the positive fundamentals that are happening day in and day out. The truth of the matter is, the fundamentals are better than ever.”
Major positives, he says, were news in November that cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase launched an over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trading desk, and the Nasdaq stock exchange will launch bitcoin futures next year. This week, the U.K.’s The Express quoted Joseph Christinat, vice president of Nasdaq’s media team, confirming the plans and noting bitcoin futures will launch in the first half of 2019.
“This creates long-term viability in the space, which as an investor is what I look for,” says Dukas.
Nearing the Bottom
Timothy Tam, CEO of CoinFi, has his eye on cryptocurrency trading platform Bitfinex, which is listing other stablecoins, including USD Coin (USDC), TrueUSD (TUSD), Paxos‘ Paxos Standard Token (PAX) and Gemini Dollar (GUSD) in addition to the first dollar-pegged stablecoin, tether (USDT). He sees that as an encouraging sign.
“The interest and growth in stablecoins across Bitfinex and other exchanges indicates there’s an ongoing interest for a stablecoin replacing fiat” currencies, he tells ThirtyK. “That may take some time – years, probably – but the interest is there.”
Tam has also been watching the continued decline of the bitcoin hash rate, or the speed at which a computer completes an operation in bitcoin code, after it peaked in September. It has trended down ever since. He expects to see the rate continue to slide, noting, “it’s become unprofitable” to mine the cryptocurrency.
He suspects the market is getting close to the bottom, and when prices do hit their lows institutional and professional investors will start flooding money into the market. As for retail investors, many have been spooked.
“Honestly,” Tam says, “that could end up being a good thing, because retail investors who don’t understand the marketplace or the technology tend to make things much more volatile.”
Dukas had seen price support for bitcoin at the $3,400 level; with that breaking, he sees the ultimate bottom at $2,950. “These opportunities will be some of the greatest investments over the next 18 months,” he says, “which is another reason why I’m here to stay.”