Bitcoin had a huge rally in 2023, with the digital currency up some 152% for the year.
And a number of commentators CNBC spoke to — both inside and outside of the cryptocurrency industry — expect the rise to continue.
After hitting a record high in 2021, bitcoin had a rough 2022, which was marked by the collapse of high-profile projects, liquidity issues and bankruptcies.
That year, FTX, once one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, filed for bankruptcy. In 2023, its founder Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of all seven criminal counts brought against him by federal prosecutors in the U.S.
Also in 2023, Binance’s Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty to criminal charges and stepped down as the company’s CEO as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice.
Now that those two high-profile cases are out the way, many cryptocurrency executives see it as a chance to move forward and draw a line under the bad behavior of two of the industry’s poster children.
With fervor returning to the crypto markets, industry executives are calling the start of a new bull run, mainly predicated on two things — the bitcoin “halving” and the potential approval of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the U.S.
The halving, which happens every four years, is an event written in bitcoin’s code. The rewards so-called miners get for mining bitcoin is cut in half. This keeps a cap on supply of bitcoin, of which there will only ever be 21 million. In previous price cycles, halving preceded a rise in the price of bitcoin.
Meanwhile, there is growing excitement that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will approve the first ever bitcoin ETF, after years of opposition. This would mean investors can buy a product that tracks the price of bitcoin, without having to go on to an exchange and hold the digital currency directly. The industry is hoping this will draw in a wider range of investors, and in particular, large institutional investors.
With all of this excitement comes some quite bold predictions about bitcoin’s price. Here’s a selection of some of them.
Mark Mobius: $60,000
In 2022, Mark Mobius correctly forecast bitcoin would drop to $20,000 when it was trading above $28,000. He had a price call of $10,000 thereafter, which he stuck to in 2023. However, that did not materialize, as bitcoin rallied.
For 2024, Mobius told CNBC that bitcoin could reach $60,000 by the end of the year.
“No rationale for that prediction,” Mobius said, except that a bitcoin ETF looks likely and “that has heightened interest” in the cryptocurrency.
Bit Mining: $75,000
Youwei Yang, chief economist of crypto mining firm Bit Mining, believes that bitcoin could reach a high of $75,000 by 2024.
Yang attributes the anticipated price rise to a bitcoin ETF being approved, leading to higher institutional investment in bitcoin, as well as May 2024’s bitcoin halving, which would result in the bitcoin supply being constrained.
“I anticipate the Bitcoin will be trading around $25K to $75K in 2024, and $45K to $130K in 2025,” Yang said in an emailed note.
“While high prices are possible, not all investors will profit due to market volatility and the human tendencies of fear and greed.”
Yang said the ETF approval remains the biggest story for bitcoin in 2024 — though investors should hold a degree of caution on timing given the wounds left by collapses of major crypto firms like Luna and FTX, and as it is an election year when the topic of crypto is likely to become more of a political issue.
“Timing the market is hard, but a gradual approach — accumulating in bear markets and taking profits in bull markets — might be a more effective strategy for whom don’t have early-on accumulations.”
James Butterfill, head of research at CoinShares, said the landscape for digital assets is set for “significant change” in 2024, driven by the potential approval of bitcoin ETFs in the U.S.
“This long-awaited development is poised to expand the investor base for cryptocurrencies and integrate them more closely with traditional financial markets,” Butterfill told CNBC via email.
“Estimations suggest that a 20% investment increase from current assets under management (around US$3 billion) could potentially propel Bitcoin prices to US$80,000.”
Meanwhile, the scenario of central banks cutting interest rates could also “play a decisive role” in moving bitcoin higher, Butterfill added.
The market will be also looking at factors beyond the halving — which he considers already priced into bitcoin — that could influence the price of the digital coin further.
“Thus, while the halving is a known event, other elements, particularly the potential for interest rate reductions, are likely to be significant in shaping Bitcoin’s price in the future,” Butterfill said.
Antoni Trenchev, a noted bitcoin bull and co-founder of Nexo, a cryptocurrency exchange, believes bitcoin could hit $100,000 in 2024.
In 2022, he called for bitcoin to hit $100,000, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the price of bitcoin collapsed that year. He held off from any further price predictions.
But in a note in December, Trenchev reinstated his $100,000 call for 2024, citing the halving and potential approval of multiple bitcoin ETFs.
“My expectation for 2024 is that the twin-turbo boost from the Bitcoin halving & spot ETF approval should propel Bitcoin to $100,000, with the prospect of further highs in 2025,” Trenchev said in a note. “The road to $100,000 will be lined with unexpected potholes and double-digit declines as Bitcoin.”
Trenchev added that the biggest gains will come from digital tokens and projects “that aren’t even on the radar yet.”
Standard Chartered: $100,000
In November, Standard Chartered doubled down on its $100,000 call for bitcoin made in April. The bank said this will be driven by the approval of numerous ETFs.
The halving will also be supportive for bitcoin, the bank said.
Carol Alexander: $100,000
In 2022, University of Sussex professor of finance Carol Alexander had a fairly successful run of calling bitcoin’s future price.
She predicted bitcoin would slip to $10,000 in 2022. That year, bitcoin fell as low as around $15,480, according to CoinDesk data. For 2023, Alexander said bitcoin would rally as high as $50,000. Bitcoin reached a yearly high of roughly $44,700 in early December.
Alexander told CNBC that during the first quarter of 2024, bitcoin will trade within the $40,000 to $55,000 range, owing to “professional traders creating volatility.”
The next stage will depend on when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission settles charges against Coinbase and Binance, which could be required before approval of a bitcoin ETF, according to Alexander, echoing other commentators. The SEC sued both Coinbase and Binance in 2023.
Alexander said settlement of those charges is likely in either the second or third quarter, after which ETFs will be approved and bitcoin’s price will rise to $70,000, a new all-time high.
The price after that depends on the abilities of the ETF providers, such as Blackrock and Fidelity, “to equip their market makers not only to create the ETFs, but also to defend price manipulations” on exchanges which create “excessive volatility.”
“Before end of 2024 price could exceed $100k, but only if Blackrock and Fidelity market maker algorithms have the ability to reduce volatility,” Alexander concluded.
Matrixport, which bills itself as a crypto financial services firm, released a note in November projecting that bitcoin would reach $63,140 by April 2024 and $125,000 by the end of next year.
“Based on our inflation model, the macro environment is expected to remain a robust tailwind for crypto. Another decline in inflation is anticipated, prompting the Federal Reserve to likely initiate interest rate cuts,” Matrixport said in its report.
“Combined with geopolitical crosscurrents, this healthy dose of monetary support should push Bitcoin to new highs in 2024.”
Many commentators see easing monetary policy as supportive for bitcoin, which is viewed as a risky asset. Meanwhile, some see bitcoin as a sort of “safe haven” asset to pour money into in times of geopolitical strife, though many disagree with this theory.
CoinFund: Up to $500,000
Venture capital CoinFund has one of the highest price calls for bitcoin for 2024.
“Bitcoin has a strong inverse correlation with the dollar and real yields, and both are now going down,” Seth Ginns, managing partner at CoinFund, told CNBC via email. ”We also expect the follow through inflows post-launch of the BTC spot ETF, as well as growing excitement around the likely approval of ETH (ether) spot ETFs later in 2024, will be quite meaningful.”
Ginns added that he thinks the industry is in the process of “regulatory normalization.”
Ginns said that bitcoin could touch $1 million per coin “in this next cycle,” but said a more “reasonable expectation” for 2024 would see bitcoin between $250,000 and $500,000.