Bitcoin and digital currency more broadly is one of the most divisive concepts of our time. The idea of a currency which is not controlled by a state or a corporation and which maintains such a high level of privacy for its users is a much-needed relief for some and a threat to the whole economic and political system to others. One thing is certain: its value has soared over the past 12 months from just over $400 per bitcoin a year ago to over $1,350 in recent weeks.
Here are three predictions for the future of bitcoin…
Bitcoin will be closer to £3,000 by the end of the year
As bitcoin is primarily used for trading or transferring value, the value of bitcoin is controlled by the total value of goods in transit tied to bitcoin as the payment medium. As more and more trade is taken up using bitcoin as the transaction medium, the value of bitcoin will rise to equal that trade.
With non-digital currencies, this valuation fluctuation can be controlled by the government or state monetary authority controlling supply (through variation in the amount of currency created) and controlling demand (through setting interest rates). However, governments cannot control the supply of bitcoin so as the currency becomes more widely used, a continuous increase in the value of bitcoin is predicted. This theory is born out of research undertaken by the World Economic Forum.
Money laundering poses a big threat
While many will associate the use of bitcoin with the purchasing of illicit materials from sites such as the now defunct Silk Road, there are now potentially much more lucrative opportunities for criminals. The dark or shadow economy is estimated to take up somewhere in the region of 17 percent of the world's total GDP. Due to the level of anonymity bitcoin provides, there is a huge opportunity for its use to avoid anti-money laundering legislation. Any increase in use here would result in a reflected uplift in the value.
Governments will try to control bitcoin (and fail)
As bitcoin becomes more pervasive, we predict governments will try to control it, try to understand more detail about how it is being used and try to monitor its use in the dark economy. However, because of the structure of bitcoin, and the encryption and anonymity which is baked into blockchain there is very little opportunity to control this. The only clear way for nation states to control the distribution of the currency would be for them to buy up the supply and stockpile bitcoin, as many have done with gold.
Regardless of what bitcoin is being used for, the key takeaway is that it is being used more and more widely and that this expanding use is resulting in a corresponding uplift in value which shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.