Bitcoin, as well as most other major cryptocurrencies, have had a tough time in 2018. The bitcoin price has fallen from its sky-high $19,000 last year to around $6,000 — dragging the likes of ethereum, ripple, stella and lite coin with it.
The whole digital coin market, including everything from bitcoin and ethereum, to dogecoin and ripple, has now fallen to its lowest value since late 2017, touching year-to-date lows of $186 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.
Bitcoin has held up far better than most, though it has still lost some 60% of its value this year alone. Ethereum has dropped some 86%, while Ripple has plunged 92% from its January highs.
Many in the industry have recently been talking up bitcoin while warning over the future of so-called altcoins and the initial coin offering (ICO) market, suggesting much of the institutional money that speculators expect to enter the cryptocurrency industry eventually will be pushed in bitcoin's direction.
"It's hard to say [if the wider cryptocurrency market has reached a bottom]," chief commercial officer at BitPay, a U.S.-based bitcoin payment service provider, Sonny Singh yesterday told Bloomberg.
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"Right now the market is looking for some defining moment — a catalyst. Right now you're hearing a lot of rumors. But next year you'll see the talk of the big entrants become real — Goldman Sachs launching a trading desk, Fidelity does launch a bitcoin product, Square offers bitcoin processing for merchants, BlackRock offers an ETF. When these things start to happen you'll see some adoption and then the price will bounce up again."
The bitcoin and cryptocurrency world has been gripped this summer by speculation the U.S. regulator will approve a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), which would allow retail investors and traders who would prefer not to deal with specialty bitcoin exchange, able to buy into digital coins.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently weighing whether to approve a bitcoin ETF request filed through the Chicago Board of Exchange (CBOE) by New York-based VanEck and blockchain platform SolidX — with a decision expected sometime this month.
However, some influential voices in the bitcoin and cryptocurrency world have argued a bitcoin ETF will be bad for bitcoin in the long term, advocating real-world use and adoption over trading and price speculation.
Still, a fresh injection of investment will likely mean the bitcoin price moves after months of stagnation.
Singh also took the opportunity to talk up the original cryptocurrency, bitcoin.
"When you see the bitcoin price drop, people have stopped trading ICOs as much as they were. The ICO market is in a lot of trouble and will never get back to where they were eight months ago. At BitPay, we've never been more bullish [on bitcoin]. Where the issue is, is the altcoins," Singh said. "Those will never come back, the way bitcoin will come back. Bitcoin will re-bound next year."
"You're not seeing the likes of BlackRock launching an altcoin product. Bitcoin's the leader in the space," Singh added.
Elsewhere, many of the bitcoin and cryptocurrency faithful are hoping that November will bring a boost to the bitcoin price, as the New York Stock Exchange's parent company, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), rolls out a form of bitcoin ETF.
In July, ICE revealed that it was launching a bitcoin and cryptocurrency platform called Bakkt in partnership with coffee chain Starbucks, software giant Microsoft, and Boston Consulting Group, sparking speculation that Starbucks might begin accepting bitcoin as payment (something the global coffee giant was quick to nix).