Bitcoin’s price has risen almost $100 recently, up from around $1,170 to around $1,250, just $30 away from one bitcoin being valued as much as one ounce of gold.
The currency has experienced some very volatile months, opening the year with a $400 drop after PBoC began intervening in Chinese exchanges. They have stopped deposits and withdrawals. The currency there trades at a discount as the only way to take value out is by selling bitcoin and withdrawing fiat.
Bitcoin then experienced much hype during late winter/early spring, in anticipation of the SEC decision regarding the first ever Bitcoin ETF. The currency nearly doubled, rising from around $750 to an all-time high of $1,350.
The SEC decided to reject the ETF, sending bitcoin’s price plunging down by $400, then up around $300, then down once more to a low of $890 on March 25th. At the same time, the bitcoin scalability debate went full swing, with attacks and counter-attacks, seemingly ending in a stalemate.
Since then, price has been on a gradual appreciation, somewhat slowly rising to the current $1,250. It’s not very clear what is fueling the rise. There was news Japan was to declare bitcoin as a currency, as well as some Japanese shops accepting it, but there have been some bad news too.
Bitfinex suddenly announced they could not process fiat withdrawals as Wells Fargo, an American intermediary bank, was unwilling to process their transactions. Then they announced they could not process deposits either.
You’d think one of the biggest exchange being unable to process fiat deposits or withdrawals would send the price plunging, but the opposite happened, bitcoin went up. The reason is probably because there is now an artificial buying pressure as the only way to get out of Bitfinex is by buying bitcoin and taking it off the exchange.
Much of this buying pressure should be limited to Bitfinex where bitcoin is currently trading at a $100 premium, but clever arbitrage methods may be radiating this artificial pressure to other exchanges, thus raising bitcoin’s overall price.
It’s not clear how long this situation will continue, but since much of the buying is artificial, then a correction should eventually be expected. Its nature can’t be predicted, but the closest example is 2014, when MT Gox was likewise cut-off from the banking system and traded at a $200 premium.
The exchange eventually declared bankruptcy, announcing that it did not have around one million bitcoins, which sent the currency down plunging, followed by a bear market that lasted some two years.
Bitfinex is smaller than MT Gox and it’s not very clear whether the exchange is at the same sort of risk, but it remains to be seen how this situation will be resolved and what its effects will be on bitcoin’s price.