Bitcoin – the world’s largest digital currency by market capitalisation, has led to some incredible returns for certain investors. We have all heard tales of ‘Bitcoin Millionaires’- people who got rich by investing in the cryptocurrency and holding it long enough to gain a considerable profit.
However, many people attribute this to Bitcoin’s highly volatile nature since the digital currency experiences significant price fluctuations.
Price fluctuations in the Bitcoin spot rate are determined by many factors. Volatility is usually measured by the Volatility Index, also known as the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX). The Bitcoin Volatility Index has also recently become available to track the volatility of Bitcoin over different periods of time.
Bitcoin’s value has been historically quite volatile, but why?
Here are a few of the several factors behind Bitcoin’s volatility:
Small Market Size
Just like other digital currencies, Bitcoin’s market is relatively small when compared to markets for traditional assets such as stocks, bonds and fiat currencies. The total market capitalisation (market cap) of Bitcoin pales in comparison to the scope of these traditional asset markets.
Why does this matter? Large markets are more resistant to manipulation than small markets. Bitcoin’s market value is aggregated from several exchanges. In other words, the total figure represents several different markets.
While the changes in supply and demand could be due to shifting market sentiment or investors reacting to some news, they could also be caused by efforts to manipulate the market. All it takes is one major investor or a group of smaller investors working together to create a sharp gain or loss in the value of a particular digital currency.
News is a major factor that contributes to the volatility in Bitcoin prices. When news is positive, it can drive investor interest and cause market participants to buy Bitcoin, pushing its price higher.
Media outlets have also published plenty of negative news surrounding Bitcoin which leads to sharp and sudden price drops.
The first Bitcoins came into existence in 2009. Since the inception of Bitcoin, multiple governments around the world have made efforts to regulate Bitcoin and other digital currencies. This is another area potentially contributing to Bitcoin’s intense volatility.
While various governments have initiated efforts to develop regulations for Bitcoin and other digital currencies, lawmakers and regulators have not yet worked together to create regulation that spans many nations.
Inequality of Wealth
Data from BitinfoCharts shows that in 2017, the top 10 largest Bitcoin wallets held roughly 10% of the currency.
If a person collects a sizable amount of Bitcoin, he or she can trigger substantial price fluctuations by selling a fraction of his or her Bitcoin holdings.
If the sentiment surrounding Bitcoin becomes more positive, this can contribute to sharp increases in demand and upswings in price. Furthermore, price gains and optimism can combine to create media hype cycles that take place when climbing values cause greater media coverage. This triggers additional purchases and price appreciation.
Changes in sentiment can have the exact opposite effect on price. If investors start fleeing an asset like Bitcoin, the plunging prices can prompt widespread media coverage, causing even more people to either sell or simply avoid purchasing it.
Several observers of the market have noted that speculation plays a key role in Bitcoin’s price fluctuations.
Bitcoin is a speculator’s dream, the only thing that will impact its price is how other investors believe the price is going to change. This is why selling futures contracts and other derivatives in Bitcoin can be both fruitful and frustrating depending on speculation and the eventual outcome of it.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are volatile because at the end of the day they’re all about speculation.
The market won’t stay so volatile forever as technological improvements should make transactions easier and more secure, increasing the popularity and stability of the cryptocurrency.
However, that being said, the Bitcoin market will seemingly stay volatile for the foreseeable future. Is this a problem for new investors who are unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies?
The answer to this question is subjective and largely depends on your perspective.
Bitcoin’s volatility should not prove to be a massive problem if you take it into account when creating an investment strategy. It opens up new opportunities for both experienced and inexperienced investors.
It’s safe to say that investors who are interested in investing in Bitcoin may benefit significantly from conducting research and examination before getting involved. So, educate yourself sufficiently before diving into the world of Bitcoin.
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