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In December 2015, Martin Rojko of CoinTelegraph.com asked several Bitcoin experts what they expected the price of a bitcoin to be by the end of 2016. The guru, public speaker and “rockstar” of Bitcoin, Andreas Antonopoulos, searched his soul and summoned the wisdom from the depths of his being, and answered: “I don’t do price speculation. It’s astrology for markets and I think it is irresponsible for media companies to do this.”
The fact is, nobody in the world knows what the price of bitcoin is going to be in a month, much less a year. However, taking a snapshot at this stage of the bitcoin evolution, there are four factors which will probably play a huge part in determining the price over the coming years.
- The amount of venture capital and angel investment pouring into Bitcoin companies.
In 2013, digital currency related startups has attracted investment of $25 million in VC funding. In 2014, “In total, bitcoin startup investments now total over $400M in aggregate funding” (Source: CBInsights), and in 2015 VC investments ‘topped $1 billion’ (Source: Bloomberg). However this remains to be fully realised in the bitcoin unit price. Big names such as Nasdaq, American Express and Visa are also investing in Bitcoin startups.
Bitcoin has possibilities for endless programmable applications, which will go on to disrupt various industries. However, it is clear that the first target and the primary industry of focus is finance and banking. For 2016, Venture capitalist Tim Draper anticipates many Bitcoin consumer applications, the US government to recognise Bitcoin as a currency and perhaps the first Bitcoin unicorn – that is, the first billion dollar Bitcoin start-up. With all this money and focused effort going into the development of Bitcoin applications as it’s used for international remittances platforms, micropayment, crowdfunding of public works projects, smart contracts and peer-to-peer lending, it can only be bullish for the price, as Bitcoin is used more widely.
2. A decrease in the production of Bitcoin in July 2016.
At time of writing, 25 BTC are produced every ten minutes by diligent miners. In July 2016, the block reward will halve. A stable demand with a reduced supply tends to lead to an increased price. It’s possible that holders of BTC will start buying more in the preceding months, in anticipation of the reduction.
3. Possible failures of the incumbent banking system.
Many people, especially in the Austrian economics camp, are becoming increasingly concerned about a failure of the banking system. Financial gurus such as Mike Maloney have forecast the possibilities of deflation, big inflation, or even hyperinflation of the US dollar, which could have profound effects on the world economy. For many, holding bitcoins is seen as risky. But is it as risky as holding a fiat currency, which has very limited scarcity, and may be printed to oblivion by the perverse symbiotic relationship between a central bank and a national treasury? In times of crisis, or in anticipation of times of crisis, when governments around the world are clamping down capital controls to say who can move what money where, it wouldn’t be surprising if people decided to move it into the most portable money that has ever existed: bitcoins.
- The understanding of Bitcoin in public consciousness
Since Bitcoin first leapt into the media, it has been trashed, slandered, accused of being a tool of terrorists and violent drug cartels, and declared unstable and even dead many, many times. However, the sentiment in the media is slowly changing, with many starting to see that cryptocurrency is not going away in a hurry, and there may be real news beyond a sensational headline.
Perhaps soon, people will start to realise that it’s possible, not just to use Bitcoin to evade capital controls, but also to use it to evade taxes, and government control in general, turning many markets into black markets, and using blockchain technology to distribute state secrets anonymously, realising the dream of the Crypto-Anarchist’s Manifesto. By that stage, perhaps the price will be irrelevant, because the value will be obvious.