After a tumultuous 2022, crypto investors are trying to figure out when the next bitcoin bull run could be.
Last week, at a crypto conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland, CNBC spoke to industry insiders who painted a picture of 2023 as year of caution. Bitcoin is expected to trade within a range, be sensitive to the macroeconomic situation such as interest rate rises and continue to be volatile. A new bull run is unlikely in 2023.
However, experts are looking to next year and beyond with optimism.
In 2022, the entire cryptocurrency market lost about $1.4 trillion in value with the industry facing liquidity issues and bankruptcies topped off by the collapse of exchange FTX. Contagion spread across the industry.
While bitcoin has gotten a small bump at the start of the year, in line with risk assets like stocks, experts say bitcoin is unlikely to retest its all-time high of just under $69,000 but it may have bottomed.
“I think there’s a little bit more downside, but I don’t think there’s going to be a lot,” Bill Tai, a venture capitalist and crypto veteran told CNBC last week.
“There’s a chance that [bitcoin] kind of has bottomed here,” adding that it could fall as low as $12,000 before jumping back up.
Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at CoinShares, said bitcoin is likely to be rangebound trading at the lower end between $15,000 and $20,000 and on the upper end between $25,000 to $30,000.
She said a lot of the “forced selling” that happened in 2022 as a result of collapses in the market is now over, but there isn’t much new money coming into bitcoin.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of forced selling remaining, which is optimistic,” Demirors told CNBC Friday. “But again, I think the upside is quite limited, because we also don’t see a lot of new inflows coming in.”
Investors are also keeping one eye on the macroeconomic situation. Bitcoin has proved to be closely correlated to risk assets such as stocks, and in particular, the tech-heavy Nasdaq. These assets are affected by changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve and other macroeconomic moves. Last year, the Fed embarked on an aggressive interest rate hike path to try to tame inflation, which hurt risk assets along with bitcoin.
Industry insiders said a change in the macro situation could help bitcoin.
“There could be catalysts that we’re not aware of, again, the macro situation and the political environment is fairly uncertain, inflation continuing to run quite hot, I think is a new thing. We haven’t seen that, you know, in 30, 40 years,” Demirors said.
“So who knows, as people look to make allocations going into the new year where crypto will fit into that portfolio?”
Timing the next bitcoin bull run
In CNBC’s interviews, several industry participants spoke about historical bitcoin cycles, which happen roughly every four years. Typically, bitcoin will hit an all time high, then have a massive correction. There will be a bad year and then a year of mild recovery.
Then “halving” will happen. This is when miners, who run specialized machines to effectively validate transactions on the bitcoin networks, see their rewards for mining cut in half. Miners get bitcoin as a reward for validating transactions. The halving, which happens every four years, effectively slows down the supply of bitcoin onto the market. There will ever only be 21 million bitcoin in circulation.
Halving usually precedes a bull run. The next halving event takes place in 2024.
Scaramucci called 2023 a “recovery year” for bitcoin and predicted it could trade at $50,000 to $100,000 in two to three years.
“You are taking on risk but you’re also believing in [bitcoin] adoption. So if we get the adoption right, and I believe we will, this could easily be a fifty to one hundred thousand dollar asset over the next two to three years,” Scaramucci said.
Tai meanwhile said the beginning of a bull run is “probably a year away,” saying the after effects of the FTX collapse might continue to be felt for another six to nine months.
Jean-Baptiste Graftieaux, global CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp, told CNBC last week that the next bull run could come over the next two years, citing rising interest from institutional investors.
However, Demirors warned that the events over 2022 “have caused tremendous reputational damage to the industry and to the asset class,” adding that “it will take some time for that confidence to return.”