Matthew Morris of Carr Consulting and Communications
There are two main functions that Bitcoin is supposed to serve.
The first is as money that cannot be faked or controlled. Not terribly important to most people in Europe or North America but valuable to about half of the world’s population that live under some form of totalitarian regime.
The second is its status as an investment asset, primarily as a store of value or ‘digital gold’ as some of its fans have described it.
The frequent rises and falls in its sterling price grab the headlines and whets appetites of amateur investors, but its instability and lack of clear correlation to other assets has raised some questions. When stocks began to sell off in March, Bitcoin’s price fell rather than rose. It was not supposed to do that.
However, most assets including gold, silver and oil fell too, partly as a result of investors moving into cash.
Bitcoin is still a new asset, it began trading only 11 years ago and while plenty of experts, especially the precious metals bulls, have said that Bitcoin has now proven to be a failure, it has started to rally.
Institutional interest remains strong. Yields and interest rates remain close to zero and with the equity markets and dividends surrounded by huge doubt Bitcoin interest among professional investors is healthy.
One Bitcoin is currently sitting around the £7,000-£7,500 mark, which is the same price as February before the March Covid-19 sell-off.
The month of May is supposed to be an important moment for Bitcoin because of an event known as ‘the halving’. This is a pre-scheduled reduction in the number of Bitcoin that are created by blockchain mining, reducing the rate at which Bitcoin supply increases.
Plenty of Bitcoin bulls regard this as an event that will boost the value of the cryptocurrency but I am not convinced.
There have been armies of geeks in their bedrooms buying Bitcoin in the hope the price will rise due to the halving, so I suspect we may well see the opposite and a fall once reality dawns.
Although being too confident about short-term price predictions for Bitcoin is a mug’s game.
Even so, I do not think Bitcoin is failing the crisis test. More mainstream investors continue to allocate small proportions of their portfolio to Bitcoin against fears of falling markets and money printing.
In countries that are far less stable than our own, Bitcoin is the rock not the stormy sea. It rightly continues to have many sceptics, some of whom are bearish in reaction to the unsophisticated hyperbole of the loudest advocates.
Bitcoin is still far from established but I believe the underlying reasons for Bitcoin – as a hedge against the economic policies of central banks directed to the transient whims of politicians – seem eminently sensible to me.
Matthew Morris is a partner at Carr Consulting & Communications