Bitcoin has jumped over 60% year-to-date, paring losses from a brutal 2022.
Insider spoke to four crypto experts on what's next for bitcoin in 2023.
One blockchain exec said bitcoin can't hit a record high until US inflation is under control.
After a tumultuous 2022, bitcoin has increased more than 60% year-to-date and the cryptocurrency market's total value sits well above the $1 trillion mark.
The industry has seemingly gotten back on its feet since the downfall of Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX in November, along with a slew of other industry bankruptcies including centralized lender Celsius, brokerage Voyager Digital, and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital earlier in the year.
While it can be hard to predict bitcoin's moves, experts told Insider there are a few things to watch for this year to get a sense of where the world's largest cryptocurrency is headed.
First, bitcoin can't claim another all-time until the macroeconomic environment clears up, Charmyn Ho, head of crypto insights at digital asset exchange Bybit, told Insider. The crypto traded at a record of $67,566 in November of 2021, per Messari.
"However, a possible headwind is the potential recession forecast to hit the US, Europe, and other major economies due to a stubbornly inverted yield curve," Ho told Insider. "Couple this with a bunch of other unsavory macro factors — such as inflation — many investors would rather remain on the sidelines."
"This is contributing to the mostly sideways price action we've been experiencing," Ho added.
A key technical event for Bitcoin's network, the halving, could push the token's price up significantly though. Although the halving is estimated to occur in April of 2024, Ho says bitcoin may go on a tear leading up to the event.
"Bitcoin halvings are significant because they slash the production of new bitcoins on the network by half," Ho said. "This curtails the supply of freshly minted coins, thus leading to a price increase if the demand persists."
"Litecoin, which is due for its halving this year, is up around 90% since its lows in Q3, 2022," Ho said. "Therefore, if we take that as a guide, it is possible that we could see a similar 90% move from Bitcoin's Q3, 2023 price, which would give a rough target of about $60,000."
Jagdeep Sidhu, president of Syscoin Foundation, expressed similar optimism around the halving.
"While we've weathered some storms recently, the resilience of the crypto ecosystem remains evident. From the ashes of FTX, the market has rebounded, demonstrating its inherent capacity to absorb shocks and evolve," Sidhu told Insider.
"As we approach the next Bitcoin halving and crypto dominance looks set to peak, we're on the cusp of exciting developments in the crypto world."
If inflation cools in the US and there's regulatory clarity around digital assets, another crypto exec told Insider that bitcoin could hit $38,000 by year-end, a 41% increase from its current trading level.
"My base case is bitcoin will trade in a range to a range between $25,000 and $32,000 for the remainder of 2023," Tim Shan, COO at decentralized crypto exchange Dexalot, said. "But if we see inflation remain high, I think bitcoin could trade back down to lows of the year."
"The short to medium term driver is still inflation, and specifically US inflation. I think core inflation has been pretty sticky but will continue to decline in the US, leading the Fed to pause for the rest of the year," Shan added.
David Uhryniak, who works on ecosystem development at blockchain infrastructure provider TRON, is confident that bitcoin will finish the year "significantly higher" and could close out 2023 at over $35,000.
"Right now, smart traders are waiting for greater validation as to which way bitcoin and the rest of the market will move next before committing serious money," Uhryniak told Insider. "By Q4, much of the uncertainty that's clouded the market all year should have abated. Things like concerns over the Mt. Gox coins being liquidated or the US government selling its stockpile of BTC confiscated from black markets."
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