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Currency expert says there's one fundamental reason behind bitcoin's runaway rally

Sam Meredith

Bitcoin 's meteoric price rise has stunned critics and enthusiasts alike, leaving investors scrambling to understand the fundamental reason for the digital currency's runaway rally. Valentin Marinov, head of G-10 FX research at Credit Agricole (Euronext Paris: ACA-FR) CIB, told CNBC on Monday that he was hopeful he now understood the reason behind bitcoin's soaring value. He predicted further gains for the cryptocurrency before the end of the year. Bitcoin was up 9.25 percent higher midday Monday ET at $16,427.16, according to CoinDesk's bitcoin price index. The index tracks prices from digital currency exchanges Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Bitfinex. When asked to explain the driving force behind bitcoin's unprecedented rally, Marinov said: "It is the inherent imbalance between demand and supply. Supply is inherently fixed; it's very much like gold if you wish? At the same time … demand is based on hopes that its value will continue to grow." Marinov also pointed to an unwavering hope among investors that the digital currency's value appears to be "unlimited." Bitcoin futures Bitcoin bulls have frequently referenced the cryptocurrency's scarcity value as a primary reason for its staying power . Somewhat like gold, bitcoin supply grows at glacial and ever-decreasing fixed rates with only 21 million bitcoins set to be in existence. Rising interest from institutional and retail investors prompted global exchanges, such as the Cboe, to launch futures contracts. This move is likely to encourage even greater institutional investment, market participants said , while at the same time curbing further volatile price swings. A contract from rival CME is poised to go live next week. Trading of the hotly anticipated futures contract began Sunday on the Cboe, representing a significant step in the legitimization of cryptocurrencies. Futures are derivatives, or financial instruments, that obligate a trader to either buy or sell an asset at a specified time and at a specified price.

'Stay away' from bitcoin But while the trading of bitcoin futures on two of the world's largest exchanges is expected to provide a layer of official oversight that had not previously existed, several leading voices have expressed skepticism. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a " fraud " that would eventually blow up, while billionaire investor Warren Buffett urged traders to "stay away from it," calling the rally a " mirage ." On Friday, Stefan Ingves, chairman of global regulators at the Basel Committee and governor of Sweden's Riksbank, said investing in bitcoin or other similar digital currencies was a " dangerous " prospect. Ingves cited strikingly high volatility levels and the clear lack of support from either central banks or international regulators as reasons for traders to be cautious. Bitcoin has become one of the hottest trades of 2017, surging more than 1,000 percent since the start of January. — CNBC's Dan Murphy contributed to this report.

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