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RBC: The cryptocurrency market could one day be worth $10 trillion

RBC Capital Markets analysts Mitch Steves and Amit Daryanani believe that this is just the beginning of the cryptocurrency boom.

“On a near-term basis we think it is quite difficult to make price statements which is why we are flagging the move now in the case that it sustains,” Steves and Daryanani wrote in December 12 research note. “Longer term, we think crypto currencies are here to stay and will likely become a large market (our long-term estimate for the Crypto Currency space is in the $10 Trillion dollar range versus ~ $500B today).”

The analysts argue this is great news for semiconductor company Nvidia (NVDA). Companies like Nvidia that make GPUs (graphic processing units) have benefitted from the cryptocurrency space, particularly because of the interest in mining. GPUs are used to mine some of these cryptocurrencies.

A man is reflected on a screen showing the price of bitcoin at a virtual currency exchange office in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A man is reflected on a screen showing the price of bitcoin at a virtual currency exchange office in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

In recent weeks, there’s been a frenzy in the cryptocurrency space as new investors have rushed in pushing prices of bitcoin (BTC-USD), Ethereum (ETH-USD), Litecoin (LTC-USD), and other cryptocurrencies to record highs. In the last week alone, bitcoin has jumped nearly 28% to last trade around $16,730, while Litecoin has surged 226% to last trade around $315, according to Yahoo Finance’s cryptocurrency tracker.

Bitcoin presently has a market cap of $280 billion, while Ethereum has a market cap of $64.7 billion. Other cryptocurrencies have much smaller market caps. Bitcoin represents about half of the entire space’s market capitalization.

Some have speculated that cryptocurrencies could be approaching bubble territory, potentially destabilizing the economy and the markets in the event of a crash. Capital Economics pointed out in a recent analysis that bitcoin’s market cap is still too small to have any major economic impact should it implode. In that analysis, they noted that a complete bitcoin crash would be the equivalent of just a 0.6% fall in U.S. stocks.

Bitcoin is still small (Source: Capital Economics).
Bitcoin is still small (Source: Capital Economics).

Although cryptocurrencies are small today, many big names are in line with RBC in thinking they could get huge. With a finite supply and the number of bitcoins eventually being capped at 21 million, there’s a case to be made that prices could go a lot higher.

Early bitcoin investor Chamath Palihapitiya told CNBC on Tuesday that the value of one coin could go to $100,000 in the next few years and it could go to $1 million in 20 years. Mark Yusko, the founder of fund-of-funds Morgan Creek Capital, made a case for bitcoin going to $400,000. Former macro hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz, who now runs Galaxy Investment Partners, thinks the price is going to $40,000 by the end of 2018.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.