A worsening macroeconomic climate and the collapse of industry giants such as FTX and Terra have weighed on bitcoin’s price this year.
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2022 was a tough year for crypto. More than $1.3 trillion was wiped off the value of the market. And bitcoin, the world̵[ads1]7;s largest digital coin, saw its price drop by more than 60%.
Investors were caught off guard by a wave of industry collapses from stablecoin project terraUSD to crypto exchange FTX, as well as a worsening macroeconomic climate. Those who made predictions about bitcoin’s price over the past year really missed the mark.
But with 2023 soon upon us, some market players have stuck their necks out with price calls for what could be another volatile year.
Interest rates around the world are on the rise, weighing on risk assets such as stocks and bitcoin. Investors are also watching how the FTX saga, which resulted in the arrest of the company’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas, will develop.
CNBC rounds up some of the boldest price calls for bitcoin in 2023.
Tim Draper: $250,000
Bitcoin bull Tim Draper had one of the most optimistic calls for bitcoin in 2022, predicting that the token would be worth $250,000 by the end of the year.
In November, the billionaire venture capitalist told that he is extending the timeline of this prediction to the middle of 2023. Even after the collapse of FTX, he is convinced that the coin will reach the quarter million milestone.
“My guess is that since women control 80% of retail spending, and only 1 in 7 bitcoin wallets are currently held by women, the dam is about to burst,” Draper told CNBC via email.
Bitcoin would need to increase 1400% for it to trade at that level.
Despite the depressed prices and trading volumes drying up, there may be reason to suspect that the market has found a bottom, according to Draper.
I suspect the halving in 2024 will have a positive run, he said.
The halving, or halving, is an event that happens every four years where bitcoin rewards to miners are cut in half. This is seen by some investors as positive for bitcoin’s price, as it pushes supply. The next halving is estimated to happen sometime in 2024.
Bitcoin miners, who use power-intensive machines to verify transactions and create new tokens, are being squeezed by the price drop and rising energy costs.
These players amass huge piles of digital currency, making them some of the biggest sellers in the market. With miners offloading their holdings to pay off debt, that should remove most of the remaining selling pressure on bitcoin.
That’s historically a good sign for bitcoin, said Vijay Ayyar, vice president of corporate development at crypto exchange Luno.
“In past bear markets, miner capitulation has typically indicated major bottoms,” Ayyar told CNBC. “Their cost to produce becomes greater than the value of the bitcoin, therefore you have a number of miners either shutting down their machines … or they have to sell more bitcoin to keep the business afloat.”
“If the market reaches a point where it sufficiently absorbs this mining selling pressure, one can assume that we are seeing a bottom period.”
Standard Chartered: $5,000
For some market players, the worst is yet to come.
In a Dec. 5 research note, Standard Chartered said bitcoin could drop as low as $5,000. The prediction, one of the bank’s list of “surprises” being “underpriced” by markets, would represent a 70% drop from today’s prices.
“Tremors plunge along with tech stocks” in Standard Chartered’s nightmare 2023 scenario, “and while Bitcoin sales slow, the damage is done,” said Eric Robertsen, the bank’s global head of research.
“More and more crypto firms and exchanges have insufficient liquidity, leading to further bankruptcies and the collapse of investor confidence in digital assets,” he added.
Robertsen said the scenario has a “non-zero probability of happening in the coming year” and falls “significantly outside market consensus or our own fundamental views.”
Mark Mobius: $10,000
Veteran investor Mark Mobius had a relatively successful 2022 in terms of price calls. In May, he predicted that bitcoin would fall to $20,000 when it traded above $28,000.
He said bitcoin would fall to $10,000 in 2022. That didn’t happen. However, Mobius told CNBC that he is sticking with his price of $10,000 in 2023.
The investor, who made his name at Franklin Templeton Investments, told CNBC that his bear case for bitcoin stemmed from rising interest rates and overall tighter monetary policy from the US Federal Reserve.
“With higher interest rates, the attraction of holding or buying Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies becomes less attractive since holding the coin does not pay interest,” Mobius said via email.
Carol Alexander: $50,000
Carol Alexander, professor of finance at Sussex University, was not far off with her prediction that bitcoin would fall to $10,000 in 2022.
Now she believes that the cryptocurrency can be set for gains – but not for reasons you might expect.
The catalyst would be more dominoes from the FTX fallout toppling, Alexander said. If this happens, she expects the price of bitcoin to top $30,000 in the first quarter, and then $50,000 after quarters three or four.
“It will be a managed bull market in 2023, not a bubble — so we won’t see the price overshoot like before,” she told CNBC.
“We will see a month or two of stable trending prices interspersed with periods of range and probably a couple of short-lived crashes.”
Alexander’s reasoning is that, with trading volumes evaporating with traders on edge, large owners known as “whales” are likely to step in to support the market. The richest 97 bitcoin wallet addresses account for 14.15% of the total supply, according to fintech firm River Financial.
Some investors have given up trying to predict the price of bitcoin. For Antoni Trenchev, CEO of crypto-lending platform Nexo, the latest events are a sobering moment.
Bitcoin was on a “positive path” earlier in 2022, with institutional adoption increasing, but “a few big forces interfered,” he said.
Trenchev once predicted that bitcoin would rise to a peak of $100,000 in early 2023. Now he is done trying to predict the price.
Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell, suggested that attempts to predict bitcoin’s price are futile.
“We could be sitting here talking this time next year and it could be $5,000 or $50,000, it just wouldn’t surprise me because the market is so driven by sentiment,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”