It's been a busy week for bitcoin. For many, it likely reminded them of the token's speculative heyday when significant price leaps were the norm and optimism abounded.
To be sure, bitcoin is having a strong year, not just a momentary rise. When it crossed the $8,000 barrier this week, the token was up 125% year to date, and its supporters were clamoring for its continued ascension.
Then Friday hit.
On May 17, bitcoin's price dropped by $1,702, the most significant single-day drop in more than a year. The price decrease, recorded by the Asian crypto exchange Bitstamp, partially recovered as the day progressed, but the sudden decline was still shocking for those who become comfortable with the token's more modest price movements.
In many ways, the selloff isn't that surprising. Bitcoin's struggle to maintain its 12-month high of $8,300 and the end of Consensus, a major conference for crypto enthusiasts, helped create the conditions for a selloff.
Buy or Sell?
Despite the rapid price correction, some long-time supporters remain bearish on bitcoin. Billionaire Tim Draper, who famously predicted last year that the price of bitcoin would reach $250,000 by 2022, sees a price decline as a buying opportunity.
"Sure. Buy the dip, buy the rebound. I stand by my prediction that one bitcoin will be worth $250,000 by 2022. Maybe 2023," Draper told TheStreet.
His prediction is predicated on bitcoin's adoption as a working currency, not just a speculative asset. His $250,000 price point presumes that bitcoin will eventually constitute 5% of the global currency market.
When markets began to move over the last few weeks, it looked like Draper's predictions might already be taking off.
However, while bitcoin is definitely having a better year, it's unlikely to reclaim its all-time high, let alone Draper's lofty prediction, in one fell swoop.
Many, like crypto advisory firm Delphi Digital, expect the token to have its share of ups and downs as it gradually ascends to new heights. In a comment to TheNextWeb, the agency noted that "the road to new highs is likely to be littered with short-term run-ups followed by substantial, yet healthy, pullbacks."
What's Next for Bitcoin?
Draper's prediction assumes crypto's adoption as a mainstream payment method, something that has come to fruition in limited capacities so far. However, Bitcoin's recent price movement isn't directly connected to the token's mainstream adoption, especially as a payment mechanism.
Indeed, recent comments by financial institutions such as TD Ameritrade suggest that there remains significant interest in bitcoin as an investment asset rather than as a point-of-sale option. Even Tyler Winklevoss, co-founder & CEO of crypto exchange Gemini, described bitcoin as digital gold. Of course, that doesn't necessarily diminish its value, as Winklevoss noted in a recent tweet:
Moreover, some bitcoin users are critical of the currency's use as a payment mechanism because of the way that doing so discloses personal information.
To put it simply, bitcoin's future is still very much being decided by the people that use and support the token.
Bitcoin's recent price ascension and profound sell-off are part of that debate. A climb to new heights will not be a steady journey -- it will involve many highs and lows, something that investors were have experienced over the past few days.
The author holds stock in investment holding company, Leucadia (Jeffries), and remains a partner in an emerging-technology fund. He holds no positions in cryptocurrencies nor in any companies that invest in them.