The infamous cryptocurrency has suffered one of its worst weeks since 2013, with a fall in value of over 30 percent at the end of January. Bitcoin’s $44.2bn (£31.5bn) slump has left investors wondering about the sustainability of virtual currencies.
The so-called ‘digital asset’ that is valued by how many people are willing to buy and sell it has recently faced heightened speculation by global policymakers, with China and South Korea banning new forms of virtual currency as well as other countries voicing their concerns.
Dr. James Watson, Senior Lecturer of Economics at UEA, commented that Bitcoin’s overvalued worth was built on the back of “pumping up prices”, a means whereby frequently exchanging Bitcoins artificially increases the price.
Watson later commented that “[Bitcoin] lacks intrinsic value and is a means of transferring others’ wealth” creating few winners and many losers.
This is a belief that many critics continue to hold about Bitcoin, which has forced conduct authorities and banks to step in and shield investors.
Last Monday, Lloyds Bank banned all purchases of cryptocurrencies on their credit cards, and Facebook recently banned cryptocurrency adverts. Bitcoin also raised discussion at the WEF in Davos, with Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller describing the biggest boom of 2017 as an “interesting experiment”…“but not a permanent feature of our lives.” Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP), the second and third most valued cryptocurrencies (after Bitcoin) fell more than 20 percent since the January drop. The evidence of such interdependence within the cryptocurrencies has stirred anxiety for virtual investments across the G20.
Bitcoin does imitate the same symptoms of the dotcom boom and subprime US mortgage crisis, which initiated the 2008 global financial crash.
Within a year, the digital asset increased its value by over 900 percent, making it 2017’s best performing investment.
Part of the bubble that has lifted Bitcoins stock to its ‘zero-gravity position’ is the belief that ‘anything digital’ is a structural winner in tomorrow’s economy — making Bitcoin’s stock valued much higher than its real net-book worth.
Bitcoin displays a digital version of the 1630s Dutch ‘Tulip mania’ whereby the value of tulip bulbs soared due to investors hoping they could resell tulips at an even higher price.
In 1637, the Tulip market took a dramatic crash as investors realised the real value of the market.
According to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, many people even put up their houses as collateral. As with many bubbles, investors were driven by the fear of missing out and greed.