In Brief

Bitcoin price predictions: will the cryptocurrency recover in 2019?

Experts split on forecasts for the digital token over coming 12 months

Bitcoin investors have seen billions of dollars wiped off the cryptocurrency’s total value over the past year - but some are hoping for a recovery of fortunes in 2019.

Bitcoin began 2018 with a value of around $17,500 (£13,800) per coin, marginally lower than the all-time high of nearly $20,000 (£15,800) recorded in December 2017, according to ranking site CoinMarketCap

However, by April the cryptocurrency has plummeted to around $6,800 (£5,370) and then continued falling to hit a low of $3,200 (£2,530) in December. 

Following a slight rise in value, prices stood at around $3,800 (£3,000) as of 9am UK time today.

Several factors have been blamed for last year’s slump, which saw the total value of all bitcoins sinking from $327bn (£258bn) to $66bn (£52bn) - taking bitcoin “from the size from the size of Exxon Mobil to about the size of FedEx”, Quartz reports. 

These factors include the announcement in September that investment giant Goldman Sachs was axing plans to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk. A hard fork in the bitcoin network - where the digital token splits to form two new currencies - then triggered mass sell-offs in November, says Forbes.

However, while the cryptocurrency market is currently in a “bearish” state, meaning more declines are predicted, some experts believe the cryptocurrency is set to claw back some of the value lost in 2018. 

Sonny Singh, commercial head of bitcoin payment service BitPay, told the Daily Express that he believes the digital currency may bounce back to around $20,000 by the end of the year.  

But Calvin Ayre, founder of bitcoin spin-off bitcoin cash, suggests the cryptocurrency may “plummet to zero in 2019”, the newspaper reports. 

That isn’t to say that the cryptocurrency market will collapse in 2019, but that bitcoin will be superseded by a superior alternative, adds David Thomas, a director at London-based cryptocurrency broker GlobalBlock.

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