Bitcoin - Too Far, Too Fast?

Authored by Peter Tchir via Forbes.com,

As Bitcoin surges above $9,250 on the open this Sunday, I have to admit to having some real trepidation at these levels.

I have been a proponent of the view that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies would benefit from the launch of ETFs and futures.  My view is that allowing for easier 'adoption' of Bitcoin will help fuel its growth as it lets new investors participate indirectly.

I should not limit that theory to just more traditional ways to invest, like ETFs and futures, but should also include easier ways to establish wallets and to own Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) the 'traditional' way.  There are a growing number of 'easy' to use guides to getting Bitcoin (I have glanced at many but haven't followed through to verify how well they work of don't work).

I am convinced that ease of access and the potential for more mainstream products linked to Bitcoin has helped fuel its surge.

But now, I am concerned it has gone too far, too fast.

I have three major concerns that could slow the price rise or even cause it to have a significant correction (yes, I am converting from bullish Bitcoin to at best neutral).

Here are the three concerns:

1. Are all the ETF and Futures launches a 'sell the news' event?  Basically the question is, while I believe that easier adoption will lead to inflows, how much of that is priced in?  Have speculators loaded their electronic wallets with Bitcoin hoping to capitalize on the expected gains to the point, there won't be more expected gains?  Understanding when something is 'already' priced in is difficult at the best of times, let alone with something as complex and growing exponentially like Bitcoin, but, I can't help but wonder.  I have felt a switch in discussions I'm having over the last few weeks.  A subtle switch, but one where the Bitcoin bulls seem more eager to name ever higher price targets, while the agnostics seem more willing to do work and think about it more, rather than in a rush to get some money into Bitcoin.  The sort of behavior that may be indicating a 'sell the news' type of environment.

 

2. There are becoming too many competing investments which are causing some investors to question how 'real' the existing ones are.  Yes, I understand that ICO's aren't necessarily dilutive, if you can purchase them with Bitcoin, but it does start to appear odd when it seems like virtually every day, someone or some entity is announcing some new variation on the theme.

 

3. Fedcoin, the potential for the Fed could be classified within concern number 2, but is really only part of a larger, separate concern - that governments or central banks will push back.  I read this week, along with a lot of other people, an article describing that Bitcoin was now worth more than McDonald's.  While that sort of article is designed to 'shock' investors, especially more conservative investors, I think it represents a larger, growing concern that the 'establishment' has surrounding cryptocurrencies.  Whether the concerns are more focused on the potential for illegal funds to enter the system, taxation, controlling 'pump and dump' schemes or making your own job more difficult to manage, I'm sensing they are rising to the surface again.  I think we have hit another tipping point where to expect a response to attempt to slow down the growth and valuation of crytpocurrencies should be expected.  Something that has risen almost a 'ten-bagger' in less than a year is bound to attract attention.  Bitcoin rebounded strongly after the China crackdown, so this fear might be over-rated, but a more organized government or central bank crackdown shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.  The bigger question, in my mind, is whether Bitcoin can withstand that - but that is a question for another day.

I am torn, because my thesis of 'ease of adoption' seems to be playing out and in general it is a long way from being fully played out, which by itself is supportive of greater price appreciation.  But, at the moment, my concerns are winning out and I'd be taking some chips, or bits, as the case may be, off the table.