Bitcoin is up almost 15% today, breaking through $2000, $2100, and now $2200.
It's been quite a ride...
As CryptoCompare's founder Charles Hayter notes, there are numerous drivers for this sudden surge in the virtual currency...
Bitcoin is trading at a $400, or 19%, premium on Japanese Markets as Bitcoin fever takes hold.
The USD-BTC markets are trading at $2150 whilst the JPY-BTC pair is trading at the equivalent of $2550.
Japanese volumes are 42-50% of trading with 132k BTC volume or c.$300 million per day.
The Japanese have caught the Bitcoin bug and inefficiencies across markets are being exposed. Irrational exuberance is taking hold as the Japanese stumble over each other to enter the Bitcoin market and drag up international prices.
Ethereum has seen a strong price rise on the back of the Ethereum Enterprise announcement and strong buying from Korea where the price is again at a large premium trading at $230 compared to the USD market at $180 - or 27%. The Korean market share of ethereum trading has been steadily increasing and has now reached 15%.
Bitcoin has hit the $2200 mark after a strong bull run with a fleshing out of the crypto ecosystem where positive regulatory moves, specifically in Japan have prompted a large inflow of fiat in the last couple of months.
The Japanese have given bitcoin the greenlight as a currency and are looking to increase the rigour that their exchanges are subject too - all in all positive for the industry as it moves more mainstream. Alongside you are seeing Chinese exchanges switching bank online after the PBoC halted withdrawals due to AML and KYC concerns in January this year. These exchanges have been trading at a steep discount for the past couple of months as money has essentially been trapped by the PBoC's diktats.
Interest in other crypto currencies has also brought money to the table that ebbs and flows via bitcoin - although you are starting to see direct ethereum pairs offering immediate exposure. The money is washing in and out of Bitcoin to search for extraordinary returns in the other crypto currencies. Ethereum and Ripple have seen some extraordinary returns this year - and momentum begets momentum with greed taking the lead.
Premia & Discounts
Bitcoin trades across multiple fiat pairs in a range of local and global exchanges. These pairs often trade at different prices due to fees, entrance and exit routes, and various perceptions of the safety of the exchange.
For example on the USD market exchanges have traded at up to a 5% or more difference. This can be exacerbated by various factors.
When these inefficiencies occur there are opportunities to arbitrage the difference. So large discrepancies or rises on one particular pair - for example the JPY BTC pair - can drag up the USD BTC pair as demand on one markets prompts opportunities on another.
Charts below showing the JPY Premium over time and price differential to the USD markets.
The Korean Won is also trading at a premium on the USD exchange of $2750 or a 27% premium. The Korean Won has 5% of Bitcoin trading.
is also seeing its markets dislocate as the Korean won takes a large premium. New fiat on ramps into the crypto currency are distorting market prices but the fundamental levels of adoption and use by industry have been key in igniting price momentum.
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance has more than tripled in size, with the group announcing 86 new members, including South Korean telecom Samsung, pharmaceuticals giant Merck, automaker Toyota, investor communications platform Broadridge, financial markets firm DTCC, and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which oversees licensed businesses in the state.
Additional factors include:
Global Uncertainty - Bitcoin has reacted as a form of digital gold at times of international crisis and this is often touted as first major price factor. Bitcoin traditionally moves with a higher beta than gold so spikes higher to the upside - periods of high correlation for bitcoin and gold occur when global uncertainty takes the ascendancy - which at present doesn't seem to be the case. Bitcoin is defying its gold relationship and subject to its own internal machinations. Gold has traded between 1240-1280 USD /oz whilst bitcoin has doubled in the last 3 months. On a macro level Macron's success, despite the storm clouds of brexit and Trump's bellicose attitude mean doom and gloom scenarios of political polarisation are improbable but still nonetheless a risk.
Scaling Debate - Litecoin has taken the lead and become the frontline in testing various augmentations for bitcoin with its segwit upgrade and early moves towards adding a lightening network for faster transactions. This has highlighted the fundamental issue of stalemate and hegemony in Bitcoin's corporate governance DNA. Although there is a proposal being put forward by Barry Silbert that cherry picks various elements to attempt to assuage both side of the political debate - there are no clear indications of a solution as of yet. The issue regularly raises its head as a bugbear for the price and takes centre stage for time with resultant downward pressure.
Bitcoin ETF - BATS exchange have requested the SEC review its refusal to allow the Winklevoss twins exchange to be approved. The reasons for the refusal have not changed substantially so this is not expected to dramatically alter the outlook for bitcoin.