Bitcoin, down some 80% from its all-time highs, has likely lost more supporters than it’s gained over the last year, with many investors and traders struggling to justify their belief in the technology in the face of stalling adoption and banks putting closely-watched plans to wade into bitcoin and cryptocurrencies on hold.
The bitcoin price rocketed from under $1,000 to almost $20,000 in 2017, thrusting bitcoin and cryptocurrencies into the public consciousness and causing many experienced economists and experts to label it a scam and advising potential investors to stay away.
Now, one renowned economic historian has said he was “very wrong” about digital currencies like bitcoin and that current bitcoin and cryptocurrency prices remain “very far” from zero.
Bitcoin, just a little over 10 years old, is still in its early, formative years, according to some tech industry heavyweights.GETTY
Niall Ferguson, author of currency history book The Ascent of Money, was speaking at The Australian Financial Review Business Summit earlier this month when he rowed back on his earlier comments, saying bitcoin and blockchain-based technologies would not be the “complete delusion” he had previously branded them.
“I was very wrong,” Ferguson said. “Wrong to think there was no … use for a form of currency based on blockchain technology.”
Ferguson’s recent bitcoin comments come after he previously expressed regret he didn’t listen to his teenage son and buy bitcoin in late 2014, saying it was the “worst investment decision of his life.”
“If I had listened to my son, I would have increased the dollar value of my investment by a factor of 45—or, if you prefer, I’d have made a return on the investment of 4,436%,” Ferguson wrote in late 2017. “The moral of the story is clear: when it comes to technology, pay heed to teenagers.”
The bitcoin price rose sharply in 2017 but has since fallen back.COINDESK
Ferguson joins some tech industry heavyweights who have recently voiced their enthusiasm for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The likes of Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak have heaped praise on bitcoin and its underlying technology, arguing the digital tokens are still in their early, formative days.
Dorsey last week revealed he has recently been buying $10,000 worth of bitcoin per week, maxing out his Cash App’s bitcoin investing limit.
Musk, who last year got everyone fired up that he might be getting into bitcoin, this month called bitcoin’s structure “quite brilliant”, adding “it bypasses currency controls … Paper money is going away. And crypto is a far better way to transfer values than a piece of paper, that’s for sure.”
The bitcoin and cryptocurrency sector has also been enlivened by Facebook’s decision to begin developing its own private currency to use on its integrated social media and messaging platform, while U.S. banking giant J.P. Morgan is also working on a private blockchain-based digital token to ease international money transfers.
Niall Ferguson has said the decision not to buy bitcoin in 2014 was the worst of his investing life.© 2016 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP
The bitcoin sector is currently trapped in a long-running bear market, with some $400 billion in value wiped from the world’s cryptocurrencies over the past 14 months.
Bitcoin’s epic 2017 bull run was largely put down to expectations institutional investment and big bank support for bitcoin would soon arrive. As 2018 dragged on and that investment failed to appear many investors and traders got cold feet, bailing out of their bitcoin and cryptocurrency positions.
Many bitcoin investors and traders are however looking toward things like the highly-anticipated Bakkt bitcoin platform and a U.S. bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) to boost the price, though those expectations have been somewhat dampened lately as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission frets over potential price manipulation.