Feb 29, 2024 - Business

The Bitcoin Class of 2024

Illustration of a gold coin with a bitcoin logo wearing a graduation cap

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Bitcoin's 'Class of 2024' is forming now, just as the cryptocurrency tests levels it hasn't seen in at least two years. While some will graduate, history suggests many will flunk the test ahead.

Why it matters: After crypto's extended winter blanketed digital tokens and shook out a wide range of investors, bitcoin (BTC) is now trading above $60,000.

Inside the room: The cryptocurrency market keeps growing because a portion of new investors show up when the price goes on a big upward ride. The hope is they'll eventually convert to long-term believers in politician-free money.

  • That's what's happened in all the prior booms.

By the numbers: The general public tends to watch the highs bitcoin reaches (almost $20,000 in 2017, and almost $70,000 in 2021), but the folks who stick around keep an eye on the bottoms.

  • As long as each bubble bottoms at a price that's somewhere around the prior all-time-high, that means that long-term demand is rising.
  • The lowest bitcoin price hit in 2022 was a little below $16,000, but it mostly hovered around $20,000 and higher.

What they're saying: "The idea that an (already valuable) asset has anti-inflation measures to lower the available amount of new supply is inherently valuable to any potential investor," Evan, a 26-year old member of the Class of '24 that we found on Reddit, tells Axios.

Initially, crypto had seemed cultish to Evan, but he's doing well financially and put $1,000 into bitcoin as a side bet last year.

  • It's done exceptionally well, and now he plans to hold it for decades.
  • "It's also attractive to me that it's not an asset that can be weaponized by any country or entity through sanctions," he says.

The success of friends led Vishnu, another new arrival and Reddit user, to begin making small, regular buys of bitcoin. He began doing that in January.

  • He's trying to go steady and slowly as he learns the market.
  • Vishnu lives in India, a nation that has long been ambivalent about digital assets. Yet Vishnu told us, "It seems to have a very bright future."

What's next: It's too soon to say that a bull market is here, but it looks ever more likely. If we see a wild run in bitcoin price, you can guarantee that many will buy in late... and then sell as soon as the price starts dropping.

  • This is why most people who buy bitcoin lose money.

The intrigue: We did a simple analysis that showed it has been hard to lose holding bitcoin for three years or longer, even buying at the highs (Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results).

  • Bitcoin financial services firm Unchained Capital did a much more sophisticated analysis showing the same thing (there has been a 1% chance of losing on a three-year or greater hold).
  • When the going gets tough, " join a community that helps you endure the trough," Joseph Kelly, Unchained's CEO, tells Axios.

The bottom line: The way to flunk a bull run is to chase the easy money for no other reason than gains.

  • The ones who come out ahead buy in because they have a reason to do it, one that gives them the nerve to ride out the lows.

In other words, people who don't buy into Bitcoin probably shouldn't buy bitcoin.

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