It started very quickly and very strongly and we wonder if it’s not too quickly “. This is the question that torments many professionals in the crypto ecosystem, digital assets being exchanged on a decentralized network called blockchain. At the center of this question, a bitcoin price at 63,000 dollars (58,000 euros) this Thursday. The queen of crypto-assets has, in fact, seen its price soar with incredible speed, gaining 48% over one month and even 277% since January 1, 2023. A rally which allows it to reach a valuation of 1,000 billion dollars – more than Tesla – in a total crypto market weighing 2,000 billion. Above all, with a price which reached $60,000 for the first time in three years on Wednesday, the main crypto has practically reached its historic record of November 2021 at $69,000.

The bullish rally has been very sustained since October, justified in particular by the attraction of safe haven values ​​after the start of the war in the Middle East and the easing of rates anticipated for 2024 and which should restore interest in risky assets », explains to The gallery Alexandre Baradez, head of market analysis at the broker IG France.

ETFs, the spark that ignited bitcoin

A particular factor, which occurred across the Atlantic, however, acted as a trigger for the surge in digital assets: the authorization of spot bitcoin ETFs (Exchange traded funds). Since January 10, these funds, which replicate the price of the crypto-asset, have allowed a large number of savers to simply gain exposure to it, via their securities account or their pension fund. A new gateway not to be overlooked. “ ETFs offer a framework that allows financial players to develop many more savings products on this asset and therefore create a demand shock », reminds The gallery Benjamin Ittah, in charge of product development for Europe at crypto-asset management company Hashdex.

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A bomb in the ecosystem which has already been felt. Three of the eleven bitcoin ETFs (those of Blackrock, Fidelity and Bitwise) were even among the ten most traded ETFs at the beginning of February, noted CFM Benchmark at the beginning of February. Since then, the madness around them has not calmed down, far from it.

“After less than two months of existence, ETFs hold $37 billion in bitcoins, which represents 3% of assets in circulation, which is very significant,” notes Justine Destobbeleire, crypto consultant at Sia Partners.

In the end, “itThe latter had a much greater short-term impact than we imagined, it surprised everyone “, she admits.

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Towards a post-rally breather?

But if the news around ETFs justified the rise in bitcoin until the beginning of February according to Alexandre Baradez, “ the last four days' rally from $50,000 to $54,000 is hard to explain », confides the latter. Other assets normally correlated to cryptos have in fact marked a pause, like the Nasdaq which represents American tech companies and which increased “only” by 5% in February. “ In addition, bond rates have risen in recent weeks due to fears of a postponement of the date of the key rate cut this year, which should logically harm risky assets like bitcoin. », Adds the IG analyst.

Fuel for the digital rocket could therefore start to run out in the short term. Which pushes Alexandre Baradez to think that bitcoin could take a break soon to reach its record of 69,000 dollars “ towards the second half or even the end of 2024 “.

“There is a risk that people who have gained a lot will take their profits which could lead to a correction phase. Especially since in a euphoric market, the increases are tenfold but so are the declines,” also warns Thibaut Boutrou, co-founder of the crypto investment solutions provider Meria.

A concern which, however, is not unanimous since a particular event could give a second wind to the queen of cryptocurrencies: “ the halving »

THE ” halving », new driver of the bitcoin price

Starting in April, the number of bitcoins produced and distributed to miners for each packet of transactions validated on the network will be halved. Set by the founder of bitcoin Satoshi Nakamoto during the creation of cryptocurrency in 2008, this rule is repeated every four years to allow the threshold of 21 million bitcoins set by Satoshi Nakamoto to be slowly reached, from which no more new asset will not be produced. With around 19 million bitcoins in circulation today, this threshold is not expected to be reached before 2140.

Therefore, when the next “halving” will take place next April, members participating in securing the network (miners) will only receive 3.125 bitcoins reward per packet of transactions mined compared to 6.25 today. A drastic drop in the supply of new assets which should, in view of the increases in the price of bitcoin observed during previous halvings, once again cause strong upward movements in the year following the end of the restriction.

As a reminder, one year after the “halving” of November 2012, the price of bitcoin had soared by 6,000%, then by 300% after that of July 2016 and again by 500% after the last one, in May 2020. If today “ the “halving” is already somewhat integrated into prices, it should still offer strong support to bitcoin in the coming months », Estimates Dramane Maite, product manager in the United States and Europe at Hashdex.

With this carrying wind, “it is possible that bitcoin will reach a new all-time high (with a price above $69,000) in the coming weeks,” advances Simon Peters, market analyst at the crypto-asset trading platform eToro in a note. In the longer term, the economic research institute Fundstrat anticipates bitcoin at $100,000 or $150,000 in the next 12 months, while the British bank Standard Chartered expects it at $200,000 by 2025.

But if opinions differ on the future, all observers are sure of one thing: “ We are entering a phase that is very difficult to predict, we must be careful because investors are no longer always rational », concludes Justine Destobbeleire.

Ethereum, the next crypto rocket?

Another digital asset is also starting to attract all attention. Ether (the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain), bitcoin's little sister.

Ethereum could be a repeat of bitcoin », Estimates Dramane Meite. Investors are particularly anticipating a catch-up effect for the second largest cryptocurrency, which has seen its price soar by 178% since January 2023, much less than bitcoin. Above all, at 3,354 dollars, ether is still far from its all-time high of 4,878 dollars.

Especially since spot ETFs could soon see the light of day in the United States which, for the product manager of Hashdex, could lead to a bullish rally » on the cryptocurrency valued at $370 billion.