Source: Joseph Adinolfi via marketwatch.com
The digital currency continues to trade at all-time highs
Bitcoin has risen more than 25% this year to trade on Thursday at an all-time high north of $1,250.
One unit of so-called digital gold is now worth more than an ounce of the real thing.
The price of a single bitcoin US:BTCUSD rose to an all-time high of $1,251.32 on Thursday, surpassing the price of a single ounce of gold, according to CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index. Bitcoin traded on certain Chinese exchanges briefly overtook gold in early February. But this is the first time in the digital currency’s eight-year history that it has done so according to most widely used bitcoin-price benchmarks.
Many bitcoin watchers, including Charles Hayter, chief executive officer and founder of CryptoCompare, a company that provides data and analytics about digital currencies, have pointed out that bitcoin has a positive correlation with gold. They argue that investors are becoming more comfortable with the digital currency, making them more willing to buy it when more conventional markets like stocks are under duress.
Unlike gold, investors who wish to gain exposure to bitcoin, but are reluctant to buy coins directly, have few available options. The Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing whether to approve the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, one of three proposed bitcoin ETFs under consideration. A decision is expected by March 11. Accredited investors can buy into the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust GBTC, +7.13% but shares often trade at a premium to bitcoin’s net-asset value.
Spencer Bogart, a researcher at Blockchain Capital and former analyst at Needham & Co., believes the chances of approval are low. But if it does happen, he says bitcoin’s valuation could experience an even larger increase in valuation than gold did after the 2004 launch of the iShares SPDR Gold Trust, the first gold ETF GLD, -0.01%
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has classified bitcoin as a commodity, like gold. However, there is at least one important difference between the two: With a total market capitalization around $20 billion, the bitcoin market is much, much smaller, and far more volatile, than the market for the yellow metal.
And many gold enthusiasts remain skeptical. In an interview with CNBC earlier this week, Peter Schiff, the chief executive of Euro Pacific Capital and longtime goldbug, compared bitcoin with the Beanie Babies craze that captivated Americans during the mid-to-late 1990s.
“It’s digital fools gold,” he said.
Gold GCJ7, +0.19% has risen nearly 8% this year, with one ounce trading at $1,242 on Thursday. By comparison, bitcoin has risen more than 25%.