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Originally Published: Jan 10, 2024
Originally Published: Jan 10, 2024 Last Updated: Jan 10, 2024 6 min read

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Illustration of a bitcoin on top of a mountain
Rangely GarcĂ­a for Money

The new year is starting off strong for crypto: Bitcoin prices are hovering around $45,000, their highest in almost two years. But can the digital currency continue to rise, or will the streak of gains it kept up through the past year peter out?

The last 12 months have seen a comeback for both bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry at large. While 2022 was fraught with controversial headlines (FTX collapse, anyone?) and price troughs, 2023 saw bitcoin values rise by over 155%. At least some of this success can be chalked up to an improving overall economy; job gains, the deceleration of inflation and the prospect of interest rate cuts this year have helped to bolster stocks, which have been shown to follow similar price patterns as cryptocurrencies.

However, that's all in the past — anything can happen in 2024. Where are bitcoin prices likely to go this year? Here’s what experts are saying.

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Bitcoin ETFs and halving event cause great expectations

The biggest bitcoin-related event of the year is set to occur this spring, and experts think it could be a boon to prices. Every four years, a change to the cryptocurrency’s infrastructure comes via a bitcoin halving.

Bitcoin is created through a mathematical process called “mining.” Miners use computers to solve math problems for a reward of newly minted bitcoin. When a halving event occurs, the total bitcoin reward is cut in half — meaning it then takes twice as much effort as before to earn the same number of coins. Historically, bitcoin halving events have preceded major gains; when the last one occurred in May 2020, prices rose by over 200% by the end of that year.

Another major event just happened: the long-awaited approval of a bitcoin spot ETF. These crypto-centric exchange-traded funds will allow investors to purchase a stake in bitcoin without having to directly own the asset. On Wednesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved 11 companies' bitcoin spot ETF applications; now, many believe these funds will bring bitcoin to the investing mainstream in a big way.

“ETF approvals and the upcoming halving could make 2024 a record year for cryptocurrencies,” says Ben Weiss, co-founder of crypto ATM provider CoinFlip. “As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if bitcoin breaks six figures.”

Weiss adds that the ETF approvals are likely to pull large investing institutions into crypto, “causing a positive feedback loop between price and demand” to the benefit of investors.

Dan Weiskopf, co-portfolio manager of the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF, puts similar stock in these two events as major price determinants over the next year.

“We see bitcoin reaching new highs in 2024 because of more institutional access through ETFs and a broader narrative as a store of value,” Weiskopf says, adding that the halving and further regulation of the cryptocurrency industry are likely to produce positive results for investors.

In addition, there’s plenty of evidence out there to suggest that cryptocurrency price movements are influenced heavily by the stock market. Improving economic factors outside of crypto, then, could be good signs for bitcoin prices.

“The Federal Reserve's policies and the broader governmental stance on monetary issues will play a significant role in shaping the crypto market landscape,” says Martin Leinweber, digital assets product specialist at MarketVector Indexes.

Indeed, crypto benefited during 2023 in spite of the Fed's interest rate hikes. The central bank's upcoming cuts, which would make the cost of borrowing money cheaper, could make tailwinds even stronger for speculative assets like bitcoin because they typically raise investors’ tolerance for risk.

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Where will bitcoin prices go?

All of these factors are creating a lot of excitement among experts, but it's crucial to keep in mind that many crypto experts are perpetual optimists, especially when it comes to wider adoption of the technology.

With that in mind, the popular opinion among those interviewed seems to be that bitcoin is bound to break its record price of almost $69,000 — or go even beyond that.

“I think there’s a high probability that a new all-time high will be reached this year,” says Bob Ras, co-creator of cryptocurrency company Sologenic.

Even if the ETF approval doesn't kick off a bullish run, Ras says “there’s a lot of room for bitcoin to run here.” Similarly, Weiskopf says that “the previous high set of $68,000 last November 2021 will be eclipsed, and then we are off to higher round numbers.”

That in itself is a bullish prediction. If bitcoin were to rise to its old all-time high by this December, it would mean a return of almost 63% on the year — six times bigger than the average S&P 500 annualized return of around 10%.

There are other, even bolder predictions being made, as well. Leinweber, for instance, has a median forecast that places the cryptocurrency’s median price at $150,000.

This story was updated Wednesday afternoon to include news of the SEC's bitcoin spot ETF approval.

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