Bitcoin on the Brink: What Could Trigger a Capitulation?

Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride over the past few weeks, with prices swinging wildly from highs of around $80k by June 2021 to lows below $15k in the past few weeks. This volatility is nothing new for Bitcoin, but it seems to ramp up as we approach what could be a critical juncture for the digital currency.

So, what exactly is a capitulation? The Cooperate Finance Institute has a concise definition.


In the financial world, it generally refers to a situation where investors give
up on an asset and sell it en masse, leading to a sharp decline in prices. This can often be seen as a final stage before prices bottom out and begin to rebound.

In the case of Bitcoin, a capitulation could be triggered by several factors, including the following:

When miners receive rewards in Bitcoin for verifying transactions, they are motivated to keep the network secure. However, if the price of Bitcoin falls below the cost of mining (i.e., electricity and other expenses), miners will be operating at a loss. As a result, they will be less likely to continue verifying transactions, and the Bitcoin network will become less secure. This is known as a miner capitulation. 

In a severe case, it can lead to a Bitcoin death spiral, in which the price of Bitcoin falls so low that no miners are willing to continue verifying transactions. This would make Bitcoin unusable as a currency, as there would be no way to verify transactions. Therefore, it is important for the price of Bitcoin to remain high enough to incentivize miners to keep the network secure.

Brain Drain

When people are anxious about the future, they tend to sell their assets and move their money into assets they see as safer. In the case of Bitcoin, when people become anxious about its future, they sell their Bitcoins and move their money into assets like the US dollar. 

This mass exodus of money from Bitcoin to other assets causes the price of Bitcoin to drop, which leads to even more people selling their Bitcoins, causing a downward spiral.

Closed/Overprotective Community

There have been a few times in Bitcoin’s history when the community has become too closed off and overprotective, leading to a capitulation. One such example was when Introducing NFTs to Bitcoin forums and discussion groups led to a massive flame war that ended in many members leaving the community. Another example was when the Bitcoin Lightning Network was first proposed, there was a lot of infighting, and eventually, some members left to start their own projects. While it’s understandable that people want to protect their investments, Ultimately, these capitulations happen because the community becomes too insular and fails to listen to new ideas. To avoid this in the future, it’s important for the community to remain open-minded and willing to discuss new proposals. 

Increased Regulation from Governments 

When a government begins to tighten its regulation of a particular industry – in this case, Bitcoin – it can significantly impact the market. In the case of Bitcoin, when it was announced that the governments of South Korea and China were planning to introduce new regulations around cryptocurrency, the price began to drop significantly. 

This is because investors felt that the increased regulation would make it more difficult to trade or use Bitcoin, so they began selling off their holdings. As more investors sold off their holdings, the price continued to drop until it reached a point where many people decided to sell their coins at a loss. This caused an overall panic in the market and led to a massive capitulation event.

Bitcoin Verdict

The jury is still out on whether or not Bitcoin will survive in the long term. However, it is clear that several factors could trigger a capitulation event.

If the price of Bitcoin falls too low, miners will be incentivized to leave the network, which could lead to a death spiral. Additionally, if investors start to panic, they may sell their holdings en masse, which could also lead to a capitulation.

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Google’s bitcoin war is dumbing down

As you are probably aware, Google has a fraught relationship with Bitcoin (BTC) in particular, and cryptocurrencies in general. It’s a problem, because YouTube, which Google owns, is awash with videos about digital assets. What we have seen is that whenever possible, Google has tried to raise barricades against the oncoming tide of crypto information, in all its forms, including apps and websites, which has caused crypto fans to accuse the media giant of censorship.

We have only just begun 2020, and already Google has lashed out by removing Bitcoin Blast, a BTC rewards game from the Google Play store, on the gorunds that it uses “deceptive practices.” According to Billy Bambrough at Forbes, Bitcoin Blast was available on the Apple app store on 24th January, but was removed a week later. Apple said that it violated certain of its app policies, but said it could come back if it “can be brought up to code.”

Daniel Rice, cofounder and chief technology officer at Bling, the make of Bitcoin Blast, said in a post, “We were not removed for being involved with cryptocurrency,” but added, “it’s also possible that Bitcoin Blast will never return to an Apple platform.”

The irony is that Bitcoin Blast’s users rather liked the puzzle game that rewards users with bitcoin-redeemable loyalty points and boasts a 4.5 rating from some 20,000 ratings and 13,000 reviews. They complained to Google about the sudden removal of their entertainment. And this had a positive effect. Although, Bling, did have to make a public plea for support, and it was only after this happened that Google reversed its decision.

It isn’t the first time that Google has waded reversed a decision regarding a crypto-related app or site. It tried to ban most of the bitcoin-related content creators from YouTube, only to face a backlash from users that forced a change of heart.

Not long after this, Google suspended the popular MetaMask crypto wallet and mobile browser app backed by Ethereum incubator ConsenSys from the Play Store, only to eventually reinstate it.

This behaviour is rather odd, and it is no wonder that companies such as Bling are questioning what their future relationship they might have with Google, if any at all. Bling’s CEO, Amy Wan wrote, “Google’s suspension cited their ‘deceptive behavior’ policy … but did not state exactly what behavior Google thought was deceptive,” and she advices other businesses to avoid putting all their products on a Google platform. Furthermore, she said that Google couldn’t answer the question regarding what was “deceptive” about the Bitcoin Blast app.

As Billy Bambrough says, Google’s “twitchy trigger finger and the speed at which the ban hammer falls is, understandably, making people nervous.”

Certainly, it needs to rethink its battle strategy, because at the moment, it looks like every action is a simplistic knee-jerk reaction, rather than a well-considered approach based on evidence.

Youngest Bitcoin Millionaire’ Willing to Stake it All on Metal Pay

Erik Finman made his name as the youngest ever bitcoin millionaire and is one of 17,000 bitcoin addresses containing more than $1 million worth of bitcoin.

The young crypto enthusiast is now backing Metal, a P2P crypto payments app, which launched in 2017, but has been revamped as an “all-in-one digital banking platform for cryptocurrency.”

Finman has been predicting that bitcoin (BTC) will reclaim its $20,000 value this year, simply because of the entrance of Facebook into the crypto market with its Libra stablecoin. He also referred to the fact that candidates in the upcoming US presidential elections have been talking up bitcoin, as has Apple.

Oddly enough, last year, Finman claimed that bitcoin was dead during the worst moments of the 2018 bear market that left most major tokens down almost 90% in value.

Finman, who has also tried to encourage passive investment in bitcoin with his CoinBits project said, “Bitcoin could be at $50,000 per bitcoin without all the fragmentation.” But you can’t change the fees,” he added. “You can’t change the loading times. I’m very pro-crypto and pro-bitcoin but with just one coin you can only do so much.”

Metal, which also has the Metal (MTL) native token, peaked at over $13 per token in September 2017 as bitcoin and cryptocurrency excitement reached fever-pitch, but has failed to hold almost all of that value as users and investors dried up, slumping to just $0.30 per MTL currently.

As Billy Bambrough writes at Forbes, “Finman’s support for metal comes as Metal Pay relaunches to compete with more directly with the likes of Venmo and PayPal, payment platforms that want users to store and send cash on their apps.”

Finman’s partner at Metal, founder and chief executive of Metal Pay, Marshall Hayner said, “We’ve worked for years to make certain that all laws and regulations are met in an effort to deliver the best possible product for our user base. With this launch, we truly believe that Metal Pay has the opportunity to become bigger than bitcoin.”

In other media coverage, Finman and Hayner also claim that Metal Pay will kill off Facebook’s Libra, when the contentious stablecoin finally launches. How that works out, remains to be seen.

The bitcoin rally: fact or fantasy?

Image result for bitcoin

It was perhaps unfortunate that the most recent bitcoin rally happened to coincide with 1st April, also known as April Fool’s Day in a number of countries. The tradition of the day is to see if you can fool people into believing the story you tell them. Some newspapers are expert at it: the UK’s Guardian newspaper is renowned for its April Fool stories, such as the discovery of the island of ‘Sans Serif’, which any printer would immediately have spotted as a hoax. So, it’s unsurprising that there were those who thought the bitcoin rally was also some kind of 1st April joke, as Bloomberg reported.

 

But it wasn’t a joke, as the surge went on past noon on 1st April, the cut-off time after which one cannot play any more pranks. It continued to increase in price with some dips until 9th April, when we saw a almost all the major cryptos go red again, but only slightly.

 

Multiple theories about bitcoin surge

There have been other theories. One analyst, Tone Vay, suggests there is no particular trigger; it’s just normal speculation: “Shorts are liquidated, there were short squeezes, more people jumped onto the hype, and a lot of news media always look for a trigger to cause big drops and big rises. I would say more than half the time they are just trying to match news to something that it did not necessarily need news to happen.” Bloomberg also put forward the idea that it could be down to algorithmic trading. This is a method where automated software detects trends and determines when trades should be made. And Reuters suggested that a 20,000 BTC order was spread across United States-based crypto exchanges Coinbase and Kraken, as well as Luxembourg’s Bitstamp was the trigger for the surge. Some even connected it to the UK’s interminable Brexit situation and to people selling off GBP in case the UK crashes out of the EU and the Pound falls through the floor. Meanwhile the bulls were in the press talking about the end of the so-called ‘Crypto Winter’ and predictions about bitcoin hitting big figures were in the headlines.

 

The problem for the average person looking at the bitcoin market is this: who should you believe? It really is a tough call, even for those who know the market fairly well.

 

Not everyone is bullish on bitcoin

And then there are those who will tell you not to trust in what you are seeing. Brendan Coffey at Forbes claims that the “smart money” expects bitcoin to drop. He points to the  weekly Commitment of Traders  report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This says “says that while small speculators (classified as non-reportable in the report) increased their long positions 18% and shrunk their short positions 27% compared to last week, large traders – hedge funds and other large speculators – raised their short bets almost 45%.” Also, large trader long positions in bitcoin were trimmed back by 24% this week, which is a bearish manoeuvre.

 

What does this mean for the price of bitcoin. Coffey suggests it may not create a big rise or fall. However, he does advise taking a look at the last bitcoin rally in 2017, when bitcoin futures first launched as well. These futures allowed people who were sceptical about bitcoin to bet against it, and he indicates that while we are seeing short-term gains, the longer-term picture may prove more challenging. Why?  He says, “As a purely speculative investment with a heavy amount of non-trading professionals betting on it, bitcoin has tended to display classical chart patterns.” And according to his charts, there is still a “thick blue line of resistance” to overcome. That stands at about $6,000, “but expect the sellers to come in at $5,500 and continue to sell on moves into the $6,200 area,” Coffey says. His reasoning, which is perfectly logical, is that people who “got caught holding bitcoin when it plunged will want to get out with what they put in.”

 

The answer would seem to be that the current bitcoin rally is both fact and fantasy. Yes, we have seen it surge to over $5,000 from hovering around $4,000 just a few days earlier. The fantasy bit? It is going to be some time, if it ever happens, before it reaches $50,000, even if that is the prediction of a crypto guru!