The cryptocurrency market has experienced a price surge in the early months of 2023, leading some analysts to question whether the brutal Crypto Winter has finally come to an end. Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, has risen by 72 percent since the beginning of the year, crossing the $30,000 threshold before dipping below $28,500 due to inflation and rising interest rates.
Meanwhile, Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, has increased by 62 percent after a successful upgrade to its blockchain, Ethereum. The total market capitalization for all cryptocurrencies has also increased by about 50 percent to approximately $1.2 trillion.
The concept of a four-year cycle of peaks and valleys in the cryptocurrency market is widely debated among analysts. The theory suggests that Bitcoin’s price fluctuations correspond to when the rewards for mining Bitcoin are reduced by 50 percent, making the cryptocurrency’s supply scarcer and thereby increasing its price.
Others believe that the start of each four-year cycle corresponds to technical innovations. There have been three rounds of peaks and valleys so far, with the last bull run occurring from 2019 to 2021, followed by a dip in 2022 after several high-profile crypto companies went bankrupt. If the trend holds, crypto is due for another bull run.
However, some analysts caution that regulation remains challenging, and the crypto industry is not in the middle of a raging bull market. Despite this, they remain optimistic about the industry’s medium and long-term outlook. Gautam Chhugani, managing director and senior digital assets analyst at AB Bernstein, believes that Bitcoin and the crypto industry will follow the peaks and valleys of the larger world economy in the near term but is optimistic about its future. “Bitcoin has never had two negative years consequently,” he told Fortune.
Analysts at Bitfinex Alpha, a market research team within the crypto exchange Bitfinex, agree. They told Fortune that “while the jury is still out as to whether the Crypto Winter is finally over, Bitcoin network activity is indicating a healthy uptrend in transaction fees.” Brian Rudick, senior strategist at crypto trading firm GSR, believes it’s arguable that the industry is even in a bear market at all. “It depends on what your definition of Crypto Winter is,” he said.
Going by other metrics, such as a 40 percent increase in crypto users in 2022 according to Crypto.com, a 5 percent increase in the number of developers in 2022 according to Electric Capital, and a 293 percent increase in smart contracts deployed on Ethereum, the industry seems comparatively balmy.
Some of the more bullish enthusiasts point to the crypto industry’s resilience despite constant predictions of its collapse. Chhugani noted that “this industry has died like a few hundred times in the last 14 years,” but it hasn’t really happened. Despite regulation challenges, analysts believe that the crypto industry’s potential for innovation and growth will likely continue to attract investors.
While the recent price rally of cryptocurrencies has sparked renewed hope for the industry, it’s unclear whether Crypto Winter is truly over. That said, as seen at the recent NFT.NYC event, the industry’s potential for growth and innovation cannot be ignored. As the world economy evolves, the crypto industry must do the same or risk a deeper, longer-lasting freeze.