Among asset classes, Bitcoin has had one of the more volatile trading histories. The cryptocurrency’s first significant price increase occurred in 2010 when the value of a single bitcoin jumped from just a fraction of a penny to $0.09.1
The cryptocurrency has undergone several rallies and crashes since it became available. This article offers insight into Bitcoin’s volatility and some reasons why its price acts the way it does.
The price changes for Bitcoin reflect both investor enthusiasm and dissatisfaction with its promise. Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous Bitcoin inventor(s), designed it for use in daily transactions and as a way to circumvent traditional banking infrastructure after the 2008 financial collapse.2
The cryptocurrency gained mainstream traction as a means of exchange. It also attracted traders who began to bet against its price changes. Investors turned to Bitcoin as a way to store value, generate wealth, and hedge against inflation. Institutions worked to create Bitcoin investment instruments.
Bitcoin’s price fluctuations primarily stem from investors and traders betting on an ever-increasing price in anticipation of riches. However, Bitcoin’s price story has again changed. In January 2022, Bitcoin began losing steam.
Here’s a quick rundown of Bitcoin’s price history:
Bitcoin had a price of zero when it was introduced in 2009. On July 17, 2010, its price jumped to $.09.1 Bitcoin’s price rose again on April 13, 2011, from $1 to a peak of $29.60 by June 7, 2011, a gain of 2,960% within three months.
A sharp recession in cryptocurrency markets followed, and Bitcoin’s price bottomed out at $2.05 by mid-November.5 The following year, its price rose from $4.85 on May 9 to $13.50 by Aug. 15.
The year 2012 proved to be a generally uneventful year for Bitcoin, but 2013 witnessed strong gains in price. Bitcoin began the year trading at $13.28 and reached $230 on April 8. An equally rapid deceleration in its price followed, bringing it down to $68.50 a few weeks later on July 4.
In early October of 2013, Bitcoin was trading at $123.00. By December, it had spiked to $1,237.55 and then fallen to $687.02 three days later.8 Bitcoin’s price slumped through 2014 and touched $315.21 at the start of 2015.
Prices slowly climbed through 2016 to over $900 by the end of the year.10 In 2017, Bitcoin’s price hovered around $1,000 until it broke $2,000 in mid-May and then skyrocketed to $19,345.49 on Dec. 15.
Mainstream investors, governments, economists, and scientists took notice, and other entities began developing cryptocurrencies to compete with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin’s price moved sideways in 2018 and 2019, with small bursts of activity. For example, there was a resurgence in price and trading volume in June 2019, with the price surpassing $10,000. However, it fell to $6,635.84 by mid-December.
In 2020, the economy shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bitcoin’s price burst into action once again. The cryptocurrency started the year at $6,965.72. The pandemic shutdown and subsequent government policies fed investors’ fears about the global economy and accelerated Bitcoin’s rise.
At the close on Nov. 23, Bitcoin was trading for $19,157.16. Bitcoin’s price reached just under $29,000 in December 2020, increasing 416% from the start of that year.
Bitcoin took less than a month in 2021 to smash its 2020 price record, surpassing $40,000 by Jan. 7, 2021. By mid-April, Bitcoin prices reached new all-time highs of over $60,000 as Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, went public.14 Institutional interest propelled its price further upward, and Bitcoin reached a peak of $63,558 on April 12, 2021.
By the summer of 2021, prices were down by 50%, hitting $29,796 on July 19. September saw another bull run, with prices scraping $52,693, but a large drawdown took it to a closing price of $40,710 about two weeks later.
On Nov. 10, 2021, Bitcoin again reached an all-time high of $68,789 before closing at $64,995.17 In mid-December 2021, Bitcoin fell to $46,164. The price started fluctuating more as uncertainty about inflation and the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, continued to spook investors.
Between January and May 2022, Bitcoin’s price continued to gradually decline, with closing prices only reaching $47,445 by the end of March before falling further to $28,305 on May 11. This was the first time since July 2021 that Bitcoin closed under $30,000. On June 13, crypto prices plunged. Bitcoin dropped below $23,000 for the first time since December 2020.