Industry analysts predict the bitcoin price could surpass $6,000 by the end of the year, depending on whether the SegWit2x hard fork is implemented and, if so, how contentious and disruptive the fork is.
The bitcoin price rose nearly 75% during Q3 and has mostly recovered from the early-September contraction that was initiated by China’s blanket ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and bitcoin exchanges. On Monday, the bitcoin price rose as high as $4,470, although it has since dipped to a present value of $4,259.
Now that bitcoin has demonstrated consistent support for the $4,000 level, many analysts believe the bitcoin price will begin extending toward its record near $5,000, eventually reaching past it to a new all-time high.
"Throughout the year we've been predicting the bitcoin price will surpass $5,000 and creep closer to $6,000 by year's end. That prediction is looking more in line with market sentiment these days," Thomas Glucksmann, head of APAC business development at bitcoin exchange Gatecoin, told CNBC in an interview.
CryptoCompare CEO Charles Hayter is not certain bitcoin will be able to rise quite that far by the end of the year, but he agrees with many other analysts who believe $5,000 is within sight. He believes that this uptrend has been and will continue to be spurred on by increased regulatory clarity in major sectors of the crypto economy.
"Bitcoin's biggest price catalyst is regulation. Japan has breathed life into the price and as the fog of uncertainty clears in other jurisdictions, clarity on regulation will release a break on the price," he added.
Of course, any number of hurdles could trip up bitcoin's bull run before the end of the year, and there is one clear obstacle bitcoin faces during its march to $6,000: the contentious SegWit2x hard fork that is scheduled for November. SegWit2x was designed as an "upgrade" to the Bitcoin protocol, and though it has support from many mining operations and bitcoin firms, a large segment of the community -- including all of the Bitcoin Core developers -- opposes it.
Despite months of fierce debate, SegWit2x supporters and opponents remain entrenched in their positions. Unless one side concedes to the other or a compromise is reached, the network will split into two competing blockchains, each vying for the bitcoin moniker. As it currently stands, it is likely that the free market will decide which chain survives. But though this process may be fair, it will not be painless, and it is not known what short- and long-term ramifications it will have on bitcoin.
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