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Bitcoin could hit $88K by end of 2024: Bitwise analyst

Spot bitcoin (BTC-USD) ETF listings have led to a recent boom in the core crypto asset's prices. Is it time for cryptocurrency ethereum (ETH-USD) to have similar luck through ETF trading?

Bitwise Senior Crypto Research Analyst Ryan Rasmussen — whose firm oversees the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (BITB) — joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the trajectory of digital assets, as well as the likelihood for spot ethereum ETF approval.

"There's a lot of forces at work here in the crypto market. For the case of bitcoin, we're seeing two things at play — there's a lot of excitement around the halving, we're certainly seeing futures trading taking those positions going into April around where they think the price is going to move. we think they're positioned bullishly," Rasmussen explains. "For ethereum, it's speculation on ethereum spot ETFs. There's a lot of excitement around a new upgrade coming to the ethereum network in March, it's called Dencun... that should lower the cost to transact on ethereum."

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

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Editor's note: This article was written by Luke Carberry Mogan.

Video transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Well, Bitcoin reaching its highest level in more than two years after breaking above 54,000 in today's trade. But it's not the top cryptocurrency of 2024. Year to date, that title goes to Ethereum. Ether has managed to outperform its larger crypto rival.

With more, we're joined by Ryan Rasmussen, a bitwise senior crypto research analyst. Hey, thanks for being here. So I guess let's start with Ethereum here.

Bitcoin caught a bid when spot Bitcoin ETFs were approved is anticipation of the spot Ether ETFs being approved. Is that what's going on here?

RYAN RASMUSSEN: I certainly think that's a bit of what's going on here. I mean, we saw Bitcoin ETFs become a buy the rumor and buy the event situation. And so I'm not surprised that we're seeing Ethereum catch a similar bid here heading into the potential approval of spot Ethereum ETFs in May.

So, yeah, that's definitely driving some interest from institutional investors. We're seeing a lot of interest in the options and futures market for Ether ahead of that potential approval date. So I certainly think that's contributing to the outperformance from Ethereum relative to Bitcoin this year and recently.

JOSH LIPTON: I'm interested, Ryan, because, let's be honest, I mean, Gensler didn't want a spot Bitcoin ETF. He was dragged into it, unless you disagree. So I'm interested to get a spot Ethereum ETF. Do you think you'd actually need to see another lawsuit?

RYAN RASMUSSEN: Yeah. No, I agree with you. I think it's a great point. We didn't see Spot Bitcoin ETFs get approved on the first go around.

Certainly, there were many attempts at bringing spot Bitcoin ETFs to market before we ultimately got an approval. And that was on the back of a grayscale lawsuit that ultimately benefited ETF issuers and drove to that approval. I don't know the same will need to happen for Ethereum.

ETFs, I certainly don't know if the market is necessarily in a point. The SEC would like to see in order to approve the spot ETFs. This May, I think it's about a 50% chance that we'll see approval or we'll see rejection, and kick it out to another kind of round of applications in the future.

I don't know if a lawsuit is necessary. We're definitely not at the point where any of the issuers could file a lawsuit today. And so perhaps on the tail of a rejection, we could see that happening.

We did see Ethereum futures ETFs get approved last year. And that certainly was the case for Bitcoin where those preceded the spot Bitcoin ETF issuance. So, you know, it's up in the air. But I think that we have about a 50/50 chance of approval or denial coming up in May.

JULIE HYMAN: Obviously, Ethereum is not the only thing rallying. So we've got also sort of a broader rally in crypto. Bitcoin, we mentioned as well above 54,000.

There's a lot of talk about the halving maybe playing a role here. And it's always a little bit tricky to figure out exactly what's going on. But what's your best guess?

RYAN RASMUSSEN: Yeah, it's certainly tricky. There's a lot of forces at work here in the crypto market. So I think for the case of Bitcoin, we're seeing two things at play.

There's a lot of excitement around the halving. We're certainly seeing futures traders kind of take those positions going into April around where they think the price is going to move and following the halving. We think they're positioned bullishly. And that's what the data would show us.

For Ethereum, it's speculation on Ethereum spot ETFs. There's a lot of excitement around a new upgrade coming to the Ethereum protocol. The Ethereum network in March. It's called Duncan. It's kind of a funky name.

But that should lower the cost to transact on Ethereum and Ethereum L2s. So that's a really exciting development. That should bring new use cases, and new adoption, and activity onto the Ethereum market.

Then you have platforms like Solana, which have really outperformed other crypto assets back in 2023 and have had a strong 2024. We're seeing a resurgence in NFT trading volume and NFT prices. So I think, ultimately, what we're seeing is crypto is kind of rising from the ashes of the 2022 market.

In 2023, was the start to that rally. But we think that we're in a multi-year bull cycle. In all elements of the crypto space will certainly have their moment.

Bitcoin in the spotlight right now. Ethereum making its way up there. And I think other L1s and other L2s and other DeFi assets and NFTs will have their moment in the sun as well.

JOSH LIPTON: And, Ryan, you know, I'm interested to just longer term how you think these new vehicles, these new products, these new spot Bitcoin ETFs. What are they going to mean for the underlying asset, Ryan? How are they going to impact pricing for Bitcoin in the months years ahead do you think?

JOSH LIPTON: Oh. Yeah, I mean, we love these ETFs. Of course, us at Bitwise, we did launch a spot Bitcoin ETF in January alongside the other ETF issuers.

And we've been tremendously happy with the success of those products. We've seen over a billion in assets flow into our spot Bitcoin ETF across the board. There's been more than $15 billion of assets flowing into spot Bitcoin ETFs.

And what does that mean for price and the market? That's all buying pressure on the underlying spot asset. And when we have that kind of demand shock coming into the market, I think it's no surprise we've seen the price of Bitcoin rise following the launch of those ETFs.

And I think it would be the same for Ethereum or other assets. If there were ETFs to come to market, you have the demand coming from those sidelined investors. Of course, those institutional investors, financial advisors, RIAs, hedge fund managers who really wait for that regulatory stamp of approval. And that institutional vehicle to be brought to market before they seriously consider allocating to the space.

And with all that sidelined capital, I think we're still in the early innings of crypto reaching its kind of point in the adoption curve where we have everyday investors, institutional investors, and retail investors all allocating to these products. And ETFs are just one of those really great vehicles that help bring those investors to market and help create a highway for them to allocate to not just Bitcoin, but Ethereum, Solana, and other assets as they eventually make their way into the ETF format.

JULIE HYMAN: And, Ryan, are you somebody who sets targets? Do you have some price projections for year-end?

JOSH LIPTON: Yeah, price targets are always fun. I'll go ahead and throw one out there. We did release a prediction in December actually before we got into the new year where we thought Bitcoin would hit in 2024.

And we still stand by that prediction. We think that Bitcoin will certainly set all-time highs in 2024. That previous price is right around 69,000.

But we don't think it's going to stop there. We think that will at least see a 10% to 15% bump over the last all-time high in 2024. That would take us to the mid 80k range.

So I think our target was 88,000 by the end of 2024. And I'm still sticking by that seen all the excitement in the market today.

JULIE HYMAN: All right, we'll hold you to it. Well, at least we'll have you back on and talk about it. Ryan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

RYAN RASMUSSEN: Thank you looking forward to it. Thank you.