Exchange CEO's bold forecast: Bitcoin to hit US$100,000 in 2018

January 04, 2018 14:30
Bobby Lee, co-founder and CEO of BTCC, said China's ban on cryptocurrency trading will not be able to contain bitcoin. Photo: HKEJ

Bitcoin took a wild ride in 2017, reaching a record high of almost US$20,000 in December before plummeting below US$11,000 in the same month. Looking forward to 2018, the cryptocurrency could hit US$100,000, predicts Bobby Lee, co-founder and chief executive of BTCC, China's longest-running bitcoin exchange.

Speaking at an event at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Lee said bitcoin could surpass US$100,000 this year, and then it will level off before reaching US$150,000 by 2021, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

“China’s ban on cryptocurrency trading can’t contain bitcoin,” Lee said. “Chinese are crazy about all assets that make money, so they are so eager to invest in bitcoin.”

In an interview with CNBC published on Wednesday, Lee said he believes the scarcity of bitcoin, as well as the difficulty and challenge of mining the virtual currency, mean the price has further room to run in 2018.

"Today we're at only 1,800 of newly mined bitcoins every day," he said. "That used to be 7,200 as recently as five years ago. So in just a few short, maybe two and a half more years, we'll see the supply go down again to only 900 bitcoins a day."

"So if you talk about multi-million dollars of inflow with only a new supply of 900 bitcoins a day, you can imagine where prices could be at in three, five, or 10 years," he added.

China, which once constituted 90 percent of all bitcoin trading, put a halt to bitcoin trading and initial coin offerings (ICO) in September 2017. The People's Bank of China said such activities could pose major financial risks to the country’s economy.

After closing down his company's trading operations in the China market last September, Lee remains positive on the prospects of bitcoin in the country as he believes it is just a matter of time before China lifts the ban.

“One day, I think it's possible, they'll lift the ban, so called, and they might reinstitute it and license it," he said, without saying when he thinks that will happen. 

“Whether it's a few months, a few years or even a few decades, it's hard to tell."

Despite the ban, the bitcoin craze has persisted in China. “The more the governments and the regulators tried to put a squeeze on bitcoin, the more we see that bitcoin is actually resilient," Lee told CNBC.

During the interview, Lee revealed that he "got out" of the Chinese bitcoin exchange business, and is now focusing on developing an international trading platform, a mining and minting operation and a cryptocurrency wallet called Mobi.

“We have a global play for wallets and we're no longer focused on just being an exchange business," he said, referring to Mobi, a global wallet that works with multiple digital currencies.

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