By Duncan Riley.
The price of bitcoin surged past $9,000 for the first time on Sunday for a new record high as a new report claimed that as many as 23 percent of all bitcoin may be permanently lost, creating further scarcity in a market with rising demand.
The tale of the lost bitcoins comes from security firm Chainalysis, which told Forbes that according to its analysis, between 2.78 million and 3.79 million bitcoin have been lost, or 17 to 23 percent of all bitcoin that has been mined to date.
Chainalysis does take a leap of faith, however, making a number of assumptions to come to those figures. Based on its estimates, half of all bitcoin is currently being held and not traded by those who prescribe to a long-term “hold all” (usually abbreviated to HODL) position in bitcoin. Noting that many of those holding onto bitcoin date from the cruptocurrency’s early days, the firm then estimates that much of the bitcoin not in circulation may not primarily represent an active position of people holding bitcoin but instead reflect bitcoin that has been lost.
Commenting on its effect on the price of bitcoin, Chainalysis Senior Economist Kim Grauer said that the supply side was a very complex question. “On the one hand, direct calculations about market cap do not take lost coins into consideration,” he said. “Considering how highly speculative this field is, those market cap calculations may make it into economic models of the market that impact spending activity.”
Yet, he added, the market has “adapted to the actual demand and supply available – just look at exchange behavior. Furthermore, it is well known monetary policy procedure to lower or increase fiat reserves to impact exchange rates. So the answer is yes and no.”
Whether the figures and presumptions made by Chainalysis are correct is a matter for researchers and economists, but one certain variable is the current insatiable demand for bitcoin that continues to drive up the price.
The $9,000 bitcoin mark was breached just after 11 a.m. EST Sunday, one week after it first broke through $8,000 for the first time. Investor confidence continues to be buoyed by positive news with many looking towards the launch by CME Group Inc. of bitcoin futures trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the second week of December. That move is expected to let loose a flood of mainstream investor interest into the cryptocurrency.
As of 9:45 p.m. EST Sunday, bitcoin was trading at $9,570.80 as its record-breaking bull run continues, presenting the chance that bitcoin could break the $10,000 mark once the sun rises over the United States on Monday morning.