BlockTower Capital Co-Founder Predicts Just How Long Bitcoin Bull Run Will Last, Says Top Crypto Could Hit $400,000

BlockTower Capital CIO and co-founder Ari Paul says he believes Bitcoin could potentially print over 10x gains within the next two years.

In a new tweet, blockchain investment firm executive tells his 149,000 followers that the bull market may last until the end of 2022 with Bitcoin poised to grow between 153% and 915% from its current price of $39,400.

“Time-wise, my guess is we have 9-22 months. Price wise – my guess is BTC ends the bull run between $100k-$400k.”

In a Real Vision interview with Bitcoin bull Raoul Pal, Paul explains that while he’s long-term bullish on Bitcoin, he believes altcoins will outshine the flagship crypto asset in the coming months.

“So if this bull market resembles those that came before it, and I think it likely will, the last third of the bull run, all coins, in general, are likely to outperform Bitcoin. And that’s happened every time in the past. It tends to happen in traditional markets, where you get– basically, lower-quality small caps outperform quality. And the reason is people’s risk tolerance grows.

There’s a greed element. They generate a lot – Bitcoin goes up 5x, people are now rich. They’re looking for their next 5x. And Bitcoin feels like it’s going to be hard to give it to them. So you start rotating into lower-quality assets, chasing that same high.”

As for timing the bull market top, the BlockTower Capital managing partner says he’s on the lookout for signs of extreme greed.

“Things I’ll be watching for are: rallies being driven by retail traders with high leverage, total leverage in the ecosystem at exorbitant levels…

Timing market tops is exceptionally hard. Hardly anyone is really good at it. I do think it’s very possible to identify the ‘9th inning,’ the general last phase. The challenge is that this phase could last a year (although that’s unlikely), and BTC might rally 300% during it.”

When it comes to making the most out of the current boom cycle, Paul suggests that the best strategy is to watch the paint dry.

“If I’m even close to right, it will be difficult to beat a buy and hold strategy through the end of this bull run. For active traders, it’s certainly possible to add lots of alpha with timing and rotation, but the opportunity cost of mistakes is high.”

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Crypto Long & Short: Could Scalable Payments for Bitcoin Undermine Its Value?

With the wild journey that is bitcoin price swings so far this year, you might have missed the accelerating rhythm of companies announcing services to support bitcoin for payments.

We’re not talking about small idealistic startups, either.

A week ago, on Visa’s Q1 earnings call, CEO Al Kelly said the company may add cryptocurrencies to its payments network. He acknowledged that bitcoin is “not used as a form of payment in a significant way at this point,” but went on to discuss a strategy to “enable users to purchase these currencies using their Visa credentials or to cash out onto our Visa credential to make a fiat purchase at any of the 70 million merchants where Visa is accepted globally.”

You’re reading Crypto Long & Short, a newsletter that looks closely at the forces driving cryptocurrency markets. Authored by CoinDesk’s head of research, Noelle Acheson, it goes out every Sunday and offers a recap of the week – with insights and analysis – from a professional investor’s point of view. You can subscribe here.

Visa also currently provides credit card infrastructure for 35 crypto companies, with the aim of making it easier for users to pay with bitcoin.

In PayPal’s Q4 earnings call this week, the first since the company started allowing the purchase and sale of a handful of cryptocurrencies via their PayPal account, the company revealed that it was planning to start allowing customers to use their crypto balances to pay for goods and services at any of the approximately 29 million merchants on the network, and that it was “significantly investing” in the crypto business unit.

Large crypto companies are also moving into payments. Last month, crypto exchange and custodian Gemini launched a credit card with a 3% reward on purchases. In December, crypto lender BlockFi announced that it would launch a similar product in early 2021.

This is just scratching the surface. Binance, Coinbase, Paxful and BitPanda are just some of the crypto exchanges that over the past few months have introduced crypto debit cards for retail spending. This week, crypto platform Uphold announced the acquisition of card issuer Optimus Cards U.K.

Also this week, Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world in terms of volume, announced the launch of a payments system called Binance Pay, aimed at encouraging the use of crypto in cross-border payments. Binance CEO and founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said: “We think that payments is one of the most obvious use cases for crypto.”

Not so fast

Is he right?

Obviously “crypto” encompasses a range of assets, but let’s focus on Bitcoin for a moment.

The white paper that introduced Bitcoin to the world in 2008 opens with:

“A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”

Whether Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous writer of the paper, meant for payments to be the main use case or not (this is a point of contention, as he* also wrote elsewhere about its potential role as a store of value), over the years it became clear that scaling limitations inherent in the protocol design made the network impractical for high transaction volumes.

(*I am not assuming Satoshi is a he, but I am using this pronoun to avoid linguistic clutter.)

Another critique of Bitcoin-as-a-payments rail is its relative lack of speed, although this can be misleading. A bitcoin payment will take around 10 minutes on average, and up to an hour for assumed settlement finality. Credit card and contactless payments are faster, but they usually don’t have settlement finality until days later. And data gathered in electronic transactions removes any financial privacy. Cash, on the other hand, is instantaneous and private, but you need to be physically present.

What’s more, bitcoin transactions are relatively expensive. This week the average fee reached its highest point since January 2018.

Solutions such as the Lightning Network aim to solve  for these barriers by offering fast and cheap throughput on a transaction layer that anchors to the Bitcoin blockchain at certain intervals.  Adoption of this technology is growing, but is still in its early stages. 

The existential question

Then again, most of those that complain that Bitcoin doesn’t work for payments have access to other mechanisms that work well. That’s not the case for much of the world. Some jurisdictions have strict capital controls that block payments to other regions. Some countries don’t have sophisticated payment rails that make even simple internal transfers easy. Even some demographic groups in developed countries don’t have access to online payments and are still largely dependent on bank relationships.

For many, bitcoin is a tool for freedom in that it facilitates online payments where previously they were inaccessible. For others, using bitcoin is a way to support the network by giving the asset a broader utility.

This raises an important question: should bitcoin be encouraged to be both a store of value and a payments mechanism? 

Some reasons why it should:

It can be argued that bitcoin’s worth as a store of value depends on its utility. The more there is residual demand for bitcoin as a payment token, regardless of its price, the more investors will believe that demand for it will rise in a sustainable way.

It can also be argued that it is essential for the health of the network that bitcoin’s use as a medium of exchange be encouraged. As successive halvings reduce the block subsidy (in which miners get new bitcoin as compensation for the work expended in successfully processing blocks of transactions), miner incentives will increasingly rely on transaction fees.

And current demand for this use case is not insignificant. Binance Research this week published the results of a survey of 16,000 crypto users across 178 regions, which found that 38% see bitcoin as a medium of exchange. In December, Susquehanna Financial Group revealed a survey of PayPal customers that showed 53% would use bitcoin to pay for goods, if they owned it.

Some reasons why it shouldn’t:

There is a not totally unfounded concern that, if bitcoin becomes seen by governments as a widely used payment token and a potential threat to fiat currencies, they may decide to act, and not in bitcoin’s favor.

While it may seem that governments care more about markets and asset prices, it’s payments that matter for monetary policy, consumption and wages – all things that get you votes. Investments sit there (and hopefully grow) while payments move, and both animal and regulatory instinct is to focus more on things that move.

In addition, you have the theory that if bitcoin is seen as a store of value, it will not be spent. Gresham’s Law dictates that bad money crowds out the good – if bitcoin is “good” money, people are more likely to hold onto it, and use other assets with less potential value.

The endgame?

This segues into what is perhaps the endgame of many of the crypto payments providers.

It’s perhaps not about Bitcoin at all.

Bitcoin is the crypto asset with the least regulatory uncertainty at the moment. Even stablecoins are not totally out of the regulatory woods yet. (The OCC’s letter that said banks could handle stablecoins could be walked back under a new chief.)

So, maybe Bitcoin is the safe starting point for these new rails. Ethereum will probably come next, and where Ethereum goes, so do stablecoins.

Maybe the banks and payment companies working on bringing crypto payments services mainstream have their eyes on a potentially bigger pie – that of tomorrow’s payments, the bulk of which could run on blockchains that handle a range of assets. Maybe the forward-thinking institutions are preparing for a day when we hold cryptocurrencies in our digital wallet right along with our private stablecoins and our digital dollars and our tokenized GameStop shares.

Maybe they’re all looking at a financial landscape where the user has more choice.

The crypto payment functions today serve their purpose. They offer a useful service to many, nudge along the sophistication of market infrastructure, and set the scene for mainstream adoption of a range of assets with a range of utilities.

And with more choice, it is more likely that the market will decide whether Bitcoin is a good payment rail or not. With each new service, we experiment with market adoption, and we learn more about what today’s and tomorrow’s users will value. I’m all for bringing on more experimentation.


Investors talking:

This interview, in which MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor interviews NYDIG CEO Ross Stevens, is a must-see. 

Chief economist and managing director of CME Group Bluford Putnam said that his firm has begun to notice gold’s waning appeal as a hedge against global political risk, and that he believes bitcoin is an “emerging competitor” to gold.


Visa is piloting a suite of APIs that will allow banks to offer bitcoin services such as buying, selling and custody, with a view to extending the service to include other cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. TAKEAWAY: Initiatives like this (last month, NYDIG made a similar announcement) are a step towards mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies. The “endorsement” of traditional banks, while far from the original ethos of the industry, will go a long way toward encouraging trust in the concept from mainstream clients. This could encourage new investment in the space, both from investors and small savers as well as from startups working on improving market and payment infrastructures.

New York-based crypto exchange and custodian Gemini is now offering deposit accounts with a 7.4% APY, via a partnership with Genesis Capital (owned by DCG, also parent of CoinDesk). TAKEAWAY: The “bankification” of crypto exchange platforms is gathering steam. Gemini is a crypto asset trading platform, stablecoin issuer, credit card issuer and now also an interest-bearing deposit taker. The yield offered is sufficiently higher than traditional deposit yields and so should attract attention, perhaps even serving as an onramp into crypto asset markets.

Bitwise Asset Management has applied to publicly trade shares of its bitcoin fund on the OTCQX marketplace. TAKEAWAY: The fund aims to compete with market leader GBTC (managed by Grayscale Investments, owned by CoinDesk parent DCG), which quotes on the same exchange. GBTC’s premium to underlying value has dropped over the past few days to around 10%, from a three-month high of around 40% in mid-December. More competition should keep the premium down, giving retail investors a better deal as well as more choice. GBTC’s $24 billion market leadership position will be hard to assail, however.

We saw above in THE BRIEFING that BTC transaction fees are increasing. ETH transaction fees are spiking even more. TAKEAWAY: This reflects the ETH price increase as well as growing demand for stablecoins and decentralized finance tokens. In spite of increasing fees, transaction volume also continues to rise. (For background on Ethereum’s gas costs, see our recent metrics report.)

Cryptocurrency investment firm Arcane Crypto (ARCANE) is now listed on Sweden’s Nasdaq First North following a reverse takeover of Vertical Ventures AB. TAKEAWAY: With this, Arcane joins the growing roster of listed crypto companies, and is one of the few broad industry plays (as opposed to pure funds or market infrastructure plays) to have a transparent market valuation (approximately $200 million at listing). 

CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the U.S., increased its stake in bitcoin miner Riot Blockchain (RIOT) nearly sevenfold over the last quarter, to $1.9 million at year-end price. TAKEAWAY: This highlights that direct ownership is not the only way to play BTC exposure. RIOT’s share price has moved up with BTC, but since Sept 30, 2020, has produced a return of over 750% vs BTC’s 250%. 

The total balance of BTC held in “accumulation addresses,” which have at least two incoming transfers over the past seven years and have never spent funds, has reached a 3.5-year high of over 15% of the total circulating supply. TAKEAWAY: As more investors buy to hold, more bitcoin is removed from circulation, which supports further price rises as new demand comes in. This type of detail is one of my favorite things about crypto asset metrics – imagine if we had this level of insight into investor behavior with traditional assets.


The amount of stablecoin USDC held on exchanges has soared since the beginning of the year, hinting at institutional intention to buy. TAKEAWAY: The balance of stablecoins on crypto exchanges is watched as a signal for investor intent. It does not, however, indicate which asset(s) the buyers will favor, nor is it a reliable indicator of institutional interest as many institutions prefer to (or have to) use fiat to invest in crypto assets.




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Miami mayor aiming for ‘the most progressive crypto laws’

Francis Suarez, who has served as the mayor of Miami since 2017, wants to make the city the most attractive in the United States for those in the crypto and blockchain industry.

In an interview with Forbes published Sunday, Suarez said lawmakers in Miami were looking into the policies of crypto-friendly areas like Wyoming and New York in an effort to promote regulatory incentives for crypto and blockchain in Florida.

“[Miami is] making sure that we have the most progressive crypto laws,” said Suarez. “We want to make sure that we believe that if all things are equal, we win. So, we just want to equalize the playing field. We want to make sure that nobody has an advantage over us based on laws that are easily changeable.”

Mayor Suarez did not describe the race to be the regulatory winner as a fight between lawmakers in other jurisdictions. Rather, he gave Wyoming “kudos for being smart” in attracting crypto firms, but added that “every city in America and in the world should be trying to grow its technology ecosystem.”

“We’re working on making sure that our incentives are in place and that our legislation promotes crypto and blockchain and is forward-thinking.”

The mayor has already made several bullish statements on Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto in recent weeks, including having Miami consider letting city employees to get paid in BTC rather than U.S. dollars. He also proposed allowing Miami residents to pay for local fees and taxes using crypto as well as investing some of the city’s treasury into Bitcoin, a task he called “the hardest” of the three ideas.

He has already spoken with a few high-profile figures in the crypto community including a meeting with Gemini co-founders Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. Earlier this month, Tyler said that the mayor is “leading the way for governments and Bitcoin.”

Mayor Suarez did not provide a timeline as to when these actions may take effect for Miami’s 450,000 residents, but some in the crypto community have seemingly taken notice. Last week, Bitcoin 2021 announced it would be moving from Los Angeles to Miami for its June crypto conference.