Google Trends: Interest in Bitcoin Spikes Amid Price Rally to New All-Time Highby Fintechnews Switzerland December 18, 2020
The price of bitcoin surged to a new all-time high, crossing US$23,700/BTC on Thursday. The climb brings the cryptocurrency’s year-to-date gains above 200%.
The price rally, which began in early October and accelerated towards the start of December, pushed general interest in the cryptocurrency to a 18-month high, Google Trends data show.
The last time worldwide search query for “bitcoin” and “bitcoin price” reached these levels was during the week of June 23 – 29, 2019, when the price of bitcoin rose above US$12,900 for the first time since January 21, 2018, touching a new high for 2019 at US$12,919.
Interest in the cryptocurrency is however relatively moderate this time when compared to the December 2017 retail frenzy, which saw the price of bitcoin reach its previous all-time high of US$19,700.
Institutional interest picks up
This may validate what some analysts have said in that this year’s rally has mainly been driven by increased institutional participation.
Publicly listed companies including MicroStrategy, Square and Cypherpunk Holdings have all bought bitcoin amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. MicroStrategy, an enterprise business intelligence (BI) application software vendor, recently purchased US$425 million worth of bitcoins. Cypherpunk Holdings, a Canadian investment firm, increased its bitcoin holdings by 279% to 276.479 BTC this year. And payment company Square said in October it had purchased US$50 million worth of bitcoins.
Another major endorsement this year came from online payment system provider PayPal, which started offering cryptocurrency services and possibly drove a bitcoin supply shortage. Bitcoin fund Pantera Capital claims that PayPal is already buying almost 70% of the new supply of bitcoins.
A 2020 survey by Fidelity Digital Assets, the digital asset arm of the financial services firm, found that nearly 36% of the 800 institutional investors surveyed across the US and Europe are investing in digital assets. Nearly 80% of them find something appealing about the asset class.
Visa embraces cryptocurrencies
Visa is another big company that has been warming up to cryptocurrencies. The firm said in a July blog post that it had “become the preferred network for digital currency wallets,” and that it believed that “digital currencies have the potential to extend the value of digital payments to a greater number of people and places.”
This year, several announcements were made relating to bitcoin credit or debit cards running on the Visa payment network. These came from some of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency players, including Coinbase, the largest US cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, the largest non-US exchange, Fold, a bitcoin rewards app, and BlockFi, an exchange that offers interest on customers’ crypto holdings.
While not all Visa-branded cards are launched through direct partnership with Visa, all of them require explicit approval from Visa.
Visa told Yahoo Finance in December that it was “actively working with over 25 digital currency companies on a variety of bitcoin-related products and services, cards being just one area.”
This month, the firm inked another cryptocurrency partnership, teaming up with payment firm Circle to add support for Circle’s USDC stablecoin.
The collaboration will see Circle working with Visa to help select Visa credit card issuers and start integrating the USDC software into their platforms, allowing them to send and receive USDC payments.
Visa also plans to issue a credit card that would let businesses send and receive USDC payments directly from any business using the card.