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BTCUSD is the ticker symbol for Bitcoin and the United States dollar exchange rate. BTCUSD is a cryptocurrency CFD because of the presence of Bitcoin as the base currency.
Cryptocurrencies are known for their immense volatility, while the US dollar is by far the most traded fiat currency globally. As a result, BTCUSD is the most popular crypto-to-fiat pair, and it serves as the de facto gold standard for the cryptocurrency market; providing the price direction cue for virtually the entire crypto market.
In the BTCUSD pair, Bitcoin is the base currency, while the US dollar is the quote currency. When, for instance, the price of the BTCUSD pair is 10,000, it means that one would require 10,000 US dollars to acquire 1 Bitcoin.
When you trade Bitcoin, as opposed to investing in it, you are effectively speculating on the price movement, rather than buying the underlying asset. That means the entry cost implication can be much lower for a still decent exposure. The use of leverage further minimises the capital requirements, as your trading rewards may be multiplied up to 200 times, and your risk is also heightened.
Launched in 2008, Bitcoin was the first and remains the most popular cryptocurrency. Unlike traditional fiat currencies, which are backed by trusted third parties such as banks and governments, cryptocurrencies are decentralised and backed by peer-to-peer technology. At the core of cryptocurrencies is the blockchain technology hat serves a secure and accurate public ledger of all transactions. By design, there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins, and as of the beginning of 2020, more than 85% of this amount had already been mined.
This scarcity has always fuelled the demand for Bitcoin, and it is one of the key reasons why its value started at a measly $0.003 in its early days and exploded to above 5-digits within a few years. The retail investing public took notice of Bitcoin in 2017 when it quickly accelerated above $10,000 and managed to print a then-high of just below $20,000. The 2017 massive rally was driven by increasing demand from retail traders who were keen not to miss out on the abnormal price gains which the primary cryptocurrency continually posted.
But after the 2017 rally, BTC then began a retracement and remained trapped below $10,000 for most of 2018 and 2019. There was cooling interest in cryptocurrencies in general, with traditional investments, such as stocks, proving to be more lucrative and safer as well. The year 2017 looked like a bubble, and the characteristic of cryptocurrencies as stores of value seemed to be largely an illusion. But 2020 changed the fortunes of cryptocurrencies yet again.
In a year that global economic activity was impacted by U.S.-China trade tensions, Brexit, and the coronavirus pandemic that swept across the world, Bitcoin emerged as a true store of digital value. The cryptocurrency rose from lows of below $5,000 in March and closed just below $30,000 by December 2020. The rally continued into 2021, with the coin printing an all-time high of circa $42,000 in January, at the time of writing.
There was a multitude of factors that created a perfect storm for BTCUSD during the year. First, in contrast to 2017 when retail money entered the crypto space, in 2020 it was big, institutional money flowing into the scene. Several big companies, such as Visa and PayPal, announced massive entry into crypto, and some major central banks, as well as hedge funds, also produced positive headlines for the crypto market. Tesla set a new trend by buying $1.5b worth of Bitcoin with its cash reserves, rather than falling foul to holding cash reserves that could bring limited returns. The EV maker also started accepting it as a payment method.
BTC/USD also benefitted immensely from the weakness of the U.S. dollar as the Federal Reserve announced massive stimulus packages that were designed to curb the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions implemented by the government. Also, there was the May 2020 Bitcoin halving event that reduced the incentive to mine Bitcoin, further limiting the supply of the cryptocurrency. After hitting the $42,000 mark, BTC-USD pulled back to settle above $30,000 as of February 2021. The correction was largely attributed to profit-taking, as well as some negative comments on the use of cryptocurrencies by U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen.
United States Dollar (USD)
Also known as the ‘greenback’, the US dollar is the greatest reserve held currency in the world. The USD is also the denominator for major commodities such as gold, silver and crude oil in the global markets. As the official currency of the United States, also the world’s largest economy, the USD is the most stable and liquid currency in the world that has rightly earned the title ‘king of currencies’.
Major Bodies influencing the BTCUSD
The genesis of Bitcoin came during the 2008 global financial crisis, and initially, crypto was touted as the future of money, essentially as an alternative to fiat. Based on this, the major influential body that can impact the BTCUSD pair is the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has the mandate over the most powerful fiat currency, the USD. The Fed releases rate decisions 8 times a year, and these are important events for the BTCUSD price.
A rate hike would pressure the BTCUSD price lower, while any rate cut would provide tailwinds for the crypto pair. To put this into perspective, in November 2018, the BTCUSD pair (Bitcoin Index) traded at $3,778. Mainstream adoption of Bitcoin caused the December 2017 peak of just below $20,000. But as major regulatory bodies sought to impose strict rules governing the space, the crypto party has faced challenging times. Regulation will continue to be a mixed pill for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Good headlines will push the BTCUSD price higher, while bad headlines will pressure it lower.
In addition to other fundamentals, the 2020 BTCUSD rally, as well as the subsequent 2021 pullback, can also be attributed to the positive/negative media coverage that the cryptocurrency scene has experienced with regards to regulation. Regulators, such as the US SEC, are capable of literally deciding the fate of any underlying crypto coin or token. A case in point is a lawsuit filed by the SEC against Ripple Labs, custodians of Ripple (XRP), one of the world’s biggest and most popular cryptocurrencies.
The case which challenged XRP’s classification as a financial security (an asset that can be bought by investors for profit) rather than a currency (an asset to be used as a medium of exchange) saw the cryptocurrency’s value plunge dramatically. The suit even led to major crypto exchanges delisting Ripple from their platforms. Going forward, cryptocurrency investors will particularly be buoyed by flexible, principle-based, and collaborative regulation efforts by the relevant agencies. This will likely create an environment where the adoption and circulation of Bitcoin will be enhanced.
There is a realistic expectation of this happening with major institutions now among the big players in cryptocurrencies as well as the underlying blockchain technology. If major regulators design regulations that will not cripple or limit technology and innovation in cryptocurrencies, it is expected that BTCUSD will be the crypto pair that will best display the market’s optimism.
On the other hand, any regulation that will cause friction with the idea of decentralisation and blockchain will see investors express pessimism in the value of BTCUSD. This has partly been observed when Bitcoin retraced during the start of 2021. Amid positive fundamentals for Bitcoin, investors expressed fear and anxiety when US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, made comments suggesting to lawmakers that they need to ‘curtail’ the use of cryptocurrencies because they are ‘mainly’ used in ‘illegal activities’ such as the financing of terrorism.
BTCUSD trading is known to be very volatile, and such comments from a senior US administrator can always cause jitters among investors. The major regulatory bodies for BTCUSD traders to watch out for are: U.S.’s SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) and CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission); China’s CSRC (China Securities Regulatory Commission); EU’s ESMA (European Securities and Markets Authority); UK’s FCA (Financial Conduct Authority); and South Korea’s FSS (Financial Supervisory Service).
BTCUSD in 2021
The year 2021 has been a whirlwind for the flagship cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. The pairing, BTCUSD started the year with strong momentum, having already broken above the 2017 highs. The bullish pressure sustained for the entire first quarter of 2021, and Bitcoin managed to print its all-time high of around $65,000. Various analysts and experts started making Bitcoin price predictions of $100,000, $200,000, and even $500,000, but the coin faced massive headwinds and lost over 50% of its value to settle just above $30,000 in May 2021.
After accelerating the bull run in early 2021, institutional money is expected to continue being a major price driver in 2021. Major companies, such as Tesla and MicroStrategy Incorporated, invested big money in Bitcoin, paving the way for other corporations to rethink their cryptocurrency strategy. With the price at ‘favourable’ levels, BTCUSD is due for another round of heavy backers – something that would be a major tailwind for the digital currency’s price.
While institutional money is a major positive for cryptocurrencies, the launch of a Bitcoin ETF would go a long way in rubberstamping its legitimacy. Investors were confident that 2021 would be the year that a Bitcoin ETF would finally start trading, but the SEC has routinely frustrated several proposals to launch one. The SEC has cited the unregulated nature of the coin as the major reason for not approving any Bitcoin ETF. A Bitcoin ETF would allow investors to conveniently buy and sell the digital currency and integrate the coin easily into their portfolios. Nonetheless, there already exists an ETF for crypto mining and mining infrastructure companies trading on the NYSE; investors can only be hopeful a true Bitcoin ETF is on the way.
Regulation continues to cast a huge shadow over Bitcoin in 2021. In particular, China has been consistent in its aggression towards cryptocurrency. The country instituted a ban on financial institutions and payment services companies offering crypto-related services and even made some mass arrests on people using cryptocurrencies in controversial ways. China is a significant country for Bitcoin, with almost 50% of miners domiciled there. The recent crackdown dented Bitcoin’s infrastructure, which subsequently weighed heavily on the price of the coin. But it is not only negative regulation that is making headlines. There have been positive headlines hitting the wires too – the US levies capital gains tax on cryptocurrencies, which implies a positive step. Many crypto exchanges have already implemented KYC procedures to curb money-laundering and other illegal activities, while there are still some European countries considered to be favourable for cryptocurrencies, including Germany, where the European Central Bank is domiciled.
Beyond fundamentals, BTCUSD also has an interesting technical picture worth a look at. At just above $30,000, Bitcoin has already done a 50% retracement off its all-time highs, with that level also being a 1.618 Fibonacci extension of the previous cycle that peaked in late 2017. The price has also been consolidating in the $30,000-$40,000 price range for a while now, and it is only a bit realistic to anticipate a breakout soon. Volatility will likely come sooner rather than later in either direction.
As stated, earlier Bitcoin provides the price direction cue for almost all cryptocurrencies. Therefore, the BTCUSD has a positive correlation with all the major crypto pairs, such as ETHUSD, BTGUSD, LTCUSD, ETCUSD and XRPUSD. There is also an interesting correlation with gold. Gold has, for years, been considered a safe haven and a hedge against inflation and fiat – qualities that Bitcoin now portrays. Bitcoin is now effectively the digital gold. Additionally, the price of gold is measured in USD, something shared by the BTCUSD pair. By sharing fundamental economic qualities, gold and Bitcoin have developed a positive correlation that traders should always consider.
BTC/USD Trading Main FAQs
- What currency pair does the ticker BTC/USD refer to?
Currency traders are familiar with the major currency pairs, and often a good number of the minor pairs. More experienced traders are also likely familiar with a number of exotic pairs as well. But the BTC/USD pair is something of a mystery to currency traders, and that’s because one of the components isn’t a traditional fiat currency. BTC/USD refers to the pairing of the leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin with the U.S. dollar. It’s a very new currency pair, and one that has generated much excitement over the past decade. If you aren’t familiar with BTC/USD you should take some time to learn about it now.
- Why should I trade BTC/USD?
As the largest cryptocurrency by far Bitcoin should be of great interest to currency traders. While the size of the digital currency’s market capitalization pales in comparison with that of any major or minor fiat currency, Bitcoin acceptance has been growing. As the acceptance of Bitcoin grows it becomes more commonplace as a currency, a store of value, and as a trading asset. This will only increase in the future, so by learning to trade BTC/USD now you are future-proofing your trading career. Plus cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are one of the few markets available for trading on the weekend.
- What is the best strategy for trading BTC/USD?
Any of the excellent strategies you’re using for forex trading will also work when trading BTC/USD. One very excellent strategy uses the On-Balance Volume (OBV) indicator to trade Bitcoin. This indicator uses a combination of price action and trading volume to analyze the market. Originally developed for the stock markets it has also been used successfully in forex trading. It also uses a comparison with Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency. Basically it looks for divergences between price action in Bitcoin and Ethereum, such as a breakout in one, but not the other. A breakout in Ethereum first indicates the same will be coming for Bitcoin, and the OBV is used to confirm that. If the OBV is headed higher that’s the confirmation. A limit order can then be placed just above the BTC/USD resistance level.
Trading BTCUSD with AvaTrade
AvaTrade offers a wide variety of benefits when trading the BTCUSD pair:
- With AvaTrade, you do not need to create a wallet to trade cryptocurrency.
- With the BTCUSD pair, you can trade cryptos against fiat currencies. Unlike exchanges, where you are restricted to trade only crypto-to-crypto.
- Since you are trading crypto CFDs and not actually purchasing the digital currency, you can profit from both rising and falling markets.
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