Bitcoin price history

Bitcoin has risen in value to become world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation

In this guide

Main copy: Bitcoin was launched in 2009 and is the world’s best known and largest cryptocurrency. It was invented in 2008 by either a person or a group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. 

Bitcoin began trading as a currency in 2009 when its implementation was released as open-source software. 

  • Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. The mining process requires high-powered computers which then solve mathematical problems

  • By solving these problems, miners help build the integrity of the blockchain and prevent so-called double spending – when a holder makes a copy of the digital token and sends it but still retains the original

  • It is a decentralised currency. Unlike fiat currency, currency which is controlled and issued by central banks, bitcoin is distributed using a network of computers

  • Bitcoin is sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network. Bitcoin is created, distributed, traded, and stored with the use of a decentralised ledger system, known as a blockchain

How stable is the price of bitcoin?

Bitcoin has had one of the most volatile trading histories of any asset. When it first launched, the price of one bitcoin was $0.0008 – by 2010 the value of a single bitcoin had jumped to $0.08 and in the spring of 2021 it hit a high of $63,000. However, the bitcoin price has undergone several rallies and crashes in that time. 

Bitcoin’s price has been influenced by several factors:

  • Inflation – as the price of the US dollar rises, currencies such as bitcoin have been seen a safer havens for investors 

  • Wider acceptance – support from Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk and the listing (IPO) of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase have helped establish cryptocurrencies – particularly bitcoin – as an acceptable alternative to other asset classes

But bitcoin’s price remains volatile  and commentators have compared the cryptocurrency’s price hikes to the fad for Beanie Babies during the 1980s or the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century.

Bitcoin price chart history

BTC/USD price history

Date Close Change Change(%) Open High Low
Oct 25, 2021 61850.05 1003.10 1.65% 60846.95 62228.30 60644.85
Oct 24, 2021 60853.35 -444.10 -0.72% 61297.45 61496.80 59489.75
Oct 23, 2021 61297.05 613.20 1.01% 60683.85 61753.75 59638.50
Oct 22, 2021 60683.20 -1495.65 -2.41% 62178.85 63762.50 59956.45
Oct 21, 2021 62200.00 -3804.90 -5.76% 66004.90 66668.75 61959.90
Oct 20, 2021 66004.65 1717.60 2.67% 64287.05 67020.00 63519.90
Oct 19, 2021 64286.75 2255.05 3.64% 62031.70 64524.25 61351.95
Oct 18, 2021 62033.45 505.75 0.82% 61527.70 62707.40 59878.75
Oct 17, 2021 61512.70 631.35 1.04% 60881.35 61717.20 59619.45
Oct 16, 2021 60876.75 -813.70 -1.32% 61690.45 62390.70 60150.70
Oct 15, 2021 61695.45 4340.85 7.57% 57354.60 62908.70 56857.75
Oct 14, 2021 57353.25 -19.75 -0.03% 57373.00 58553.95 56799.50
Oct 13, 2021 57372.50 1378.95 2.46% 55993.55 57811.50 54220.00
Oct 12, 2021 55997.35 -1498.75 -2.61% 57496.10 57711.40 53648.30
Oct 11, 2021 57494.40 2813.25 5.14% 54681.15 57841.15 54437.25
Oct 10, 2021 54678.25 -278.95 -0.51% 54957.20 56075.95 54104.95
Oct 9, 2021 54960.35 991.15 1.84% 53969.20 55495.70 53679.20
Oct 8, 2021 53968.10 161.75 0.30% 53806.35 56172.25 53621.00
Oct 7, 2021 53806.50 -1547.05 -2.79% 55353.55 55379.15 53395.50
Oct 6, 2021 55351.90 3852.65 7.48% 51499.25 55789.25 50411.75

What drives the price of bitcoin?

The cost 

Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins enter into circulation. Bitcoins are given as a reward for miners, who by maintaining and developing the blockchain ledger, verify and secure the currency.

  • Mining also requires the use of sophisticated and high-powered computers that work to constantly solve extremely complex mathematical problems

  • The energy involved powering these computers means mining bitcoin tends to be the preserve of groups rather than individuals. 

  • Bitcoin mining has recently come in for criticism over its energy consumption at a time when the world is trying to cut CO2 emissions.

  • Miners tend to operate in regions where energy is cheaper or where the cooler climate makes the computers less likely to overheat

Global economics

Although bitcoin is decentralised, its value, like other currencies, will reflect movements in global interest rates, inflation, and exchange rates. When central governments and banks manipulate interest rates, they also exert influence over inflation and exchange rates, which in turn will move the value of currencies.

Speculation

Bitcoin is a relatively new asset so it also remains the object of scepticism and speculation. It only takes one fairly large company to say it will accept bitcoin as legal tender for purchases for the price of bitcoin to rise – but it’s a double-edged sword. For example, at the beginning of February 2021, Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, announced the company had bought $1.5bn of bitcoins, causing the crypto’s price to rise 17% to $44,220.

At the same time, Musk said customers would be able to buy its electric cars using bitcoin. However, a few months later, he criticised bitcoin’s poor environmental credentials and reversed that decision – sending the price of bitcoin and other cryptos plummeting.

Further reading

Acceptance and regulation

The decision by the El Salvador government to allow bitcoin as legal tender in June 2021 was a major move forward in terms of bitcoin’s acceptance, together with companies such as PayPal accepting the currency. Moves to regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will also influence the price but may also ease some of bitcoin’s earlier volatility.

Further reading

Bitcoin’s availability

Bitcoin has a finite supply of 21 million. At the time of writing there were 18,715,168.75 bitcoins in circulation. That means 2,284,831.3 have yet to be released via rewards. Having a finite supply means the price is more likely to increase over time as scarcity will push the price of bitcoin higher.

Further reading

The halving

This is an event that happens every four years or so. That reward is halved every 210,000 blocks, which happens roughly once every four years. When the reward halves the amount of new bitcoin coming into the market is halved, and according to the law of supply and demand the price of bitcoin should rise – though this doesn’t always happen. 

Further reading

Bitcoin price history

  • 2008-2009 

Bitcoin is invented. It starts trading via open source software in 2009.

  • 2011

Other cryptocurrencies started to emerge – WikiLeaks accepts bitcoins for donations.

  • 2012

The Bitcoin Foundation is launched to "accelerate the global growth of bitcoin through standardisation, protection, and promotion of the open source protocol". 

  • 2013

Coinbase sells $1m worth of bitcoins in a single month, while former US Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan referred to it as a "bubble".

  • 2014

Dell starts accepting bitcoin and Microsoft accepts bitcoin to buy Xbox games and Windows software.

  • 2015

The number of merchants accepting bitcoin exceeds 100,000.

  • 2016

The Cabinet of Japan recognises cyrptocurrencies as having a function similar to real money.

The Swiss Railway operator SBB (CFF) upgrades all its automated ticket machines so that bitcoin could be bought from them using the scanner on the ticket machine .

  • 2017

Bitcoin is split into two derivative digital currencies, the bitcoin (BTC) chain with a 1MB blocksize limit and the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) chain with an 8MB blocksize limit.

  • 2018

South Korea requires all the bitcoin traders to reveal their identity and George Soros refers to bitcoin as a “bubble”.

  • 2019

There are 5,457 bitcoin ATMs worldwide.

  • 2020

The Frankfurt Stock Exchange admits in its Regulated Market the quotation of the first bitcoin exchange-traded note (ETN) and PayPal allows its users to buy and sell bitcoin on its platform.

  • 2021

On 8 June 2021, pro-government deputies in the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador voted to make bitcoin legal tender in the country.

Bitcoin historical data – bitcoin’s long-term prospects

The future of bitcoin may lie in increased regulation. Cryptocurrency expert Carol Alexander, professor of finance at the University of Sussex, believes proper regulation would precipitate the emergence of true value in crypto assets linked to blockchains.

She says it would help establish market discipline which believes is “absolutely critical to allow the crypto sector to mature and to show its long-term potential”.

She added: “Because most exchanges are unregulated, volume and price manipulation strategies are still rampant.

“Crypto is characterised as the Wild West of financial markets at the moment – even though US regulators have been trying to rein in the sector, their attempts have been underwhelming.”

Bitcoin historical prices – how to predict bitcoin’s price

New investors are generally wisest to use dollar-cost averaging – just buying small amounts at the same time each month, said Nigel Frith, lead analyst at Asktraders.com.  

“Over time the price continues to rise - but trying to time the exact swings is challenging even for the most seasoned traders so should be avoided if possible."

Will BTC price go up or down?

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Crypto price round-up: BTC bounces back amid Musk buzz

17:48, 21 July 2021
Will you buy or sell

Further reading

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