This term was coined quite recently, describing the relationship between bitcoin prices and Google searches for bitcoin.
Chris Burniske, a writer focused on bitcoin since his time as an analyst at ARK Invest, coined the term Satoshi Cycle in August of 2017 to describe the strong correlation between Google searches for “Bitcoin” and a subsequent price jump for the coin. The cycle he refers to is one of consumer curiosity, interest, and acceptance which drives the price up more and more.
There are of course corrections and bubbles here and there, as with most assets, but over time these corrections have been slightly less dramatic than they used to be. Burniske named the phenomenon a Satoshi Cycle in homage to the mysterious and anonymous founder of Bitcoin who went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto, and who believed, as more and more supporters of the coin do, that the ideas of Bitcoin and blockchain technology would together transform money as we know it.
Looking at charts showing the number of searches directly preceding price jumps, it is clear that the public wonders what Bitcoin is all about, and that more and more, they decide to accept the idea, at least enough to try it out. Curiously, it is purportedly very rare to find this kind of correlation with stocks or indexes. One might attribute the lack of correlation in these assets to the fact that they have been around long enough that a few news stories are not likely to incense anyone to action. There are many sources for information and many institutional investors, for instance, using information and strategies that are not necessarily reflected in the stories that might cause people to Google their terms.
But Bitcoin is not a small fry at this point and hasn’t been for a while. Bitcoin has a larger market cap than the majority of national currencies in the world. Bitcoin futures just started trading on the CBOE days before this article was published, and the current market cap for Bitcoin is approximately $280 billion. As the word spreads that Bitcoin is relentlessly plowing ahead and gaining the acceptance of more governments and institutions all the time, the public will likely continue to search for information about it and decide to pile in as well. The Bitcoin market may take a few months to hit its stride again after this most recent flurry of attention and growth, and it could be that by next year, Satoshi Cycles will no longer correlate the way they did up to this point simply because institutional level investors are moving most of the money around, and they don’t have a need to Google “Bitcoin,” the way average investors do. Then again, it could take years before the Satoshi Cycle breaks down because there are still millions and billions of people out there who may decide down the road that it’s time to hop onboard the bandwagon.
Already Bitcoin’s legitimacy, as attested by a majority of the Google search results, is making it a viable and useful option for those whose national currencies are failing. As more currencies struggle over the years, and as more investors decide, after a little research, that Bitcoin is a legitimate option for both storing value and transactions, it could ride a Satoshi Cycle up to the top of the list of the most-held currencies in the world.
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