A sign of what’s in store for this bull run, which will dwarf the existing ones. 

Bitcoin is on the cusp of a new all-time high, memecoins are pumping, and ETH is finally picking up the pace to setting a new top. 
The bull market is well and truly back, but it’s even more energised this time and occurred (slightly) sooner than many expected. 
Let’s delve into what’s different this time around for the market. 

Plenty of institutions are now (officially) on board

Well, strictly speaking, they’ve been on board for several years, most likely since 2014. As they’re incredibly smart and equally cunning, many have played dumb for long enough and hoodwinked enough people — including various counterparts — into believing Bitcoin was bogus and not sought after. 
 Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you would have heard about the US SEC green-lighting eleven Spot Bitcoin ETFs in January, leading to billions of dollars flowing into these publicly traded funds. 
 It’s a positive in some ways but an issue in other ways, as it’s the first cycle whereby institutions have significantly increased their exposure to Bitcoin and what will eventually be Ethereum once its Spot ETFs are approved in the USA. 

Moving ahead of schedule

This is the first time we’ve seen Bitcoin fast approaching its ATH before its quadrennial halving; the upcoming one (expected to occur on 21 April) will be its fourth. 
 As shown in the BTC/USD price chart below, we are ahead of schedule, which leads to even more optimism and excitement about its prospects post-halving. 
 As we saw earlier this week, an abrupt market-wide crash, with BTC dropping from $69K to ~$61.8K in just six hours, was short-lived. Since then, BTC’s back to $66K (up ~200% for the past year), ETH’s at ~$3,800, and altcoins have mostly recovered from the sudden drop. 
 Next month’s BTC Halving will further add to the supply shock, with most sell-offs being quickly snapped up by others, usually by savvy long-term holders, whales, and other institutional investors.

The BTC/USD price chart since 2009, using base 10 logarithm to emphasise the price increase following each halving event. Orange arrows denote previous iterations; the green arrow refers to next month’s halving. Source: Highcharts.com (via


). Arrows were added by the author and are approximations of each halving date.

New altcoin narratives, but memecoins persist

Even though Bitcoin remains the key talking point and still accounts for more than half of overall market dominance, and Ethereum is on the cusp of deploying long-awaited upgrades for scalability improvements — Dencun and Proto-Danksharding — three new narratives have burst onto the scene, which were not commonly discussed in 2021. 
AI/AGI, Layer-2s, and the latest trending acronym, dePIN à decentralised physical infrastructure networks. 
Yes, gaming/play-to-earn and NFT-related cryptos are having their renaissance, but those in the above categories will most likely overshadow them as we progress through this bull market.
— AI/AGI: People lost their minds over the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, DALL·E, and related deep-learning models since November 2022. Adding to the hype is the upcoming release of Sora, OpenAI’s text-to-video model, which is expected to be released later this year (the exact date is yet TBC). 
When OpenAI announces the exact date, expect AI-related cryptos to pump much harder than other digital assets in the space. The dePIN assets that are closely tied to AI will also benefit.
Relevant assets that come to mind are SingularityNET (AGIX), Ocean Protocol (OCEAN), Fetch.ai (FET) and The Graph (GRT), so keep an eye on these, amongst others.

Layer 2s focused on boosting Ethereum scalability have been climbing the rankings, with impressive performances by Immutable (IMX) and Optimism (OP). Arbitrum (ARB) and Loopring (LRC) are other players in this space.
Some sidechains also assist Ethereum with scalability but exist as their network rather than sitting atop Ethereum, like L2s. Celestia (CEL) has been one of the best performers over the past 12 months, but Polygon (MATIC) is still one to watch in the coming months.

This will be the first bull cycle where L2s can demonstrate what they offer by ensuring significantly cheaper and faster ETH transactions, unlike in 2021. Source:

L2 Beat

Ethereum and L2s combined can now consistently process over 100 transactions per second (TPS). I expect this to reach over 500 TPS by the end of the year when accounting for continuous L2 improvements, next week’s scheduled Dencun upgrade and Proto-Danksharding.
For further information, check out these articles I’ve written specifically about L2s and Ethereum upgrades. 

 — DePIN: This pertains to projects promoting distributed ledger technology (notably blockchain) for more real-world use cases rather than just being confined to Web3. It aims to disrupt the centralised setup of various aspects of our society by providing distributed and more cost-competitive alternatives. 
 A few examples of DePIN include:
— Cloud computing, notably file storage and GPU access for image/video rendering. Cryptos to watch include Render Network (RNDR), Arweave (AR), Filecoin (FIL) and Golem (GLM). 
— Improved and more affordable Internet access worldwide: E.g. Helium Network (HNT) and its related tokens — Helium Mobile (MOBILE) and IoT token. 
— Decentralised car-sharing or delivery services, which tie into projects involved in the Internet of Things, e.g., Iota (IOTA) and VeChain (VET), cover a range of use cases. 
— Distributed video-streaming/sharing platforms, such as Livepeer (LPT) and Theta (THETA), are popular examples. 
LimeChain and Crypto.com offer useful overviews of DePIN and the other benefits this category provides us. DePIN Hub is another resource to check out.
Many of the featured assets have been generating impressive gains recently, outperforming most of the top 200 crypto assets, many of which have also done well since January 2023.

Like a pizza without mozzarella cheese (sorry, not sorry, vegans), the crypto market wouldn’t be complete without memecoins. 
DOGE is getting in on the action once again — despite being outdone by SHIB, WIF and FLOKI — aiming to return to a new ATH and maybe (just maybe) hit the elusive $1 per coin. 
Forget about cute dogs; we’ve got Pepe the Frog, a llama meme coin (SOLAMA), Trump-themed ones and even an NSFW version exploding as well 😉, pulling off 300% gains in less than a week. 
As cringy as they are, these are generating life-changing gains in a matter of weeks. The seasoned crypto traders will know to exploit the pump and dump associated with many of these, taking quick-fire 10–20x profits, ideally converting them to BTC and ETH to keep them running and boosting your ROIs as we progress through this bull market.
Conversely, the degens will probably FOMO towards the top and get wrecked, so expect prices of these coins and tokens to nosedive eventually. 

Overcoming a string of controversies, collapses and lawsuits

Even though people such as Elizabeth Warren, Gary Gensler, Brad Sherman, and Nouriel Roubini — let’s not forget about Peter Schiff and Jamie Dimon, at least in regards to Bitcoin — have hoped for this space to be completely killed off once and for all, it has shown its strength once again by enduring a lengthy bear market between November 2021 and February 2023 (even longer, depending on which crypto and whom you ask). 
We had to bear the brunt of multiple high-profile collapses in this space: 
FTX and Alameda Research, Terra Luna, Celsius, 3AC…the list continues. 
Binance, Kraken, Coinbase and even Gemini (once regarded as the poster child of crypto regulations in the USA) were sued by the US SEC, which is still spearheaded by its Chair, Gary Gensler. 
However, the tide started changing when Grayscale successfully forced the US regulator to consider its application to convert its Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) to a Spot Bitcoin ETF. 
Additionally, US Supreme Court Judge Analisa Torres granted Ripple a partial victory over the SEC by declaring XRP not a security when traded on exchanges and algorithms (e.g., decentralised exchanges). 
Yes, strictly speaking, the US SEC vs Ripple Labs lawsuit started before the previous (2021) bull run, but Judge Torres’ decision was great timing during this bull market. 
This is coupled with the ongoing accusations made by misguided politicians, business leaders, and people in general who still choose to tarnish this entire space by claiming it is all bogus rather than targeting the projects that are actual scams and giving credit where it’s due to the legit ones.

More efficiencies, better infrastructure and greater competition

Like the Internet in its early days, crypto is still relatively slow, clunky, generally inefficient and not as user-friendly as it could be.
If you’re older than 30 (or even 25 in some cases), you’ll remember the iconic dial-up tone, being unable to use the landline phone simultaneously and getting speeds in Kbps (yep, you read that correctly). 
Just as the Internet has become thousands of times faster and more advanced than in its early days in the 1980s and 90s, this space will also become lightning-fast while maintaining security and “sufficient” decentralisation. 
Here are some other positives to reflect on since the last bull cycle: 
— Solana has established itself as another Ethereum competitor, bouncing back from an atrocious bear market and a string of notorious network outages
— Ethereum successfully transitioned from Proof-of-Work to its Proof-of-Stake Beacon Chain as part of The Merge (in 2022).
— L2s are becoming more established, as discussed above.
— Other L1s such as Cardano, Avalanche, Cosmos and Polkadot have continued growing their ecosystems and made ongoing improvements to attract new developers and network users since 2021. 
— El Salvador and the Central African Republic (CAR) defied the odds (and multiple critics, notably the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) and have adopted BTC as legal tender. 
— Improved wallet integrations and an enhanced Web3 experience by incorporating NFTs
— More trading pairs, supported exchanges (both centralised and decentralised), better UX and UI for DEXes, etc. 
— The growth of liquid staking and simpler, more accessible on-chain staking solutions, e.g., for Ethereum and Polkadot 
— The implementation of Ethereum Improvement Proposal 1559 (EIP-1559) has led to small amounts of ETH being burned every minute, making it (slightly) deflationary. Over four million ETH have been burned since its inception in August 2021. 

Final thoughts

As an asset class and broader Bitcoin/crypto community, we’ve had a long journey, but we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel…and it is fast approaching, as most digital assets are heading towards ATHs. 
As I enter my third bull cycle, my advice to you, particularly if you haven’t experienced this market or a similarly volatile market, is this: 
— Have a strategy to take profits. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so do what’s right for you. 
— Do not use leverage/margin trading unless you know what you’re doing; using stop losses is essential, and you will most likely get wrecked otherwise. If you insist on doing this, I highly recommend using a demo account and DYOR before trading with real money. 
— Get advice from a few different sources, provided they are knowledgeable, rational, and experienced. I say a “few” because it is possible that you could be getting conflicting or misleading information by listening to too many sources. I have written an article covering my preferred crypto commentators/writers.
Don’t forget to take some profits along the way, some of which can be used to buy back into the Bitcoin and crypto market when it eventually crashes. I doubt this will happen for at least another 12 months if history were to repeat, but black-swan events can come along and wreak havoc, so be prepared.

Brace yourselves for even more intense price increases in the coming months, well into 2025. 
 How high do you think BTC, ETH or your favourite coin will go during this 2024–25 cycle? Leave your thoughts below. Cheers.

Further reading 

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