With the current BTC protocol, miners are rewarded with chunks of 6.25 BTC and all of the transaction fees associated with the block that is solved. That is their incentive to keep mining. With the number of bitcoins limited to 21 million, it's currently estimated that the last bitcoin will be mined sometime around the year 2140. As BTC becomes a more universal currency, and is used on a more frequent basis, the transaction fees associated with using BTC will become more lucrative; driving miners to up their game. Also, as time passes, the BTC protocol generates ever more difficult blocks for miners to solve, also requiring miners to increase their computing power in order to stay competitive. We'll touch on this again in a bit.
The case for BTC going to $1 million (or higher): Bitcoin has no intrinsic value. When evaluating a stock, an investor may use many different metrics for determining the intrinsic value of that stock. How much is the current fair market value of the stock versus its potential value based various financial indicators of the company? For example, what is the current P/E ratio? Is it higher or lower than what is currently considered acceptable? What are the company's current assets, current debt, operating expense trends, etc.?
Bitcoin has none of those indicators. There is no logical way to look under the hood of BTC and see if it's a wise investment. There is no way to use Warren Buffett's sentiment of, to paraphrase, buy and hold good companies. Because of this, the sky is literally the limit for Bitcoin . Its price can literally continue to climb until all investors have run out of capital to invest. A year ago, people were forecasting that BTC would rise to $100,000. Now, estimates are saying $250,000. What will the experts say this time next year? Someone who buys BTC at $57,000 today, may find themselves with a 20x profit instead of a 5x profit as predicted. Bitcoin could prove to be the ultimate long-term investment.
The case for BTC going to $0.00 : Where does the power to process BTC transactions come from? As I noted previously, bitcoin miners are required to solve problems that are becoming more and more difficult, which requires them to use more and more computing power in order to stay competitive in solving BTC blocks. As a result, professional mining companies are building literal mining warehouses; massive buildings completely stuffed with shelves upon shelves of mining rigs. As a tertiary effect, power consumption from BTC mining operations has skyrocketed. Cambridge researchers recently estimated that BTC mining consumes around 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year. Bitcoin mining literally uses more electricity than the country of Argentina. The BBC News said that if Bitcoin were a country, it would be in the top 30 worldwide in terms of electricity consumption.
With the ever-increasing price of BTC fueling the ever-increasing drive for miners to process transactions in order to 'win' the race to the remaining unsolved Bitcoin blocks, the sky is also the limit for electricity consumption. How long can this continue until crypto mining begins to interfere with power grids across the globe? How long can this continue until power companies and government regulators have to either restrict or outright ban crypto mining? How long until the current Bitcoin protocol is no longer a valid option? In my opinion, this is the question that current BTC investors are facing; when will this investment that has no intrinsic value become an investment that has no value, period?
Both of these arguments could come to pass. Bitcoin may climb to $1 million, making a multitude of investors filthy rich, before taking a graceful swan dive back down to zero because of government regulation (or other unforeseen circumstances). Of course, these two outcomes aren't the only potential future outcomes. The Bitcoin protocol may be modified to accommodate future transaction processing requirements; or maybe it won't. Which outcome are you betting on?