2017 was the best year on record for Bitcoin as the cryptocurrency climbed from being valued at under $1,000 at the start of the year to nearly $20,000 at its peak by December. Since the new year, times have been tougher for the popular cryptocurrency.

2018, though still young, has been a tumultuous year for Bitcoin. The exponential growth it had enjoyed for months leveled off and new interest and scrutiny from regulators—including a potential scandal with cryptocurrency Tether—have kept speculators and investors from going all in on Bitcoin in the short term.

It can be hard to predict the future for Bitcoin—knowing exactly what will happen in the quickly evolving world of cryptocurrency is near impossible—but the outlook from most experts remain hopeful despite Bitcoin’s troubles through January.

Bitcoin is currently valued at $9,261 at the time of publication. By the end of the first quarter of 2018, a number of experts expect the cryptocurrency will have bounced back above the $10,000 mark—in some cases, even predicting it will reach a new high.

Jeremy Epstein, CEO of Never Stop Marketing told International Business Times he projects Bitcoin will climb to nearly $14,000, though noted in the long term, the price isn’t the most important aspect for the future of cryptocurrencies. “The story here is not about currencies or prices, it's the trend towards decentralization and how they will impact how society operates going forward,” he said.

Traders may disagree with that sentiment. While those who are invested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency for the long haul—believing the technology will win out over skepticism and other hurdles—traders see the volatility along the way as an opportunity to capitalize as they try to get in during a dip and sell at a peak.

Epstein was among a number of experts who are generally bullish on the near-term prospects for Bitcoin. Joe DiPasquale, the CEO of BitBull Capital —the first cryptocurrency “fund of funds”—expects Bitcoin to reach $20,000 by the end of 2018 Q1.

“We published research at BitBull Capital on the seasonality of Bitcoin, showing that the last two years there was also a 30-35 percent dip, with about 60 days to recover,” DiPasquale explained. “I expect the same pattern this year, due to profit taking, and seasonality.”

 

Jive Communications chief marketing officer Matthew Peterson said he expected Bitcoin would reach $15,000 by the end of the first quarter, though he noted that there are still plenty of challenges—especially regarding public perception—for Bitcoin to gain legitimacy and realize its value.

“I think that blockchain [and] cryptocurrencies are revolutionary ideas that are currently camouflaged in get-rich quick schemes,” he said. “Once the initial speculative state dies down a bit and we start to see real improvements in people lives (faster transactions, safer wealth storage, automated contracts, etc) the world will all wake up to the fact that we are seeing the beginning of a better, more equitable financial system for the people of the world.”

In general, most experts believe Bitcoin will regain some of the value lost in recent weeks. In a poll conducted by IBT from Jan. 25 - 30, more than a dozen experts gave their first quarter forecast for Bitcoin. The average prediction placed Bitcoin’s expected price at about $14,000.

However, there are plenty of skeptics who foresee a struggle for Bitcoin. Derin Cag, the founder and CEO of Richtopia, predicted government regulations and issues with scaling the underlying technology behind Bitcoin may stunt its growth in the near-term, setting a ceiling for the cryptocurrency at $9,000.

Joshua Gordon-Blake, vice president of global partnerships at Pangea Money Transfer offered the bleakest outlook for Bitcoin, predicting it will drop as low as $900 by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

“Market activity is still so thin that it offers little more than faux science when predicting the price of a cryptocurrency,” he explained. “Instead, real-life practical use cases for a cryptocurrency are the best indicators of future gains.” For that reason, Gordon-Blake predicted Bitcoin would lag behind altcoins that are more well-equipped to handle high-volume activity and transactions.

Editor’s note: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrency is a risky type of digital asset and no one should invest more in bitcoin than they can afford to lose.