Bitcoin Price Startup Circle Moves To UK
A Bitcoin (virtual currency) paper wallet with QR codes and a coin are seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The cryptocurrency bitcoin has seen its value fluctuate wildly in the last three years, peaking at over $1,000 in December 2013 before falling to less than $250 a year later. Over the course of the last five months, the price of a single bitcoin has stabilized around the $400 mark, but a new report from an investment back and asset management firm says this is seriously undervaluing the cryptocurrency’s real value.

The publication from Needham & Company, first reported by CoinDesk, says “bitcoin has value as both a digital gold and as a payments channel” and having compared the digital currency to the amount of money being invested in gold, it concluded that bitcoin should today have a price of $655, which is a 58 percent premium on today's price of $412.

The report goes on to advise investors to buy shares in the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), a fund for those wishing to invest in bitcoin but without actually buying and holding the asset. GBTC is a fund founded by investor Barry Silbert last year that asks for a minimum investment of $25,000. The report gives GBTC a buy rating and gives it a target price of $62. Shares in GBTC closed Tuesday at $54.40.

“We believe that the price of bitcoin stands to benefit substantially from rising demand for its two main use cases as a 'digital gold' and as an alternative payments channel,” said Spencer Bogart, Needham’s equity research associate in charge of bitcoin and blockchain and author of the report. “We believe that this rising demand is the result of the relative advantages of using bitcoin and is being driven by market trends and secular changes such as globalization, continued growth in e-commerce and by the ubiquity of enabling technology such as mobile phones. As a direct result, bitcoin is disrupting trillion-dollar markets in payments and value exchange.”

The report also says $74 billion worth of gold is currently held in exchange-traded funds around the world. Comparatively, 75 percent of the $6.3 billion bitcoin market cap is being treated as an investment, Bogart believes, and this represents 6 percent of the gold held in ETFs. It was these figures Bogart used to calculate the $655 price.

This is not the first report to suggest bitcoin's price will increase in the future. Last November, financial services firm Wedbush revised its 12-month price projection from $400 to $600.