KEY POINTS

  • $20,000 remains the key psychological resistance for Bitcoin
  • The rally is different from 2017 because more U.S. investors are participating now
  • Kaspersky expects a surge in cryptocurrency theft in 2021

Bitcoin has set a new price record of $19,799 in a rally that began with a price crash to sub $4,000 last March. As the benchmark cryptocurrency traverses new price territory, security firm Kaspersky Lab warns of increasing cryptocurrency theft.

While the price of Bitcoin varies per cryptocurrency exchange, price aggregator Coingecko put the all-time high of Bitcoin at $19,799, hit at the daily close Monday. Bitcoin opened Monday at $18,202 and reached as high as $19,873.23 on Coinbase. While this is a new all-time high, $20,000 is generally regarded as the all-time high and the psychological resistance that the benchmark cryptocurrency must reach. This is because the exact figure for the 2017-high is different across exchanges.

Still, there is a stark difference between the new high and the one in 2017. While 2017's rally was fueled by retail investors who came to know about Bitcoin for the first time, it quickly ran out of steam after concerns regarding price volatility, hacking, and cybertheft.

This time, a wave of U.S. investors, including companies and hedge funds, are leading the charge. "It's a very different set of people who are buying Bitcoin recently," Chainalysis chief economist Philip Gradwell told the New York Times. This year alone, hedge fund managers like Paul Tudor Jones and large companies like MicroStrategy and Square put a portion of their portfolio or reserves into Bitcoin. PayPal recently allowed its users to buy and sell cryptocurrency. 

Sentiments regarding the future price of Bitcoin appear to be bullish. Unfortunately, along with its increase is the surge in cryptocurrency-related cybercrimes, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said. A recent report published by its cyberthreat research division, called Securelist, said there could be a likely surge in cybercrimes in 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic. Bitcoin could be the most attractive asset because of its price increase. 

"We might see certain economies crashing and local currencies plummeting, which would make Bitcoin theft a lot more attractive. We should expect more fraud, targeting mostly BTC, due to this cryptocurrency being the most popular one," Securelist said in the report.

If not Bitcoin, Securelist expects criminals to transition to more private cryptocurrencies like Monero. "They will use this first as a transition currency and then convert the funds to any other cryptocurrency of choice including BTC," the report concluded.

Bitcoin This photo illustration shows a Vietnamese cryptocurrency investor looking at the latest Bitcoin values on a smartphone in Hanoi, April 12, 2018. Photo: NHAC NGUYEN/AFP/Getty Images