Founder of crypto lending platform argues that bitcoin could hit $100,000 by mid-2022

Bitcoin could see further upside and surge as high as $100,000 by the middle of 2022, according to Antoni Trenchev of cryptocurrency lender Nexo.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap was trading at $46,170.43 as of 8:42 p.m. ET Monday, according to data from Coin Metrics.

“I think [bitcoin’s] going to reach $100,000 this year, probably by … the middle of it,” Trenchev, co-founder and managing partner at Nexo, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday. The firm claims to be the world’s largest lending institution in the digital finance industry, according to its website. The company has issued more than $6 billion in credit and manages assets for more than 2.5 million users globally, it said.

Bitcoin has largely been a winner in the pandemic era, rising more than 60% in 2021 despite being far off its record high of around $69,000 earlier that year. In comparison, the S&P 500 rose nearly 27% during the same period, while the Dow and Nasdaq gained 18.73% and 21.39% for the year, respectively.

But not everyone is as bullish as Trenchev.

Some experts have warned that bitcoin may be poised for a steep drop in the coming months. Carol Alexander, professor of finance at Sussex University, said she sees bitcoin tanking as low as $10,000 in 2022, virtually wiping out all of its gains in the past year and a half.

Lingering regulatory scrutiny on the sector and wild price swings could also weigh on the outlook for bitcoin.

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On his part, Trenchev said there were “two simple reasons” why he sees big gains ahead for bitcoin.

One is that institutions are “building out their treasuries” and filling it with the cryptocurrency, he said, without providing any examples. Firms such as MicroStrategy and Square are among known examples of companies that have bought massive amounts of bitcoin.

Another reason is his prediction that “cheap money” is here to stay — which will be a boon for cryptocurrencies.

His comments come despite expectations the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates several times this year for the first time in the pandemic era as the U.S. central bank seeks to combat inflation. The Fed was among major central banks that took unprecedented monetary easing steps in 2020 to keep financial markets afloat during the early days of the pandemic.

Admitting his “contrarian” view of lasting easy monetary policy, Trenchev said most people likely “got it wrong” in their Fed rate hike expectations.

“I quite frankly think that as soon as we see a rate hike, it’s going to be a dip into equities and the bond market — and quite frankly, the last few years, we haven’t seen much political will to … power through any sort of correction in the traditional financial markets,” he said.

— CNBC’s Ryan Browne contributed to this report.

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