Bitcoin's wild rally — and a fear of missing out — has retail investors flocking to crypto

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  • New investors are rushing to capture some of the wild gains in the cryptocurrency market.
  • Crypto exchanges and online trading platforms have seen a spike in activity recently.
  • Google trends data shows that web searches for bitcoin are on the rise again.

LONDON — Bitcoin’s record-breaking rally has led to a surge in retail investment interest in the cryptocurrency market.

Crypto exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance and online trading platforms including Revolut and eToro have seen a spike in activity recently, as new investors race to capture some of the wild gains in the market.

“There is certainly market data pointing to increased retail participation,” said Michael Bucella, partner at crypto investment firm BlockTower Capital.

“This is reflected in the recent surge in ‘altcoins'” — other digital tokens that came after bitcoin — “and the increase in volumes on the retail platforms, as well as the crypto-native exchanges that have historically been more retail-focused,” Bucella added.

Bitcoin bulls claim the cryptocurrency’s latest rally is different to a late-2017 bubble that saw its price soar close to $20,000 before collapsing as low as $3,122 the following year. The main difference, they say, is that institutional investors are driving the price gains this time round.

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A number of famed investors including Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller came out as believers in the cryptocurrency last year, while U.K. asset management firm Ruffer added £550 million ($747 million) of bitcoin to its portfolio.

There remain skeptics, however, such as American stock broker Peter Schiff and economist Nouriel Roubini, who see bitcoin as a speculative asset with no intrinsic value and a market bubble that is likely to burst at some point.

Despite this, there are signs of a sharp rise in demand from retail investors, who don’t want to miss out on the action. That may have significant implications for the latest crypto market cycle, as retail speculation was considered to be a big factor in bitcoin’s 2017 rally.

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