Being a decentralized digital commodity of sorts has allowed Bitcoin to find a price determined mostly by the sum total of buy orders and sell orders across multiple exchanges.

Bitcoin trades constantly on many different exchanges. The price is discovered through buyers and sellers agreeing on prices at which to settle trades. It can be said that “the market” determines the price of Bitcoin.

Of course, many external factors may influence the price at which people are willing to pay for Bitcoin.

1. Sentiment

With any asset, general market sentiment can influence present and future price action. This tends to occur in cycles.

It often happens that as more and more people grow increasingly bullish on something, the price keeps rising until everyone thinks it will never go down again. Then at some point, things change, and sentiment starts shifting the other way. Once most people think the price will never go up again, that usually indicates that prices have come close to bottoming.

2. Mining

Bitcoin mining also impacts the price of Bitcoin. Miners are powerful computers that process transactions for the network, and they’re the source of newly minted bitcoins.

Because miners create and accumulate new coins, what they tend to do as a whole can make a big difference in market prices. Miners have to sell some of their Bitcoin to cover electricity and maintenance costs. But what they choose to do with their remaining coin can impact prices.

For example, when miners anticipate the future price of Bitcoin to be higher than it is right now, they could choose to hold most of their coins, reducing overall supply on exchanges. This would create support for prices.

On the other hand, if miners think the price of Bitcoin will fall, or they need cash today for some reason, they could sell their coins, increasing the supply and potentially driving prices lower.

3. Money Supply

Some may argue that the number one factor affecting the price of Bitcoin is the growth in money supply. When central banks print more money, the price of Bitcoin tends to rise in almost direct proportion to the amount of new currency created.

This is part of the supply-and-demand element in Bitcoin’s price. More and more dollars (or Euros, Yen, Pesos, etc.) wind up chasing an ever-dwindling supply of bitcoin. The new supply of fiat currency keeps growing while the new supply of bitcoin gets cut in half every 4 years (a process known as Bitcoin halving).

4. The Network Effect

Some say Bitcoin’s true value lies in the Bitcoin network. In other words, how many people are using Bitcoin.

A rough analogy would be social media networks. We tend to measure the value of a social network by its number of users and how active they are on the platform. Facebook and Instagram both have over a billion users each, with at least half of them logging in everyday in the case of Instagram. This is the main reason people think these networks have value.

With Bitcoin, the more people who create cryptocurrency wallets, convert fiat currency to Bitcoin, and spend or store those coins, the more valuable Bitcoin could become. And as the price of Bitcoin rises, more people tend to join in the network, potentially creating a positive feedback loop.