Bitcoin is a 'video game' filled with speculators who could propel it to $45,000, analyst says

  • As long as it holds above $13,000, bitcoin has a chance of spiking to $45,000 later next year, technical analyst Walter Zimmermann says.
  • Zimmermann explains that the popular cryptocurrency is like a "video game," not an investment.
  • Bitcoin was under pressure Friday, falling nearly 18 percent at one point, a day after soaring to a record above $19,000.

As long as it holds above $13,000, bitcoin has a chance of spiking to $45,000 later next year, a technical analyst told CNBC on Friday.

Bitcoin was under continued pressure Friday, falling nearly 18 percent at one point. But the digital currency had skyrocketed the day before, reaching above $19,000, before plunging.

Walter Zimmermann, an analyst who's been tracking bitcoin charts, said the popular cryptocurrency is like a "video game" filled with speculators who could propel it higher.

Bitcoin "is not an investment," said Zimmermann, vice president and chief technical analyst at ICAP. "People who come in here now, they're not investors. It's a video game. And people who come in now are gamers."

"I think bitcoin should have won 'game of the year,'" Zimmermann said on "Squawk Alley." "If you buy it here, I think it's a little disingenuous to say you're an investor because it's literally the Wild West."

Tron Bitcoin mashup
Marvel | Getty Images

But he said bitcoin does seem to act in a way that certain technical analysis can be used to help forecast prices down the road.

Zimmermann said the cryptocurrency is behaving "technically," which means "the collective swings in the market obey certain principles, but that doesn't preclude a bubble by any means."

Critics, including Jamie Dimon, have doubted the legitimacy of bitcoin. But on Friday, the JPMorgan Chase CEO seemed to be softening his tone on cryptocurrencies. He still declared that he remains "highly skeptical."

In a move that could bring more volatility, Cboe bitcoin futures are set to begin trading on Sunday. The CME contracts launch Dec. 18. Government regulators said they will work to make sure the futures contracts are not manipulated. But the underlying cash market for bitcoin is unregulated.

Zimmermann said he wonders what the margins will look like on the futures. "It could be the least futures contract of all futures ... because the margins should be sky high."

The term "margin" refers simply to the down payment required by exchanges and brokers to buy a certain asset.

The Cboe is requiring buyers of bitcoin futures to put up 35 percent of the contract price. Brokerages could require even more. Established futures contracts, such as oil, can require margins of as little as a single-digit percentage point.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Morning Squawk

CNBC's before the bell news roundup
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services.
By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.