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First major Wall Street strategist weighs in on bitcoin, sees it worth as much as $55,000

Fundstrat's Tom Lee on Friday became the first major Wall Street strategist to formally lay out his views on bitcoin.

The digital currency could be worth as much as $55,000 by 2022, Lee said in a report titled "A framework for valuing bitcoin as a substitute for gold."

"We believe one of the drivers [of bitcoin] is crypto-currencies are cannibalizing demand for gold," Lee said in the report. "Based on this premise, we take a stab at establishing valuation framework for bitcoin. Based on our model, we estimate that bitcoin's value per unit could be $20,000 to $55,000 by 2022."

Bitcoin traded near $2,540 on Friday. The digital currency has more than doubled in value for the year, and high interest prompted a Goldman Sachs technical analyst, a team of Morgan Stanley analysts and Citi researchers to issue reports on bitcoin or the blockchain technology behind it in the last few months.

However, Lee is the first widely followed market strategist to issue a report dedicated to predicting bitcoin's price. Lee also happens to be the most bearish strategist on U.S. stocks currently. He was JPMorgan Chase's chief equity strategist from 2007 to 2014 before co-founding Fundstrat Global Advisors, where he is managing partner and head of research.

The strategist's case for bitcoin is a basic supply-and-demand story, similar to the argument other proponents of bitcoin use when playing up its future as "digital gold."

Gold's market value of $7.5 trillion is exponentially greater than bitcoin's $41 billion. But Le...

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