It has been a rough year for Bitcoin (BTC 0.81%). Through the first 11 months of 2022, it's down a resounding 65%. Just when it looked like Bitcoin had stabilized at $20,000 after the first crypto market meltdown of the year, along came the FTX market contagion. As a result, Bitcoin is now trading at $16,825, a nearly 75% discount from an all-time high of $68,789.63.

Yet, on a relative basis, Bitcoin still looks more attractive than any other crypto in the market today. So if you are risk-tolerant and looking for one crypto to buy now before the end of the year, Bitcoin is that crypto. Here are four reasons why.

FTX contagion risk

First, and most importantly, Bitcoin has not been caught up directly in the current FTX market contagion. There may still be another shoe to drop in the convoluted FTX saga, but you can sleep at night knowing that Bitcoin was not part of any market shenanigans taking place in the Bahamas.

In the immediate aftermath of the FTX meltdown, Bitcoin fell to a two-year low. But investors have so far worked with the premise that Bitcoin was not part of the house of cards at FTX.

SEC regulatory risk

Another key factor to keep in mind is that, thus far, Bitcoin seems to be the only crypto that regulators can agree is not a security. This is very important because it means that Bitcoin is relatively insulated from future regulatory risk. The SEC has already suggested that it might go after Ethereum (ETH 0.35%) for being a security, but has made it abundantly clear that Bitcoin will not be part of any direct regulatory enforcement actions.

Bitcoin on a computer chip.

Image source: Getty Images.

The latest "all clear" signal comes from European government regulators, who recently opined that Bitcoin is definitely not a security.

Blue-chip status

While investing in crypto is never completely safe, Bitcoin is arguably the "safest" crypto you can buy right now. It is the largest crypto by market cap, as well as the most popular crypto for both retail and institutional investors. In fact, Bitcoin now has twice the market cap of Ethereum, its next closest competitor in terms of market cap. 

Bitcoin also has the longest track record of any crypto in the marketplace, as well as a documented history of recovering from past market meltdowns. For that reason, Bitcoin is generally considered to be a "blue-chip" crypto. It is the first crypto in many investors' portfolios. While Bitcoin offers nowhere near the safety of a "blue-chip" stock, it's still less risky than other volatile cryptos.

Powerful catalyst in place for future price appreciation

Another key factor in Bitcoin's favor is a well-known, potent catalyst that could drive future price action. This catalyst is known as the Bitcoin halving, and a similar event takes place every four years. In a Bitcoin halving, the reward for mining a new block on the blockchain falls by one-half. The next halving is in 2024, and investors are already getting excited about what this could mean for the future price of Bitcoin. 

In three previous halving events, Bitcoin has followed a very predictable pattern. It gradually appreciates in price in the 15 months leading up to the halving, and then accelerates in price for the next 15 months after the halving. Given that the next halving is scheduled for April 2024, we could start to see a recovery in Bitcoin prices as early as the first quarter of 2023.

How high can Bitcoin go?

The big question, of course, is just how much higher Bitcoin can go in 2023. If you look at consensus price estimates for Bitcoin, it becomes increasingly clear that many investors are expecting Bitcoin to have a good year in 2023. California-based crypto hedge fund Pantera Capital, for example, is now predicting that Bitcoin could hit $36,000 by March 2024, simply due to the pent-up buying pressure related to the next Bitcoin halving.

When you consider the long-range forecast for Bitcoin, things get even more exciting. Keep in mind that these price forecasts can turn out to be embarrassingly wrong (shout-out to all the experts who called for Bitcoin to reach $250,000 in 2022!).

That said, it's clear that Bitcoin has a potentially lofty ceiling. Some well-known investors are calling for Bitcoin to reach $500,000 by 2030. And still others -- such as Cathie Wood of Ark Invest -- are holding onto their $1 million price forecasts for Bitcoin.

Thus, I am determinedly bullish on the future prospects of Bitcoin. I'm not a Bitcoin maximalist by any means, but I love the relative safety and security of Bitcoin (compared to other cryptos) and the eye-popping future returns. Buying Bitcoin now is a bargain. If there is just one crypto to buy and hold right now, it is Bitcoin.