Bitcoin rallied to a record high after a strong debut by the first U.S. exchange-traded fund investing in Bitcoin futures stoked optimism about the digital asset’s outlook.
The largest cryptocurrency jumped as much as 3.1% to $66,084, surpassing its previous peak from April and taking its 2021 surge to more than 120%. Second-ranked Ether pushed higher as did the wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index.
Bitcoin has climbed to its latest high atop a tide of pandemic-era liquidity, speculative bets and expectations of wider adoption by institutional investors. The ride was volatile: the token plunged below $30,000 in June amid criticism of its energy consumption and China’s cryptocurrency crackdown. It then began to recover in part as the crypto sector adjusted to China’s broadsides.
“It’s a validating moment,” said Jesse Proudman, co-founder and chief executive at Makara, a crypto advisory firm. “It’s no longer a question of does this asset class continue to exist — I think that’s a really meaningful mark in the history of the broader digital-asset class.”
The first Bitcoin-linked exchange-traded fund listed in the U.S. debuted on Tuesday as the second-most heavily traded fund on record in a watershed moment for the crypto industry.
More than 24 million shares in the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF — trading under the ticker BITO — changed hands Tuesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
With turnover of almost $1 billion, BITO’s debut was behind only a BlackRock carbon fund for a first day of trading, the latter ranking higher due to pre-seed investments, according to Athanasios Psarofagis at Bloomberg Intelligence.
Bitcoin’s biggest proponents back controversial arguments that the virtual currency is a store of wealth and a hedge against the most potent threat from inflation in many years.
Wall Street enthusiasm has also increased: Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley are among firms offering crypto-related services. Dawn Fitzpatrick, chief investment officer of Soros Fund Management LLC, said her firm holds some coins and that crypto “has gone mainstream.”
At the same time, there is a still a long way to go. For instance, SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci said that while there’s a “feeding frenzy” in crypto among about 10% of financial-services firms, the vast majority are hesitant about the asset class.
Over the past few years, a whole new crypto-economy has formed. Non-fungible tokens or NFTs — which allow holders of digital art and collectibles to track ownership — have surged into the limelight.
So has the decentralized finance — DeFi — ecosystem, which allows people to lend, borrow, trade and take out insurance directly from each other, without use of intermediaries such as banks.
Bitcoin’s record comes in time for its birthday — the digital coin was born on Halloween 2008 with the publication of a research paper by someone who went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto.
The paper was entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” Its birth ignited a digital currency revolution that led to the emergence of more than 12,000 other coins, according to CoinMarketCap.com data. The total market value of cryptocurrencies exceeds $2.5 trillion.
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