Bitcoin climbs to record high after ETF debut in the US

By Bloomberg Time of article published Oct 21, 2021

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Bitcoin rallied to a record high after a strong debut by the first US exchange-traded fund (ETF) 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 ETF listed in the US 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 changed hands Tuesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

With turnover of almost $1 billion, the ETF'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 decentralised 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 titled "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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