Update (10/20/21): Bitcoin hit a record high at just over $66,000 Wednesday morning, a day after a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, or ETF, hit the New York Stock Exchange. According to Coindesk, the previous record high was just under $65,000.
ProShares’ “BITO” attracted huge interest from investors looking to get into the surging field of cryptocurrencies, without having to actually invest in crypto. Shares of the ProShares BitCoin Strategy ETF changed hands 24.1 million times Tuesday. That powered the second most busy day for ETF trading ever.
Original Story (10/19/21): The first-ever Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, or ETF, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “BITO” Tuesday. It was launched by ETF provider ProShares. The fund tracks CME bitcoin futures, or contracts speculating on the future price of bitcoin, rather than the crypto itself. The announcement sent Bitcoin’s value over $63,000 Tuesday, a near-record high.
“We believe a multitude of investors have been eagerly awaiting the launch of a bitcoin-linked ETF after years of efforts to launch one,” ProShares CEO Michael Sapir said in a press release. “BITO will open up exposure to bitcoin to a large segment of investors who have a brokerage account and are comfortable buying stocks and ETFs, but do not desire to go through the hassle and learning curve of establishing another account with a cryptocurrency provider and creating a bitcoin wallet or are concerned that these providers may be unregulated and subject to security risks.”
Instead of investing directly into Bitcoin itself, those who buy in are betting on Bitcoin’s price fluctuations. It’s similar to trading commodities futures, where investors don’t buy the commodity, but instead, bet on the price and buy or sell according to contract.
Nearly a decade ago, the Facebook-famous Winklevoss twins tried and failed to get a Bitcoin ETF on the market. According to ProShares, that was just one step on the journey of ETFs throughout the years.
“BITO will continue the legacy of ETFs that provide investors convenient, liquid access to an asset class,” Sapir said. “1993 is remembered for the first equity ETF, 2002 for the first bond ETF, and 2004 for the first gold ETF. 2021 will be remembered for the first cryptocurrency-linked ETF.”
The U.S. market for ETFs has grown to more than $5.4 trillion. According to the Investment Company Institute, ETFs are owned by roughly 9 percent of all the nation’s households.
Cryptocurrencies, meanwhile, have exploded into a nearly $2.5 trillion industry after the creation of thousands of digital currencies. Bitcoin is the largest of them all, with a total value of nearly $1.2 trillion.