Bitcoin soared to an all-time high on Wednesday afternoon, a day after the first-ever bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the US made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange.
The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF tracks CME bitcoin futures, or contracts speculating on the future price of bitcoin, rather than the crypto itself.
At the time of writing bitcoin (BTC-USD) was up 5% to trade at $65,979 (£47,864). Its previous all-time high was $64,889, which it hit in April earlier this year.
"The party is on, and bitcoin has made a new time high," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade.
"This is only the beginning as investors know the true value of bitcoin is much higher than this. Given the price momentum we are seeing on the back of bitcoin’s ETF, we believe that bitcoin can easily go all the way to $100,000 by the end of this year."
Earlier Aslam had said that "for years, cryptocurrency supporters had been eagerly awaiting the launch of a bitcoin-linked ETF, and had been debating its utility with regulators," adding that the "ETF is expected to open up digital coins to large investors, hastening the adoption of cryptocurrencies.”
More than 24 million shares of the fund, which has the ticker BITO, changed hands, making it the second-biggest ETF debut on record.
It also has the blessing of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – since the SEC did not intervene in ProShares' listing within the 75-day filing period, the ETF was automatically approved.
Ethereum (ETH-USD), the second biggest crypto by market cap, was up 1.9%, trading at $3,868.
The news comes as Facebook (FB) launched its Novi digital wallet as part of a pilot program in Guatemala and the US.
The wallet enables people to send and receive money abroad instantly, securely and without fees, according to the social media giant.
“The approval of a bitcoin ETF undoubtedly further boosts the credibility of bitcoin as a global investment,” said Antony Portno, who is the founder of Traders of Crypto.
He explained that bitcoin ETFs “are essentially trading something that mimics bitcoin but without trading the actual coin itself”, which allows investors to buy into the coin without trading the bitcoin asset and “without having the issues of storage and complicated security issues.”
Portno said “being based on futures it will not directly increase the demand for bitcoin itself and indeed there is a real possibility that the launch could be bearish for bitcoin in the short term, like what happened in 2017 when bitcoin futures were listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.”
Some analysts question whether the all-time high will trigger a sell-off.
Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, said “long-term holders typically buy in a bear market and sell in a bull run... as such, we can expect to see some long-term holders now cashing in some bitcoin with a view to accumulating more later.”
But he said any long-term holders’ selling is likely to be balanced by new investors' growing activity and believes “the price momentum should be sustained.”
Other analysts remain bullish about bitcoin’s prospects going forward.
Mikhael Karkhalev, financial analyst at crypto platform Currency.com said: “The positives continue to outweigh the negatives for the burgeoning asset class and we think that the price of bitcoin will likely rally further.”
He was more reserved in his estimate than Aslam, stating bitcoin "has every chance" of reaching $70,000 to $75,000 by the end of the year.
This is because, for one, he said SEC approval “can only be good for the crypto market and help attract additional capital from institutional investors.”
He also believes rising inflation risk coupled with mixed messages from the US Federal Reserve that inflation is temporary and under control may be encouraging some investors – at least for the time being – to stay invested in risk assets, including stocks, indices, commodities and cryptocurrencies.
"The level of open interest and the volume of bitcoin trading on exchanges continue to break historical records, which suggests that a further surge in growth may take place in the near future."
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