HONG KONG—Bitcoin hovered below record levels on Wednesday, the day after the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) began trading, a development that market participants say is likely to drive investment into the digital asset.
The world’s leading cryptocurrency was last at $63,998, off 0.4 percent, but still within a short jump of its record of $64,895.22, hit April 14 this year.
It reached as high as $64,499 on Tuesday, late in the U.S. day.
Earlier on Tuesday, the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF closed up 2.59 percent at $41.94 after its first day of trading, with around $1 billion worth of shares trading hands on Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s ICE.N Arca exchange.
Trading appeared to be dominated by smaller investors and high-frequency trading firms, analysts said, noting the absence of large block trades indicated that institutions were likely staying on the sidelines.
James Quinn, managing partner at Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency private wealth manager, said the launch of the new product was “meaningful” for bitcoin.
Theoretically, any licensed brokerage firm in the U.S. who wants to take on this ETF can do so as easily as any other ETF, which should make it available to a lot of folks,” said Quinn.
While the ETF is based on bitcoin futures, Quinn said the trades and hedges underpinning the ETF means activity will flow into the spot market and the bitcoin price.
Crypto ETFs have launched this year in Canada and Europe amid surging interest in digital assets. VanEck and Valkyrie are among fund managers pursuing U.S.–listed ETF products, although Invesco on Monday dropped its plans for a futures-based ETF.
Ether, the world’s no. 2 cryptocurrency, was down 0.39 percent on the day at $3,861, in sight of a six-week high, but a way away from its all-time high of $4,380, hit on May 12.