(Bloomberg) — North America’s first Bitcoin ETF got off to a stellar start in its first day of trading, with investors exchanging $80 million worth of shares in the first hour.
The Purpose Bitcoin ETF (ticker BTCC), which debuted in Toronto on Thursday, invests directly in “physical/digital Bitcoin,” issuer Purpose Investments Inc. said in a statement. It’s the first product ever for Bitcoin that’s officially labeled an exchange-traded fund, although Europe has several “physically backed” Bitcoin products that function like an ETF.
Bitcoin has captivated investors from billionaire Elon Musk to hedge-fund moguls including Alan Howard and Paul Tudor Jones. The largest cryptocurrency may well be “the stimulus asset,” DoubleLine Capital LP chief Jeffrey Gundlach tweeted, in a reference to the cryptocurrency’s rally amid a wave of cash pumped into the financial system during the pandemic. While Bitcoin has already surged fivefold in the past year — spurring concern about a speculative froth in financial markets — the digital asset is grabbing more mainstream attention, especially after Tesla Inc.’s recent $1.5 billion purchase.
While it’s unclear how much of the activity in BTCC will result in inflows for the fund, the trading volumes are well above an ETF’s typical first day in Canada, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Seyffart. Although too early to tell, ETF proponents argue that such a fund will trade without the massive premiums plaguing many current Bitcoin trusts in the U.S.
“There’s sizable untapped interest for a Bitcoin investment that has the benefits of an ETF,” said Todd Rosenbluth, CFRA Research’s director of ETF research. “Unlike pre-existing products, an ETF is unlikely to trade a significant premium- to-net-asset-value. While most ETFs come to market globally with an educational hurdle to overcome, many investors are familiar with what is inside BTCC.”
The U.S. currently has several active filings for Bitcoin ETFs including ones from VanEck Associates Corp. and Bitwise Asset Management, but the price swings notorious in cryptocurrenies and allegations of industry manipulation remain hurdles to regulator approval.
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