More than $3 billion of a newly approved investment product tied to Bitcoin changed hands in the first few hours of trading on Thursday, as cryptocurrency enthusiasts celebrated a watershed moment for the industry. Eleven of the products, known as exchange-traded funds, or E.T.F.s, started trading on popular platforms such as the Nasdaq a day after federal regulators authorized them, creating a simpler way for investors to bet on the cryptocurrency markets.
“It’s not a one-day event,” said Sandy Kaul, who runs the digital asset arm of Franklin Templeton, one of the firms offering the E.T.F.s. “Six months is a really good moment to understand: Is this a transformational product?” Bitcoin’s price briefly rose to $49,000 on Thursday before dipping to $46,000. The S.E.C. has sued Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto exchange, and several other major firms, arguing that they have illegally marketed unregistered securities, a possible existential threat to the industry. In a statement announcing the approvals of the E.T.F.s, Gary Gensler, the S.E.C. chair, said the agency did not “approve or endorse Bitcoin.”
The tide turned in August when the federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the S.E.C.’s rejection of an application by the crypto firm Grayscale Investments was “arbitrary and capricious.” For now, the approvals have restored some of the enthusiasm that the crypto industry showed in 2021, the last time prices spiked. On Wednesday evening, crypto enthusiasts gathered for a party at Pubkey, a Bitcoin-themed bar in Manhattan. The official X account for Franklin Templeton changed its profile picture to include laser eyes, a popular Bitcoin meme.