A pile of coins representing Bitcoin cryptocurrency sit grouped together in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Bitcoin Climbs Past $8,000 as ETF Speculation Fuels Renaissance

(Bloomberg) -- Hope springs eternal, especially for Bitcoin diehards when it comes to the prospects for the first cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund.

The largest virtual currency has rallied about 40 percent since the start of July, in part on speculation that the Securities and Exchange Commission may make a decision as soon as August. That’s helped to ease some of the sting from the price plunge that saw Bitcoin drop for a record high of almost $20,000 in December to around the $8,000 level Tuesday.

Bitwise Asset Management filed a registration statement Tuesday with the SEC to offer the first publicly traded crypto index fund, to be called the Bitwise HOLD 10 Cryptocurrency Index Fund.

Bitcoin Climbs Past $8,000 as ETF Speculation Fuels Renaissance

Van Eck Associates Corp. responded Friday to an SEC staff letter on “fund innovation,” helping to fuel the optimism. In June, an exchange sought approval from the SEC to list a Bitcoin ETF from Van Eck and SolidX Partners Inc. The SEC had asked companies to pull about a dozen applications for cryptocurrency-linked products in January, and last year rejected the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF. SolidX and VanEck were among the companies who had filed to list funds.

“Yes, I’ve been seeing this chatter as well, and I believe it’s largely unfounded,” said Kyle Samani, managing partner at Austin, Texas-based crypto hedge fund Multicoin Capital. “If you read the ETF rejection from earlier this year, the SEC listed quite a few reasons why they rejected it. Most of those issues have not materially changed.”

Even so, the most-followed crypto asset jumped as much as 8.5 percent to $8,354 during New York trading hours, according to composite Bloomberg pricing. Rival tokens Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple rallied. While Bitcoin last breached $8,000 in May, it’s still about 17 percent below its high for that month.

With the latest gains, the total value of cryptocurrencies worldwide is again approaching $300 billion, according to data on almost 1,700 coins followed by Coinmarketcap.com. Bitcoin still remains almost 60 percent down its peak of almost $20,000 in December.

“We’ve been in depressed levels for the last six months, so it’s really one way from here, which is up,” said Timothy Tam, chief executive officer with CoinFi, a cryptocurrency data analysis company, in a phone interview from Hong Kong. “The timing is always difficult to predict but I think we’re at the start of a secular bull market.”

BlackRock Speculation

Optimism over Bitcoin improved after a host of regulators and central banks addressed the nascent industry over the past two months, yet fell short of trying to stunt it. Prices are also being supported by a report that BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, was studying whether to invest in Bitcoin futures even though the company’s chairman said no customers have expressed interest.

There’s also renewed optimism after Bitmain, the cryptocurrency mining rig maker, completed another funding round, Tam said. The company was reported by Caixin to have raised $300 million to $400 million at a valuation of about $12 billion.

The cryptocurrency space has otherwise struggled this year, as the industry grapples with increased regulatory scrutiny around the world as well as security concerns, with hacks a persistent problem for exchanges. Thieves made off with almost $500 million worth of tokens from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. in January, while most recently two Korean crypto bourses suffered cyberattacks in June.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.