Cryptocurrencies climb to end the week as investors digest BlackRock’s bitcoin ETF plans

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Representations of cryptocurrency Bitcoin, August 10, 2022.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Crypto prices climbed to end the week Friday, a day after the largest asset manager in the world jumped into the race to launch the first spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the U.S.

Bitcoin was last higher by about 4% at $26,438.00, according to CoinMetrics, while ether advanced 3% to $1,718.06.

Even altcoins rose, with the tokens tied to Solana and Cardano gaining 4.5% and 2%, respectively. Binance Coin was 2.75% higher, litecoin gained 3% and the Uniswap token advanced 4%.

For the week, bitcoin is on track to end just below the flatline, while ether is heading for a 6% loss.

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Bitcoin (BTC) this week

Investors were weighing the latest development in the crypto industry’s battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for regulatory recognition and guidance. After the bell Thursday, BlackRock — the largest asset manager in the world — filed for spot bitcoin ETF, with Coinbase as its crypto custodian.

“One of the big purposes bitcoin serves as an asset class is really diversification. It just has a different risk profile than traditional financial markets,” Gustavo Schwenkler, associate professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University said. “If this were to get approved, then I could anticipate a lot more institutional investors adding bitcoin to their investment to their portfolios … it would institutionalize the market in a way that is not possible right now.”

If allowed to move forward, the iShares Bitcoin Trust would become the first approved ETF in the U.S. to track the price of bitcoin, versus the futures contracts tied to the cryptocurrency. It’s been about 10 years since the first filing for a potential spot bitcoin ETF. Since then, every application that has gone through the SEC has been rejected.

The filing comes about a week after the SEC sued its crypto custody partner, Coinbase, for violating securities laws, leaving many questioning the timing of BlackRock’s application.

“That apparent commitment to Coinbase is almost as important near term as their commitment to bitcoin is in the long term,” said Mark Connors, head of research at 3iQ. “It’s a big deal.”