Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:
Prices: Bitcoin momentum stalls, but the asset holds firm over $30K.
Insights: Why do BlackRock and other financial service giants want to offer spot bitcoin ETFs? They want to make money.
Bitcoin Holds Steady Over $30K
As Asia markets opened Friday, bitcoin was clinging to its most recent foothold above $30,000.
The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was trading at $30,006, roughly flat over the past 24 hours. BTC has risen more than 12% since Tuesday when U.S. markets reopened after a long holiday weekend. Spot bitcoin ETF filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by three financial services giants, including BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, have buoyed investors who had had been reeling earlier this month when the SEC filed lawsuits against exchange powerhouses Binance and Coinbase.
Those suits continue to cloud crypto's future in the U.S., and the agency has yet to approve any of the more than half-dozen ETF applications presented in recent years, or indicate that it is ready to change its mind.
"This is truly welcome news for the market, but perhaps not quite the beginning of the end of the bear market," Tim Frost, CEO of digital wealth platform Yield App, noted cautiously in an email to CoinDesk. "This pump is likely down to a lot of institutional buying on BlackRock and other institutions’ applications for a Bitcoin spot ETF, which have not been approved. And, if these get rejected by the US SEC like all the others, this may well lead to another tumble."
Ether, the second largest crypto in market value, was recently changing hands at $1,880, down about 1.8% from Wednesday, same time. ETH had been holding steady above $1,900 after regaining this level the previous days for the first time since the start of the month.
Other major cryptos were mixed with a few, including ADA, the token of smart contracts platform Cardano, and Litecoin up more than 2%, but others, including MATIC, the native crypto of the Polygon blockchain, off about the same. Increasingly popular memecoin PEPE was up 11%, although it had been up 70% earlier in the day. After spending most of the day in the green, the CoinDesk Market Index, a measure of crypto markets performance, sank into negative territory and was recently down 0.9%.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 closed up 0.8% and 0.2%, respectively, shrugging off a reiteration of hawkish remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. The U.S. central bank said last week that it likely would resume interest rate hikes later this year after ending a more than year-long diet of increases.
Yield App's Frost wrote that the most recent surge would "not be particularly welcome news as this pump is entirely due to centralized institutions in traditional finance becoming more interested (in crypto)."
But he added: "These detractors should really think about the future. Cryptocurrency cannot stay in its own echo chamber forever and it must be accepted and bought by institutions if it is to truly grow and expand."
What Is BlackRock's Motivation?
The institutions are taking a fresh look at crypto and they’re flooding in.
Last week, BlackRock (BLK) applied for a spot bitcoin exchange-trade fund (ETF). This week, another comically large asset manager in Invesco (IVZ) reapplied for approval to offer a spot bitcoin ETF. The less-comically large ETF-sponsor WisdomTree also refiled for a spot bitcoin product yesterday (WisdomTree’s filing was initially rejected by the SEC in 2022).
Elsewhere in non-bitcoin crypto, a crypto exchange backed by Fidelity, Schwab and Citadel Securities launched in the United States and Deutsche Bank applied for a digital asset license in Germany.
So yes, the institutions are back. But why did $10 trillion asset manager BlackRock and $1.5 trillion asset manager Invesco decide it was time for the spot bitcoin ETF again? Many have offered convoluted and tinfoil-hat theories (some which I quite like).
Theories like BlackRock is scrambling to backstop Coinbase for some reason or the big firms are acting on behalf of three letter agencies to keep self-custodied bitcoin away from everyday people or that Wall Street can’t let the crypto crowd get too far ahead of them.
There are more theories out there, but here’s a much simpler one: Financial institutions like making money and offering a spot bitcoin ETF is a way to make money.
Read the full story here:
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