Bitcoin ETFs Secure Approval Exactly 15 Years After Hal Finney’s Iconic ‘Running Bitcoin’ Tweet

Finney, who died in August 2014, was also the first person besides Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, to download and run Bitcoin’s software.

AccessTimeIconJan 11, 2024 at 7:21 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 7:42 p.m. UTC

“Running bitcoin,” were the words of legendary cypherpunk Hal Finney on Jan. 11, 2009, shortly before becoming the first person to download and receive bitcoin (BTC) two days later.

This tweet introduced the world to bitcoin, the then-niche internet token which would balloon into a trillion-dollar asset at its peak.

On Wednesday, exactly 15 years after Finney’s tweet, bitcoin got its first spot exchange-traded fund (ETF) approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Approved providers include financial giants BlackRock (BLK) and Fidelity, while crypto native fund Grayscale’s popular Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) has been uplisted as an ETF as well. Fees on these products range from zero for the first few months (at ARK, Bitwise and Invesco) to as much as 1.5% (at Grayscale).

Finney, who died in August 2014, was also the first person besides Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, to download and run Bitcoin software.

He also believed that bitcoin could grow very quickly. In an email sent to Nakamoto, Finney was one of the first to put a price on the token. Estimating a fraction of total global household wealth would spill into the project, and one day each of the 21 million coins could be worth $10 million.

While bitcoin was originally supposed to be an anti-establishment play that operated far from traditional banking circles, its adoption on Wall Street means that the token is now positioned for widespread growth as an alternative asset.

A regulated product will allow investors and funds to gain exposure to the token without the risks associated with setting up and managing a cryptocurrency wallet. As such, the green light from the SEC follows many years of delays and outright rejections of numerous attempts to launch spot bitcoin ETFs.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, co-founders of crypto exchange Gemini, filed their first application with the SEC to create a spot bitcoin ETF in 2013, which was promptly rejected then. Grayscale has tried to convert its trust to an ETF since 2017.

Meanwhile, bitcoin prices hit as high as $47,500 early Thursday before retreating after the approvals, inching closer to their 2021 lifetime peak of $69,000.

And while Finney isn’t around to see the apparent success of the magic internet money – his legacy will forever live on.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Shaurya Malwa

Shaurya is the Deputy Managing Editor for the Data & Tokens team, focusing on decentralized finance, markets, on-chain data, and governance across all major and minor blockchains.