Why bitcoin is surging again

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Bitcoin is rocketing higher, topping $35,000 for the first time since May 2022. It’s up 20% over the past five days. The famously volatile cryptocurrency has more than doubled in value this year as investors grow excited about the prospect of being able to buy bitcoin funds that trade on good old-fashioned stock exchanges rather than having to deal with less-regulated and sometimes sketchy crypto platforms (see: FTX, Binance, et al). The latest round of excitement came as the BlackRock exchange-traded fund for bitcoin appeared on a list controlled by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., a Nasdaq-operated clearing house for stocks and ETFs, according to Reuters. BlackRock applied in June to register a bitcoin spot ETF, which is pending approval. The company is the largest provider of ETFs in the world, managing trillions of dollars of assets. A BlackRock bitcoin ETF would give the cryptocurrency a new sense of legitimacy. “This listing in the DTCC does not mean that the fund has actually been launched or that this will inevitably happen,” said Samer Hasn, market analyst at online brokerage XS.com. “However, it may appear as part of BlackRock’s preparations to launch the ETF soon.” Other companies have also applied for approval to launch similar bitcoin ETFs, including Grayscale Investments. Although the US Securities and Exchange Commission had ruled against Grayscale’s ETF, a three-judge panel for the DC Court of Appeals in August overruled the regulator’s decision. The panel said the regulator had failed to adequately explain why it rejected the firm’s application. That has helped boost cryptocurrencies throughout the summer. Still, the SEC has not approved the fund, and investors may be getting out in front of their skis. “I think that these rapid rises in bitcoin are somewhat exaggerated,” said Hasn. “Regulatory and legislative concerns are still clouding this market, and I don’t see opportunities soon to dispel these concerns as the legal battles continue.” But there’s another reason why bitcoin may be rising: fear. As investors look to diversify their portfolios in uncertain times, some turn to bitcoin, ironically as a kind of digital safe haven. Sometimes dubbed “digital gold,” bitcoin has become a way for investors to branch out beyond traditional stocks and bonds.

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