US securities regulators gave the green light Wednesday to a group of bitcoin exchange-traded funds, a keenly anticipated decision expected to boost the cryptocurrency.

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File photo: A representation of virtual currency bitcoin is seen in front of a stock graph in this illustration taken January 8, 2021.
A representation of the virtual currency bitcoin is seen in front of a stock graph in this illustration made on January 8, 2021. © Dado Ruvic, Reuters

Regulators approved proposals for 11 ETFs to list on leading exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange “on an accelerated basis,” the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a 22-page order.

Exchange-traded funds are traded on public markets, granting investors exposure to price movements in asset prices without taking direct ownership of the underlying assets.

The funds themselves, however, do invest in the digital currency.

The authorization of the ETFs – which are comparable to stocks or mutual funds as far as accessibility to everyday investors – “represents a pivotal juncture for the digital asset space, signifying a movement towards mainstream legitimacy and acceptance,” said Thomas Tang, vice president of investments at Ryze Labs.

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“This development comes after years of regulatory scrutiny and market volatility, marking a notable shift in the perception and utilization of digital currencies,” Tang said.

Bitcoin ETFs, by virtue of their existence within a regulated framework, will infuse a level of institutional credibility into the realm of digital assets.”

Initially launched in the 1990s, ETFs took off in the early 2000s by investors looking for a simple and low-cost way to take bets on stock indices, commodities or a particular industrial sector.

Some $6.7 trillion were held globally in ETFs at the end of 2022, according to consultancy Oliver Wyman.

Until Wednesday, investors seeking to invest in bitcoin had to open an account on a cryptocurrency exchange and transact through a traditional medium of exchange, such as the dollar.

Wednesday’s action opens up trading on vehicles offered by mainstream financial houses such as Fidelity and BlackRock.

(AFP)

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