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Here’s how blindingly fast bitcoin has been surging

Here’s how blindingly fast bitcoin has been surging

The digital currency has blown through $100 milestones nearly every day

  

That’s how long it took the cryptocurrency bitcoin,

back in April 2013, to rise from $100 for a single bitcoin to $200.

Six hours—that’s how long it took for it to rise by its latest $100.

While the latter is an easier accomplishment—bitcoin only needed to rise 3.7% to add another $100 to its price, compared with 100% when it doubled to $200—it is also indicative of just how astonishingly fast the digital currency has been rising lately. It is up nearly 500% over the past 12 months, a sixfold rise, according to pricing site CoinDesk. Thus far in 2017, it is up 187%. Over just the past 10 days, it is up more than 60%. Here’s what gains like that translate to, If an investor were to have put $1,000 into bitcoin in 2010, that stake would be worth tens of millions of dollars today. Earlier this week, Charlie Bilello, a research director at investment adviser Pension Partners, created a table to show just how quickly Bitcoin has been bursting through $100 milestones. It hasn’t needed a double-digit number of days since April when it took nearly two months to move from $1,200 to $1,300.

Bitcoin BTCUSD, -0.57%   jumped another 12% on Thursday, an increase of $300. The speed and scale of the rally have raised questions about whether prices could possibly be sustained around current levels, something analysts seemed mixed on.“We’ve watched the volatility in Bitcoin ever since we first bought it, and we’re not blind to the fact that prices are driven by speculation to a certain degree. However, we think its utility is very underappreciated, and that there isn’t as much speculation as people think, necessarily,” said Cathie Wood, chief executive officer of ARK Investment Management.

ARK has two actively managed exchange-traded funds that offer indirect exposure to bitcoin, counting the Bitcoin Investment Trust GBTC, -7.23%  among their holdings. The BIT trades on the over-the-counter market and operates as a private, open-ended trust that invests solely in Bitcoin, with the value of its shares entirely derived from price moves in bitcoin.  The BIT typically trades at a high premium to bitcoin itself, but it has nonetheless followed the cryptocurrency higher in 2017—much higher. It is up more than 300% thus far this year, and it has more than doubled this week alone.

What is the future of bitcoin?he gains in bitcoin have been so large that the trust has become one of the top holdings of both the ARK Web x.0 ETF ARKW, +0.85%  and the A Innovation ETF ARKK, +0.18% the two actively managed funds that own What is the future of bitcoin?he gains in bitcoin have been so large that the trust has become one of the top holdings of both the ARK Web x.0 ETF ARKW, +0.85%  and the A Innovation ETF ARKK, +0.18% the two actively managed funds that own the trust (the ETFs only hold the trust, not bitcoin itself).the trust.

The trust is the largest holding of the Web ETF, comprising 8.24% of the portfolio. At 7.8%, the trust is the second-largest holding of the Innovation Fund. According to Wood, the ETFs both first bought the trust in July 2015, when it comprised 1% of the portfolios. Both ETFs have gained more than 40% in 2017, in large part due to the gain in the trust. And because they are among the few vehicles available for investors to get some kind of Bitcoin exposure—without buying it directly, something that can be complicated and risky—both have seen heavy increases in investor interest. The Web fund has seen inflows of $10.8 million in 2017, with $6.5 million of that coming over the past month, according to FactSet data. The Innovation ETF has had inflows of $16.6 million years to date, with $12 million of that coming over the past month.

Both funds have less than $30 million in assets, meaning the inflows this year have increased their size by about 50%. Wood said ARK may sell some of its BIT holdings soon, as the rules of the funds stipulate that it can’t have more than 10% of its holdings in an illiquid security—something the trust qualifies as. Despite the recent rally, she said she wasn’t necessarily worried that prices had gotten ahead of themselves. “Bitcoin is less than 50% of the crypto space; it used to be 80%,” she said. “That happened while its price was escalating; it’s just that the price of other crypto assets has escalated more, which suggests more speculation in those. But you can see that bitcoin transactions relative to the trading volume have been moving up, while developers are developing more. Both of those are good fundamental signs.”

Chuck Reynolds
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