LONDON: Bitcoin hovered just below its record highs on Wednesday (Oct 20) and the first US bitcoin futures-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) looked set to open firmer after surging on its debut on Tuesday.
The world's leading cryptocurrency was at US$64,257 at 12.36pm GMT, modestly higher on the day and within a short jump of the all-time high of US$64,895.22 it hit on Apr 14 this year.
It reached as high as US$64,499 on Tuesday, late in the US session.
Tuesday was the first day of trading for the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF - a development that market participants say is likely to drive investment into the digital asset.
The ETF closed up 2.59 per cent at US$41.94 on Tuesday, with around US$1 billion worth of shares trading hands on Intercontinental Exchange Inc's ICE.N Arca exchange.
It was trading around 0.2 per cent higher before the market opened.
Trading appeared to be dominated by smaller investors and high-frequency trading firms, analysts said, noting the absence of large block trades indicated that institutions were likely staying on the sidelines.
James Quinn, managing partner at Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency private wealth manager, said the launch of the new product was "meaningful" for bitcoin.
Theoretically, any licensed brokerage firm in the United States which wants to take on this ETF can do so as easily as any other ETF, which "should make it available to a lot of folks", said Quinn.
While the ETF is based on bitcoin futures, Quinn said the trades and hedges underpinning the ETF means activity will flow into the spot market and the bitcoin price.
Crypto ETFs have launched this year in Canada and Europe amid surging interest in digital assets. VanEck and Valkyrie are among fund managers pursuing US-listed ETF products, although Invesco on Monday dropped its plans for a futures-based ETF.
Ether, the world's number two cryptocurrency, was up 1.5 per cent on the day at US$3,926, near to a six-week high, but some way off its all-time high of US$4,380, hit on May 12.