Spot Bitcoin ETFs Surge Ahead of Halving

Despite price gains, flows to the three-month-old funds dropped into negative territory the past four days.

ETF.com
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Contributing Editor
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Reviewed by: etf.com Staff
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Edited by: Ron Day

A day ahead of the much-anticipated halving, spot bitcoin ETFs were surging along with the price of the underlying asset, although flows to the three-month old products have dipped into negative territory for the past four days. 

BlackRock's iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) and the Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust (FBTC), which have generated the most inflows since 10 funds began trading on January 11, were recently up about 3% and nearly 4%, respectively. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which has the most assets under management, also recently rose almost 4%, although the fund continued to hemorrhage flows. 

On Wednesday, GBTC suffered net outflows of $133 million and has accumulated more than $16.6 billion in outflows since its conversion from a trust, according to the research arm of crypto exchange BitMEX. As of the close of U.S. trading on Wednesday, the original 10 spot bitcoin funds had net outflows on four consecutive days—their second longest streak in the red—a result of Grayscale's losses and more tepid investor demand.

The decline reverses the funds' short history of dramatic growth to more than $56 billion in AUM and comes amid an extended price swoon stemming from global socio-political uncertainties and surprisingly resilient U.S. inflation data. Bitcoin was recently changing hands at about $63,500, up 2.3% over the past 24 hours but well off its record high of about $73,000 in March. It is up nearly 45% largely resulting from the spot bitcoin ETF approvals. 

Halving Taken Into Account

Spot bitcoin ETF observers say that investors already accounted for the halving, which cuts the size of the rewards that bitcoin miners receive for validating transactions on the bitcoin network. They note that price increases will likely occur later this year based on the extended gains that followed the three previous halvings in 2012, 2016 and 2020. 

In a post on the social media platform X/Twitter Thursday, Bloomberg Senior ETF Analyst Eric Balchunas called for "some perspective on the 'its so over' ETF flows lately." He wrote that it was "totally normal for ETF category to cool off after breathtaking pace like this," especially given bitcoin's price drop. 

"Even w the price drop btc is up 144% since BlackRock's filing last June and 47% YTD, which is 10x the return of $QQQ = if you are depressed with those returns you should prob seek medical help," he noted.

James Rubin is a contributing editor for etf.com, where he produces the Morning Exchange and Weekly Exchange newsletters. A longtime financial writer, editor and book author, he formerly held positions as a news and markets editor for the Americas at CoinDesk, where he focussed on cryptocurrencies. 

He provided editorial guidance for a Wall Street Journal best-selling book on Bitcoin and oversaw a startup newsroom focused on digital financial assets. He has edited for TheStreet and Unchained, where he wrote daily news stories about the trial of fallen crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried. His writing has also appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes.com, AdWeek, Bankrate, The Financial Brand and The Wall Street Journal. He has also written for Forbes Insights and the Economist Intelligence Unit, including papers presented at World Economic Forums in Davos and Mumbai. 

James is the co-author of The Urban Cyclist’s Survival Guide (Triumph Books) and has been interviewed about bike safety on a number of NPR affiliates. In a prior career, Rubin was a world-ranked tennis player, once competing in Wimbledon’s qualifying rounds. He speaks fluent German and is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and received his BA at Columbia University.