Bitcoin enjoyed more penetration into the mainstream last week, as the much-anticipated debut of trading in Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT) took place.
Investors eager to get some bitcoin exposure in a regulated venue paid a premium for shares of the trust’s funds, traded as “GBTC” on the OTC Markets. Each share of GBTC represents one tenth of a bitcoin, worth roughly $24 at the time. The first trades saw GBTC priced 58% higher than its underlying bitcoin. According to OTC market data, shares climbed as high as $66 during the week, representing a 175% premium. There were claims of trades for even greater premiums, perhaps omitted by OTC Markets as “outlier data”. 765 shares (equal to roughly $18,000) were traded on the first day, and 14,807 shares ($3.55 million) were traded on Friday.
Bitcoin exchange itBit accomplished the unprecedented feat of obtaining a trust company charter from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), granting it permission to operate in all 50 states as a fully regulated financial services entity. The exchange enlisted the help of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairperson Sheila Bair, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley and former Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) chairman Robert Herz.
It also secured $25 million in funding, the highest amount to be ever secured by a bitcoin exchange and among the highest by any Bitcoin company.
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However, earlier rumors of itBit becoming regulated as the first bitcoin exchange will have to wait for fruition, as BitLicense regulations have not yet been formalized. The proposed regulations may be finalized later this month.
Another trading venue, Sweden- based Cryex, also announced funding ($10 million) and its launch of digital currency and institutional FX trading.
Hedgy, a startup aiming to use the blockchain to help miners hedge price risk, got $1.2 million.
Ripple felt the harder side of trying to be compliant, settling on a $700,000 fine with FinCEN for its alleged failure to adhere to money services business licensing requirements and anti-money laundering regulations.
Bitcoin prices trended higher throughout the week, gaining as much as 7% to $248, but ended the week at $238 on BTC-e.