The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy exchange-traded fund's trading volume topped $1 billion on its first day, ranking the investment vehicle as one of the top ETF launches in history.
As of 4:27 p.m. ET, after the close of U.S. stock markets on Tuesday, trading volume in the ProShares ETF (ticker $BITO) had reached 24.1 million shares, worth more than $1 billion based on the closing price.
The $BITO price rose to $41.94 at the close, up 4.9% from the initial $40 net asset value.
Based on first-day trading volume, the launch would rank the new ETF as one of the top two or three ever, said Dave Nadig, chief investment officer and director of research of ETF Trends.
Most of the trading appears to have come from retail investors, since there were few large "block" trades of the size that big institutional traders often deal in, Nadig said.
"This is probably going to be what we all expected, which is it's an access vehicle for certain players in the marketplace," Nadig said in a phone interview. "There's lots of folks who are active participants in the markets who just don't want to cross over the crypto bridge by themselves."
The new ETF's debut came as bitcoin's price surged Tuesday to a six-month high, climbing toward the all-time high price near $65,000 set in April.
As of press time, the cryptocurrency was changing hands around $64,242, up 4.9% over the past 24 hours.
Matt Hougan, chief investment officer of Bitwise Asset Management, said in emailed comments that the strong first-day showing "suggests there is a large amount of capital that is still excluded from the crypto market simply because it's hard to access."
"That will change over time, and that capital will enter the market," Hougan said. "That's a pretty bullish signal for the long term."
Jeff Dorman, chief investment officer of Arca Funds, wrote in a newsletter Tuesday that "this was a long, arduous road for many, and becomes yet another indication that digital assets are crossing into mainstream."
The first of its kind in the U.S., the ProShares ETF offers investors the opportunity to gain exposure to returns of BTC with the ease of buying a stock in a brokerage account.
The SEC approved the ETF on Friday, and several other pending ETF proposals could win approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission later this week.
The ProShares ETF is structured to invest in bitcoin futures contracts traded on the Chicago-based CME, rather than investing in the cryptocurrency directly.
So the ETF by itself won't introduce any new demand for bitcoin. However, traders might buy more bitcoin as they look to hedge against the futures price or take advantage of pricing disparities.