The mainstreaming of Bitcoin continued at a fast pace this week, with more opportunities for people outside the crypto world to access the world’s first digital currency. From Walmart to Houston and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Bitcoin continued a steady beat of acceptance signaling yet another leap forward for crypto.
Buy Bitcoin at Walmart? You Betcha.
Walmart, which bills itself as a family-friendly neighborhood store which can be found in just about any corner of the U.S., confirmed this week that it is running a test in some stores which allows customers to purchase Bitcoin through 200 Coinstar kiosks.
The Coinstar kiosks, which look a lot like an ATM machine, count loose coins and spit out a voucher that people can exchange for cash or gift cards. “That’s part of a broader initiative by Coinstar, which has teamed up with a cryptocurrency cash exchange called Coinme to offer Bitcoin at more than 8,000 kiosks,” Bloomberg reports.
It was only a few months ago that Walmart made crypto headlines when a fake press release was circulated stating that the superstore would allow customers to pay with Litecoin. At the same time, the company posted a job description for a crypto strategist. So, the venture with Coinstar isn’t much of a surprise, making Walmart a company to watch as crypto continues to mainstream.
Houston Firefighters See the Crypto Light
Another sign of crypto’s growing acceptance came from Houston this week, as a pension fund for firefighters announced it had “bought $25 million worth of Bitcoin and Ether for its defined-benefit plan’s portfolio, the latest move by an institutional investor into digital assets,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
As you may recall, institutional support for crypto dried up in the second quarter when Bitcoin dropped from its May high. Analysts said at the time that support from the institutional investment committee would be a long time coming back. The move by the firefighters indicates support for crypto beyond the traditional cryptocurrency investment entities.
Two Exchange Traded Funds Launch in the U.S. Markets
Excitement started brewing on social media late last week as the Proshares Bitcoin Strategy ETF’s ticker name BITO was loaded into the Bloomberg Terminals. The ETF, which on Monday passed the 75-day comment period in which regulators can nix the fund, started trading Tuesday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
By Wednesday, Bitcoin reached a new high of $67,016. By Friday, the coin settled near $60,000.
But uh-oh. By Thursday, BITO’s success was almost two good, as it “is already on track to breach a limit on the number of futures contracts it is permitted to hold by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, according to data compiled by Bloomberg,” the market site reported.
“After two days trading BITO owns nearly 1,900 contracts for October, and CME rules cap the number of front-month contracts one entity can own to 2,000,” Bloomberg said.
On Friday, another bitcoin BTF launched as the Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF) began trading on NASDAQ. However, the fund’s debut was not as robust as the ProShares’ Tuesday performance, as Bitcoin tracked toward the $60,000 mark.
Is Bitcoin as Hedge Against Inflation Driving the Market?
While crypto fans may be hopeful that all the activity this week will bring new money into the crypto system, one analyst thinks otherwise.
“By itself, the launch of BITO is unlikely to trigger a new phase of significantly more fresh capital entering Bitcoin,” JP Morgan Global Market Analyst Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note, according to Markets Insider. “Instead, we believe the perception of Bitcoin as a better inflation hedge than gold is the main reason for the current upswing, triggering a shift away from gold ETFs into Bitcoin funds since September.”
The ups and downs of the crypto market are just business as usual for traders. While it may take the mainstream more time to adjust to the highs and lows, it’s apparent that for Bitcoin and crypto, the beat goes on.
Joyce Pavia Hanson