BlackRock beats spot bitcoin ETF rivals in race to $1B assets

Only the first bitcoin futures ETF and the first physical gold fund hit $1 billion in assets via “organic” demand this soon after launch, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst says


BlackRock CEO Larry Fink | "The Global Economic Outlook: Laurence Fink"/World Economic Forum (CC license) modified by Blockworks


BlackRock’s spot bitcoin ETF reached over $1 billion in inflows within its first four days of trading — a rare achievement in ETF history. 

The firm’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) had seen nearly $1.1 billion of inflows after Wednesday’s close, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data. The fund has so far edged past Fidelity Investments’ Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC), which is second at $882 million of inflows. 

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The early inflows into IBIT, at this level, are very rare, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Balchunas told Blockworks. 

Read more: Spot bitcoin ETF trading volumes hit $1.8B on trading day 3

Only two other ETFs surpassed $1 billion in assets via what Seyffart called “organic-like demand” so soon after trading: the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) and State Street Global Advisors’ SPDR Gold Shares (GLD). 

BITO eclipsed the $1 billion asset mark two days after its October 2021 launch, while GLD hit $1 billion in assets after three days on the market in 2004.  

Read more: Spot bitcoin ETF debut week inflows lagged 2021 BTC futures launch: CoinShares

Other funds — such as the Xtrackers MSCI USA Climate Action Equity ETF (USCA) and the iShares Climate Conscious & Transition MSCI USA ETF (USCL) — reached even greater assets levels early on, Seyffart acknowledged. 

But those did so through large investments by Finnish pension insurance company Ilmarinen — with the firm offering initial investments of $2.1 billion and $2 billion in USCL and USCA, respectively. 

BlackRock turned heads when it filed for a spot bitcoin ETF last June given the firm’s size and stature in traditional finance. The company manages roughly $10 trillion in assets, including nearly $2.6 trillion in its more than 400 US ETFs

Grayscale Investments’ Bitcoin Trust ETF (GBTC) has seen outflows of about $1.6 billion in its first four days trading — a scenario some industry watchers foresaw given the product’s higher fee compared to competitors.

That fund launched in 2013 and had about $28 billion in assets before converting into an ETF last week. 

When asked during a Bloomberg interview whether investors leaving GBTC were entering IBIT, US iShares product head Rachel Aguirre said flows were coming from “a number of different directions,” including self-directed investors. 

A BlackRock spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. 

“There is no blockchain with fund flows to see where the money is coming from,” Seyffart told Blockworks. “That said, the big adviser platforms and wirehouses almost certainly have not greenlit these products yet.”

Read more: BlackRock bitcoin ETF raking in flows as GBTC continues to bleed assets

BlackRock’s early asset lead — excluding GBTC — does not exactly come as a surprise.

Neena Mishra, director of ETF research at Zacks Investment Research, said a few days prior to the spot bitcoin ETF launches that she was betting on BlackRock to outduel competitors in this segment. 

“What’s not to like about a low-cost product from the world’s largest asset manager that seems perfect for an advisor or investor looking for safe and convenient bitcoin exposure?” she told Blockworks at the time. 

Updated Jan. 18, 2023 at 12:17 pm ET: Modified headline for clarity.

Updated Jan. 18, 2023 at 12:12 pm ET: Modified headline for clarity.

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