By Hannah Lang and Chibuike Oguh
(Reuters) -Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, hit a more than one-year high on Friday, capping a week of gains helped in part by BlackRock’s plans to create a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) despite heightened U.S. regulatory scrutiny on the digital asset sector.
BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, filed last week to launch iShares Bitcoin Trust, an ETF that would have Coinbase Custody as its custodian as well as offer institutional investors exposure to the cyptocurrency.
Crypto exchange EDX Markets, backed by investment firms Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Citadel Securities, also announced earlier this week that it will allow trading on some cryptocurrencies.
The moves have revived investor interest in cyptocurrencies, which have been in the doldrums after a series of crypto company meltdowns including the sudden collapse of exchange FTX late last year.
Compounding negative sentiment has been increased regulatory scrutiny, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s move this month to sue crypto giants Coinbase Global and Binance, alleging violation of its rules. The pair deny the allegations.
Bitcoin has gained nearly 25% in value since BlackRock’s filing. It rose as high as $31,458 on Friday, the highest level since June 7, 2022, and was last up 3.29% at $30,872.
“The dark clouds overshadowing crypto have lifted in recent days amid a burst of institutional interest,” said Kate Laurence, general partner of Bloccelerate VC, which invests in crypto projects.
“The likes of BlackRock, Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Citadel throwing their hats into the crypto ring is hugely significant because it shows that institutions are very serious about the space – despite the recent regulatory crackdown.”
Investors piled into cryptocurrencies when interest rates were low, pushing the market to a peak value of $3 trillion in 2021. But they turned cautious as rates rose, with the value of the market now standing at around $1.24 trillion, according to CoinGecko data.
Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, has risen more than 16% since last…