Launched in January, Bitcoin spot ETFs sent shockwaves through crypto and finance worlds.

The nine new ETFs (ten with the converted Grayscale Trust) shattered records for both the speed and volume of inflows. The latest one is BlackRock’s $IBIT becoming the first ETF to reach $20 billion of assets under management (AUM) in just 144 days. The second-best result belongs to JPMorgan’s $JEPI, which took 985 days to reach this level.

The inflows visibly decreased in April and May but picked up on Tuesday with impressive strength. U.S.-listed Bitcoin spot ETFs registered $800 million in inflows, led by Fidelity and Blackrock. Even Grayscale seems to have stopped hemorrhaging money and took on $28 million (lowering management fees to the competition level must have done the job). This marked the best day of inflows since March and the second-highest overall, with year-to-date reaching $14 billion.

Investors’ enthusiasm was likely boosted by the improving political climate in the U.S. regarding crypto, as well as the rising retail interest. It may also be that recognizing the diversity of ETF holders and their intentions has reinforced other investors' resolve. The public 13F filings with the SEC, submitted by Bitcoin ETF holders in May, have revealed a lot of interesting data, from the sheer number of holders to particular entities such as the state of Wisconsin.

Who are Bitcoin ETF holders?

The 13F filings, which are compulsory for institutional investment managers with over $100 million in AUM, showed over 1000 Bitcoin spot ETF holders. As noted by Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg’s senior ETF analyst, it’s impressive just how many different institution types were represented in this first wave of filings. “Normally you don't see this long a list of holder types till years after launch and mega liquidity “, he wrote in an X post, attaching a recap of $IBIT holders.

Source: Bloomberg

This speaks volumes not only about BlackRock’s fund liquidity, which appears to be excellent, but also about the diverse range of investor types interested in Bitcoin and their varying motivations.

Geography varies too: while most of the investors are U.S.-based, one could also note the Bank of Montreal, as well as different entities from Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, and Switzerland.

Among the biggest Bitcoin spot  ETF holders, Millenium Management is an absolute king, leading the following top-10 (full list compiled by CCN based on Q1 2024 filings through May 24, 2024):

  • Investment management firm Millenium Management: $1,942
  • Quantitative trading firm Susquehanna International Group: $1,326
  • Investment advisor Horizon Kinetics Asset Management: $974 million
  • Hedge fund Schonfeld Strategic Advisors: $479 million
  • Trading firm Jane Street Group: $633 million
  • Hedge fund Bracebridge Capital: $434 million
  • Hedge fund Boothbay Fund Management: $377 million
  • Investment bank Morgan Stanley: $272 million
  • ARK Investment Management: $206 million
  • Investment advisor Pine Ridge Advisers: $205 million
  • An investor who has not made it to the top-10 so far but is extremely interesting from many points of view is the State of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin invests in Bitcoin

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) has revealed $163 million invested in Bitcoin spot ETFs. The news shocked the financial industry, as big institutions, specifically pensions, don’t normally invest in young ETFs, especially backed by a still-controversial asset like Bitcoin.

At the end of 2023, the SWIB managed roughly $156 billion in assets, according to its website. This means that its Bitcoin-related holdings represent a mere 0.1% of its portfolio. This could suggest that the new investment was just a “toe in the water” and if it passes the public opinion test, the pension fund could invest much more.

In 2021, the Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund made headlines by buying bitcoin for approximately $25 million, but this remained an isolated case. With more pension funds diversifying into BTC, this could herald a whole new era for the Bitcoin market.

Indeed, even a tiny part of the nearly $6 trillion US pension funds market allocated to Bitcoin ETFs could create significant buying pressure on Bitcoin itself, pushing its price to new highs.

Overall, the success of U.S. Bitcoin spot ETFs is undeniable, fueling a global trend of approvals: Hong Kong, Australia, and most recently Thailand now also allow the issuance of Bitcoin spot ETFs.