TOKYO -- Specialized funds that invest in digital currencies are multiplying across the globe, as the wealthy pour money into such funds in the same way they do into stocks and bonds.
As of the end of December, there were 175 cryptocurrency funds around the world, about five times the number at the end of 2016, according to U.K. financial research company Autonomous Next. Total outstanding assets under management were estimated at $3.25 billion, most of which came from wealthy investors.
About 30% of cryptocurrency funds earn profits by trading, including BKCM Digital Asset Fund of the U.S. Singapore's BB Fund invests in companies that have promising digital currency technologies.
Germany's Logos Fund trades digital currencies and runs a "mining" business that verifies digital currency transactions.
At one point, the price of bitcoin soared to about 20 times what it had been at the start of 2016.
Bitcoin is freely bought and sold by retail investors, but making astute investment choices among the more than 1,000 digital currencies requires expertise and experience. Cryptocurrency funds attract investors who want to leave investments in several cryptocurrencies to professional fund managers.
Many digital currency funds, which are similar to hedge funds, only accept money from the wealthy and institutional investors.
There are also moves toward listing cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds in the U.S. Autonomous Next expects around five cryptocurrency ETFs to debut this year. Affordable cryptocurrency ETFs will make cryptocurrency investing easier for retail investors.