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Wisconsin Becomes the First State to Buy Bitcoin

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Wisconsin Becomes the First State to Buy Bitcoin


The Wisconsin state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin.
Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group (Getty Images)

Wisconsin has officially become the first state to buy bitcoin, according to a new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. And while $98 million isn’t considered a lot of money for a state pension fund, it’s still a notable move given how notoriously volatile cryptocurrency investing can be.

The SEC filing, available online, was first reported by Coindesk, which notes the State of Wisconsin Investment Board bought 94,562 shares of BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) worth about $98 million and $63 million of Grayscale’s spot Bitcoin ETF (GBTC).

Bitcoin ETFs were only approved by the SEC this past January and allow institutional investors to invest in bitcoin without actually holding the crypto directly. Crypto boosters were excited by the news on Tuesday, with many suggesting this could be just the start of other state pension funds investing in crypto.

“Normally you don’t get these big fish institutions in the 13Fs for a year or so (when the ETF gets more liquidity) but as we’ve seen these are no ordinary launches,” Eric Balchunas, an ETF analyst at Bloomberg tweeted. “Good sign, expect more, as institutions tend to move in herds.”

The most famous large institutional investment in bitcoin started in El Salvador in 2021 when President Nayib Bukele purchased the crypto for his country and declared the cryptocurrency to be legal tender. El Salvador currently holds about 5,748 BTC, according to Coin Telegraph, worth roughly $360 million. But bitcoin is an incredibly volatile asset. Those same holdings would have been worth about $155 million a year ago and there’s no guarantee bitcoin’s price will continue to climb steadily.

Bitcoin is currently trading at $61,774, down roughly 2% over the past 24 hours, though the crypto is up about 128% over the past year, recovering significantly since the market went into a tailspin following the implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX. Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering.

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board didn’t immediately respond to questions emailed Tuesday morning. We’ll update this post if we hear back.





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