By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Inflows into cryptocurrency funds and products have already hit a record $4.2 billion for the first quarter, reflecting growing institutional investor interest, CoinShares data showed.
The previous high for crypto inflows was $3.9 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, driving total inflows for 2020 to $6.7 billion, the asset manager's data shows.
Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization, has had the most inflows so far this year with $3.3 billion, while ethereum was second with $731 million.
Bitcoin hit a record high of $61,781.83 on Saturday, but has fallen since then as investors consolidated gains and amid plans by India to ban cryptocurrencies.
"As bitcoin moves into the mainstream and captures greater attention, it will likely draw further scrutiny from regulators in the United States and Asia," Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at Investing.com, said.
On Tuesday, the virtual currency was at $55,415.
"The potential for more scrutiny and tighter regulation remains the biggest headwind for bitcoin," Cohen added.
Crypto assets under management have also surged to a peak of $55.8 billion, CoinShares data showed. Last year, AUM for the sector reached $37.6 billion. Five digital asset investment providers now oversees assets of more than $5 billion.
Grayscale is still the largest digital currency manager, with $43.73 billion in assets, while CoinShares, the second biggest, oversees nearly $5 billion in assets.
CoinShares' analysis further showed investors continue to choose investment providers that simply track the price of digital assets, so-called passive funds, over those that have active management strategies.
Passive funds have AUM of $54.1 billion, compared with $786 million for those with active strategies.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Alexander Smith)