By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Total investor inflows into cryptocurrency funds and products hit $5.6 billion so far this year, up more than 600% from 2019, according to the latest data from asset manager CoinShares.
The inflows plus the latest price moves lifted assets under management for the sector to nearly $19 billion in 2020. Assets under management ended 2019 at just $2.57 billion.
Interest in cryptocurrencies skyrocketed this year as investors saw bitcoin as a hedge against inflation and as an alternative to the depreciating dollar.
Bitcoin hit yet another all-time peak of $24,298.04 on Sunday, but was last down nearly 3% at $22,832.78, hit by a wave of risk-off moves in financial markets on worries about the new coronavirus strain.
On Monday ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, fell 4.4% to $610.14.
Inflows into investment crypto investment products totaled $335 million as of Friday, with bitcoin flows accounting for $792.1 million, the data showed. Ethereum had $207.3 million in weekly flows.
So far this year, investors pumped $15.6 billion into bitcoin products and funds, while ethereum inflows reached nearly $2.5 billion.
"It's no secret that there are a few big players in the bitcoin/crypto space and that it is mostly crowded with retail-related traders and investors," said Julius de Kempenaer, senior technical analyst at StockCharts, a technical analysis and financial charting platform for online retail investors.
"The current jump will certainly attract new retail money, but we are also already seeing adoption by more institutions. I think the question is whether institutions can afford not to participate, and for how long," he added.
Grayscale, the world's largest crypto fund, had $250.8 million inflows in the latest week, raising its assets under management to $15.3 billion. So far this year, Grayscale has amassed inflows of nearly $5 billion, the CoinShares report said.
Trading volume for bitcoin hit a record $11 billion on trusted exchanges on Dec. 17, but slowed over the weekend. Turnover, however, remained at above the average of $4 billion on Saturday and Sunday.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Richard Chang)