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Factbox: Bitcoin's march towards the mainstream

5 minute read

LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) - Bitcoin hit a record high just shy of $65,000 last month, the latest landmark on its march to wider acceptance. A growing embrace by major companies and financial firms, particularly in the United States, have fuelled its gains.

Here are some of the steps that have pushed the world's largest cryptocurrency closer to the mainstream this year:

ACCEPTANCE

May 2021:

* Auction house Sotheby's says it would accept bitcoin and second-largest cryptocurrency ethereum as payment for a work by street artist Banksy, a first for a physical art auction. read more

April 2021:

* Swiss arm of French insurer AXA (AXAF.PA) allows its customers to pay for non-life insurance products with bitcoin.

March 2021:

* PayPal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O) allows U.S. consumers to use their cryptocurrency holdings to pay at millions of its online merchants globally. read more

* Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) customers can now buy its electric vehicles with bitcoin, its boss Elon Musk says. read more

Feb. 2021:

* Mastercard Inc (MA.N) unveils plans to support cryptocurrency payments across its network. read more

* Bank of NY Mellon Corp (BK.N) announces a new unit aimed at helping clients trade and own cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. read more

* Canada's main securities regulator clears the launch of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF, the world's first bitcoin exchange traded fund. read more

INVESTMENT

May 2021:

* The S&P Dow Jones Indices launches a series of cryptocurrency indices, tracking bitcoin and other major tokens, with plans to add other coins later this year.

April 2021:

* U.S. digital wealth manager Wealthfront says it will start allowing clients to invest in cryptocurrencies later this year, a shift for the California startup whose investment strategy has traditionally been more conservative.

* Inflows into cryptocurrency funds and products hit a record $4.5 billion in the first quarter, digital asset manager CoinShares says. read more

* UK-based hedge fund Brevan Howard sets up a new fund to invest in digital assets, focusing on a long-only range of digital assets including bitcoin, according to a personal familiar with the matter.

* U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc COIN.O was valued at $86 billion at the end of its Nasdaq debut, the biggest listing yet by a crypto company.

* U.S. business software firm MicroStrategy Inc (MSTR.O), a major investor in cryptocurrency since 2020, says it now holds 91,579 bitcoin.

March 2021:

* Morgan Stanley (MS.N) becomes the first big U.S. bank to offer its wealth management clients access to bitcoin funds, CNBC reported. read more

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) reopens its crypto trading desk and says it will offer investments in bitcoin and other digital assets to its wealth management clients from the second quarter. read more

* Daniel Loeb's hedge fund Third Point uses as a custodian cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc (COIN.O), a regulatory filing shows.

Feb. 2021:

* Carmaker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) announces it bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin and says it will soon accept the cryptocurrency as payment for its vehicles. read more

Compiled by Tom Wilson, Editing by William Maclean

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