Bitcoin Mania Sweeps Into Manhattan as Crypto Event Packed Solid

(Bloomberg) — Nothing grabs Wall Street’s attention quite like a 10-fold return.

Buttoned-up financiers and analysts piled into CoinDesk’s cryptocurrencies conference in Manhattan on Tuesday, turning the event into a standing-room-only affair.

“A few years ago, there’d be one-third the amount of people, and most of you would be in hoodies,” Brian Kelly, of Brian Kelly Capital and an early proponent of cryptocurrencies, joked as he took the stage for a panel discussion.

The change in demographic reflects the growing interest from Wall Street investment houses as hurtles toward $10,000 after starting the year below $1,000. It also highlights how they’re grappling with addressing an investment craze that has captured the zeitgeist, making it virtually too big to ignore even as many warn it’s a fraud bound to end in pain.

For Michael Alpert, a portfolio manager at Stralem & Co., the concern about a bitcoin bubble is overwrought. “I think it has a lot higher to go from here,” he said. It was Alpert’s first time at a CoinDesk conference, one he felt compelled to attend because it’s become impossible to not have an opinion amid the recent euphoria.

He’s hardly alone. There are now more than 100 hedge funds dedicated to digital currencies, and venture capitalists are among other investors exploring opportunities.Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:). and JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:). have started looking at ways to be able to offer trading opportunities to clients.

The rising interest isn’t lost on CoinDesk, a media and data firm that promotes digital currencies. While the company has hosted its Consensus industry conference for years, Tuesday’s was the first specifically targeting the broader investing community…

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