Blockchain firm BTCS soars on retail rush for bitcoin dividends


FILE PHOTO: A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this picture illustration taken October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su

(Reuters) -Shares in blockchain technology-focused firm BTCS Inc rocketed on Thursday, set to extend a four-day rally, as more retail investors scooped them up after the company last week offered to pay dividends in bitcoin.

The Silver Spring, Maryland-based company has seen its stock value more than double since Jan. 5, when it proposed to pay $0.05 per share in bitcoin to those who opt for it. Its first bitcoin dividend, or "bividend" as BTCS calls it, is due on March 16.

Shares of BTCS climbed 20% to a six-week high of $7.80 in early trading on Thursday as the online buzz over its plan grew in forums such as Reddit and stocktwits.com, which were instrumental in the "meme stock" frenzy last year.

Nearly 9 million BTCS shares changed hands within the first few minutes of trading, more than double the company's public float of 4.2 million shares. A smaller number of free float shares makes the stock vulnerable to sharp moves.

"This is a moment we have long anticipated since the Company purchased the domain, bividend.com, in February 2015," CEO Charles Allen said in a statement last Wednesday.

BTCS, last valued at $69 million, claims to be the first Nasdaq-listed firm to offer dividends in bitcoin. Video game retailer GameStop on Friday jumped as much as 22% on plans to launch a division to develop a marketplace for nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

Meanwhile, prices of highly-volatile cryptocurrencies have tumbled since hitting all-time highs late last year. Bitcoin was last trading at $44,306.29 on Thursday, about 36% below its all-time peak.

(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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