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Following SEC Chair Gary Gensler's landmark approval, the first bitcoin-linked exchange-traded fund (ETF) debuted on the NYSE this week, driving this controversial digital asset to record highs.

ProShares bitcoin Strategy ETF ( BITO - Free Report) became the first bitcoin futures-backed ETF to trade in the US on Tuesday (10/19), and its premiere performance was admirable, soaring nearly 10% in its first two days of trading. This was a milestone for the crypto market as its futures ETF approval opens the door for institutional funds and wary investors to obtain exposure to this dubious (yet advantageous) crypto market through trusted US government-approved exchanges.

CME bitcoin futures (representing forward-looking derivative of the underlying asset) are the trusted crypto conduit the SEC is comfortable with exposing to the NYSE due to its regulatable nature – something that DeFi (decentralized financial exchange) platforms, in which untraceable bitcoin trades on, cannot claim.

The one primary issue surrounding this conduit for bitcoin exposure is that futures contracts will need to be continuously rolled over to the front-month contract, which will cost money and cause decay to the ETF's value regarding bitcoin over time. You see this type of decay with virtually all commodity ETFs, similarly based on futures contracts.

Nevertheless, the SEC approval of bitcoin-linked ETFs is a massive step towards legitimizing the crypto space, gaining unprecedented market traction in recent years. It also marked a significant stride towards actual bitcoin-supported ETFs, but Gary Gensler and the rest of the apprehensive SEC will need some convincing before this occurs.

Bitcoin bulls are in the hunt for $100k, an exceptionally bullish year in price target, but the extreme volatility in this asset class makes this an achievable ambition.

My preferred methods of obtaining exposure to this exploding asset class are through crypto-miner Riot Blockchain ( RIOT - Free Report) , the diversified Coinbase ( COIN - Free Report) trading platform, and if you want pure-play exposure to the space I would bet on Ethereum .

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