Despite interest from investors and efforts by several fund issuers, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been cautious about approving a Spot Price Bitcoin ETF, mainly due to concerns about market manipulation in the largely unregulated cryptocurrency market.
Recent remarks made by VanEck’s CEO Jan Van Eck indicate that even though Bitcoin-futures funds have been trading since 2021, a physically backed Bitcoin ETF (one that holds actual Bitcoin rather than future contracts) seems unlikely in the near future. His statements further underline the regulatory challenges faced by companies like Grayscale Investments that aim to convert their Bitcoin trusts into ETFs.
Investing in cryptocurrencies has rapidly grown in popularity due to their potential for high returns, despite the risks of price volatility. In response, several exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have emerged to provide investors with exposure to cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin. These funds allow investors to participate in the returns of cryptocurrencies without having to directly purchase and store them. They can be bought and sold on traditional exchanges, making it easier for many investors to access this new asset class. Here are some ETFs that provide exposure to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies:
Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC): Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is a private, open-ended trust that holds Bitcoin. The trust’s investment objective is for the value of its shares to reflect the price performance of Bitcoin, minus fees and expenses. Unlike an ETF, it’s not traded on a traditional exchange, but it can be bought and sold through many brokerage accounts. Note that it often trades at a significant premium or discount to its net asset value.
Purpose Bitcoin ETF (BTCC): Launched in February 2021, this was the world’s first physically settled Bitcoin ETF. The Purpose Bitcoin ETF holds Bitcoin directly and aims to mirror the performance of the price of Bitcoin, minus the fund’s expenses. The fund is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
VanEck Vectors Bitcoin Strategy ETF: This is a US-based ETF that seeks to provide exposure to Bitcoin futures contracts, rather than holding Bitcoin directly. This approach might appeal to investors looking for exposure to Bitcoin’s price movements who prefer the regulatory environment of traditional futures markets.
Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund (BITW): This fund provides exposure to a diversified basket of digital assets, including Bitcoin and other large cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. It aims to track the returns of the Bitwise 10 Large Cap Crypto Index, which includes the ten largest digital assets, weighted by market capitalization.
CoinShares Physical Bitcoin (BITC): This is a physically-backed Bitcoin ETP (Exchange Traded Product) listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. Each unit of BITC is backed with 0.001 Bitcoin at launch. It aims to offer investors exposure to Bitcoin with the added oversight, security, and liquidity of an ETP structure.
3iQ CoinShares Bitcoin ETF: A collaboration between CoinShares and 3iQ, this Bitcoin ETF offers a regulated way for investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin. The fund’s assets are stored in a cold wallet with Gemini Trust Company, a New York-based regulated crypto custodian.
Each of these investment vehicles provides exposure to cryptocurrencies but with different approaches, ranging from direct ownership of Bitcoin to exposure through futures contracts. It’s crucial for potential investors to understand these differences, the fees each fund charges, and their own risk tolerance before investing. As always, due diligence is paramount when it comes to investing in any asset class, particularly ones as volatile and still relatively new as cryptocurrencies.