The last year of cryptocurrency has been a dreary one, to say the least. But while prices have dropped, many financial firms have been trying to find a way to bring Bitcoin to the masses. The most talked about method has been the use of ETFs.
ETFs, or Exchange Traded Funds, are considered one of the most accessible ways for retail investors to place their money in a “basket of goods”. The SEC has been bouncing applications for Bitcoin-related ETFs for a while now. The main concerns of the SEC in the past have been about the chain of custody for Bitcoin. As recent news stories have showed, it is not always the easiest to keep track of the asset in a secure manner. The CBOE, VanEck, and SolidX have all withdrawn and resubmitted applications in the last few months.
Finally, it seems as if a solution has emerged which approaches the problem from a different angle. Realty Shares ETF Trust has filed a registration form with the SEC to list an ETF that would include Bitcoin futures in the assets. The proposed Reality Shares Blockforce Global Currency Strategy ETF would hold sovereign debt instruments on major currencies, money market funds, cash equivalents, and Bitcoin futures. By having a mix of all of these, the risk of pure Bitcoin investment is mitigated.
The Structure of the ETF
Planned to be an actively managed ETF, it will be a mix of numerous stores-of-value. With the SEC adopted a strong risk-averse stance on cryptocurrencies, it was necessary to mitigate the risk in two ways. First, only 15% of assets are devoted to Bitcoin. But the fund will only invest in cash-settled Bitcoin futures contracts, which don’t require the fund to ever hold actual Bitcoin. Instead, the cash equivalent of the amount of Bitcoins is delivered upon the settlement date.
Mati Greenspace, a senior analyst for eToro tweeted the following:
“Seriously, how has nobody thought of this before?! By limiting the fund to just 15% BTC and diversifying with other sovereign currencies this ETF, if approved, will protect investors from whatever manipulation the SEC seems to be afraid of.”
Coinbase does have an index that contains a mix of several cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash, Ethereum Classic, and several more. However, this is far less accessible to retail investors, since they would need to use Coinbase, rather than their own bank’s infrastructure.
After an ETF is approved and money can flow into the space, it is only a matter of time until we see a cryptocurrency recovery. This is because there would be a significant new source of buyers in the space, and it would now be a much simpler affair for literally anyone to participate in the upside of Bitcoin. Although this isn’t true Bitcoin ownership, it will have a correlation as a small group of those new investors decide to find cheaper and more hands-on ways to invest in Bitcoin.
In many respects, this is just further proof that the market always finds a way. Almost from the beginning, it was near certain that we would eventually get a Bitcoin ETF, but now the date seems to be approaching faster than we thought. At this point, it will become much safer to recommend Bitcoin investments for the non-accredited investor.