In recent years, the cryptocurrency industry has witnessed remarkable developments, and one of the latest additions to this landscape is the introduction of Spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). The launch of Spot Bitcoin ETFs is a significant step forward in making cryptocurrency investments more accessible to traditional investors, providing access to the world’s largest digital asset through regulated financial markets.
What are Spot Bitcoin ETFs?
Spot Bitcoin ETFs are funds that hold Bitcoin, allowing users to invest and own a piece of the fund, essentially giving them access to the underlying Bitcoin the fund holds rather than through derivative contracts such as futures-based ETFs.
What are futures-based ETFs?
They are funds that bet on the direction of Bitcoin prices in the future, allowing investors to benefit from gains in Bitcoin prices without owning or having direct exposure to Bitcoin. They derive their value from contracts that speculate on future Bitcoin prices.
The crypto community has eagerly awaited the approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs, as it provides more options for traditional investors looking to add Bitcoin to their portfolios. Obtaining regulatory approval for spot Bitcoin ETFs is a key milestone in legitimising cryptocurrency investments and bridging the gap between the traditional financial system and the emerging digital asset market.
Recently, in a move that improves access to the world’s largest cryptocurrency, the U.S. approved 11 Spot bitcoin ETF applications on 10th January 2024, a decade after they were first proposed. The Commission had initially disapproved more than 20 exchange rule filings for spot bitcoin ETFs.
The regulator approved the following products (and their proposed ticker symbols):
- Blackrock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT)
- ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF (ARKB)
- WisdomTree Bitcoin Fund (BTCW)
- Invesco Galaxy Bitcoin ETF (BTCO)
- Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (BITB)
- VanEck Bitcoin Trust (HODL)
- Franklin Bitcoin ETF (EZBC)
- Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust (FBTC)
- Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund (BRRR)
- Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC)
- Hashdex Bitcoin ETF (DEFI)
Investors today can buy, sell, or gain exposure to bitcoin at a number of brokerage houses, through mutual funds, peer-to-peer payment apps, on national securities exchanges, non-compliant crypto trading platforms, and through the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust but the SEC’s approval will provide certain protections for investors.
The SEC’s sign-off serves as a significant regulatory seal of approval for the world’s largest crypto asset, likely reducing some investor fears about investing in the space. It also brings more regulatory safeguards and allows investors to invest with well-established financial firms.
Spot Bitcoin ETFs have the potential to bring significant capital inflow to the cryptocurrency market. Traditional investors who find it challenging to navigate the world of cryptocurrency can now gain exposure to Bitcoin through their existing brokerage accounts. This increased accessibility is expected to attract a broader range of investors, potentially driving up demand for Bitcoin and influencing its market dynamics.
According to a commentary from Steven McClurg, co-founder and CIO of Valkyrie Investments, one of the approved spot Bitcoin ETF, he expects $200 million to $400 million of investors’ funds coming to Valkyrie’s ETF, and all participants might see $4 to $5 billion of inflows over the first couple of weeks.
VanEck estimated that $1 billion of funds would arrive in the first few days, and $2.4 billion within a quarter. Galaxy expects $14 billion within the first year. Bitwise anticipates the market for spot bitcoin ETFs to reach around $72 billion within five years. It is also expected that this approval will likely lead to the conversion of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, which holds about $29 billion of the cryptocurrency into an ETF.
The approval of a spot bitcoin ETF this week has also sparked competition among providers, with some waiving fees until they see strong investor adoption. ETF providers are sharing their proposed fee structures for these new bitcoin instruments as competition heats up, and several are waiving or offering lower-than-usual fee structures.
While spot Bitcoin ETFs offer a more straightforward way for traditional investors to access the cryptocurrency market, it’s important to note that the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies poses inherent risks. Bitcoin prices can be subject to sudden and significant fluctuations, and investors should be aware of the potential for both substantial gains and losses. Additionally, the regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies is still evolving, and changes in regulations could impact the performance of spot Bitcoin ETFs.
The introduction of spot Bitcoin ETFs represents a significant moment in cryptocurrency investments. With regulatory approval and increased accessibility, these ETFs have the potential to attract a new wave of investors to the world of Bitcoin. While the market impact is yet to be fully realised, the emergence of spot Bitcoin ETFs is undoubtedly a step toward mainstream acceptance of digital assets as legitimate investment opportunities.