ProShares is launching a long-awaited exchange-traded fund (ETF) on the New York Stock Exchange tied to Bitcoin futures, according to an initial report from The New York Times.
In case you missed it, Bitcoin has entered the New York Stock exchange for the first time, allowing investors the option to invest in the cryptocurrency without directly holding it, via conventional broker accounts.”2021 will be remembered for this milestone,” said ProShares CEO Michael Sapir, in the NYTimes report. This signals that investors have grown curious about crypto, but remain hesitant to directly purchase unregulated crypto exchanges. Now they will have “convenient access to Bitcoin in a wrapper that has market integrity,” added Sapir. Entrepreneurs and traditional finance firms interested in crypto have wanted this for nearly a decade, attempting to acquire permission to launch Bitcoin ETFs in the United States, but applications have been continually delayed or outright denied by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Several of these applications are still pending to this day.
Bitcoin futures ETF isn’t everything that hardcore crypto enthusiasts, since some want a fund that directly holds crypto. The SEC Chair Gary Gensler recently said the agency could allow ETFs based on futures, which are bets on the fluctuations of Bitcoin price instead of the crypto itself, which trade on a heavily regulated exchange. But, since the ProShares ETF is based on Bitcoin futures (which, in turn, is traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the SEC will not announce it. Instead, ProShares’ final position saw no opposing push-back in the hours approaching the deadline, and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is already preparing for the launch on Tuesday.
It’s not a simple task to quote Bitcoin’s true price, according to Sapir in the report, since there is no single market reference one can rely on, and prices may appear different by up to 5% depending on which exchange one considers. But, it’s not entirely beyond the pale that futures prices featured on the Chicago exchange could reflect a more accurate price of Bitcoin than other sites of exchange, according to many analysts. And, according to Sapir, it might be that the fund linked to futures is actually a Bitcoin ETF, even if it doesn’t have direct ties to conventional markets. “This is an exciting step but not the last,” said Douglas Yones, head of exchange-traded products at the NYSE, in the NYTimes report. Yones thinks a wider spectrum of ETFs tied to crypto will soon see approval, in the long run. But however long it takes for others to reach the NYSE, tomorrow’s launch is yet another step into legitimacy for crypto, after a year of similar steps, including Coinbase, a popular crypto exchange, going public.
While critics of the digital currency are still concerned about the comparably high volatility of Bitcoin price (as are regulators), the mass interest in digital assets from 2020 and 2021 doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon, which means digital currencies will likely become more normalized in the coming years.