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John Martin 16 Apr 2024 ◦ 6 min read

What's the Future of Crypto ETFs

What's the Future of Crypto ETFs

The future of crypto ETFs is a hot topic that has sparked optimism among investors, particularly in the United States. While Canada and Europe already offer similar products, the anticipation of regulated ETFs owning "physical" bitcoin in the U.S. could significantly impact the industry. With potential regulatory changes on the horizon, investors should be aware of key concepts and scenarios for the emergence of a regulated crypto ETF.

Evolution of crypto ETFs

An ETF, short for Exchange-Traded Fund, is a financial instrument where a company purchases assets within a fund, enabling investors to benefit from changes in exchange rates. Investors participate by buying shares of the fund.

ETFs are traded on exchanges; buying and selling them is very similar to investing in stocks, but there are differences. If a stock is always the security of one company, then an ETF may consist of a basket of assets. An exchange-traded fund allows you to bypass direct investments since the investor invests not in an asset but in an ETF.

A brokerage account is required to purchase an ETF share. Opening conditions may vary from country to country. It is typically sufficient to provide a broker with an identity document. Subsequently, all that remains is to find the ticker (short designation of the investment instrument) in the list and specify the share to buy.

The appeal of Cryptocurrency ETFs has been marked by significant milestones and transformation. From the early days of skepticism and regulatory hurdles to the gradual acceptance and adoption of mainstream investors, these investment products have come a long way away. As more institutional players enter the crypto space, the demand for regulated and diversified exposure to digital assets has fueled the evolution of crypto ETFs.

Current landscape of crypto ETFs

In March 2024, the cryptocurrency ETF market witnessed a surge in interest and innovation. The launch of the first Bitcoin ETF has been a game changer, opening the doors for more traditional financial institutions to participate in the cryptocurrency market. This landmark event has not only boosted investor confidence but has also paved the way for a broader range of crypto ETF offerings.

Why the Bitcoin ETF has become the focus of attention

Cryptocurrencies face legal restrictions in various jurisdictions, limiting companies from investing a portion of their budget in digital assets and generating profits due to regulatory constraints.

In countries where cryptocurrency is legal, another challenge arises, namely, a conservative investment strategy. Let us consider any public organization (an organization whose shares are traded on stock exchanges). The Board of Directors often makes investment decisions. If it does not consist of millennials (the main target audience of the cryptocurrency industry), the probability of buying cryptocurrencies with free money is close to zero.

Cryptocurrency-based ETFs can solve both of these problems:

  • Stock-traded funds are legal products. Even if the ETF consists of cryptocurrencies, formally, the investor invests money not in coins, but in the fund itself, which does not contradict the law.
  • Investing in ETFs is common for large companies. Therefore, cryptocurrency-based funds traded on stock exchanges could be an excellent solution for corporations with conservative investment strategies.

The United States has the largest economy in the world, so the launch of cryptocurrency ETFs in America attracts the attention of investors from all countries. Unfortunately, the path of the spot Bitcoin ETFs was thorny.

Emerging trends and innovations

As we look ahead to the future of cryptocurrency ETFs, several emerging trends and innovations shape the landscape.

One notable trend is the diversification of crypto ETFs beyond Bitcoin, with offerings that include a basket of digital assets to provide investors with exposure to the broader cryptocurrency market.

Cryptocurrency ETFs can be of two types:

  • Spot. An investment is the purchase of a share of a fund consisting of cryptocurrency.
  • Derivative. An investment is the purchase of a share of a fund consisting of cryptocurrency derivatives. Derivatives are derivatives of financial instruments. They are built based on other assets. For example, it can be a futures contract for BTC, and a market participant invests in a contract with pre-agreed terms. It specifies completion dates and estimated prices.

Additionally, the integration of blockchain technology in ETF operations streamlines processes, enhances transparency and reduces costs for investors.

Regulatory outlook and challenges

Currently, only futures ETFs operate in the US market because of regulatory difficulties (there is no SEC approval). For a long time, the SEC rejected all applications for the creation of spot cryptocurrency ETFs, but analysts now agree that the first approval of such a tool is waiting for us.

On the other day, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce said that the SEC had no reason to prevent the launch of spot Bitcoin ETFs. Black Rock has also been applied for spot ETFs on Ethereum (currently, in principle, only spot ETFs on Ethereum exist in the market).

The company expects the placement application to be approved in January 2024. Ethereum reacted to the news alone with a 10% increase. Invesco, ArkInvest, and Fidelity have already submitted applications for the creation of a spot Bitcoin ETF. Thus, with a high degree of probability, we note that the ETF market will soon be transformed.

Regulatory scrutiny remains a key challenge in the cryptocurrency ETF industry. While the approval of the first Bitcoin ETF was a significant milestone, regulatory frameworks around the world continue to evolve, posing challenges for new entrants and innovative ETFs. Striking a balance between investor protection, market integrity, and innovation is crucial for the sustainable growth of the crypto ETF market.

Future prospects and predictions

Optimists foresee that cryptocurrency ETFs promote the adoption and innovation of cryptocurrencies by attracting new investors.

The history of gold ETFs such as SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), shows that ETFs increase the availability of an asset by attracting more investors and increasing market liquidity. A spot Bitcoin ETF may entail similar changes, ushering in a new era of adoption and innovation in the cryptocurrency field.

The wide acceptance of cryptocurrency ETFs has immense potential for growth and diversification. With increasing institutional interest, expanding product offerings, and evolving regulatory clarity, the crypto-ETF market is poised for continued expansion. As blockchain technology matures and investor awareness grows, we expect to see a broader range of crypto ETFs catering to diverse investment objectives and risk profiles.

Conclusion

A spot cryptocurrency ETF can have a significant impact on the cryptocurrency industry and the financial sector in general. These funds have the potential to increase acceptance, trust, innovation, and regulatory standards. Such a development will also simplify access to cryptocurrency markets: even investors who are poorly versed in technology will be able to earn on BTC fluctuations without the difficulties associated with the self-management of cryptocurrency. However, as with any new investment instrument, the potential drawbacks and risks cannot be ignored.

In the most harmonious scenario, Bitcoin ETFs will take their place among the existing ways of investing in cryptocurrencies. Direct investments in BTC and regulated instruments are likely to coexist. They can support different investment strategies, risk profiles, and preferences. The emergence of regulated spot Bitcoin ETFs in the United States will mark a new era of acceptance and legality, not only of Bitcoin but of the entire cryptocurrency space.

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