Forget the Bitcoin ETF, an ETN Already Allows US Investors to Invest in BTC
The Bitcoin ETF has been one of the biggest stories of 2018 in the crypto space. However, a similar product already exists and with it, investors in U.S. markets are able to allocate more funds into the Bitcoin market using normal brokerage accounts.
Exchange-Traded Notes (ETNs) in Sweden
Over the past several months, nine companies have applied to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to operate a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the U.S. stock market. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe) and VanEck Bitcoin ETFs are said to have the highest probability of being approved by the SEC by early 2019.
ETFs are publicly tradable instruments listed on the stock market, which allows investors to trade assets and commodities with their brokerage accounts. Through ETFs, investors in the stock market can invest in commodities like copper and gold, for example.
Investors in the cryptocurrency sector–including BKCM founder Brian Kelly and Fundstrat analyst Tom Lee–have said that the introduction of a Bitcoin ETF in U.S. markets will effectively legitimize the cryptocurrency sector, opening the industry to a group of investors who were previously not able to invest in Bitcoin, possibly due to regulatory conflicts.
However, it’s not entirely true that investors in the traditional finance market cannot invest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a new asset class. Since early 2017, an ETN in Sweden operated by XBT Provider has demonstrated a significant increase in its volume, surpassing the volume of 80 percent of ETFs in the U.S.
In December, Eric Balchunas, an ETF expert, said:
“Sweden’s bitcoin ETN is now bigger and trades more than about 80 percent of U.S. ETFs. It hit $700m in aum today while trading $220m this week (insane #s for Sweden).”
Last week, the same ETF previously mentioned by Balchunas, opened in U.S. markets under the ticker CXBTF.
Ryan Radloff, CEO of Coin Shares, which oversees the operation of the ETN, said that the expansion of the ETN from Sweden to the U.S. is a monumental accomplishment for the Bitcoin sector.
“Given the current climate on the regulatory front in the U.S., this is a big win for Bitcoin. Everyone that’s investing in dollars can now get exposure to these products, whereas before, they were only available in euros or Swedish krona.”
Is ETN as Good as an ETF?
In an interview with Bloomberg last year, billionaire investor and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban, said that he facilitated his first investment in Bitcoin via the XBT Provider Bitcoin ETN:
“It is interesting because there are a lot of assets which their value is just based on supply and demand. Most stocks, there is no intrinsic value because you have no true ownership rights and no voting rights. You just have the ability to buy and sell those stocks. Bitcoin is the same thing. Its value is based on supply demand. I have bought some through an ETN based on a Swedish exchange.”
In a way, ETN provides similar liquidity and ability to U.S. investors to freely invest in Bitcoin in the stock market. In the case of Cuban, he had to use an instrument in the Swedish stock market, even if it meant paying a premium from the U.S. market, to invest in Bitcoin in a strictly regulated market.
With the XBT Provider ETN in the U.S. market and the publicly gradable instruments operated by GrayScale Investments, large-scale retail traders will be able to invest in Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies without the first Bitcoin ETF approval.
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