The SEC has dragged its feet on accepting cryptocurrency as part of the larger financial universe. For nearly a decade, filings have come in and then been rejected. But even as the outcome of Ripple vs. the SEC remains up in the air, there have been some recent signs that the SEC has warmed up to crypto, leading a number of asset managers to jockey for Bitcoin- and crypto-focused ETF pole position.
ProShares may already have that spot.
Like many of its peers, ProShares faced rejection for a Bitcoin Futures ETF at the hands of the SEC, but then succeeded at launching a Bitcoin futures mutual fund at the end of July. Just a few weeks into its life, the Bitcoin Strategy ProFund (BTCFX) seeks capital appreciation by generally corresponding to performance of Bitcoin.
The idea is that many more traditional investors might be intrigued by the possibilities of the crypto space, but squeamish about going through the process of setting up a digital wallet or a presence on an unregulated cryptocurrency exchange. Since BTCFX trades on Bitcoin futures contracts instead of the currency itself it, not only offers its target investors a no-frills option to gain exposure to the digital asset, but it also gave the SEC an easier path forward.
Futures allow traders to bet on where an underlying market is heading. While traditional futures might focus on goods such as oil or gold, the Bitcoin futures market is a novel way to begin to legitimize and normalize the cryptocurrency.
ProFunds CEO Michael Sapir said in a statement at launch that “compared to directly buying bitcoin, which may involve opening a new account with an unregulated party, this ProFund offers investors the opportunity to gain exposure to Bitcoin through a form and investment method that tens of millions of investors are familiar with.”
The Bitcoin futures that BTCFX trades are part of the CME, and not directly Bitcoin. The fund is also set up to invest in a pool of Bitcoin and Bitcoin futures investment products.
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