Wannabe Bitcoin ETFs Are Mushrooming and Getting More Creative


With at least nine applications for Bitcoins ETFs collecting dust in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s in-box and clients baying to buy crypto funds, U.S. issuers in the $6.4 trillion industry are cobbling together a growing number of workarounds.

A slate of companies are releasing or planning “Bitcoin adjacent” products that skirt U.S. regulators’ refusal to allow the largest cryptocurrency to be put in an exchange-traded fund wrapper. Invesco became the latest on Wednesday, announcing a pair of funds packed with crypto-linked equities.

It’s the only way U.S. firms can cash in on the unrelenting clamor for digital coins, and it may stay that way for a while. The SEC has already delayed its decision to approve or deny a Bitcoin ETF once this year and is expected to punt again at its next deadline on June 17.

“There’s clearly strong demand from investors for exposure to the price of Bitcoin, and ETF issuers are simply looking to meet that demand,” said Nate Geraci, president of the ETF Store, an advisory firm. “The SEC is essentially forcing ETF issuers into the laboratory to create these Frankenstein products.”

Bitcoin ETF workarounds attract cash amid digital asset's rally

The Frankenfunds’ creators are being rewarded for their efforts. For instance, the Bitwise Crypto Industry Innovators ETF (ticker BITQ) has already drawn about $45 million in assets less than a month after its launch. That fund holds crypto-heavy companies like MicroStrategy Inc., Coinbase Global Inc., and Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd.

Then there’s a slate of older products finding new life amid the coin craze. The Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK), an actively-managed fund with stocks like MicroStrategy and PayPal Holdings Inc., attracted more than $711 million this year already, as its price has risen 30%. A peer fund called the First Trust Indxx Innovative Transaction & Process ETF (LEGR), which invests in companies using or developing blockchain technology, is on pace for its best year of inflows yet.

“There is a high demand for a Bitcoin product that has all the features that people love about ETFs — that they trade on an exchange, that they’re liquid,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co.

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