In the current market, trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is not as simple as trading a stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF). While there are certainly opportunities that exist to exchange Bitcoin, they require platforms like Coinbase and investors to actually own the currency. Alternatively, there are a few funds like GBTC (Bitcoin Investment Trust), which seek to actively invest in and trade Bitcoin. Despite these alternatives, many investors are looking at the market and looking for Bitcoin ETFs, but at this point, none have been approved by regulators.
A step in the right direction was made on Wednesday, as an exchange-traded note (ETN) listed on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange began targeting US investors. While the ETN is not exactly what many investors are looking for, it’s a close alternative or really a consolation prize. The so-called “soft” alternative is under the ticker CXBTF and now available in U.S. dollars. Technically speaking, the Bitcoin Tracker One, which is the ETN, will be publicly-quoted as a foreign debt instrument on a U.S. OTC (over-the-counter) market, much like GBTC. Also like GBTC, the ETN will hold bitcoin on behalf of shareholders, thus allowing investors to get a stake in Bitcoin without having to own the currency or deal with the custodial risks. Unlike ETFs, both GBTC and Bitcoin Tracker One are similar to buying an American depository receipt in that traders will see a foreign-listed asset in U.S. dollars”.
One primary difference between GBTC and Bitcoin Tracker One is the trading price versus the net asset value of each. CXBTF provides investors a way to trade their assets at a price closer to their net asset value, while GBTC charges a significant premium. ETCG, an Ethereum Classic Investment Trust, also works in the same way as GBTC with Ethereum rather than Bitcoin.
Although Bitcoin Tracker One is still listed in Sweden, it now provides the benefit of trading on the U.S. dollar. According to Ryan Radloff, CEO of CoinShares Holdings, the parent of the company currently offering the ETN, “Everyone that’s investing in dollars can now get exposure to these products, whereas before, they were only available in euros or Swedish krona. Given the current climate on the regulatory front in the U.S., this is a big win for Bitcoin.”
While the ETN will fill the Bitcoin ETF for the short term, attention will still be placed on the future of Bitcoin ETFs. Many different Bitcoin ETFs are currently being pushed but have not yet been approved by U.S. regulators. Even if approved, many are unsure of how well they will do and what impact they will have on the crypto space. Most notably, Andreas Antonopoulos and Nick Szabo, two loyal Bitcoin supporters, argue that bringing Bitcoin ETFs to the open market could cause more of a problem than its worth.