It’s touted as crypto’s big breakthrough on Wall Street: The imminent arrival of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds that will kick open digital-currency investing to the institutional and retail masses.
That’s driving the latest hype cycle in the world’s largest token on bets that the likes of wealth managers and financial advisers will finally start to lavish a small portion of their trillion-dollar portfolios on the crypto promise.
Thank an oncoming swing in the regulatory pendulum. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is expected, possibly by mid-January or sooner, to green-light exchange-traded funds that will buy and sell Bitcoin in the famously tax-efficient and cost-effective ETF wrapper — after a decade of rejecting such applications.
At first blush, it offers a path to redemption for digital-asset proponents a year after the FTX implosion sparked the industry’s biggest existential crisis and emboldened crypto naysayers who’ve long dominated traditional finance.
Now with the likely involvement of respectable heavyweights like BlackRock, Fidelity and Invesco, the spot-Bitcoin ETF market has the potential to grow into a $100 billion juggernaut in time, according to Bloomberg Intelligence estimates. Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd., which is working with Invesco Ltd. on an application, held a call earlier this month with roughly 300 investment professionals about allocating to Bitcoin as an ETF debut nears, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Jeff Janson is one of the people gearing up for the debut. The wealth adviser at Naples, Florida-based Summit Wealth has already received calls from investors, young and old.
“I feel like we are now staring down the gun barrel of the SEC finally delivering approval,” Janson, whose firm manages about $550 million, said in an interview. “And my belief is that once you have access to it in that type of a wrapper, I think you’re going to have a significant amount of institutional-level interest.”
That’s the bull case, at least. For many, the post-FTX shockwaves continue to reverberate across the investing world, cooling interest in all things crypto relative to the days of speculative euphoria. After the epic collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s empire, everyday investors have largely been absent from the market. And depsite the recent rally, Bitcoin remains nowhere near its 2021 high.
Meanwhile, hedge fund managers like Paul Tudor Jones, who previously touted the virtues of digital assets, have stayed quiet of late. Big asset managers have largely declined to spell out the crypto opportunity as they see it. A string of scam incidents, including false claims that Bitcoin ETFs had already been approved and that BlackRock had filed for a fund holding the XRP token — both of which initially pushed prices higher — have put a further dent on the industry’s claims that it’s moving past its sham-laced past.
Yet one big reason for the newfound optimism has as much to do with incentives built into the money-management industry as it does about the disruptive appeal of digital currencies in the financial system. Right now, only futures-based Bitcoin ETFs are available to investors, and those can come with additional costs that eat into returns. Investors who want pure Bitcoin are getting access via platforms like Coinbase or apps like Robinhood — meaning those who oversee their clients’ portfolio relinquish the ability to directly supervise the flow of crypto investments.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.