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Bitcoin ETFs: Spot trading hits Wall Street

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It wasn’t until January 2024, after 11 years in the making, that top dog US regulators finally approved the first BTCUSD trading vehicle. Actually, 11 of them. In a watershed moment for the crypto industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission cleared 11 exchange-traded funds that hold genuine Bitcoin to enter mainstream trading and rub shoulders with stocks and bonds. And the response was a monster swirl of capital on day 1 — a total of $4.6 billion worth of ETF shares changed hands. So the question remains: is this move a well placed bet to get crypto in broad daylight, or is it a speculation-based deviation from Satoshi’s libertarian vision of decentralized finance?

ETF applicants-turned-issuers include the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, joined by rivals Fidelity Investments, Invesco, and crypto-friendly firms ARK Invest and Grayscale, among others. And that’s what this Sparks list is about. As always, do your own diligence before you end up explaining to your uncle at Thanksgiving how you’re in this “for the long haul.”

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iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) was founded on June 8, 2023 by BlackRock, a prominent global asset manager and ETF provider. This trust enables investors to integrate Bitcoin into a regular brokerage account. Beyond its convenient pricing, IBIT's attractiveness stems from its capacity to address operational hurdles associated with directly holding Bitcoin, as well as the potential reduction of complications in tax reporting and significant trading costs.


Bitwise Asset Management, founded in 2016 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, stands out as one of the leading managers of cryptocurrency index funds in the United States. Its Bitcoin fund provides investors with the opportunity to participate in the Bitcoin market, overcoming challenges such as exchange accessibility, custody, and execution expenses. The fund issues shares in batches of 10,000, facilitating the buying and selling of Bitcoin stored by the Bitcoin Custodian in a separate account.


Founded in 2018, Hashdex stands out as a global innovator in the field of crypto asset management. Its Bitcoin ETF is designed to make direct investments in Bitcoin, providing investors with a gateway to the world of the first decentralized, blockchain-based digital currency. This ETF opens up global access to Bitcoin through shares traded under the ticker DEFI, presenting a convenient avenue for investors seeking exposure to the evolving landscape of digital assets.


Utilizing the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF, ARK Investment Management engages in direct investments in Bitcoin, securely stored in a cold storage wallet. The assessment of ARKB shares occurs daily, factoring in expenses and liabilities. The fund relies on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate-New York Variant (BRRNY) as the benchmark index for BTC in US dollars. Notably, this fund is seen as a reliable indicator of the average spot price of Bitcoin, highlighting its resilience against manipulation.


GBTC was launched in 2013 and has a substantial history as one of the trailblazing Bitcoin funds available for public trading. It operates as one of the earliest securities solely and passively focused on Bitcoin and enables investors to engage in BTC without grappling with the intricacies linked to directly obtaining, storing, and safeguarding Bitcoin. Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is an actively traded spot Bitcoin ETF that helps investors gain significant adaptability in handling their investments.


The Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC) stands as an ETF crafted to replicate the dynamics of Bitcoin. It provides investors with an avenue to engage in Bitcoin's price fluctuations through a well-known investment framework that involves passive investment in BTC. FBTC is accessible for acquisition in different types of accounts, such as brokerage, trust, and tax-advantaged accounts. It functions similarly to other exchange-traded products: it trades within stock market hours, with fees integrated into the fund's expense ratio.


The WisdomTree Bitcoin Fund (BTCW) is an exchange-traded fund backed by physical Bitcoin, with the goal of offering investors a simple, secure, and cost-efficient route to tap into the price movements of Bitcoin. The fund prioritizes convenient investor entry, tradability, transparency, and institutional custody solutions — all within a resilient physically supported structure. BTCW shares are valued on a daily basis, relying on an independently calculated worth derived from combined trade flow data sourced from significant Bitcoin spot exchanges.


The partnership between Invesco, a worldwide ETF franchise, and Galaxy, a major participant in digital assets and blockchain, made a range of resources covering cryptocurrencies available to investors. Among their collaborative products is BTCO, an ETF managed passively to replicate the price movements of Bitcoin. BTCO provides exposure to Bitcoin while mitigating the difficulties associated with overseeing individual digital wallets and navigating unregulated cryptocurrency platforms.


Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund (BRRR) aims to possess Bitcoin through ordinary shares and replicate the value performance of BTC. BRRR is designed to provide investors with a practical and convenient avenue for Bitcoin investment. Shares are consistently issued but exclusively in full baskets, each with 50,000 shares. The calculation of Bitcoins required for creating and redeeming baskets is based on the Bitcoin Index Price: it computes a volume-weighted per-bitcoin value in U.S. Dollars.


The Vaneck Bitcoin Trust (HODL) functions as an ETF focused on monitoring the performance of BTC price, accounting for operational costs. It acts as a passive investment, delivering an economical way to access Bitcoin within a standard and regulated structure. HODL is backed by Bitcoin physically held in cold storage at a regulated custodian. The daily valuation of the Trust's shares is determined by thoroughly evaluated prices from a designated set of exchanges.


Franklin Bitcoin ETF (EZBC) issues shares representing partial and indivisible beneficial interests in Bitcoin held by a custodian. Primarily, it aims to replicate the price movements of Bitcoin, excluding the associated expenses of the fund. EZBC offers a convenient and economically efficient avenue for gaining exposure to Bitcoin, with Coinbase serving as the custodial entity. Established on September 6, 2023, the Trust is registered under the Securities Act of 1933.

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