Asset Manager Secures SEC Approval to Create Novel Bitcoin Futures Fund

NYDIG plans to raise $25 million for an SEC-approved investment fund focused entirely on cash-settled bitcoin futures.

AccessTimeIconDec 6, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:46 a.m. UTC

The New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) has secured approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to offer institutional investors shares of a new fund focused on bitcoin futures.

According to a filing published on an SEC database Monday, the NYDIG Bitcoin Strategy Fund, a portfolio fund in the Stone Ridge Trust VI, will invest in cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts traded on exchanges registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The fund does not intend to invest in bitcoin directly, or any other cryptocurrencies. 

“The Fund will seek to purchase a number of Bitcoin futures so that the total value of the Bitcoin underlying the Bitcoin futures held by the Fund is as close to 100% of the net assets of the Fund (the “Target Exposure”), as it is reasonably practicable to achieve,” the filing said. 

It cautioned that “there can be no assurance that the Fund will be able to achieve or maintain the Target Exposure.”

NYDIG, which received a BitLicense and a limited purpose trust charter from the New York Department of Financial Services last year, is looking to raise $25 million through the fund.

At press time, CME is the only exchange to offer cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts in the U.S. (while Bakkt intends to offer cash-settled bitcoin futures starting next week, they will trade on ICE Singapore).

The SEC has long been loathe to approve certain fund products touching cryptocurrencies – exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as the main example. However, Monday’s approval may signal a slight shift in its stance.

Indeed, Dalia Blass, director of the SEC's Division of Investment Management, appeared to reference the fund in a speech earlier this week, calling it “a prime example” of industry engaging with the agency on new types of products.

“Last year, I issued a public letter calling on the fund industry to engage in a dialogue on the investor protection and substantive issues presented by such investments,” she said. 

These issues included valuation, custody, liquidity, arbitrage efficiency and potential manipulation. The letter called for funds to find ways of answering these questions.

“As a result of this engagement, we are at the point that a registered closed-end interval fund with a bitcoin futures strategy is preparing to launch,” she said. “To reach this point, the fund first responded to each of the issues identified in the staff letter.”

While Blass did not identify the NYDIG fund by name, she noted that it would invest in cash-settled bitcoin futures, meaning it does not face crypto custody issues, and would value its holdings using the settlement price on a CFTC-registered futures exchange. 

She touted other aspects of the fund as examples of how it addresses her previously stated concerns.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peircetook to Twitter to praise the approval, calling it “a bit of progress.”

NYDIG declined to comment on the fund through a spokesperson.

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