WisdomTree Proposes ETF With 5% Bitcoin Exposure Despite SEC's Long-Standing Blockade

WisdomTree is seeking to launch an exchange-traded fund that invests in part in the growing bitcoin futures market.

AccessTimeIconJun 16, 2020 at 10:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:52 a.m. UTC
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WisdomTree Trust is seeking to launch an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that invests in part in the growing bitcoin futures market.

The New York City-based asset manager filed on Tuesday for an ETF that may invest up to 5% of its net assets in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) bitcoin futures contracts, as shown in documents published by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Multiple attempts at launching a pure-bitcoin ETF by different companies in the past have met with failure, as have attempts at launching an ETF that invested in bitcoin and Treasury bonds. In various rejections, the SEC has taken issue with the size of the bitcoin market, the potential it is being manipulated, questions around ensuring custody of bitcoin and a lack of surveillance sharing agreements between a sizable bitcoin market and a regulated exchange.

If approved, the “WisdomTree Enhanced Commodity Strategy Fund" would invest the rest of its net assets in energy, industrial metals, precious metals and agriculture commodities, meaning bitcoin would be only a tiny slice of the total pie.

But it is a telling sign. The market for CME’s cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts has been steadily growing over the last few months. May saw multiple record-setting days for open interest on CME, a spike that coincided with heightened interest in bitcoin futures from institutional investors like Paul Tudor Jones. WisdomTree spokespersons did not respond to CoinDesk requests by press time.

The move casts bitcoin as a perhaps normalized investment opportunity for a fund that more generally seeks exposure to commodity markets at large. Commodity market movements do not directly correlate with indices, though some argue that bitcoin, which is traded as a commodity, follows the market. 

WisdomTree is no stranger to cryptocurrencies. Corporate Strategy Director William Peck previously told CoinDesk he views digital assets as a natural extension of the WisdomTree business model. The $63 billion asset manager has explored launching a regulated stablecoin on the U.S. market, and last year issued a bitcoin exchange-traded product on Switzerland’s SIX stock exchange.

WisdomTree Enhanced Commodity Strategy Fund appears to be the firm’s first foray into bitcoin products in the U.S. 


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