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Bitwise’s Crypto Index Fund Becomes Available to US Investors

Bitwise has launched the first crypto index fund available to investors in the U.S.

Dec 9, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:40 a.m. UTC

Bitwise Asset Management, a provider of cryptocurrency index funds to professional investors, announced Wednesday its 10 Crypto Index Fund is now available to U.S. investors as a public-traded cryptocurrency index fund.

After a Form 211 for quotation of the fund’s shares were reviewed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund was enabled to be listed on the over-the-counter markets and trades under the ticker symbol “BITW,” the company said in a news release.

Shares of the fund will be tradable through traditional brokerage accounts and the assets will be custodied with Coinbase Custody Trust Company.

The fund will track the Bitwise 10 Large Cap Crypto Index, a diversified, market-cap-weighted index of the ten largest cryptocurrencies. As of Nov. 30, the fund held approximately 75% bitcoin and 13% ethereum. According to Hunter Horsley, co-founder and chief executive of Bitwise, this gives investors exposure to cryptocurrencies “without trying to pick winners or having to constantly monitor the rapid changes in the space,” 

“BITW is designed for financial advisors,” Matt Hougan, Bitwise's chief investment officer, said in an email response to CoinDesk. “Financial advisors are eager for a safe and easy way to allocate to crypto for clients.”

The news came after the company failed its attempts to win approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a bitcoin-focused exchange-traded fund. 

While many exchange-traded fund (ETF) efforts have focused around bitcoin only, Hougan said that having a crypto index fund gives investors exposures to other cryptocurrencies, with several having outperformed bitcoin thus far this year.

Unlike an ETF, the BITW’s shares are exempt from registration with the SEC. Nonetheless, the launch of BITW will not stop the company from pursuing a bitcoin ETF, Hougan told CoinDesk. 

Bitwise had more than $100 million in assets under management as of the end of October. The company attributed the significant growth to rising demand from hedge funds, financial advisers and multifamily offices.

“Crypto is about more than bitcoin,” said Hougan. “As phenomenal an asset as bitcoin is, it is far from the best-performing asset in the Bitwise 10. In fact, it’s the sixth-best performer year to date.”

Bitwise will not be entering this crypto fund space without facing some established competitors. Grayscale, the oldest and largest digital currency asset manager, also offers a similar investment product, Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund, with about $170.6 million worth of digital assets holdings, according to a public available document by Grayscale in early December. (Grayscale is owned by DCG, the parent company of CoinDesk.)

Hougan clarified that Grayscale’s Digital Large Cap Fund is not an index fund because it holds a basket of five crypto assets without tracking an index. And while Grayscale’s product requires a 3% management fee, BITW is slightly cheaper at 2.5%.

S&P Dow Jones Indices, a major financial data firm, said last week that it will launch a customizable cryptocurrency indexing service amid growing interest from institutional investors in cryptocurrencies this year.

DISCLOSURE

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