Bitwise Files for Verification to Publicly Trade Its Bitcoin Fund

The fund aims to compete with Grayscale's Bitcoin Trust and others by offering a 50 basis point lower expense ratio.

Feb 2, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 11:05 a.m. UTC

Bitwise Asset Management, a provider of cryptocurrency index funds, is seeking regulatory verification that would enable it to publicly trade shares of its bitcoin fund on an over-the-counter (OTC) marketplace.

According to a press release issued Tuesday, the company has filed a 211 form with the U.S.'s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for the Bitwise Bitcoin Fund.

Aiming to compete with bitcoin investment vehicles from the likes of Grayscale Investments and Galaxy Digital, the firm plans shares of its fund to be publicly traded on the New York-based OTCQX marketplace. Fidelity Investments would oversee the custodianship of the fund's bitcoin assets.

OTCQX is designed for both U.S. and international companies, which are required to meet strict financial standards to qualify for the market.

If verified, shares in the Bitwise fund would be available for trading in traditional brokerage accounts and could be held with traditional custodians, according to the release. The company is yet to announce a ticker for the fund.

"There is significant growth in interest from professional investors in accessing bitcoin as a tool to hedge their portfolios against rising inflationary risk," said Bitwise's chief investment officer, Matt Hougan.

Hougan added that increasing numbers of financial advisors are "taking note" of large allocations to bitcoin from hedge funds, institutions and insurance companies, and may move to make their own investments.

The company told CoinDesk the fund offers a 1.5% expense ratio, which is lower than Grayscale's Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) at 2.0%. Grayscale is owned by Digital Currency Group, the parent company of CoinDesk.

Should approval be granted, the Bitwise Bitcoin Fund will become the second Bitwise fund cleared for public quotation following the company's successful approval for its Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund in December.

CORRECTION (Feb. 3, 22:45 UTC): Corrects headline and body to clarify FINRA does not approve securities but instead verifies that a broker-dealer can demonstrate it has completed its required diligence to begin quoting a security.

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