Bitwise Joins Hunt for Bitcoin ETF Approval With Futures Product Filing

The asset manager is teaming up with ETF Series Solutions in its bid to get a U.S. bitcoin ETF over the finish line.

Sep 14, 2021 at 9:48 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 15, 2021 at 1:28 p.m. UTC

ETF Series Solutions has filed to launch a bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund (ETF) in partnership with Bitwise, a provider of crypto-based funds.

The application for the Bitwise Bitcoin Strategy ETF was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday under the Investment Company Act of 1940. The fund seeks to invest in bitcoin futures and other financial products.

Proponents of bitcoin ETFs claim they would offer retail investors a regulated financial product that has exposure to bitcoin, giving those investors an alternative to investing in bitcoin directly. The SEC, the federal agency tasked with overseeing such products, has yet to approve one.

“The Fund will not invest directly in bitcoin,” the filing said. “While the Fund intends to obtain exposure to bitcoin primarily through indirect investments in standardized, cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts traded on commodity exchanges registered with the CFTC (’Bitcoin Futures’), it may also invest in pooled investment vehicles and Canadian-listed funds that provide exposure to bitcoin.” The CFTC is the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, another federal agency that regulates financial products.

The ETF might also invest in cash, U.S. government securities or money market funds, according to the filing. U.S. Bancorp Fund Services will act as the transfer agent and administrator, while U.S. Bank will serve as the custodian.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has indicated that the agency is more likely to approve a bitcoin futures ETF than a spot bitcoin ETF. A futures ETF will invest in a regulated bitcoin futures product offered by CME, rather than in bitcoin directly.

Gensler has raised concerns about crypto spot market regulation, echoing a view SEC staff has often hinted at in rejecting previous bitcoin ETF applications.

Bitwise CEO Hunter Horsley declined to comment on the fund, but said, “Bitwise has been managing crypto index funds since 2017. We continue to be focused on helping advisors and investors understand and navigate the space.”

UPDATE (Sept. 14, 2021, 22:06 UTC): Updated with a response from Bitwise.

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