Blockchain exchange-traded funds (ETFs) own stocks in companies that have business operations in blockchain technology or in some way profit from it. Blockchain is made up of complex blocks of digital information, and increasingly is used in banking, investing, cryptocurrency, and other sectors. While blockchain is a relatively new technology, many of the companies that operate in the space are well established. Some examples include International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), Oracle Corp. (ORCL), and Visa Inc. (V). Many investors may be wary of risking an investment in blockchain due to the technology's association with the volatile cryptocurrency market. However, blockchain is not the same thing as cryptocurrency, and blockchain ETFs invest only in stocks of regulated companies, many of which are big blue-chip technology firms.

Key Takeaways

  • The blockchain sector, as proxied by the technology sector, has outperformed the broader market over the past year.
  • The ETFs with the best 1-year trailing total return are BLCN, BLOK, and KOIN.
  • The top holdings of these ETFs are Overstock.com, Square, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, respectively.

The blockchain ETF universe is comprised of about 5 ETFs. The blockchain sector, as gauged by the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), has outperformed the broader market over the past year. The XLK has provided investors with a total return of 44.1% over the past 12 months compared to the S&P 500's total return of 17.3%. The best performing blockchain ETF, based on performance over the past year, is the Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BLCN). We examine the top 3 best blockchain ETFs below. All numbers in this story are as of August 10, 2020.

ETFs with very low assets under management (AUM), less than $50 million, usually have lower liquidity than larger ETFs. This can result in higher trading costs which can negate some of your investment gains or increase your losses.

Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BLCN)

  • Performance over 1-Year: 56.1%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.68%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 0.64%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 29,526
  • Assets Under Management: $102.4 million
  • Inception Date: January 17, 2018
  • Issuer: Reality Shares

BLCN is a large-cap ETF is broadly focused on the technology sector across developed markets worldwide and that follows a blended strategy. The fund tracks the Reality Shares NASDAQ Blockchain Economy Index, which measures returns of companies involved in the development, research, support, or use of blockchain technology. The ETF's top three holdings include Overstock.com Inc. (OSTK), an e-commerce company selling discounted brand-name merchandise; Square Inc. (SQ), a provider of mobile-payment solutions; and DocuSign Inc. (DOCU), a provider of electronic signature solutions.

Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK)

  • Performance over 1-Year: 34.9%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.70%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 1.59%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 44,523
  • Assets Under Management: $112.5 million
  • Inception Date: January 17, 2018
  • Issuer: Amplify

BLOK is a multi-cap fund broadly focused on companies in the technology sector of developed markets, and is more specifically focused on businesses involved in blockchain technology. The ETF that follows a blended strategy of investing in a mix of growth and value stocks. The ETF's top three company holdings include Square; Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd. (GLXY), a merchant bank dedicated to the digital assets and blockchain technology sector, and GMO Internet Inc. (9449).

Innovation Shares NextGen Protocol ETF (KOIN)

  • Performance over 1-Year: 25.4%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.95%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 1.41%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 3,795
  • Assets Under Management: $11.5 million
  • Inception Date: January 30, 2018
  • Issuer: Innovation Shares LLC

KOIN is a large-cap ETF that invests primarily in growth stocks and tracks the Innovation Labs Blockchain Innovators Index, which is comprised of companies involved in, invested in, or have adopted either cryptocurrency or blockchain technology. The ETF's top three holdings include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSM), a Taiwan-based multinational semiconductor company; NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA), a semiconductor company; and PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL), a provider of online payments solutions.