Bitcoin enthusiasts in the U.S. have long awaited the approval of the much touted bitcoin-based exchange traded fund (ETF). With the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) deferring the decision on a bitcoin ETF until the end of September, hopes dimmed for investors looking for a safe, convenient and secure way to take a stake in bitcoins via the ETF route. (See also: Crypto Market Caps Plummet on Bitcoin ETF Woes.)
A new alternative, overseas-listed instrument allows U.S. investors to take a secure route to trading and investing in bitcoin. An exchange-traded note (ETN) — called the Bitcoin Tracker One — has been trading on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange since 2015. It has recently started quoting in U.S. dollars, and the bitcoin-based, dollar-denominated security is now available for trading under the ticker CXBTF, reported Bloomberg. Though it is listed on the Swedish stock exchange, a U.S. dollar-denominated version will allow global brokerages to offer it to American investors.
Working along the lines of a standard American depositary receipt (ADR) security, which allows foreign-listed securities to be traded in the U.S., this ETN will allow investors investment in bitcoins without actually taking direct positions in the cryptocurrency. When one purchases shares of the Bitcoin Tracker One ETN in U.S. dollars, their trades will get executed in U.S. dollars, even though they are settled, cleared and held in custody in Sweden.
Taking the Swedish Route
“Everyone that’s investing in dollars can now get exposure to these products, whereas before, they were only available in euros or Swedish krona,” said Ryan Radloff, CEO of CoinShares Holdings Ltd., the parent of the company that offering the ETN, to Bloomberg. “Given the current climate on the regulatory front in the U.S., this is a big win for Bitcoin.”
A key differentiator between an ETF and an ETN is that the former is backed by a pool of assets, while the latter is a debt security backed by its issuers (usually a bank). Owing to this difference, the Bitcoin Tracker One may not technically qualify as a direct substitute for a bitcoin ETF, but it still allows investors a low-cost alternative to Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust, which also offers similar exposure to bitcoin. The Grayscale product trades at a significant premium to the underlying asset, and Bitcoin Tracker One is being pitched as a competitive, low-cost, liquid product. (See also: 5 Ways to Short Bitcoin.)
While it may still be a long wait for a bitcoin ETF to hit the market, enthusiasts can take a short cut via these alternate securities. (See also: Bitcoin ETFs Explained.)
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