Coming off of strong demand for bitcoin futures issued by CME Group Inc. (CME) and Cboe World Markets, the discount brokerage TradeStation announced that it would provide customers with access to bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) if they become available.
In a press release, TradeStation said that NYSE Arca, a unit of Intercontinental Exchange, submitted a proposed rule change earlier this month to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S. that would enable it to list the ProShares Bitcoin ETF and the ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF. The ETFs would track one of the two recently launched bitcoin futures contracts from CME and Cboe. "If approved, the ProShares Bitcoin ETFs would, for the first time, offer equities account holders the ability to gain long or short exposure to the price of bitcoin on a major U.S. exchange, as the CFE and CME bitcoin futures have done for futures account holders," TradeStation said in the press release.
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The move on the part of TradeStation to announce its intention to provide customers with access to bitcoin ETFs comes at a time when there is intense interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrency. With shares skyrocketing all year, regular investors want in on the action. TradeStation, which is one of a handful of online brokerages to offer access to the bitcoin futures, said that 8,800 underlying coins were traded on the company's platform for the first week of bitcoin futures trading through Monday, Dec. 18, which represents $165 million in value. Meanwhile, Nick LaMaina, the firm's senior vice president for brokerage services, told CBS that around half of the bitcoin futures traded on TradeStation are short sales.
Heading into the launch, TradeStation said that it was seeing demand and that it would be ready on day one to provide its clients access to the futures products. In a video interview, James Putra, director of innovation and strategy at TradeStation, said that the online brokerage has seen a "lot of excitement" both for cryptocurrencies and the futures products from lots of investors "thirsty for information." The company had previously said that it is looking for ways for customers to trade cryptocurrency outright and could ink partnerships with existing exchanges or launch its own cryptocurrency trading platform.