• Bitcoin ETFs are finally here – they are Canadian
  • Assets under management could surge to $1 Billion in less than a week
  • Ease of access for most investors
  • Suitable for retirement accounts
  • Limited trading hours a major flaw
  • Good first step, but US may create a more flexible product

North American investors looking for exposure to Bitcoin without actually having to buy the physical asset finally have an ETF option that can be easily purchased on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Canada Leads the Way

While in the US the SEC continues to grapple with ways to provide securitized exposure to Bitcoin, the Canadian authorities have leapfrogged their counterparts down south by approving two ETF products – the BTCC ETF and the EBIT ETF – both of which will provide a way to trade or invest in Bitcoin via the equity market.

Both products were released this week with BTCC attracting a massive following as it collected nearly half a billion of assets under management with many experts forecasting that it will reach $1 Billion in assets by the end of the week. The EBIT ETF has attracted less flow but has also seen a swelling of demand. The two ETF differ slightly in the composition and the net asset value.

ETFs Provide Ease of Use and Simplicity

Like ETFs the new Bitcoin ETFs provide the simplicity and ease of use to investors who do not want the inconvenience of opening a new specialized Bitcoin exchange trading account in order to invest or trade the asset. They also make it possible to invest in Bitcoin within retirement accounts without any special custodian arrangements.

Major Drawback for Traders

There is however one major drawback to the two offerings. The trading in both BTCC and EBIT is limited to the Toronto Stock Exchange hours of 9:30am – 4:00pm (14:30-21:00 GMT) Monday through Friday only. This is a massive problem for anyone who wants to trade the asset on a continuous basis. Bitcoin not only trades 24 hours a day, but 7 days a week in continuous loops with liquidity centers all around the globe. Furthermore it can be extraordinarily volatile during “off-market” hours occasionally rising or falling by 10% or more.

It is not inconceivable for investors in the new Bitcoin ETFs to lose 25% or more of the value of their holdings during the overnight session without any ability to exit their position. Therefore the current iteration of Bitcoin ETFs is best used for day trading purposes with traders simply going flat before the close of market each day to avoid the overnight gap risk, or to view these vehicles as very long term investment assets and ignore the massive volatility that could erase 50% or more of their value in a matter of days.

Will US Produce a Better Product?

Ultimately, for Bitcoin ETFs to become truly compelling and useful products, the providers will need to offer full 24 hour trading in OTC exchanges so that they may closely track the price of the underlying asset and they will also need to offer a complement of option products for both speculative and hedging purposes.

For now this is a good first step towards securitizing the most popular digital asset in the world but the Canadian’s lead may evaporate if the SEC decides to green light a US Bitcoin ETF which would likely address some of the shortcomings of the new batch of products.