US approves ‘‘bitcoin lite’’ ETFs

The US financial regulator has begun approving bitcoin-themed exchange-traded funds, but with important caveats.

US regulators are still on the fence about cryptocurrencies. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun to approve bitcoin-themed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), but with important caveats. Last week the SEC gave the nod to the Volt Crypto Industry Revolution and Tech ETF, says Hassan Maishera on FXEmpire. The ETF will offer investors exposure to some of the leading crypto firms on the market, such as Nasdaq-listed MicroStrategy. But the SEC has still yet to approve any cryptocurrency ETF “that seeks to directly track the performance of bitcoin”. 

Investors use ETFs to track the performance of assets such as gold or equities, says Nathan Reiff on Investopedia. For all the hype, bitcoin remains difficult to invest in, requiring investors to turn to specialised exchanges and deal with “complex storage and security procedures”. A bitcoin ETF would allow a much larger pool of investors to buy bitcoin in the same way and on the same platforms where they trade stocks. 

The approval of “bitcoin lite” ETFs such as Volt is a “sop” to investors, says Steve Johnson in the Financial Times. US regulators are still refusing to approve any ETFs “that invest in the cryptocurrency itself”, even though similar vehicles have already been launched in Canada and parts of Europe. SEC chair, Gary Gensler, has called cryptocurrencies a “wild west” and an “asset class…rife with fraud, scams and abuse”.

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